Welcome to the Program
Congratulations! We are so excited you have decided to join us. The Master of Arts in Special Education offers emphasis areas in Learning Disabilities (LD) and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Throughout the master’s program, you will engage in clinical projects and practicums that will give you many opportunities to engage in inquiry and to reflect on teaching practice with the support, feedback and collaboration of the teaching faculty.
All courses are fully online and are taught by special education program faculty members who have extensive experience as researchers, teacher educators and special education classroom teachers.
The information included here will help you learn more about the program, highlight the steps necessary to complete your master’s degree, as well as some beneficial resources. Lastly, we have provided you with some tips on being a successful online learner.
If you have any questions throughout your participation in our program, please do not hesitate to contact us. We value your input and feedback, and are happy to answer any questions you may have!
Thanks and welcome to the program!
The Special Education Master’s Program Team
Orientation To Do List
Step 1: Activate Account
- Once you have accepted your Offer of Admission in the MSU admissions portal, you can find your MSU Student ID at the top of the Application Status page within the portal.
- You will receive an email notification to log into their Admissions portal to retrieve your PAN. Students will need to click on “Show Personal Access Number (PAN)” button to display the 4-digit PAN.
- Within the portal, you will need to click on the link “Activate your MSU NetID and email,” which will take you to the Admissions website to activate your NetID.
- Use your MSU e-mail address to access the online course web systems Desire2Learn. You will also use your e-mail address to access Campus Solutions, where you can see your course schedules and grades, view and pay bills, and track your financial aid.
Step 2: Pay Tuition
Students and guests can make payments on balances via the Student Information System (SIS) at student.msu.edu. After logging in, students and guests should navigate to the Student Accounts tile to access their student account. Once inside the payment portal, students and guests can make payments on current and prior semester balances, view account details and bills, enroll in a payment plan or sign up for direct deposit refunds. For more information about billing and payments, visit the Student Accounts information on the MSU Office of the Controller website.
Step 3: Find a Placement
To assist you in planning for these experiences, here is a summary of the expectations and requirements necessary for the approval of any practicum setting.
Practicum Hours: 90 total contact hours are required for each practicum in the LD emphasis area, including 90 hours in the instruction of students with disabilities in content-area instruction (during CEP 842) and 90 hours in the instruction of students with disabilities in literacy (during CEP 804A). The majority of these hours must entail direct instructional contact with students. Guidelines for each of the practicums provide more guidance about the activities that can be counted toward the requisite practicum hours. Policies for logging hours and submitting those logs are also provided in each practicum course. Depending on the endorsement sought, 180-240 total practicum contact hours are required. Some of these hours may come from experiences that are required as part of the ASD specific courses. The remaining hours are obtained when taking the practicum course (CEP 894J). A log of hours must be completed and submitted at the conclusion of the practicum.
Instructional Group that Includes Students with Disabilities: In the practicum setting, you must have access to an instructional group that includes students with disabilities who match the endorsement criteria (i.e., LD or ASD). Further, in the LD emphasis area, you must have a minimum number of contact hours per week (as specified by the course instructor) with the group in instructional activities designed to satisfy the applied requirements of the associated course (literacy, content-area instruction).
Onsite Supervisor: An onsite supervisor within the school district who has certification in the desired endorsement area must be identified, and the associated paperwork bearing the supervisor’s signature must be submitted in order for the supervisory arrangement to be reviewed and approved.
Appropriate Instructional Setting: Practicums must be completed in the settings in which the students in your endorsement area are typically educated by qualified personnel. Thus, most LD practicums and internships are completed in K-12 classrooms. ASD practicums and internships may be completed in K-12 settings or in center- or home-based programs, as long as these are directed by qualified personnel. Home-based tutoring or other activities conducted outside the auspices of a certified educational entity are not appropriate as internship or practicum settings.
Videotaping: Teaching videos are required as integral parts of the practicum and internship. You will analyze and reflect about your own teaching through the videos you create, and videos also will be reviewed by course instructors. In some cases, you will be asked to share your teaching videos with other students in your program.
Step 4: Contact your Advisor
Your advisor’s primary responsibility is to make sure you are taking the appropriate course work.
Special education faculty advisors will review your transcripts to determine whether the prior course work is sufficient to meet State of Michigan requirements. If prior course work is not sufficient, additional courses in literacy, development, technology or mathematics may be included in the M.A. program.
You should make sure you consult with your advisor about these and other requirements so that you will be eligible for any desired endorsements, and so that you will graduate in a timely manner.
MSU requires that all M.A. students complete a master’s comprehensive examination known as the Certifying Examination. The Certifying Examination is a test that you must take near the end of your program, if you wish to obtain a master’s degree. If a student fails the certifying examination, they are allowed one opportunity to retake the examination during a subsequent examination period. You must be enrolled in at least one credit hour to be eligible to take the exam.
Tips for being a successful online learner
- Have regular access to a computer, and a high-speed internet connection.
- Establish a regular study/learning schedule.
- Online courses offer flexibility and self-directed learning opportunities. However they also have deadlines and commitments. Be sure to set aside time each day and/or week to focus on your course.
- Check your email daily and respond to your instructor and classmates.
- Be sure to ask your instructor if you have any questions!
- Reach out to your instructor sooner rather than later. Always allow plenty of time for a response. If you don’t get a response, ask again!
- Be self-motivated and self-disciplined.
- Take responsibility for your own learning and plan to be a self-directed learner. Don’t expect the instructor to provide you with all the information and direction you need in the course.
- Don’t wait until the last minute.
- Although online learning offers a lot of flexibility, in most cases there are still deadlines, firm due dates and required regular participation. Careful time management is essential to your success. Schedule times for yourself to devote to your online learning rather than wait for that elusive break.
- Expect the unexpected.
- Always plan ahead for unexpected obstacles.