MA, Special Education, Professional Learning Community

Master of Arts in Special Education, Professional Learning Community

Special education teachers are an exceptional group of educators that serve as advocates for social justice and seek to uphold the dignity of all people including those with disabilities. The Master of Arts in Special Education degree provides you with advanced knowledge to address educational learning problems and improve teaching strategies to enhance student performance. The Professional Learning Community emphasis allows students to complete courses designed to meet their specific district needs.

It provides a unique model of learning by taking a "cafeteria" approach to identifying electives results are customized to meet the needs of specific groups of learners, intended to  maximize every student's educational development by providing quality content where needed and reduce redundancy. Students must be actively enrolled in a California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) approved School District or County Office of Education's Education Specialist program.

The alternative option II for completing the degree is available for students that currently hold a Preliminary Education Specialist (Level I) Credential and need to advance to the next level. The MA in Special Education program does not meet the preliminary credential requirements for you to teach in California public schools.

Program Learning Outcomes

  • Collaboration: Integrate skills and knowledge related to understanding appropriate collaborative partnerships with multidisciplinary teams that include families/guardians/caregivers, community members, and educational personnel.
  • Diversity: Demonstrate professional practices and attitudes that reflect value of and knowledge about children and families from diverse backgrounds and experiences.
  • Instruction: Implement and promote evidence-based and multifaceted teaching methodologies and strategies, including those incorporating appropriate technology to meet students’ individualized needs.
  • Assessment: Critically analyze, select, and use formal and informal assessments that are appropriate for each child’s culture, language and unique learning needs. Candidates will incorporate assessment results for IEP/IFSP/ITP development, Response to Intervention (RTI), instruction, and interventions.
  • Behavioral Strategies: Implement Positive Behavior Supports, social skills instruction, and environmental arrangement to support developmentally appropriate social and educational behaviors.

Applicants must complete the formal application process and all required documents, which include:

  1. Two Letters of recommendation along with Two Waivers from individuals who are familiar with the applicants academic/professional ability to undertake graduate studies. 
  2. Must hold a valid Education Specialist Credential or successfully complete the prerequisite courses.

You must satisfactorily fulfilling one of the following admission options:

Option One
A 3.0 GPA calculated over the most recent 30 graded semester (45 quarter) credits completed in either a baccalaureate or post baccalaureate program, including credits earned toward a credential.

Option Two
A GPA between 2.5 and 2.99 (MAE/MAT requires 2.75-2.99) calculated over the most recent graded 30 semester (45 quarter) credits completed in either a baccalaureate or post baccalaureate program, including credits earned toward a credential. In addition, a satisfactory score on an accepted graduate admissions exam (GRE, GMAT, CSET, or MAT).

  • Graduate Record Exam (GRE): achieve the required minimum scores on two out of three of the subsections of the GRE. (Minimum score for Quantitative: 141, minimum score for Verbal: 150, minimum score for Analytic Writing: 4.5)
  • Miller Analogies Test (MAT): achieve a minimum scaled score of 400.
  • Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT): fulfill the formula GMAT + (GPA X 200) > 1000.
  • Subject Matter Competency Examinations: successfully complete all subtests of the appropriate California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET). Exceptions are Foundational Level General Math where only subtests I and II are required and Foundational Level General Science where only subtests I and II are required.

Option Three
An earned master's degree or higher from a regionally accredited institution.

Option Four
A GPA below 2.5, submission of a portfolio of evidence that shows adequate preparation for graduate studies. The portfolio will contain: writing samples that show graduate level communications and analytical skills; a detailed resume showing professional development and achievements; awards; professional recognition; letters of reference from persons who can attest to the applicant’s ability to do graduate level work; and a letter of explanation detailing the reasons the student believes he or she is a good candidate for graduate study in the discipline requested.

Core Course (3 credits)

EDUU 600* Research and Evaluation Methods 3

*EDUU 600 is a prerequisite for all other core courses and candidates are advised to follow this structure.


Electives (12-27 credits)

Electives must be 500 or 600 level courses selected from graduate courses currently available to Brandman University education graduate students in any program, provided the courses help the Community to reach its learning goals. A minimum of 50% of the course credits (15 credits) must be in special education. In the event that the Community determines it needs to have a new course developed to meet its specific Learning Community goals, the education faculty of Brandman University will work with the group to develop such a course or courses. It is understood that such courses must first be approved by the appropriate faculty/administrator prior to being used in the degree. In addition, the proposed electives along with a rationale for choosing those electives must be submitted to the faculty/administrator for approval as meeting the intent of the Professional Learning Community emphasis.


Total Credits 30


Candidates must progress through the program as a cohort, completing their coursework and demonstration of mastery at approximately the same time as their peers.

  • Each candidate must develop a portfolio that documents his/her personal growth and mastery within the learning community. The portfolio would include artifacts, reflections, collaborative learning, best practices, and documentation of an Area of Expertise pursued as part of the degree.
  • Each candidate must create and conduct a presentation reflective of his/her area of expertise.
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