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Washington State University Factsheets

Master of Arts in Special Education

Faculty working with Students: 6
Students: 3
Students receiving assistantships or scholarships: 33.33%
Priority deadline:
  • Fall January 10
  • Spring July 1
  • Pullman: Yes
  • Spokane: Yes
  • Vancouver: Yes
Tests required:
  • TOEFL - iBT 80
  • IELTS Band 7

Degree Description:

The College of Education offers two master’s degrees and a doctoral degree with specializations in special education. The M.A. degree requires a thesis, while the Ed.M. degree requires a special project, both of which are research focused. The M.A. is designed for students who will potentially enter a doctoral program or who desire to focus on educational research, as opposed to application of educational strategies. The Ed.M. allows students to study a variety of education-related areas within structured coursework both on campus as well as online. A specific set of coursework also can lead to a supporting endorsement in special education. Although the Ed.M. students enroll in research courses and engage in research endeavors, the emphasis in this degree option is on application of educational research strategies in schools settings.

Admission Requirements:

Applicants must have an undergraduate degree from an accredited four year institution. The Department of Teaching and Learning and the Graduate School require a 3.0 or higher cumulative grade point average on a 4.0 scale. A letter of intent, three letters of recommendation and a writing sample is also required. Acceptance into the Master of Arts in Education with a specialization in Special Education program partially depends on the availability of a faculty member with expertise in the area of the student’s primary research interest.

Because the Special Education master’s degree is specialized degree and is not an entry level degree, there are special prerequisites that students who apply must complete/meet. They are:

Required Special Education Experience and Knowledge. Student must meet both the teaching/working experience and the knowledge foundations requirements)

Teaching/working experience. One or more of the following is required:

  • Teaching experience at the P-12 level, one or more years
  • Significant public school teacher substitute experience; paraprofessional experience
  • Student teaching at the K-12 level
  • Significant experience working with adults with disabilities in agency services/employment services

Knowledge foundation. Coursework on special education/students with disabilities (one or more courses)

Student Learning Outcomes:

All graduates will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an appropriate depth and breadth of understanding about the field of special education and disabilities.
  2. Demonstrate critical thinking and ability to evaluate, understand, and communicate (oral and written) special education ideas and research.
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of and ability to synthesize and apply special education research to problems of practice through skillful inquiry.
  4. Demonstrate and apply scholarly habits of curiosity, inquiry, skepticism, and data-based decision-making.
  5. Demonstrate understanding and valuing of diversity through pedagogical and inquiry endeavors.
  6. Demonstrate a professional identity appropriate for future career plans.

Student Opportunities:

Internships in the public school system are available.

Career Opportunities:

Teaching, educational specialist, K-12 administration.

Faculty Members:

Bruno, Lauren

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Research focuses on improving transition outcome for youth with disabilities. More specifically she focuses on (1) improving the preparation of pre-service and in-service educators’ ability to implement evidence-based practices related to transition; (2) using the Universal Design for Learning framework (including the use of assistive technology) to improve post-school outcomes of youth with disabilities; and (3) post-secondary educational opportunities for youth with intellectual and development disability. Lauren also focuses on the shortage and high attrition rates of special educators

Dunn, Michael, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Literacy skills/strategies and response to intervention, development of literacy skills/strategies in an intervention format, use of The Ask, Reflect, Text (ART) Strategy and artistic expression, how students use the strategy, and improvement in students skills.

Hsiao, Yun-Ju, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Special education, including children/youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), students with emotional and behavioral disorders, and early childhood special education. Research focuses on families of children with disabilities and effective strategies for teaching students with ASD. Also interested in culturally responsive teaching preparation and practices in special education.

McMahon, Donald, Ph.D.

Research Interests

Universal Design for Learning, Assistive Technology, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Wearable devices, Mobile Devices, Mobile Learning, and Instructional technology.

Poppen, Marcus, Ph.D.

Serves as: co-chair or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Focused on supporting career development and employment outcomes for young adults with disabilities, including those with a history of mental health and substance abuse concerns, emotional and behavioral disabilities, and involvement in the juvenile justice system.

Whittenburg, Holly

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Research focuses on improving employment outcomes for transition-aged students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and intellectual disability

Contact Information:

WSU Pullman College of Education
Cleveland Hall 70
PO Box 642114
Pullman, WA 99164-2114
(509)-335-9195 or (509)-335-7016
Fax: (509)-335-9172