Master of Arts and Sixth Year Certificate in Special Education with Initial Certification

Certification Requirements

The certification program in comprehensive special education at Fairfield University is sequentially organized across categories, providing participants with a frame of reference for evaluating the learning strengths and weaknesses of each child with exceptional learning needs (ELN).

The planned professional comprehensive program in special education is presented according to the format of Connecticut certification law and includes courses in the following areas:

  • Psychoeducational Theory and Development of Individuals with Exceptionalities
    Developmental growth from infancy to adulthood is a baseline against which children with exceptionalities are viewed. Various theories pertaining to areas of disability are also presented and explored.
  • Diagnosis of Children and Youth with Exceptionalities
    Graduate candidates possessing developmental information and theoretical foundations can view each child with a exceptionality against this background and thereby assess developmental strengths and weaknesses, and identify exceptional learning needs.
  • Program Planning and Education of Children and Youth with Exceptionalities
    Courses survey, analyze, and evaluate programs available for children with disabilities. Theory, development, diagnostic procedures, curricula, and methods are used as the baseline for comparison and for the development of individualized education plans designed to meet each student's needs.
  • Curriculum and Methods of Teaching Children and Youth with Exceptionalities
    The teaching process, although based upon sound diagnosis and expert knowledge of developmental sequences of education, must deal with each child's unique ways of functioning. The teacher cannot proceed without knowledge of the child's style of learning, tolerance for anxiety, attention, pace of cognitive processing, capacity for organization, and capability for developing appropriate relationships. Opportunity is provided within the special education program for future professional educators to be exposed to such variables. The future professional educator is expected to learn to observe children, to understand them, and to modify programs and plans to address the variables, as well as be able to shift gears, shift areas, and use several alternative approaches to achieve the same end goal.
  • Student Teaching in Special Education
    The student teaching experiences are designed to provide opportunities for the graduate candidate to engage in professional practice as a special education teacher under the supervision of University, school, and educational agency personnel. The experience offers the graduate candidate exposure in various settings to observe, evaluate, plan, instruct, and interact with pupils having special learning needs and challenging behaviors. Requirements are detailed in the Special Education Program Student Teaching Handbook. Placements are coordinated through the director of student teaching placements. An application for student teaching must be submitted to the director of student teaching placements in the semester prior beginning student teaching. Candidates work with a minimum of two different exceptionality categories and may have experiences at two different grade levels.
  • Course Plans and Institutional Endorsement
    Special education course planning is in concert with the candidate's advisor.

The certification regulations in effect at the time of application for Connecticut certification must be met for the University to issue an institutional endorsement.

Initial Educator Certification Sequence of Courses

The following list of courses is designed to reflect the current plan of study required by Fairfield University for Connecticut certification as an initial educator in comprehensive special education (51 credits). To be considered for an initial certificate and/or to receive an institutional endorsement from the Connecticut Department of Education, a candidate must successfully complete all coursework in the planned program, pass all PRAXIS assessments and the Foundations of Reading Test required by the state for the intended certification, and pass the program's Comprehensive Examination in Special Education. The program for those seeking an initial certificate in special education is designed so that candidates first earn a Master of Arts degree (30 credits).

During the final semester of the MA, students make application to be awarded the degree and complete an abbreviated application for admittance into the SYC program. Application for admittance to the SYC is reviewed by the Director of Programs in Special Education and the faculty. At this time, candidates whose personal/dispositional qualities are deemed not appropriate to the field may be denied recommendation for admission to the certification portion of this Initial Certification Program. Please note that the Disposition Statement presented in this catalog is applicable to the special education programs as it is to all programs offered by the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions.

Once admitted to the SYC program candidates complete the additional  21 credits required for certification. Student teaching must be completed with a grade of B (or above) to be recommended by the Certification Officer for initial certification.

Master of Arts

SE 0400Augmentative Alternative Communications and Assistive Technologies3
SE 0403Psychoeducational Issues in Special Education3
SE 0410Autism Spectrum Disorders: Theories and Interventions3
SE 0411Introduction to Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities3
SE 0413Theories of and Introduction to Learning Disabilities3
SE 0417Introduction to Children and Youth with Social and Emotional Disturbances3
SE 0419Special Learners in the Bilingual/ESL Classroom3
SE 0429Principles of Structured Literacy I: Fundamentals of Reading and Language Development3
SE 0432Management Techniques in Special Education3
SE 0529Principles of Structured Literacy II: Essentials of Decoding and Encoding3
SE 0099Comprehensive Examination in Special Education0
Total Credits30

Sixth Year Certificate

The following 21 credits are required to complete the initial certification sequence:

SE 0534Skill Development for Individualized Educational Plans3
SE 0537Curriculum and Methods for Students with Mild to Moderate Disabilities3
SE 0550Collaboration and Consultation for the Special Educator3
SE 0561Diagnostic Procedures in Special Education of Youth with Disabilities3
SE 0593Student Teaching and Practica Seminar in Special Education6
SE 0594Student Teaching and Practica Seminar in Special Education3
Total Credits21

Note: Candidates are eligible to request an endorsement for initial certification after successfully completing the above courses.

In collaboration with the academic advisor, candidates select 12 credits from the recommended list below to complete the Sixth Year Certificate. Courses from RLD, Psychology, and/or programs that are related to the candidate's area of focus in special education may be used to fulfill these requirements.

Select 4 elective courses in consultation with advisor12
Seminar in Special Education
Research and Evaluation in Multidisciplinary Contexts
Language and Reading Acquisition for English Language Learners and Students with Special Needs
Theories of Learning
Psychoeducational Assessment I: Behavioral Approaches
Behavior Change Procedures
Measurement, Data Analysis, and Experimental Design in Applied Behavior Analysis
Total Credits12