Skip to main content

Master’s Degree in Education: Mild/Moderate Special Education

This on-campus, master’s degree program can prepare students for their professional journey through advanced study in education theory and practice with academic requirements for California State Teaching Credentials.

 Available Online
Request Info

1 1/2 years full time or 2 1/2 years part time

43 units required for completion

Combines classroom learning with fieldwork in over 25 schools

M.A. Education: Special Education

The M.A. Education: Special Education builds on the foundation of the bachelor’s degree students bring with them as well as their professional experience. Students in this master’s program develop a sophisticated understanding of the social, political, and cultural contexts of child and human development, preparing them to be advocates for democracy, diversity and inclusion in education at the school, district and state level.

Students who complete this education specialist instruction credential program are qualified to teach students with mild to moderate disabilities in K-12 settings and to adults through age 22.

Sample Special Education Courses


SPED 563: Teaching Students with Mild/Moderate Disabilities: Creating Inclusive Learning Environments

In this course, Special Education and Multiple Subject credential candidates will explore the impact of various disabilities on development and learning, and how different cultural settings can impact both exceptional groups of learners and students with disabilities. In addition, candidates will learn about the various laws that govern special education and students with disabilities, including the development and implementation of an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and the role of a Case Manager. Emphasis is placed on how to create an inclusive educational environment that benefits all learners in a diverse classroom and school community. Candidates will learn how to collaborate effectively between the General Education and Special Education teachers using Universal Design for Instruction (UDI) principles to plan differentiated instructional strategies, integrate assistive technology when appropriate, and ensure meaningful access to curricula through accommodations and modifications.

SPED 552: Communication and Collaboration: Developing Student, Family, and School Community Partnerships

The SPED 552 course will explore the spectrum of interpersonal and interactive collaboration and communication skills, including problem-solving, empathetic listening, mediation, and conflict resolution. Specifically, candidates will learn how to communicate, collaborate, and consult effectively with students with or without disabilities, their parents or primary caregivers, general and special education teachers, and transdisciplinary Individualized Education Program (IEP) team members. Skills as a Case Manager will be practiced in this course. Also included will be effective communication strategies with IEP team members, counseling strategies, co-teaching techniques, and cross-cultural issues, which are integrated throughout the course. Strategies will be analyzed and evaluated to create a plan which will be reviewed for application to use with students in need of a Least Restrictive Environment (LRE).

Sample Special Education Program Sequence

Other M.A. Education Credentials



The California Preliminary Education Specialist Credential qualifies candidates to teach students with mild to moderate disabilities in K-12 settings. This credential is a two-tiered process. Information on completing the second level is available through the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

Admission Requirements

  • Completed Application for Admission
  • Application Fee
  • Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution
  • Resume
  • Personal Statement
  • Official Transcripts from all institutions attended
  • Official CBEST (California Basic Educational Skills Test) scores*

*Passing the CBEST exam is an admissions expectation. However, applicants in the M.A. Education: Elementary Education, M.A. Education: Special Education, Elementary Education, or Special Education programs will be granted admission for 1 semester or 2 sessions if they have scheduled their CBEST exam at the time of application. Students without passing CBEST scores at the time of admission must participate in the CBEST workshop and support programs provided by the College. These students must pass the CBEST exam within 1 semester or 2 sessions to be allowed to progress in the program. Students who fail to pass the CBEST within this timeframe will be given the opportunity to change to the M.A. Human Development program, but must meet all admissions requirements for that program. Students who do not wish to change programs will be withdrawn. Students must request results of the exam be sent to Pacific Oaks College. The CBEST exam can be taken multiple times by the student, with a 45-day waiting period after each exam.