Turn Your Passion Into Impact With an MAT in Special Education Online
You want to help students with exceptionalities reach their fullest potential. Walden’s Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program online can help you turn your passion for empowering others into a meaningful career.
This innovative, nationally recognized1 online MAT program prepares you to address the instructional, behavioral, and social-emotional needs of all learners from kindergarten through age 21. Explore diverse learning exceptionalities, from developmental cognitive disorders to emotional and behavioral issues. Gain the evidence-based skills and strategies to create effective, personalized curriculum design and teaching experiences that help students thrive.
A Master of Arts in Teaching degree prepares students to pursue licensure as a special education teacher in 40 states.
Why Choose Walden?
As the Educator of Educators®, Walden proudly offers an MAT nationally recognized by the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC).
This full-time, online master’s program has virtual field experiences and avatar simulations to help you build actionable skills.
Learn to address student needs from a classroom, family, and community perspective. Help each unique child grow and succeed.
From financial aid services to our Certification Officer, we help you reach each milestone on your path to licensure.
- 46 semester credits
- Virtual Field Experience (VFE®)
This sequence represents the minimum time to completion. Time to completion will vary by student, depending on individual progress and credits transferred, if applicable. For a personalized estimate of your time to completion, call an Enrollment Specialist at 1-866-492-5336.
Teacher as Lifelong Learner and Professional Educator
Lifelong learning and professionalism are key components of teaching. Education professionals in this course are oriented to the skills, understandings, strategies, and knowledge necessary to become successful learners while establishing the foundations for becoming professional educators, including knowledge of child development. Course instructors help education professionals become comfortable in the online learning environment, enabling them to clarify program expectations; create support networks and learning communities with colleagues and instructors; and establish a personal professional philosophy to promote social change. Upon completion of this course, education professionals demonstrate understanding of resources and expectations, initiate an electronic professional portfolio, and determine strategies for success as professional educators.
|(3 sem. cr.)|
Today's Classroom and the Diverse Learner
The dynamics of today's classroom are unique and challenging for teachers and learners. Education professionals in this course explore and analyze issues, complexities, and responsibilities associated with the field of education in the 21st century, including providing equal educational opportunities for all learners, regardless of their differences. They come to understand that many factors influence learning, including individual experiences, talents, prior learning, language, culture, and family and community values. Additionally, education professionals gain an understanding of the Minnesota-based American Indian tribal government, history, language, and culture. They engage in discussions and reflections on issues of diversity through which they have the opportunity to articulate, defend, and/or challenge current issues. They also address learning theory, diverse learning styles, and practical instructional strategies, and they acquire theoretical and practical knowledge about today's classroom as well as the family and community contexts that influence children's learning and development.
|(3 sem. cr.)|
Effective Practices: Assessment, Teaching, and Learning
To help ensure high levels of learning and achievement for all students, today's educators must be knowledgeable about learners and learning and well-versed in effective teaching and assessment practices. In this course, education professionals examine the interrelationships between assessment, teaching, and learning as well as effective practices for applying and integrating these critical components in the P–12 classroom. They gain a historical perspective on the standards and accountability movement, and they examine standards in their state or local setting. They also explore learning theory in the context of today's challenging educational goals and standards. Education professionals learn and apply research-based practices in effective assessment, curriculum design, and instruction. Through on-site and Virtual Field Experience (VFE®), they critically analyze and implement teaching and learning principles and practices that help ensure awareness of individual and collective needs of students.
|(3 sem. cr.)|
Education professionals are helped to create safe, supportive, and respectful learning environments that promote social-emotional development, self-responsibility, and character to optimize learning for all students in this course. Education professionals learn how to foster a sense of community in the classroom and develop positive relationships with and among students. They explore age-appropriate skills and strategies for managing dynamic and flexible grouping structures and teaching conflict resolution. They also examine strategies for building positive relationships, fostering motivation, and engaging in effective communication and problem-solving with parents and families. Education professionals apply course concepts through the development of a hands-on, age-appropriate learning activity to implement within a classroom field experience.
|(3 sem. cr.)|
Collaboration to Support All Learners
In this course, candidates explore strategies for effective communication and collaboration with colleagues, specialists, families, and community agencies to provide support for all children. Candidates examine collaboration strategies that promote the growth and learning of all children, including those with exceptionalities. Candidates learn about the roles of all participants in collaborative teams such as Individualized Education Program (IEP) team, professional learning communities (PLCs), and co-teaching teams. Candidates examine the role of the school in supporting all learners within the larger community context. They identify factors in the students' environments that may impact their growth and learning and explore strategies for effective collaboration with diverse families.
