Master of Science in Special Education

The Master of Science (MS) in Special Education degree is designed for those who want to work with students who have disabilities, including learning disabilities, emotional disturbances, and mild intellectual disabilities. The MS in Special Education degree is offered with a certification option.

Whether you’re an experienced special education teacher, someone interested in becoming a special education teacher while acquiring your teaching certification, or an educational administrator who wants to acquire a deeper understanding of educating students with special needs, you’re likely to find our special education master’s program fits your educational needs and the demands of your busy life.

If you’re interested in learning more about our special education master’s programs, we invite you explore this website through the links below, view an online information session with Dr. Laurie deBettencourt, or contact academic program coordinator Camilla Mika-Simms via email or phone 410-516-9760.

Contact Us

Faculty Contact
Laurie deBettencourt. PhD

Academic Program Coordinator
Camilla Mika-Simms


Are you currently employed as a paraeducator in MD? Interested in earning a master’s in special education leading to certification in mild-to-moderate disabilities?

Our faculty are recognized as national leaders in special education and our master’s programs train individuals to support students with unique needs.

Our special education programs are unique in that they prepare educators and other related professionals to work with students with disabilities across settings (e.g., general education classrooms, special education resource rooms or self-contained special schools).

We offer master’s degrees emphasizing training in evidence-based practices, behavior management, technology and collaborative practices. We offer two distinct program areas:

  1. Mild/Moderate Disabilities (i.e., learning disabilities, mild emotional disabilities, mild intellectual disabilities) with a focus at the elementary or secondary levels;
  2. Severe Disabilities – with Autism spectrum Disorders (i.e., Autism, significant intellectual disabilities) – Non-certification.

Our applicants may have majored in psychology, sociology, English, religious studies or any of many other disciplines as undergraduates. When they finish our master’s programs, they will be able to apply evidence-based teaching procedures that build on the basic background knowledge acquired during undergraduate studies. With the combination of two supervised internship experiences (6 credits) and 11 course-based instruction experiences (33 credits), our candidates are prepared for success in helping students with disabilities across settings.

Candidates who complete our master’s degree in Mild to Moderate Disabilities are eligible for Maryland State Certification (i.e., generic special education). Our program is approved by Maryland State Department and this approval will allow our graduates to be employed as special educators in 47 states.

Highlights of our Master’s Degree programs:

  • All candidates complete two supervised internships (10 weeks each) with supervision from mentor teachers, university supervisors and faculty instructors.
  • Candidates in the Mild Moderate Disabilities Master’s Program complete two methods courses at the elementary or secondary levels (e.g., Math Methods, and Spoken and Written Language Methods, or Transition/Career Assessment and Diversifying Secondary Content Classes).
  • All candidates receive training in managing behavior and in most programs complete two behavior management courses (e.g., Applied Behavior Analysis and classroom behavior management).

How we measure success of our candidates:

  • All candidates complete four milestones:
  1. Passing score on Praxis II Reading Exam,
  2. Passing score on Praxis II Special Education Exam,
  3. Passing score on written comprehensive examination during the final half of their study, and
  4. Passing score on Advanced Graduate Project, which includes completing a presentation and a written paper demonstrating their knowledge and application of evidence-based practices in of special education during the final semester of study.
  • All candidates complete course-based assignments that are based on theory and best practices, and provide evidence that our candidates can apply the skills that they are taught.

Jobs after graduation include special education teacher, para-educator in a special education setting, special education leader and special educator within a specialized program such as a hospital, preschool or residential school.

