Study Format Online

This degree is available 100% online.

Program Length 30 credits*, 24 months


*INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS: In addition to the base program curriculum listed below, international students attending face-to-face classes on the CUC campus are required to take the Seminar in Higher Education, a 3-credit course.

Special Education Endorsements

Some of the classes required for this degree program apply toward the Illinois endorsements in Special Education. These classes are marked with an asterisk (*) next to a course title in the curriculum listing below.


Special Education Methods for Early Childhood Educators*

Candidates will study developmentally and individually appropriate methods for fostering the social, emotional, cognitive, communication, adaptive, and motor development and learning of young children with special needs in various settings, including the home, school, and community. This course includes an in-depth analysis of theories and principles of developmentally appropriate practice, Universal Design for Learning, differentiated instruction, and child development. Field experience is required.

Special Education Assessment for Early Childhood Educators*

This course includes a study of the strategies, procedures, and formal and informal instruments for assessing social, emotional, cognitive, communication, and motor skills of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with developmental delays or disabilities. Learning experiences in this course will equip candidates with methods for conducting formative and summative individual and program evaluation. Assessments of family concerns, priorities, and resources, as well as school, home, and community learning environments will also be addressed. Field experience is required.

Language Development in Early Childhood Special Education*

This course addresses typical and atypical language development in young children, with an emphasis on specific language disabilities. Candidates will explore the relationship between communication delays and other areas of early learning and development, as well as learn about alternative communication systems for young children with disabilities. Field experience is required.

Family and Community Relationships in Early Childhood Special Education*

This course contains strategies for developing positive and supportive relationships with families of young children with special needs, including the legal and philosophical basis for family participation. Also studies will be family-centered services, and strategies for working with socially, culturally, and linguistically diverse families. Approaches and models for promoting effective consultation and collaboration with other professionals and agencies within the community will also be addressed. Field experience is required.

Characteristics of the Young Exceptional Learner

Early Intervention Methods and Transitional Planning

Child Development and Ethics in Early Childhood Education

This course examines child development and ethics of current theory and practice in early childhood education. Critical examination of a variety of current models is included. Issues of mainstreaming, inclusion and cultural pluralism as they relate to the education of children from birth through grade three are also incorporated. Field experience included.

Differentiation and Learning Theory

Introduction to the philosophy, learning theory and theoretical perspective of differentiation. Examination of ways that classrooms can effectively support differentiating instruction and assessment to address the complex challenges of meeting the diverse learning needs and levels of all students.

Special Education Practicum I: Content Area Learning and School Collaboration

This practicum experience focuses on effective teaching practices for students with learning and emotional disorders, and will occur in one of the following school settings: general education classroom, special education classroom or resource room. It is designed to provide educators with opportunities to demonstrate effective collaborative practices, teaching strategies, assessment practices, progress monitoring techniques, behavior management practices. Includes 20 practicum hours.

Special Education Practicum II: Content Area Learning and Community Collaboration

This practicum focuses on effective teaching practices for students with academic and physical challenges and will take place in one of the following settings: elementary or high school, therapeutic day school, residential school/facility, homebound instruction, and hospital or treatment facility. Educators will spend four weeks serving the needs of students with physical disabilities, and four weeks serving students with academic challenges including autism, traumatic brain injury, and intellectual disabilities. It is designed to provide educators with opportunities to demonstrate effective collaborative practices, teaching strategies and assessment and progress monitoring techniques for individual or small groups of students with physical and academic challenges. Includes 20 practicum hours.

Action Research

Understanding of action research in educational settings. Focus on development of basic action research skills for improved teacher practice. Skills for interpreting published research are also emphasized.


Capstone Experience

A master’s capstone is required for all master of arts candidates. This culminating project highlights the candidate’s mastery of content throughout his or her studies. Capstones are traditionally a summary of work demonstrating overall growth and specific understandings of the professional standards. The capstone serves as a performance-based evaluation and promotes reflective practice. It also demonstrates the professional’s proficiency in integrating technology and his or her ability to interpret theory into practice.


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