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Special Education (Grades 1-6) - M.S. Ed.

This program is designed for teachers certified in childhood education grades 1-6 who are interested in becoming certified in teaching students with disabilities. It meets the academic requirements for professional certification in childhood education as well as students with disabilities.

Why Choose Special Education?

Teacher turnover, retirement and rising student enrollment has created a nationwide shortage of educators certified to teach students with disabilities. The 37-credit master’s in students with disabilities (grades 1-6) program is designed to prepare educators to meet the specific needs of students diagnosed with:

  • learning disabilities
  • emotionally disturbed/behavioral disorders
  • autistic
  • physical disabilities
  • intellectual disabilities
  • multiple disabilities

Developed specifically for working professionals, all courses are offered in the afternoon and evenings, usually between 4:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.

The Location

Our campus is located in the Bronx, a New York City borough whose public school system serves nearly 45,000 students. As a graduate student in the M.S. Ed. special education program, you will gain at least 100 hours of on-site elementary classroom experience in some of the most socially and economically diverse school districts in the nation.

The Curriculum

Educational and psychological research is a core component of this program, as is hands-on experience. Your first semester at Manhattan will be spent developing the ability to evaluate primary research and design a research project  essential skills to keep you on top of an evolving field. Building on this framework, you will learn how to assess academic skills of at-risk, ELL (English Language Learners) and disabled students, as well as how to accommodate students and differentiate instruction in special education and inclusive classrooms.

In addition, you will be required to choose courses that cover the following areas:

  • language arts
  • math
  • science
  • social studies

The program culminates with fieldwork to help you strengthen your knowledge and practice your teaching skills in a special education or inclusive classroom in the Bronx or in Westchester.

Co-Curricular Opportunities

There are so many ways to get involved on campus, locally and across the globe:

  • Council for Exceptional Children - join a group of students and professionals to promote understanding and acceptance of exceptional individuals.
  • Best Buddies - join a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of the mentally retarded by providing opportunities for socialization.
  • Kappa Delta Pi – become an invited member of the international honor society for education and participate in outreach projects locally and internationally in locations such as Namibia, Italy, Turkey, Israel and Palestine.
  • The Center for Optimal College Readiness (COCR) - work with kids, teachers and counselors, while collaborating with a team and making a difference in the local community.
  • Lasallian Outreach Volunteer Experience (L.O.V.E) trips - volunteer to work with disabled, orphaned children in Jamaica or at a summer camp for children with kidney diseases in Texas.
  • Saturday Program of Recreation and Teaching (SPORT) Program – volunteer in a recreation program for local individuals with disabilities.
  • The Manhattan College Games – participate in an annual day of non-competitive sports and physical activities for persons with special needs.
  • Meet a Special Education Graduate Student: Daniel Russo
    Meet a Special Education Graduate Student

    "I pursued my undergraduate, graduate, and advanced education degrees at Manhattan College. I just love Manhattan College.

    "After obtaining my undergraduate degree, I went directly into the classroom and came back to Manhattan as a graduate student because I wanted to get my degree in special education. After earning a master’s degree, I transitioned to helping students with special disabilities. After several years of teaching, I returned to the program to do a leadership degree. These programs helped me see the diverse responsibilities of a leader, while at the same time staying rooted in your core values and doing what you believe is right. 

    "One of the things that sets Manhattan College apart from other institutions is the focus on practice. Manhattan makes sure that student teachers are placed in classrooms where they are exposed to the best practices in education. Early on, students work in schools under the guidance of their professors, then on their own with some classmates, and finally as an independent student teacher. It helps develop students’ skills to get out there and teach in the real world. 

    "The New York City school system is the most progressive in the country. Our schools are wonderful places to pilot new instructional practices and programs for families, teachers and community members.  At Manhattan, you have the advantage of being on the front lines of what's new and exciting in the field of education. 

    "Manhattan also taught me about the Lasallian philosophy of compassion and understanding. That translates into my work right now as principal of PS 294, The Walton Avenue School in the Bronx.  A large number of our students are homeless, many are from single parent households, and a lot of our students have been exposed to substance and physical abuse. Being a Lasallian means giving extra attention to our most vulnerable populations, and caring for the whole child and the whole family. The best thing about my work is making a difference in the community. My passion for teaching called me to think about how I could serve more widely, reach more families and change more lives. This is what continues to drive me every day. 

    "Any program is as special as the people in it, and I love that Manhattan is committed to curating a diverse student population that brings different perspectives to every class. If you walk into most schools in the Bronx, you’ll meet so many former Jaspers who share the Lasallian philosophy. The Manhattan alumni family also provides so many networking opportunities for us to continue our own learning and advance our careers. 

    "When it comes to the faculty, Manhattan College offers a small and caring cohort of education majors. They are your best friends on campus, and the one you stay in touch with five or even 10 years post graduation. Everyone crosses the finish line together. 

    "I would tell prospective students that if you're looking for a college that will feel like a family; a mission-driven organization committed to making a difference; as well as a place that will prepare you with the latest and greatest skills and approaches to teaching in the nation’s largest public school system, then, Manhattan is the place for you."

What Will You Learn?

You will gain an advanced understanding of what it takes to work with students with mild and moderate disabilities. You will learn to:

  • use formal and informal assessment tools
  • plan and implement instruction based upon the needs of students with special needs
  • implement a variety of strategies and methodologies that provide active engagement in learning
  • create an environment that encourages social interaction and appropriate behavior
  • understand the legal and ethical responsibilities of educators and parents in the community
  • be sensitive to the cultural diversity of students in the classroom
  • seamlessly integrate technology into instruction

See the Degree Requirements

Admissions Requirements

Review the requirements and application process for this graduate program.

What Will You Do?

Upon completion of the students with disabilities program and passing the New York State Teacher Certification Exams, you will be recommended for New York State certification. You will be prepared to teach grades 1-6 in a special education or inclusive classroom.

In my first few years of teaching, this program allowed me to balance the demands of my new career with every teacher's inherent desire to be a lifelong learner. The ongoing cycle of learning, applying, and reflecting accelerated my professional growth far beyond any other teacher development model. In my current role as principal of PS 294, I am able to support my special education teachers' career ladder by meeting each of their individual needs and accessing the strategies of the graduate program to continually push them to be their best.

Daniel Russo '07, Principal of The Walton Avenue School PS 294