Click here for Site Map
Jump to Main Content

Special Education Frequently Asked Questions

 

Do you require the GRE test and if so what scores do you need?

MA:

No, the GRE is not required for admission into the MA Special Education program.

PhD:

Yes, the GRE Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical scores are required for admission into the PhD Special Education program. Please schedule your test early enough to insure your tests results can be scored and sent to MSU by the December 1 deadline. Test scores should be sent in with your application materials; delays in score submission will delay decision-making about admission status and possibly decrease the probability of admission. Applicants who submit materials prior to the deadline are given priority in the review and admission process.

↑ Back to Top

If I had a different major than special education (and related fields), could I still apply to the Special Education program?

Yes, you may apply if your undergraduate or master’s degree is in a field other than special education. Your personal goal statement should reflect your career or goal shift and include a brief explanation for your decision-making. Be aware that you may be required to take additional coursework in special education depending on your career aspirations and background.

↑ Back to Top

How long is the Special Education program? Can you complete the program on a part-time basis?

MA:

The Masters program in Special Education is designed to be completed within approximately two years of matriculation, though full-time versus part-time status will affect the length of the program because many courses are offered only once a year.

PhD:

Most students attend the doctoral program in Special Education on a full-time basis and complete the program in 4-5 years. Full-time enrollment is STRONGLY recommended given the research-intensive nature of the program and the Graduate School’s residency requirement for PhD students (6 credits of coursework per semester for two consecutive semesters, which can include summer). Although strongly recommended, if full-time study is not possible, it is ESSENTIAL that students work closely with their academic advisor after the program orientation meeting in August to ensure appropriate sequencing of courses and sufficient opportunities for research and college teaching.

↑ Back to Top

When is the application deadline?

MA:

 

PhD:

The application deadline is December 1 for priority consideration and financial assistance. Late applications will be considered on a space available basis, though financial aid typically will not be available for late applicants.

↑ Back to Top

How are you assigned an advisor?

MA:

Students are assigned advisors based on current number of advisees and other faculty load considerations.

PhD:

Student advisor assignments for the first year of study are made by placing the student with a faculty member with similar goals and/or research interests. Once the student’s Guidance Committee is constituted, another advisor may take the place of the first-year temporary advisor.

↑ Back to Top

When are admissions decisions made?

MA:

 

PhD:

Applications are due on December 1 and decisions typically will be made within 6-8 weeks.

↑ Back to Top

What has the greatest weight in terms of all the application materials?

There is a common misconception that there is one factor over all others that we emphasize in the evaluation of each application. The review is comprehensive and faculty consider each component of the application for the applicant’s fit with the program philosophy, knowledge about the program and faculty members’ interests and expertise, and experiences that reflect preparedness to assume graduate-level work.

↑ Back to Top

What are the average GPA and GRE scores of students in the program?

Good question, especially for academic units that heavily emphasize GPA and GRE scores as primary in the admission review process. However, in this academic unit, program faculty have found that GPA, GRE scores, AND other required components of the application materials (i.e., professional narrative, research, teaching, and leadership experiences, values) also have been found to significantly predict success. Applicants are cautioned about making a decision about applying based solely on GPA and GRE scores given the ranges found within each student cohort. Consequently, there have been cases where some applicants with extraordinarily high GPAs and/or GRE scores have not been admitted and those with more modest status have.

↑ Back to Top

What is the retention rate after the first year?

Because the pool of applicants is highly competitive and admission decision-making occurs only after extensive faculty deliberations, the retention rate approximates 100%. The exceptions to this rule are typically related with one of the following: a shift in students’ life circumstances, students’ desire to re-focus career goals, or failure to maintain ‘good-standing’ status within the program. These are the exceptions, but such cases do occur from time to time.

↑ Back to Top

What type of funding is available (other than loans)?

MA:

No funding is available for students in the masters degree program in Special Education.

PhD:

The Special Education doctoral program currently has one leadership preparation grant for which students are automatically considered. In addition, students who meet the December 1 deadline for admissions are automatically considered for University and College fellowships and other awards, as well as Department graduate assistantships (such as a teaching assistantship). In the case of teaching assistantships, students must identify courses for which he or she might be suitable and apply for the teaching assistantship. The application may be found here.

The following are websites that provide potential options for students seeking funding opportunities in support of graduate education:

http://grad.msu.edu/funding/
http://staff.lib.msu.edu/harris23/grants/3gradinf.htm
http://www.isp.msu.edu/funding/grad_scholarships.htm

Please review each of these opportunities carefully; keeping in mind that although assigned advisors will support student’s applications for funding upon request, each student must assume full responsibility for securing funding. Once a source of funding or employment position or assistantship has been identified, each admitted student must notify faculty of the site, provide a description of the position, and indicate the contact person and campus address. Where no letter is required, assigned academic advisors’ contact information may be listed as references in the application process. Remember that it is imperative that this process occurs as soon as possible given that due to 9 month appointments, faculty are not as available for contact during the summer months as they are during the regular academic year.

↑ Back to Top

Is a teaching certificate required for admission into the program?

MA:

Yes. A teaching certificate is required for admission into the Special Education masters degree program. For those pursuing an endorsement only (i.e., autism endorsement), a special education teaching certificate is required; for all others seeking the masters degree plus an endorsement, a general education teaching certificate is required plusa an endorsement or certificate in special education.

PhD:

No. A teaching certificate is not required for admission into the Special Education doctoral program, though a background in elementary and/or secondary education, especially education of students with disabilities, is preferred. Individuals without an education background and/or experiences working with students with special needs may be required to take additional coursework and/or participate in school-based activities.

↑ Back to Top