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Special Education, Master of Arts (M.A.)

Students pursuing the Master's of Arts (MA) Program in Special Education may earn the 36 hour degree. Those interested in completing the thesis option pursue the MA degree. The program can be part or full time, but continuous registration is required.

Admission Requirements

Complete the online Graduate School Application.

  1. A grade point average of 3.0 or better (based on a 4.0 system) from an accredited undergraduate institution;
  2. A grade point average of 3.5 or better in any previous graduate work from an accredited institution;
  3. All students applying to MEd degree or AGS program must take and pass the Basic Skills examination and meet the State of Maryland passing criteria. If a student starts to take Praxis I to meet Basic Skills they must complete and pass all areas of Praxis I to meet the Basic Skills requirement. Review Information on Praxis.
  4. Three (3) letters of recommendation from individuals with direct knowledge of the applicant's academic capabilities, work experience, and professional characteristics;
  5. A statement of career goals including:
    • relevant background information, professional experiences, certification status;
    • if not certified, whether you wish to be certified in special education;
    • intended area of study if seeking the Master’s Specialty Program (e.g., Learning Disabilities, Behavior Disorders, Early Childhood, Severe Disabilities; Transition); and
    • other information the candidate feels is pertinent to the decision of the admissions committee; and
  6. Evidence of writing skills via the statement of career goals and educational interests
  7. Students applying for teacher certification will be contacted for an in-person or phone interview
  8. For international applicants, minimum TOEFL scores of 100 are required.

For more information visit the graduate admission requirements webpage. Select an area of interest from the various offerings in the College of Education to determine the admission requirements and deadlines.  If you are unsure of your area of interest you may request information by submitting an Inquiry Form.  

MA/PhD Deadlines:
*Fall Domestic/International (Preferred): December 4 (for PhD funding, apply by the preferred deadline)
*Fall Domestic/International (Final):  February 5

Admission Procedures

  1. Review the EDSP admission requirements for MA, MEd, and AGS graduate students in the Special Education Master's Degree Programs Handbook.
  2. Contact faculty members associated with concentration area if you have specific questions or wish to discuss an area in more detail
  3. Complete Enrollment Rx graduate online application (Please select ALL Areas of Interests to ensure your application will be directed to the appropriate program for review). In your goal statement, specify your research interests and professional goals. You may request a specific faculty advisor if appropriate.
  4. All application materials must be received before the Special Education Program's Graduate Admission Committee Reviews the applicant's materials. This includes your Basic Test scores for MEd degree or GRE/MAT scores for MA degree.
  5. The Graduate Admission Committee recommends admit or reject. The final decision is made by the graduate school. Provisional acceptance may be recommended for a limited number of applicants.

Please refer to the Guide to Applying  for instructions on how to apply for graduate admission. If you have questions or concerns, we ask you to first review our list of Frequently Asked Questions.  International applicants should visit the International admissions webpage for additional information.  For questions about the application process, or to check on the completion of your application please contact:

Judy Foster, Coordinator of Graduate Admissions
Office of Student Services, College of Education
(301) 405-2359                 

After you apply for graduate admission you may check your application status by logging into the online graduate application using your user name and password.  Graduate faculty in the Academic Department you applied to will review your completed application for graduate admission.  Questions regarding application reviews and decision recommendations should be directed to Department of Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education (CHSE).  Please contact:

Carol Scott, Coordinator of Graduate Studies
Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education
(301) 405-8384

Please contact the Office of Student Services,, or (301) 405-2364

Academic advisement for graduate students is provided by the graduate faculty in the Department of Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education (CHSE).   For advising information, please contact the Coordinator of Graduate Studies, Carol Scott at (301) 405-8384 or

Visit the College of Education Scholarship opportunities webpage. 

Visit the Graduate School Fellowship and Graduate Assistantship web page for additional funding opportunities 

For information about other student financial aid, review the Office of the Student Financial Aid website.

1. Continuous Registration and Time Frame: Registration and advising is required every semester (including the summer session if graduating). The MEd degree must be completed in five years.

Required Coursework (as of 1/22/15): The following coursework is required:

  • Two of the following research methods courses:
    EDMS 645 Quantitative Research Methods I
    EDSP 670 Single Subject Research in Special Education
    EDSP 671 Qualitative Methodologies in Special Education
  • One of the following:
    EDSP 673 Evaluating Evidence-Based Practices in Special Education
    EDSP 625 Seminar on Severe Disabilities
  • EDSP 600 Issues and Trends in Educating Individuals with Disabilities                                                            

2. Research Courses: The student develops and implements a research study under the direction of the advisor and selects additional coursework aligned to the area of research.

3. Submit Program of Study: A Program of Study is developed with the advisor and must include 600 level coursework (graduate credit is NOT given for coursework below the 400 level). The form is found at this website.   

4. Transfer Credit: Up to six credits of graduate coursework may be transferred into the master’s program with the advisor’s approval. If applicable, complete the Transfer or Inclusion of Credit Form, available on this page.   

