You choose the endorsement emphasis that best fits your classroom and career goals.
This endorsement prepares you to recognize and understand disabilities in students of various ages as well as the psychological factors that affect these students. You'll learn about transitional collaboration, effective teaching strategies, and ways to create meaningful learning experiences for students in grades K-8 or 5-12.
This endorsement prepares you to address the basic foundations of special needs, transition methods for students with behavior disorders and learning disabilities, communication between parents and teachers, assessment of learning problems, social and behavioral interventions, decision-making/problem-solving techniques in education, and teaching students with exceptionalities in K-12 instructional setting.
Earning a graduate degree doesn't have to cost you time away from your other responsibilities. Northwestern College's online Masters in Special Education means you can log into class each week to complete your coursework, whenever it's most convenient for you.
Take one online 8-week class at a time, completing two classes each semester, and you'll finish your M.Ed. in 2 years or less and be eligible for financial aid. The Masters in Special Education program also enables students to count credits toward their M.Ed from our endorsement in Instructional Strategist I or II or work on both at the same time.
Our online Masters in Special Education curriculum was developed in concert with the Iowa Board of Education (BOE).
This master's program is approved for the TEACH Grant which can help you pay for your masters if you teach or plan to become a teacher in a high-need field in a low-income area. For more information visit the TEACH Grant website.
You will complete the Special Education emphasis courses during the Instructional Strategist I or II endorsement, then complete the core Masters in Special Education courses. The curriculum was developed in concert with the Iowa Board of Education (BOE).
Required Core (15 credits):
EDU 555 -
Trends and Issues in 21st Century Education (3 credits)
(3 credits) Teachers and schools must continually examine currentpractices in PreK-12 education in search of better solutions to increasestudentachievement and to thoroughly prepare children for the world in whichthey will live and work. In this course students will study currentsocial, political and academic trends and issues affecting children,teachers and schools. Students will define their personal positionsbased on facts and experience, and will collaborate with others toadvocate for solutions that improve education for PreK-12 grade students. Prerequisite: completed bachelor's degree in education.
EDU 570 -
Teaching and Learning with Technology (3 credits)
(3 credits) Technology integration in the K-12 setting can enhancelearning, improve motivation and engagement, increase accessibility,individualize instruction, differentiate assessment and improvecommunication with parents and stakeholders. In this course studentswill broaden their understanding of the technology available to them inthe PreK-12 classroom and improve their ability to leverage specifictechnology to improve teaching and learning. Prerequisite: completed bachelor's degree in education.
EDU 610 -
Educational Research Methods and Design (3 credits)
(3 credits) This course will provide an overview of research methodologyemployed for studies in the field of education. Topics include basicresearch methodology, interpretation of findings, and application ofresearch in educational settings. Students will develop their ability tocritically evaluate educational research and to judiciously applyfindings in their professional settings. By the conclusion of the coursestudents will be able to identify a potential topic for future researchand outline the basic methodology needed to conduct the study. Prerequisite: completed bachelor's degree in education.
EDU 635 -
Master’s in Education Capstone (3 credits)
(3 credits) In this course students will apply the cumulative knowledge andskills learned in their master's program through an action research project.Research focus may be related to student learning, teacher effectiveness,school quality, school policy or other area by approval. The project will beproposed, approved, designed, and implemented prior to thestudent's graduation with a master's degree in education from NorthwesternCollege. Students who do not have a finished capstone approved by theM.Ed. Director at the conclusion of EDU635 will repeat thecourse for credit. Prerequisite: completed bachelor's degree in education.Note: Graded on a pass/no pass basis.
EDU 540 -
Teaching Young Children with Diverse Needs (3 credits)
(3 credits) Students will learn to design curriculum, instruction andassessmentspecific to the needs of diverse children ages 0 through 8. Create safeand nurturing classroom environments that are developmentally appropriateand respect diversity. Collaborate with stakeholders to meet the needsof young children. Prerequisite: completed bachelor's degree in education.
