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 an 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. Candidates must student teach in a district other than where they are currently working. Additionally, the student teaching placement must be in a diverse setting in comparison to current/past teaching experience.
  • 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.