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Special Education (M.Ed.)

Department of Special Education
Overview

Program Overview

Improve the lives of children and youth with disabilities at the top special education graduate program in the nation, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report. The Department of Special Education at Vanderbilt conducts groundbreaking research, establishes innovative practices, and develops widely used methods.

Through this program you’ll conduct fieldwork and research projects, collaborate with faculty and other students on important initiatives, participate in colloquia with experts from various disciplines, and supervise undergraduates’ field experiences. Because there is a shortage of qualified special education professionals, it is possible that your education could be fully funded through U.S. Department of Education grants.

The Special Education graduate program is closely associated with the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development, one of 14 national centers for research on intellectual and developmental disabilities. This relationship allows you to benefit from the center's many available resources and programs.

Teacher Licensure

Completing of the master’s degree in Special Education can lead to a recommendation to the state for a teaching license in your selected area of concentration.

The Office of Teacher Licensure coordinates teacher licensure policies and procedures for the special education program so you’ll be prepared to meet Tennessee and other accreditation standards for teacher licensing.

Peabody College graduates licensed in Tennessee also can be licensed in other states. Completing licensure requirements may require work beyond the normal degree requirements.

Related Programs

You may also be interested in the Master of Education of the Deaf (M.D.E.) degree at Vanderbilt University, offered through the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences. The 1-to 2-year program emphasizes the training needed to develop spoken language and auditory skills in deaf and hard-of-hearing children.

Program at a Glance

Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Special Education

Department of Special Education

Program Director: Alexandra Da Fonte, Ph.D.
Admissions Coordinator: Alfred Brady
Admission Term: Fall
Credit Hours: 30–60
Priority Application Deadline: December 31* for fall entrance

* We will continue to accept applications after this date, but applications will be evaluated for admission and scholarships as space and funds are available.

Program Areas and Specializations

You’ll develop competencies in all categories of exceptionality, but your studies will focus in one of three program areas:

  • Early Childhood —for students who want to serve infants, toddlers, young children, and their families who deal with a wide range of developmental delays including cognitive, communication, social, adaptive behavior, and motor skills.

  • High Incidence —for those intending to become intervention specialists for children and young adults with reading and math disabilities and persistent behavior problems.

  • Low Incidence—Within the Low Incidence Program there are two tracks: Severe Disabilities and Visual Disabilities
    • Track in Severe Disabilities —for those who wish to focus on working with students with intellectual disability, autism, multiple disabilities and other significant needs.

    • Track in Visual Disabilities —for future teachers who want to provide access to the general curriculum and to teach the expanded core curriculum for students with visual impairments, including those with multiple disabilities.

 

Add-On Specialization

The Applied Behavior Analysis Specialization Program is offered in conjunction with a primary specialization in early childhood special education, high incidence disabilities (intervention specialist), or severe disabilities. The add-on specialization teaches you to conduct functional behavioral assessments, write behavior intervention programs, and carry out those intervention programs for a range of individuals with behavior problems. For more information please contact Dr. Joseph Lambert.

Success Stories

I know with confidence that my impact in the field reflects Peabody's No. 1 ranking.
Sissy Peters
High Incidence Special Education
M.Ed. '13
Associate Program Manager
Vanderbilt Reading Clinic

100%

of Special Education graduates were employed or attending graduate school within four months of graduation

Click here to see a list of recent career placements:

Recent graduates with an M.Ed. in Special Education have gone on the following positions, among others:
  • Behavioral Therapist, Nashville Autism Services, Nashville, Tenn.
  • Inclusion Specialist Supervisor, Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Life Skills Teacher, Harpeth Middle School, Kingston Springs, Tenn.
  • Lead Therapist, ABA of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisc.
  • Ph.D. Candidate, University of Texas, Austin, Texas
  • Resource Teacher, Hope for Tomorrow, Guatemala City, Guatemala
  • Special Education Teacher, Duncan Chapel, Greenville, S.C.
  • Special Education Teacher, International College, Beirut, Lebanon
  • Special Education Teacher, Metro Nashville Public Schools, Nashville, Tenn.
  • Vision Teacher, Texas School for the Blind, Austin, Texas

Field Experience

Field experiences are a key component of your individual program of studies in Special Education. You will be able to work with children and adults with intellectual disability, autism, language impairments, behavioral disorders, learning disabilities, visual impairments, orthopedic disabilities, or multiple disabilities.