EDU 565 -
Instructional Strategies for Diverse Students and Settings (3 credits)
(3 credits) This course is intended for experienced teachers, and willfocus onbuilding off of prior knowledge and experience to improve studentlearning. Research-based instructional strategies will be studied, withparticular emphasis on adapting and employing strategies to fit students'cognitive abilities, motivation, interest, cultural background and otherunique characteristics in diverse settings. Students in this class willapply new instructional strategies in their practice to positively impactlearning in the PreK-12 classroom. Prerequisite: completed bachelor's degree in education.
Special Education Emphasis + Endorsement (24 credits):
SPED 516 -
Contemporary Issues in Special Education (3 credits)
The purpose of this course is to help future educators develop skills forrecognizing and effectively teaching students with various exceptionalities.Broad areas to be covered in this course are areas of exceptionalities,major trends and issues in special education with emphases on collaborationand inclusion, service delivery models, roles of general and special classteachers, individual education programs, and family and communityinvolvement. (3 credits)
SPED 518 -
Intensive Instructional Models in Special Education (3 credits)
This course will provide a survey of characteristics and educational needsof students with disabilities. Attention will be given to the definition,etiology, characteristics and various educational alternatives for each ofthe exceptionalities. Students will learn to design instructional programsfor success by building on the abilities, strengths, and interests ofexceptional students by using highly effective, research-based practices topromote student achievement. (3 credits)
SPED 520 -
Assessment Planning and Practice (3 credits)
This course will provide an in-depth presentation of the complex issue ofassessment, including an examination of evaluation procedures, frompre-referral intervention, eligibility/placement/program decision-making toprogress monitoring of research-based instructional interventions based onResponse to Intervention (RTI). Students will examine a variety of formaland informal instruments and techniques used in assessing the strengths,needs, interests, and preferences of children and youth with exceptionallearning needs. The focus is placed on providing students with knowledgeand skills necessary for selecting, using, interpreting, and evaluatingresults from measurement and/or screening instruments and techniquescommonly employed by professionals to facilitate special educationplacement, Individual Education Program (IEP) development and evaluation ofthe effectiveness of that instruction using progress-monitoring techniques.Issues in assessment and instruction concerning multicultural and bilingualspecial education will also be addressed. (3 credits)
SPED 605 -
Instructional Decision Making and Leadership in Special Education (3 credits)
This course provides an introduction to theoretical and practicalapplications of data-driven decision making, assessments, and curriculumplanning for educators. Students will explore the uses of qualitative andquantitative data by educational leaders for the purpose of improvingstudent and organizational outcomes. This course will also focus on using acollaborative problem-solving approach and response to interventionprocesses to improve the learning rate of student. (3 credits)
SPED 612 -
Social, Legal, and Ethical Issues in Special Education (3 credits)
This course is an intensive study of the legislation and litigation involvedwith individuals with disabilities specifically concentrating on thosestudents between the ages of birth - 21 years. A historical as well ascurrent study of legislation used as the basis for providing specialeducation services on the federal and state level will be covered. The legalsystem on the federal and state level is covered as well as criticallitigations that have influenced the field of special education. The studentwill become knowledgeable about the legal precedence for all that they do asa special educator. (3 credits)
SPED 550 -
Communication and Collaborative Partnerships (3 credits)
This course will prepare special education personnel, classroom teachers,related services personnel, and other support staff for collaborativeconsultation, teamwork and transition in serving the educational needs ofstudents and their families. Consideration of the role of home and parentsin the educational programming for exceptional children, and practical topositive strategies that can be used in working with parents. The context,content, processes, practices, and support of collaborative schoolconsultation will be addressed. (3 credits)
SPED 545 -
Behavior and Social Interventions of Learners (3 credits)