|(3 sem. cr.)|
Foundations of Special Education
What do special educators need to know and be able to do to support students with exceptionalities and address their unique learning needs? In this course, education professionals examine historical, legal, and philosophical foundations that inform teaching and learning for students with exceptionalities. Education professionals explore issues related to identification, eligibility criteria, and delivery of services for students across multiple disability areas. Through course assignments and discussions with colleagues, education professionals develop the knowledge and skills necessary to build collaborative relationships with families and other stakeholders to help provide appropriate services to students.
|(3 sem. cr.)|
Foundations of Literacy
An important role of all educators is helping students develop the literacy skills they need to succeed in school and in life. In this course, education professionals build foundational knowledge in literacy principles, practices, and strategies so that they can effectively engage and enhance students' reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Education professionals learn about early literacy development including phonological awareness, concepts of print, and phonics. They explore strategies to help developing readers, including ways to promote vocabulary, comprehension, fluency, writing, and content-area literacy. Education professionals identify research-based principles that support the literacy and learning of all students, including English language learners. Through field experience assignments, education professionals develop and implement literacy instruction and assessments with students in K–12 classrooms. Topics include organizing the literacy classroom, differentiating literacy instruction, and involving families to support the literacy development of all students.
|(3 sem. cr.)|
Individualizing Education Programs for Learners With Exceptionalities
All learners possess unique characteristics, interests, and abilities. One of the most important responsibilities of special educators is to consider the individual strengths and needs of students with exceptionalities and to collaborate with families and other stakeholders to individualize their education appropriately. In this course, education professionals learn about the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process, including referral, eligibility, and the importance of using research-based interventions. They explore stakeholder responsibilities, consider assessments and other forms of data that inform program planning, and develop an IEP for a case study student. Education professionals consider the benefits of assistive technology and the role of transition planning in developing individualized education for learners with exceptionalities.
|(3 sem. cr.)|
Characteristics of Learners With Exceptionalities
Special educators must understand each category of exceptionality as well as the abilities and needs of individual learners. In this course, education professionals examine the characteristics and instructional implications of specific learning disabilities, emotional and behavioral disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, intellectual disabilities, other health impairments, and giftedness. They explore accommodations and modifications for students with exceptionalities and consider how to foster effective and positive relationships with all stakeholders to support student success. In their field experience, education professionals apply course content by completing a child study project, in which they conduct an intensive case study of a single student with exceptionalities in a K–12 classroom.
|(3 sem. cr.)|
Literacy Assessment and Intervention to Support Student Learning
Learners with exceptionalities often experience difficulties in literacy, which, in turn, negatively affect their learning and achievement. What can educators do to prepare these students for academic success? The focus of this course is on designing, implementing, monitoring and adjusting, and assessing literacy development to promote achievement across the curriculum. Education professionals use literacy assessments and interventions with students in K–12 classrooms to foster language development and to promote phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, fluency, and comprehension. Candidates explore the impact of reading and writing disabilities on learning, and consider literacy practices and strategies for developing students' academic language and supporting their diverse learning needs. In addition, candidates examine assessment data and other evidence to inform literacy instruction and incorporate assistive and other technology-based interventions.
|(3 sem. cr.)|
Behavior Management to Support Learners With Exceptionalities
Helping students to develop the necessary skills for positive behavior is critical to creating an educational environment where all students can learn. In this course, education professionals develop data-informed practical behavior management strategies from three different perspectives—individual behavior management, classroom management, and school-wide behavior support. Education professionals apply behavior management strategies to create and implement an individualized behavior management plan in a K–12 classroom with a target student.
|(3 sem. cr.)|
Instructional Strategies for Learners With Exceptionalities
How can special educators help students with exceptionalities reach their full potential? In this course, education professionals develop lesson-planning skills and apply research-based instructional strategies to promote the academic and social development of students with exceptionalities. Education professionals complete a lesson-planning project by collaborating with school personnel to design, adapt, and implement lessons in diverse K–12 classrooms.
|(3 sem. cr.)|
Demonstration teaching is the culminating experience in the teacher preparation program and is an opportunity to apply knowledge and skills and to demonstrate required competencies. During demonstration teaching, education professionals will participate in orientation activities then gradually assume complete teaching responsibility of the special education classroom for 4 consecutive weeks over a 12-week placement, gaining real-world experience and the opportunity to translate theory into practice. Candidates demonstrate the various roles of the special educator. Education professionals work closely with, and are evaluated by, their university supervisor, classroom cooperating teacher, and Walden instructor. During demonstration teaching, all special education professionals are assessed on the Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA) and the Demonstration Teaching Evaluation. This course runs concurrently with EDUC 6649 - Seminar for Professional Educators.