5. GPA: Maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.0 in courses approved for graduation. Any “D” or “F” grade on record may be repeated with the second grade counting toward the cumulative GPA. If the course is repeated, the first course registration remains on the transcript. If courses with “D” or “F” grades are not repeated, they will be computed in the grade point average the same as an “F” (zero quality points). In such cases, however, the “D” and “F” grades will not be counted as a part of graduation requirements and additional coursework must be taken.

6. Comprehensive Examination: Three hours of written examinations are required. Procedures are presented below.

7. Submit Application for Graduation: Published deadlines each semester for submitting the Application for Graduation are found in Important Dates for All Graduating Graduate Students found here.   

Apply for graduation at the following website.  Note: Students must be registered during the semester of graduation.

8. Thesis Requirements

• IRB: If students use human subjects as part of their thesis research, refer directly to the website  for procedures and application. 

 • Appointment of Thesis Committee: In the semester in which completion of the thesis is anticipated, the student requests the appointment of the oral defense committee by filing the Nomination of Thesis or Dissertation Committee form. This form must be submitted by the published deadline Important Dates for All Graduating Graduate Students found here

 Thesis Committee makeup must be in compliance with Graduate School regulations and have three (3) members; two (2) must be regular tenured or tenured-track University of Maryland graduate faculty, the third may be a member of the University of Maryland graduate faculty from the following categories: regular tenured or tenure-track member, adjunct member, or special member. The student’s advisor serves as Chair of the committee and must be a regular member of the UM graduate faculty. Adjunct members may not serve as chair unless the Graduate School grants special permission.

• Oral Defense: Student defends thesis research orally before an examining committee.

• The chair (advisor) of the committee and/or student selects the time and place for the oral examination and notifies the other members of the committee and the candidate. The candidate is obligated to see that each member of the committee has at least ten days to examine a copy of the thesis prior to the examination. A student will be admitted to final oral examination only if all other requirements for the degree have been met. The student takes a final oral examination of not less than one hour in defense of the thesis.

 • Submit Thesis in Digital Format: Submit thesis and pay fee by the published deadline in Important Dates for All Graduating Graduate Students found here

• Guidelines for submitting the approved thesis are found at the following websites:
Thesis Electronic Publication Form
Digital submission instructions 

Procedures for Comprehensive Examinations for MA  Students

The student's advisor is responsible for preparing the comprehensive examination in accordance with each student's program.

Applying for the Comprehensive Examination:

1. A Comprehensive Examination Application must be completed and returned by the specified date. One date each semester is designated for examinations by the Special Education program. However, arranged dates can be set up with your advisor and the CHSE Graduate Programs Coordinator, Ms. Carol Scott (, under special circumstances.

2. Ms. Carol Scott, Coordinator of CHSE Graduate Programs, notifies all graduate students of the dates selected each semester by email. The application for the examination is attached to the email.

3. The student meets with his/her advisor to prepare for the examination and to determine the number of questions and a second faculty evaluator. All MA and AGS students take 3 hours of 12 comprehensive examinations.

4. The advisor forwards a copy of the examination questions to the Coordinator at least one week before the date of the examination.

During the Day of Exam:

5. Each student receives a copy of the examination by a proctor and has three hours to complete the examination.

6. Upon completing the examination, students email their responses to the Coordinator.

7. The Coordinator posts the responses on the Faculty/Staff Special Education ELMS/Canvas organization site.

Evaluation of the Comprehensive Examination:

 8. The advisor and the designated additional faculty member read the comprehensive examination responses. Each independently completes a rubric for each question and evaluates each question on a three-point scale: (1) fail; (2) pass; and (3) high pass. The student must average across readers a score of 2.0 or higher on each question to pass.

9. The advisor writes an electronic summary of the examination that is given to the Program Director via the Coordinator.

10. The Program Director notifies the student of the results in writing; a copy of this letter is sent to the College of Education Graduate Office and to the advisor.

11. A copy of the Program Director's letter, examination responses, and readers' evaluations are kept in the Coordinator’s office.

12. Students who fail the examination must generate a remedial plan with their advisor. The examination can be retaken only once. After a second failure, the student may appeal in writing to his/her advisor and department chair for permission to take an examination a third time. This appeal is forwarded to the Associate Dean in Graduate Studies for final approval.

Dr. Jade Wexler, Program Director (

Carol Scott, Coordinator (

Academic deadlines are provided by the Office of the Registrar for the academic year. Students should refer to the deadlines listed in Important Dates  prior to the beginning of the degree completion semester.  

Students should check with their Department or Program for any deadlines it may have.  Please contact:

Carol Scott, Coordinator of Graduate Studies
Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education
(301) 405-8384


Visit the Department of Counseling, High Education and Special Education program handbooks and forms page.

The Graduate Student Life Handbook provides information on academics, campus resources, finances, health, job opportunities, and information on how to get involved as a graduate student. 


Graduate students in the College of Education are responsible for meeting University and the Graduate School policy, and for meeting Program requirements.   The Graduate Catalog  is the official listing of Policies governing graduate education at the University of Maryland.  The schedule adjustment policy is available from the Office of the Registrar and provides information on adding and dropping courses, penalties, and refund schedules.


Graduate students are required to submit various forms at specific points in the program and as part of the degree clearance process.  Please refer to Steps Toward Graduation to determine the steps and forms that are required.    The forms for use by graduate students are available here.