Program Curriculum

The Special Education degree program stresses field-based learning and experience, with the opportunity to participate in supervised research. Programs of study are planned in consultation with the faculty advisor. To satisfy your degree requirements, you will take a comprehensive sit-down exam that evaluates your competence in the field of special education and complete a master’s specialty area project or thesis.

The following are required courses for each specific program area:

Early Childhood Special Education

  • SPED 7400 Management Procedures for Academic and Social Behavior
  • SPEDE 7100 Advanced Issues in Family Intervention
  • SPEDE 7400 Instruction and Learning in Early Childhood Special Education
  • SPEDE 7450 Screening and Assessment in Early Childhood Special Education
  • SPEDE 7500 Special Topic: Curriculum Design in Early Childhood Special Education
  • SPEDE 7600 Recommended Practices in Early Elementary Grades for Students with Disabilities
  • SPEDE 7951 Field Work in Early Childhood Special Education
  • SPEDE 7953 Advanced Field Work in Early Childhood Special Education
  • SPEDH 7600 Advanced Procedures in Classroom Management and Social Skills Instruction for Students with Mild and Moderate Disabilities
  • SPEDS 7700 Characteristics of Students with Intellectual and Multiple Disabilities

High Incidence (Intervention Specialist): K–8

  • SPED 7400 Management Procedures for Academic and Social Behavior
  • SPED 7810 Research Methods in Special Education
  • SPEDH 7100 Trends and Issues in Learning Disabilities or SPEDH 7200 Trends and Issues for Students with Behavior Disorders
  • SPEDH 7300 Teaching Mathematics to Students with Severe and Persistent Academic and Behavior Difficulties: K–8
  • SPED 7350 Assessment for Students with Severe and Persistent Academic and Behavior Difficulties
  • SPED 7410 Teaching Reading to Students with Severe and Persistent Academic and Behavior Difficulties
  • SPEDH 7420 Advanced Reading Methods for Students with Severe and Persistent Academic and Behavior Difficulties
  • SPEDH 7440 Teaching Middle School Students with Severe and Persistent Academic and Behavior Difficulties
  • SPEDH 7600 Advanced Procedures in Classroom Management and Social Skills Instruction for Students with Mild and Moderate Disabilities
  • SPEDH 7953 Advanced Field Work in Special Education

High Incidence (Intervention Specialist): 6–12

  • SPED 7400 Management Procedures for Academic and Social Behavior
  • SPED 7810 Research Methods in Special Education
  • SPEDH 7100 Trends and Issues in Learning Disabilities or SPEDH 7200 Trends and Issues for Students with Behavior Disorders
  • SPEDH 7310 Teaching Mathematics to Students with Severe and Persistent Academic and Behavior Difficulties: 6–12
  • SPED 7350 Assessment for Students with Severe and Persistent Academic and Behavior Difficulties
  • SPEDH 7400 Teaching High School Students with Severe and Persistent Academic and Behavior Difficulties
  • SPED 7410 Teaching Reading to Students with Severe and Persistent Academic and Behavior Difficulties
  • SPEDH 7440 Teaching Middle School Students with Severe and Persistent Academic and Behavior Difficulties
  • SPEDH 7600 Advanced Procedures in Classroom Management and Social Skills Instruction for Students with Mild and Moderate Disabilities
  • SPEDH 7953 Advanced Field Work in Special Education

High Incidence (Intensive Intervention Specialist)

You must have teacher licensure to pursue this program area.

