Special Education Master’s Program Goes Online, Adds Autism Endorsement

May 17, 2011

THE MASTER OF ARTS in Special Education at MSU has been attracting larger numbers of students—especially teachers working full time—since it became a completely online program for the ?rst time in fall 2010.

Students can earn an endorsement in Learning Disabilities (LD) or in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), which is new at MSU this year.

Special education teachers are in high demand in many places throughout the United States. Over half of the students enrolled in special education have learning disabilities, and the number of students with autism spectrum disorders has increased dramatically in the past decade.

Assistant Professor Summer Ferreri said the Centers for Disease Control estimates 1 in 110 children have ASD and, in Michigan public schools alone, there are 12,000 to 14,000 students with an ASD diagnosis.

“We know there is demand in the system,” she said. “We want to start training educators so they are better prepared to improve the quality of life for those students.”

Although Ferreri has been the only College of Education faculty member specializing in autism, she is expected to be joined by a new hire selected after a nationwide search this fall.

Faculty members at MSU are known for innovative research about what works for students with disabilities in general and special education classrooms. They are former special education teachers who can successfully help educators improve their instruction and, ultimately, the achievement and motivation of their students.

With all courses online, practicing teachers can complete the master’s program without coming to campus—or missing out on the academic rigor expected at MSU. In most cases, projects and clinical experiences can also be completed in their own classrooms or schools.

Graduates of the teacher preparation program at MSU may transfer credits earned during their internship year to the master’s program; 12 credits for special education majors or 6 credits for elementary and secondary education majors.

The program allows students to earn the master’s degree and endorsement, just the master’s degree or just the ASD endorsement.

For more information, contact Lisa Plascencia, lisaplas@msu.edu or (517) 432-0418.