|(4 sem. cr.)|
Seminar for Professional Educators
Taken concurrently with EDUC 6648 - Demonstration Teaching, this seminar allows education professionals to consolidate their knowledge and fine-tune their skills as they reflect on and share experiences from the districts, schools, and classrooms in which they are completing their demonstration teaching assignments. Candidates complete requirements for their ePortfolio and develop strategies for success as professional educators. The seminar promotes reflection, problem-solving among colleagues, group and individual reflection, and collaborative feedback to support professional practice. Seminar topics focus on promoting success as candidates transition from the program of study (POS) into the special education profession.
|(3 sem. cr.)|
This course provides a structured approach to the practice of action research. Education professionals learn how to address relevant problems, become involved in collaborative inquiry, and use data and research to inform their practice. Education professionals engage in reflective practices as they plan data-informed actions to improve student learning, contribute to positive change in school environments, and enhance their professional growth.
|(3 sem. cr.)|
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Earn a Degree From a CAEP-Accredited College of Education
The Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). This means the college has met rigorous standards for demonstrating excellence and continuous improvement in educator preparation.
Program Admission Considerations: A bachelor's degree or higher.
General Admission Requirements: Completed online application and transcripts. Please note that the materials you are required to submit may vary depending on the academic program to which you apply. More information for international applicants.
Tuition and Fees
|Tuition||46 semester credit hours||$595 per semester hour||$27,370|
|Technology Fee||Per semester||$210||$1,050|
Effective May 9, 2022
|Tuition||46 semester credit hours||$610 per semester hour||$28,060|
|Technology Fee||Per semester||$220||$1,100|
*The tuition reflects the minimum time to completion. Time to completion varies by student, depending on individual progress and credits transferred, if applicable. Tuition and time to complete may be reduced if transfer credits are accepted, or if you receive grants, scholarships or other tuition reductions. Walden may accept up to 6 transfer credits. For a personalized estimate of the number of your transfer credits that Walden would accept, call an Enrollment Specialist at 844-768-1080.
Tuition and fees are subject to change. Books and materials are not included and may cost between $1,000 to $1,200.
Many Walden degree-seeking students—67%—receive some form of financial aid.* Create a customized plan that makes sense for you.
*Source: Walden University’s Office of Financial Aid. Data reports as of 2018.Find Ways to Save
Launch Your Future in Special Education
Walden’s online MAT program with a specialization in Special Education prepares you to apply for licensure as a K–Age 21 special education teacher. Through coursework embedded with insights from subject matter experts, you’ll gain skills you can apply immediately in the classroom. Build your expertise in collaboration, special education law, and advocacy and lead transformative change for students with exceptional needs.
Qualified, compassionate special education teachers are in demand. The U.S. Department of Education projects that 45 states will have a shortage of special education teachers in the 2020–2021 school year.2
With a Master of Arts in Teaching degree, you’ll be eligible to apply for a special education teaching license—a vital credential that can open doors in your career. Impact your community as a voice for students with special needs. Help children with challenges discover their own love of learning and grow to become their best selves.
A Master of Arts in Teaching degree can position you to pursue career options such as:4
- Special education teachers
- Special education instructional leaders
- Educational consultant
- Special education advocate
59,500Alumni and 150 state teachers of the year.3
A Master of Arts in Teaching degree can position you to work in settings such as:
- K–12 school settings
- Private/therapeutic settings serving students with mild to moderate disabilities
- Agencies working with people with mild to moderate disabilities
- Consulting and advocacy agencies
Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of this degree program.
Learning Outcomes - Master of Arts in Teaching Program
Graduates of Walden’s online Master of Arts in Teaching program with a specialization in Special Education will be prepared to:
- Understand the central concepts, tools of inquiry, and structures of the discipline he or she teaches and can create learning experiences that make these aspects of the subject matter meaningful for students.
- Understand how children learn and develop and can provide learning opportunities that support a child’s intellectual, social, and personal development.
- Understand and use a variety of instructional strategies to encourage student development of critical thinking, problem-solving, and performance skills.
- Plan instruction based upon knowledge of the subject matter, students, community, and curriculum goals.
- Understand and use formal and informal assessment strategies to evaluate and ensure the continuous intellectual, social, and physical development of the learner.
- Be a reflective practitioner who continually evaluates the effects of his or her choices and actions on others (students, parents, and other professionals in the learning community) and who actively seeks out opportunities to grow professionally.
- Use knowledge of effective verbal, nonverbal, and media communication techniques to foster active inquiry, collaboration, and supportive interaction in the classroom.
- Foster relationships with school colleagues, parents, and agencies in the larger community to support students’ learning and well-being.
- Understand how students differ in their approaches to learning and create instructional opportunities that are adapted to diverse learners.
- Use an understanding of individual and group motivation and behavior to create a learning environment that encourages positive social interaction, active engagement in learning, and self-motivation.
Stacy NessProgram Director
As program director in the School of Education and Professional Licensure, Dr. Ness oversees the special education, elementary education, early childhood studies, and principal preparation programs. She has also been an academic coordinator, course instructor, and lead university supervisor at Walden.
