Master of Arts in Education

Special Education

Overview of the Program

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 who possess a valid Preliminary Level I Education Specialist Credential in Mild/Moderate or Moderate/Severe Disabilities may combine their master's degree studies with coursework from their Professional Level II Education Specialist Credential program preparation. Candidates from related disciplines may pursue this advanced degree with consent from the Department of Educational Leadership and Special Education. Candidates must apply and be admitted both to the University and to the M.A. program in order to pursue this degree.

In addition to the M.A. core curriculum, M.A. candidates in Special Education will complete the Professional Level II coursework (9-12 units) as well as relevant elective coursework in consultation with their assigned M.A. advisor (units vary depending upon the M.A. pathway they select).

Level II Education Specialist Candidates Pursuing an M.A. in Special Education

Currently, all Professional Level II Education Specialist core courses (EDSP 512, 513, 514 & 515) can be applied toward the Special Education concentration of the M.A. degree program. Please refer to the University catalog for a listing of the current courses offered. Qualified M.A. applicants in Special Education may enter in fall or spring semesters. Level II candidates who are concurrently accepted into the M.A. program would have the option of beginning the M.A. core curriculum during the first semester of their Level II course of study or waiting until after they have completed a portion of the Level II program. Candidates, however, are strongly encouraged to take the initial M.A. core course (EDUC 570) early in their preparation and to prepare a course of study integrating both the Professional Level II coursework with the M.A. core curriculum.

Non-Professional Level II Candidates Pursuing an M.A. in Special Education

Qualified applicants to the M.A. program in Special Education may be accepted in both fall and spring semesters. Candidates from other programs seeking an M.A. in Education with a concentration in Special Education are expected to complete three or four courses in the Professional Level II program (EDSP 512, 513, 514 & 515), although they are not expected to formally enroll in the Professional Level II program in pursuit of this advanced credential. Priority for enrollment in all Level II programs is given to candidates seeking the Professional Level II credential. Therefore, consent of the instructor is required before outside candidates may enroll in any Level II course.

Special Education Program Concentration Coursework (9-12 units)

Candidates must apply 9-12 of these units toward their M.A. degree.

  • EDSP 512 (3 units): Advanced Issues in Assessment, Curriculum, & Instruction of Students with Disabilities
  • EDSP 513 (3 units): Current and Emerging Research and Practice in Special Education
  • EDSP 514 (3 units): Advanced Communication, Collaboration, & Consultation in Special Education
  • EDSP 515 (3 units): Advanced Legal Issues in Special Education

Electives (6-18 units)

Candidates have the opportunity to seek breadth or depth in a related area of study through completion of elective courses. The number of elective units needed to complete the M.A. degree requirements varies depending upon the M.A. pathway selected. Elective coursework may be drawn from other graduate programs in the School of Education, or other departments at Sonoma State University, such as psychology, counseling, kinesiology, or others. These courses are selected with the advice and approval of the M.A. advisor.


All M.A. candidates within the Special Education concentration will be assigned to a special education faculty advisor for the purpose of developing an individualized program of study. Electives will be determined in consideration with the advisor, in an effort to provide a broader or deeper program of study that responds to varying student interests.

Professional Portfolio

All Level II Education Specialist credential students are required to develop and maintain a Professional Portfolio in the Level II program. This portfolio is a continuation of the Preliminary Level I Program Portfolio that is based on the California Standards for the Teaching Profession. In addition, all M.A. candidates are required to prepare an M.A. portfolio throughout their course of study. Although the focus of each portfolio is different, there is some overlap given they both include professional writing samples and a record of the students' professional reflections of the impact of their graduate study on their educational practice. Level II students, therefore, will include entries from their M.A. Portfolio in their Level II Portfolio. Candidates outside the Level II program will review the portfolio requirements with their M.A. advisor to determine the purpose and focus of their M.A. portfolio.

For more information, please contact either:
School of Education Office (664-3115) Department of Educational Leadership and Special Education at (707) 664-3238