College of

Master's (M.Ed.) Special Education & PA State PreK-8 or 7-12 Special Education Certification

Earn your Master's in Special Education + Pennsylvania Certification!

Quick Facts

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Meet our faculty!

  • Application requirements: Two letters of recommendation (at least one recommendation must come from a faculty member at an accredited academic institution), transcripts, 3.0 GPA (undergrad) and essay
  • Deadline(s): July 15 for fall start, December 15 for spring start and April 15 for summer start
  • Course Requirements: 10-11 courses (32 credits, minimum)
  • Typical Course Load: Fall (2 courses), Spring (2 courses), Summer (2 courses) plus fieldwork which allows candidates to complete the program in two years 
  • Time to Completion: 2-3 years
  • Practical Experience Component: Field work is an important part of the program. Those students who are already teachers have the opportunity to complete the field work at their current positions with faculty permission.
  • Alumni Current Positions: Graduates work as teachers in both public and private K-12 classrooms. 


As classrooms become more inclusive, teachers increasingly work with children with a broad range of abilities. The master’s in Special Education with either PreK-8 or 7-12 Pennsylvania Special Education Certification gives educators enhanced tools and effective interventions to help each child learn. 

This Master of Education program is for people who are already certified in general education in either Elementary or Secondary Education and are seeking to obtain certification in Special Education. 

Master’s candidates take 32 credits (minimum) to satisfy the Pennsylvania certification requirements in Special Education. Classes are arranged in the late afternoons or evenings to make the program convenient for those who work full-time. Students can begin in any semester, with admissions deadlines of July 15 for the fall semester, Dec. 15 for the spring semester and April 15 for the summer. 

Those seeking to apply should complete an online application and provide undergraduate and (if applicable) graduate transcripts.  A grade point average of at least 3.0 is mandated for undergraduate work. Prospective students should also supply two letters of recommendation (academic or professional), an essay and an acknowledgement of College of Education policy on clearances. 

Master’s candidates take such classes as Advanced Inclusionary Practices in K-12, Positive Behavior Support and Assessment in Special Education. The master’s degree with certifications includes extensive fieldwork integrated into the courses. Individuals who are already teaching may be able to use their settings for fieldwork with faculty permission. 


Lehigh’s faculty in Special Education are noted experts in such areas as autism, learning disabilities, academic intervention, emotional behavior disorders and positive behavior support. Lehigh operates the nationally-acclaimed Centennial School as a lab Special Education day school that works with children with emotional disturbance and students ages 6-12 with autism while preparing graduate students to become highly-qualified Special Education teachers. 

Special Education teachers work with students who have a wide range of learning, mental, emotional and physical disabilities. They adapt general education lessons and teach various subjects, such as reading, writing and math, to students with mild and moderate disabilities. They also teach basic skills, including literacy and communication techniques, to students with severe disabilities. 

Teachers in the field are in demand and that trend is expected to continue. The number of positions nationally is predicted to rise by 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, adding 33,300 new jobs, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 


This 32-credit (minimum) master’s program is designed for graduate students seeking Pennsylvania additional certification as Special Education PreK-8 teachers or 7-12. The following PA certificate holders may enroll in a Special Education PreK-8 program: N-3, K-6, PreK-4, 4-8, K-12, and Reading Specialist. The following PA certificate holders may enroll in a Special Education 7-12 program: 7-12 , K-12, and Reading Specialist. The mission of this special education master’s program is to prepare highly qualified educators who are not only skilled practitioners, but also leaders in establishing effective teaching and learning environments for individuals with disabilities in their schools and communities.

M.Ed. and PA Instructional Level I Additional Certification in Special Education PreK-8

The following PA certificate holders may enroll in a Special Education PreK-8 program:  N-3, K-6, PreK-4, 4-8, K-12, and Reading Specialist.

M.Ed. and PA Instructional Level I Additional Certification in Special Education 7-12 (32 credits minimum)

The following PA certificate holders may enroll in a Special Education 7-12 program: 7-12, K-12, and Reading Specialist.

Students are expected to have completed the equivalent of each of the three courses listed below. If a student lacks one of these courses, he or she will be required to complete it before going out on the intensive teaching experience. Each such course may be applied toward the degree as an adviser-approved elective.
SPED 332  Education and Inclusion of Individuals with Special Needs 3
SPED 405 Principles and Applications of K-12 Assessment  3
SPED 409 K-12 Classroom Environment and Management 3
Program of Study (32 credits minimum)  
Core Course Work (18 credits)  
SPED 404  Diversity, Families, and School Collaborations in K-12 3
SPED 418  Alternative Curricular Approaches 3
SPED 429 Professional Seminar 3
SPED 432 Positive Behavior Support 3
SPED 452  Assessment in Special Education 3
SPED 465  Advanced Inclusionary Practices in K-12 3
Coursework for PreK-8 Additional Teacher Certification (6 credits)  
SPED 411 Early Childhood Education 3
SPED 419 Academic Interventions: PreK-8 3
Coursework for 7-12 Additional Teacher Certification (6 credits)  
SPED 421 Academic Interventions: Secondary Level 3
SPED 423 Transition to Post-school Life 3
Education Electives (6 credits with approval of the adviser)  
Intensive Teaching Experience (2 credits)  
SPED 420 Field Experience:  Special Education Certification 1-3

Course descriptions can be found in the course catalog.

Pennsylvania Department of Education Requirements for Teacher Certification

It is important for individuals considering teaching as a career to be aware of the fairly rigorous academic, health, and personal character requirements for teacher certification that are required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) for teacher candidates statewide:

  • An overall GPA of at least 3.0 (both graduate and undergraduate)
  • Clearances. Visit the Office of Teacher Certification.
  • Refer to the Pennsylvania Department of Education for information on Pennsylvania Certification

Application Requirements & Deadlines