Kisha WalkerAcademic Coordinator
Dr. Walker is the academic coordinator of the Master of Arts in Teaching program with a specialization in Special Education, where she supports both instructors and students. She also serves as a university supervisor, course writer, and council member for several committees. She was awarded the Walden Faculty Excellence Award in July 2018.
Christopher KhourySenior Contributing Faculty
Dr. Khoury has been with Walden for 7 years, currently a Senior Contributing Faculty Member for the MAT Special Education Licensure Program and Lead Faculty for the Special Education Ph.D. Program. He serves on the Associate Dean Advisory Committee, Teacher Licensure Committee, and he has served as the content specialist on dissertation committees.
The MAT was extremely relevant to the work I was doing in my classroom. Walden will push you harder and make you stronger, and you will make the world a better place by pushing your kids to work harder and motivating them to become stronger.
Rebecca Weaver Master of Arts in Teaching Graduate
Walden provided me with the tools to get my teacher certification in the state of Georgia. I have been living my passion as an educator and uplifting youth along the way. It doesn’t get any better than that!
Doreen Moseley-Evans Master of Arts in Teaching graduate
Choosing to earn my degree at Walden University has enabled me to dream again and has given me the courage to reinvent myself.
LaTunja Caster Master of Arts in Teaching graduate
There was support all through the program, which made me confident enough to introduce friends who wanted to further their education at Walden. The support I received enabled me to become more efficient at teaching, which in turn promotes my students’ learning.
Abasiaka Enyenihi Master of Arts in Teaching graduate
FAQ About Walden’s Online Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Program
Here’s a basic outline of the steps to follow if you’re considering becoming a K–12 educator:
- Understand the licensure requirements for the state in which you wish to teach. Simply contact the state’s board or department of education to learn about the specific rules and policies they have in place regarding teacher licensure and teacher certification.
- Determine whether you wish to teach in an elementary or secondary school, and choose a specialization if you’d like to further focus your studies.
- Choose a university from which to earn your degree, and make sure the teacher licensure preparation program you need is offered. Often, this is a Master of Arts in Teaching (also known as an MAT degree). If you’re earning your degree through a university’s online program, be sure to speak with an Enrollment Specialist—and your state’s department of education—to confirm that the teacher licensure preparation program is approved in your state. Also, ask if your state is a “license-in-hand” or “program completer” state to determine which tests you will ultimately take.
- Review the university or degree program accreditation when selecting where to study. Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) accreditation is a nationally recognized standard for excellence in education and is a strong indicator of quality.
- Earn your master’s in teaching or a similar degree—yes, this is a big step, but necessary and worthwhile—so that you are eligible to sit for your state’s teacher licensure exam. Your state may require an institutional recommendation form, which, along with your transcripts, verifies that you have completed a teacher licensure preparation program.
- Pass your state’s teacher certification exam and become a licensed educator.
Professionals seeking a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) are looking to become first-time teachers, and they often hold a bachelor’s in a discipline other than education. There are a variety of options when it comes to choosing the right program, but a few key factors should always be considered before deciding, including accreditation, flexibility, diversity, and support. First, look for an MAT program offered at an accredited university. CAEP accreditation signals the quality of a university’s educator preparation programs, as well as the university’s commitment to continuous assessment and improvement. Flexible scheduling is also important for working professionals, which is why online degree programs are such a popular choice. It’s also vital to be able to connect with other professionals with diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences, which can greatly enhance your MAT experience. Lastly, be sure you choose a university with a strong support team that is invested in helping you succeed.
The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) is the only recognized national accreditor for educator preparation and aims to promote excellence through quality assurance and continuous assessment and improvement. Walden University is accredited by CAEP for a period of seven years, from April 2019 through June 2026. This accreditation covers initial teacher preparation programs, including the Master of Arts in Teaching program, and advanced educator preparation programs. Walden earned CAEP accreditation by meeting rigorous national standards and demonstrating excellence in the areas of content and pedagogy, clinical experiences, selectivity, program impact, and capacity for continuous improvement.
From 2016 to 2028, the number of U.S. students attending public schools is expected to grow 2% to 51.4 million.1 This creates an ongoing demand for highly qualified teachers who are prepared to meet students’ academic needs—and you could be one of them. If you have a passion for learning and the desire to help children develop the skills they need to succeed in life, choosing a teacher licensure preparation program like Walden’s Master of Arts in Teaching program is a good choice. Gain the competencies and knowledge you need to earn your license and begin to make a difference in students’ lives.
An MAT degree program can provide you with the fundamentals of classroom management, the foundations of literacy, the skills to work with diverse learners, and best practices for being effective in the classroom and in your school. Walden University’s MAT program has a specialization in Special Education (K–Age 21), which means you will also learn strategies to help effectively teach learners with exceptionalities.
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