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 Teacher Education in collaboration with the candidate's advisor. An application for student teaching must be submitted to the Director of Teacher Education in the semester prior to the start of 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.

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 (Praxis Core and Praxis II) assessments and the Foundations of Reading Test and the edTPA portfolio assessment 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 MA 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 School of Education and Human Development.

Once admitted to the SYC program, candidates complete the additional 21 credits required for certification. 

Master of Arts

SPED 5401Augmentative Alternative Communications and Assistive Technologies3
SPED 5403Foundations in Research and Evaluation of Psychoeducational Issues in Special Education3
SPED 5410Autism Spectrum Disorders: Theories and Interventions3
SPED 5411Introduction to Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities3
SPED 5413Theories of and Introduction to Learning Disabilities3
SPED 5417Introduction to Children and Youth with Social and Emotional Disturbances3
SPED 5419Special Learners in the Bilingual/ESL Classroom3
SPED 5432Management Techniques in Special Education3
SPED 5486Developmental Literacy I: Fundamentals of Reading and Language Development3
SPED 5487Developmental Literacy II: Essentials of Vocabulary and Text Comprehension3
SPED 6999Comprehensive Examination in Special Education0
Total Credits30

Sixth Year Certificate

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

SPED 6534Skill Development for Individualized Educational Plans3
SPED 6537Curriculum and Methods for Students with Mild to Moderate Disabilities3
SPED 6550Collaboration and Consultation for the Special Educator3
SPED 6561Diagnostic Procedures in Special Education of Youth with Disabilities3
SPED 6953Student Teaching in Special Education6
SPED 6954SPED 6954 Student Teaching/DSAP Seminar in Special Education3
EDUC 6598edTPA Portfolio 10
Total Credits21

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


In collaboration with their academic advisor, candidates select 9 credits or one concentration from the recommended list below to complete the Sixth Year Certificate. Courses from EDTC, PSYG, RLDV, and/or programs that are related to the candidate's area of focus in special education may be used to fulfill these requirements.

Sixth Year Certificate Concentrations

Candidates have the option of selecting one of the following concentrations to fulfill elective courses above.

Concentration in Remedial Reading and Remedial Language Arts

Electives for candidates interested in pursuing their #102 Remedial Reading and Remedial Language Arts Certification:

RLDV 5583Tests and Measurement in Reading and Language Arts Contexts3
RLDV 6586Diagnosis and Remediation of Reading and Language Arts Difficulties3
RLDV 6951Clinical Practicum: Structured Literacy3
RLDV 6952Clinical Practicum: Structured Literacy Applications with Peer Coaching Elements3
Total Credits12

Dyslexia Interventionist Certificate with Wilson Level I Certification

RLDV/SPED 6575Wilson Reading: Developmental Literacy Remediation Practices for Students in Grades 3+1
RLDV/SPED 6576Wilson Reading: Intensive Instruction I for the Non-Responsive Reader, Steps 1-63
RLDV/SPED 6577Wilson Reading: Practicum I for the Non-Responsive Reader in Grades 3+, Steps 1-61.5
RLDV/SPED 6578Wilson Reading: Intensive Instruction II for the Non-Responsive Reader, Steps 1-63
RLDV/SPED 6579Wilson Reading: Practicum II for the Non-Responsive Reader in Grades 3+, Steps 1-61.5
Select one course from the following:3
Writing Components and Processes in the Language Arts Program
Diagnosis and Remediation of Reading and Language Arts Difficulties
Clinical Practicum: Structured Literacy
Total Credits13