In this course students will learn about the basic principles of learningthat govern human behavior as well as how these principles can be applied inthe classroom to help individuals with exceptional learning needs reachtheir maximum potential. Students will also learn how to measure andanalyze student behavior in order to evaluate student learning and makenecessary adjustment to teaching strategies for individuals with exceptionallearning needs. (3 credits)
Choose one (based on endorsement)
SPED 522 -
Methods and Strategies for Students with Mild and Moderate Disabilities (K-12) (3 credits)
This course provides the learner with knowledge and skills in assessing,planning, organizing, implementing, and evaluating instruction based onknowledge of the student, the intended student outcomes, and the curriculum.The course focuses on students with mild to moderate disabilities, includingstudents with disabilities from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds.Topics include student characteristics, linking assessment with instruction,research-based methods and strategies, curriculum standards, accommodations,modifications, and the use of technology, including assistive technologydevices and services, to support student access to the general educationcurriculum. (3 credits)
SPED 523 -
Methods and Strategies for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (3 credits)
This course introduces the history of intellectual disability. A criticalexamination of current definitions of intellectual disability and practicesin medical diagnosis of intellectual disability will be covered. A study ofthe biological, educational, social, and behavioral factors contributing tointellectual delays will be addressed. Consideration of current andhistorical educational practices for individuals with intellectualdisability and explore contemporary ethical, social, and the educationalissues that affect the lives of individuals with this label across thelifespan will be analyzed. Students will also learn how to measure andanalyze behavior in order to evaluate learning and make necessary adjustmentto teaching strategies for individuals with intellectual disability. (3credits)
SPED 524 -
Methods and Strategies for Students with Academic and Behavior Disorders (3 credits)
This course will prepare teachers to work effectively with students who havelearning and behavior problems. Included are adequate procedures forteaching skill and content areas such as reading, math, oral and writtenexpression, and social and study skills. At the completion of the courseteachers should understand which methods are most effective with what typesof students and why. (3 credits)
Choose one (some students may not be required to student teach based on certification)
Special Education Student Teaching: K-8 (3 credits)
Endorsement #260 candidates will complete a supervised student teachingexperience in a Special Education setting. This practicum endorses thestudent teacher to become a teacher in a mild and moderate special educationprogram for children from K to eighth grade by preparing the student toschedule, evaluate, collaborate, write IEPs, and develop strategies toaddress special needs of children. This is a 15 day experiencewith time spent in both a K-5 and 6-8 setting. (3 credits) (Graded on apass/no pass basis.)
Special Education Student Teaching: 5-12 (3 credits)
Endorsement #261 candidates will complete a supervised student teachingexperience in a Special Education setting. This practicum endorses thestudent teacher to become a teacher in a mild and moderate special educationprogram for children from 5 - 12 grade by preparing the student to schedule,evaluate, collaborate, write IEPs, and develop strategies to address specialneeds of children. This is a 15-day experience with time spentin both a 5-8 and 9-12 setting. (3 credits) (Graded on a pass/no passbasis.)
Special Education Student Teaching: K-12 (3 credits)
Endorsement #263 & 264 candidates will complete a supervised studentteaching experience in a Special Education setting. This practicum endorsesthe student teacher to become a teacher in a mild and moderate specialeducation program for children from K-12 by preparing the student toschedule, evaluate, collaborate, write IEPs, and develop strategies toaddress special needs of children. This is a 15-day experiencewith time spent in a K-5, 6-8 and 9-12 setting. (3 credits) (Graded on apass/no pass basis.)
Total Credits: 36-42 credit hours
A total of 42 credits are required to earn the M.Ed. in Special Education + endorsement.
24 credit hours in special education is required to add the endorsement in Iowa.
Most licensed teachers can transfer at least three credits in special education from their undergraduate degree in education. In cases where no prior coursework was taken in special education, an additional three credits of special education will be required to meet the state’s requirement for a total of 42 credits to earn the M.Ed. in Special Education + endorsement.