Special Education Concentration

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Program Overview

The MA in Education with a concentration in Special Education program is housed under Education Leadership and Special Education (ELSE) Department.

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 a valid Special Education teaching credential or request consent from the Department of Educational Leadership and Special Education. 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

MA Core Courses (18 units)

Special Education Concentration Courses (12 units)

  • EDSP 502 Advanced Pedagogy in Special Education (3 units)
  • EDSP 513 Current and Emerging Research and Practice in Special Education (3 units)
  • EDSP 515 Advanced Legal Issues in Special Education (3 units)
  • EDSP 590 Critical Issues in Special Education (3 units)

Each concentration course is taught in alternate years. The classes are offered in a hybrid format, meeting one Saturday each month with the rest of the work being conducted asynchronously online.

Electives (3 units)

Candidates have the opportunity to seek breadth or depth in a related area of study through completion of an elective. Elective coursework may be drawn from other graduate 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 a credential course for the elective, as long as it was completed within 7 years of finishing the degree.

These 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