  • SPED 7350 Assessment for Students with Severe and Persistent Academic and Behavior Difficulties
  • SPED 7400 Management Procedures for Academic and Social Behavior
  • SPED 7810 Research Methods in Special Education
  • SPED 7962 Practicum: Intensive Interventions for Students with Severe and Persistent Behavior Difficulties
  • SPED 7961 Practicum: Intensive Interventions for Students with Severe and Persistent Academic Difficulties
  • SPEDH 7100 Trends and Issues in Learning Disabilities or SPEDH 7200 Trends and Issues for Students with Behavior Disorders
  • SPEDH 7600 Advanced Procedures in Classroom Management and Social Skills Instruction for Students with Mild and Moderate Disabilities
  • SPEDH 7610 Intensive Interventions for Students with Severe and Persistent Academic Difficulties
  • SPEDH 7620 Intensive Interventions for Students with Severe and Persistent Behavior Difficulties
  • SPEDH 7800. Collaboration, Ethics, and Leadership to Support Students with Severe and Persistent Academic and Behavior Disabilities

Severe Disabilities

  • SPED 7400 Management Procedures for Academic and Social Behavior
  • SPEDE 7100 Advanced Issues in Family Intervention
  • SPEDS 7100 Augmentative and Alternative Communication
  • SPEDS 7250 Methods of Instruction for Students with Intellectual and Multiple Disabilities
  • SPEDS 7954 Field Work in Special Education: Autism, Intellectual, and Multiple Disabilities
  • SPEDS 7700 Characteristics of Students with Intellectual and Multiple Disabilities
  • SPEDS 7200 Advanced Access to General Education and Teaching Functional Academics
  • SPEDS 7300 Advanced Procedures for Transition to Adult Life
  • SPEDS 7710 Seminar: Current Issues in Autism and Severe Disabilities
  • SPEDS 7953 Advanced Fieldwork in Multiple and Severe Disabilities
  • SPEDS 7991 Extended Student Teaching for Graduate Students

Visual Disabilities

  • SPED 7400 Management Procedures for Academic and Social Behavior
  • SPED 8810 Introduction to Single-Subject Research Methodology
  • SPEDV 7510 Medical and Educational Implications of Visual Impairments
  • SPEDV 7520 Educational Procedures for Students with Visual Impairments
  • SPEDV 7530 Advanced Braille
  • SPEDV 7540 Communication and Literacy Skills for Students with Visual Impairments
  • SPEDV 7550 Orientation and Mobility Skills for Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments
  • SPEDV 7560 Characteristics and Instruction for Students with Multiple Disabilities Including Deaf-blindness
  • SPEDV 7570 Advanced Procedures for Students with Visual Impairments
  • SPEDV 7951 Field Work in Visual Impairments
  • SPEDV 7953 Advanced Field Work in Visual Impairments
Program Curriculum

Faculty

At Peabody, exciting next-generation research is always underway. Department faculty often collaborate with students on important initiatives and publish their findings. Peabody faculty, alumni, and students are responsible for one in five publications comprising the entire literature in the fields of intellectual disability and psychology.

Erin Barton
  • Associate Professor, Department of Special Education
Andrea Capizzi
  • Assistant Professor of the Practice and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Special Education
Erik Carter
  • Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor, Department of Special Education
Laurie Cutting
  • Patricia and Rodes Hart Professor, Department of Special Education
Alexandra Da Fonte
  • Assistant Professor of the Practices, Director of Professional Studies, Department of Special Education
Donna Ford
  • Professor, Department of Special Education
Douglas Fuchs
  • Professor of Special Education and Nicholas Hobbs Chair of Special Education and Human Development and Professor Pediatrics in the Vanderbilt University Medical School, Department of Special Education
Lynn Fuchs
  • Dunn Family Chair in Psychoeducational Assessment, Department of Special Education
Deborah Hatton
  • Associate Professor, Department of Special Education
Mary Louise Hemmeter
  • Professor, Department of Special Education
Robert Hodapp
  • Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Special Education
Ann Kaiser
  • Susan W. Gray Professor of Education and Human Development, Department of Special Education
Victoria Knight
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Special Education
Joseph Lambert
  • Associate Professor of the Practice, Department of Special Education
Jennifer Ledford
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Special Education
Christopher Lemons
  • Associate Professor, Department of Special Education
Blair Lloyd
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Special Education
Kimberly Paulsen
  • Associate Professor of the Practice, Department of Special Education
Dan Reschly
  • Emeritus Professor, Department of Special Education
Naomi Tyler
  • Associate Professor of the Practice, Department of Special Education
  • Project Director, IRIS Center
Joseph Wehby
  • Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Special Education
Mark Wolery
  • Professor Emeritus, Department of Special Education
Paul Yoder
  • Professor, Department of Special Education