Special Education Concentration

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Program Overview

The Master of Arts in Education (M.A.) with a concentration in Special Education provides advanced academic study for persons working with or on behalf of individuals with disabilities.

Candidates for the degree must hold or have completed coursework for a teaching credential or request consent from the Special Education program. Be aware that the MA in Education with a special education concentration does not certify one to teach special education in public schools; a teaching credential is required for that.

Candidates must apply and be admitted both to the University and to the M.A. program to pursue this degree. You may begin the program in either fall or spring semesters.

Program Structure

The MA in Education Concentration in Special Education is a 33 unit degree.

Education Core Courses (18 units)

To acquire a broad perspective on issues related to education and social justice in our communities, students take core courses with students from all concentrations in the Education MA degree.

Special Education Concentration Courses (9 units)

Concentration courses allow students to deepen their knowledge of special education practices, policies, and perspectives.

Select at least 9 units of 500 level EDSP courses from this list:

  • EDSP 502 Advanced Pedagogy in Special Education (3 units)
  • EDSP 513 Current and Emerging Research and Practice in Special Education (3 units)
  • EDSP 518 Advanced Culturally Responsive Pedagogy for Special Educators (3 units)
  • EDSP 522A Family Partnerships in Early Childhood Special Education (3 units)
  • EDSP 523A Assessment and Instruction in Early Childhood Special Education (3 units)

Each concentration course is taught in alternate years. Some classes are offered in a hybrid format, meeting one Saturday each month with the rest of the work being conducted asynchronously online. EDSP 522A and EDSP 523A are fully online courses and are offered annually

Electives (6 units)

Candidates have the opportunity to seek breadth or depth in a related area of study through electives. Elective coursework may be drawn from other graduate concentrations or programs in the School of Education or from other departments at Sonoma State University, such as psychology, counseling, kinesiology, or others. It is possible to use  credential courses for the electives, as long as they were completed within 7 years of finishing the MA degree.

Elective courses are selected with the advice and approval of the candidate’s M.A. advisor.

Culminating Project

Each candidate synthesizes the learning arising from the coursework by completing a final, culminating project. Candidates may choose to write a thesis or complete an applied project. Please discuss your options with the advisor and your committee chair.


Prior to beginning the MA program, students meet with the Special Education advisor to develop a preliminary plan for enrolling in courses. Each semester thereafter, students meet with their advisor to solidify this plan and to discuss their progress through the MA program.

Jennifer Mahdavi

Dr. Jennifer Mahdavi