Master of Science in Special Education: Mild-to-Moderate or Severe Disabilities (including Montgomery County SET-IT Partnership Program)
Enrollment:Part-Time and Full-Time for Mild to Moderate; Full-Time for Severe Disabilities
Start Terms:Fall, spring, summer
Application Deadline: Rolling | April 1 for Montgomery County SET-IT Partnership Program
Feb. 1 for Part-time Master of Science in Special Education - Montgomery County School Collaboration Program (SET-IT)
Pre-requisite:Hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally or nationally accredited college or university.
Earned minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) in all previous undergraduate and graduate studies (including for incomplete programs of study and for programs still in progress).
Application Requirements:
Online application form
$80.00 application fee
Official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended
A 500-word essay discussing the reasons you wish to pursue a degree at Johns Hopkins University, focusing on your long-term goals and how your academic program will complement those goals. Discuss the strengths and weaknesses in your academic background, as well as any additional comments that will assist in evaluating your application materials. Essays should be submitted in a typed format on a separate sheet of paper.
Testing Scores:Applicants with a 3.0 cumulative GPA or higher in their most recently earned degree may be considered for admission without submitting a Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) Basic Skills Assessment Test.
For candidates intending to submit a standardized testing score for admission, please visit the Maryland Department of Education website for a listing of the specific tests accepted.
Letters of Recommendation:Two letters of recommendation from individuals who can speak to your work with children with disabilities.
Interview:A select number of Montgomery County SET-IT Partnership Program applicants will be invited for an interview and asked to provide a written response to a prompt and to "audition" by responding to classroom scenarios provided by faculty interviewers.

For more information on the application process, please view the SOE admissions page.


Mission Statement:

To prepare exemplary special education professionals (teachers and related services personnel) who can provide all students with quality educational experiences and serve as positive agents of change within their educational environments.


  1. Secure recognition from the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and approval by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE).
  2. Graduate highly qualified special educators as measured by the successful completion of coursework, comprehensive exams, graduate projects and presentations, and required state Praxis exams.
  3. Graduate highly qualified special educators who possess the requisite competencies to effectively educate students with exceptionalities from a diverse range of backgrounds and needs in a variety of educational settings.


  1. To prepare qualified and credentialed special education professionals who are prepared to apply evidenced-based strategies.
  2. To provide multiple opportunities to bridge theory with practice.
  3. To prepare qualified and credentialed special education professionals who possess and exhibit collaborative and ethical behaviors with students and colleagues.
  4. To prepare qualified and credentialed special education professionals have acquired the knowledge to access necessary resources and the professional networks that will further their professional development.
  5. To provide cutting edge research and excellent instruction as evidenced by faculty scholarship and teaching evaluations.

The expected learning outcomes for graduates of the School of Education’s MS in Special Education certification programs are measured across seven content standard areas, as outlined by the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC, 2012).


Field Experience Office

The Field Experience Office coordinates the internship and practicum placements for students participating in the Teaching and Learning, Special Education, Counseling and Human Development, and School Administration and Supervision programs, within Professional Development Schools, partner private schools and in surrounding cooperating public school districts.

Placement in practicum and internship field experiences is an integral part of your program of study at the JHU School of Education. Information on this site is relevant for students whose program of study requires an internship or practicum placement.  The field experience process begins one term prior to placement and the first step is to contact with your faculty advisor. Placement in school and community settings provides the opportunity for you to put your coursework knowledge into practice while refining your skills and collaborating with other professionals in your field.

Visit the Field Experience Office for more information.


Upon completion of 4 core courses (12 credit hours) and 6 Program Specific courses (18 credit hours for a total of 30 completed credit hours; not including the internships) students must successfully complete a 3-hour Comprehensive Exam.

The Comprehensive Exam assesses general and specific knowledge of special education. The three hour on-site sit-down Comprehensive Exam allows faculty to evaluate courses, programs, and the knowledge base gained by individual and groups of students during their Masters studies. The Comprehensive Exam also allows faculty to determine that all students have a knowledge base to prepare them to be successful educators. The questions on the comprehensive exam will be aligned with the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) standards.

Students should contact their advisor for more information about the comprehensive exam.


The graduate project and presentation serve as a culminating activity for students to demonstrate application of knowledge and competency in the field of special education. Since the graduate project is individualized, the graduate project will be aligned to CEC standards based on the focus of the project. The final product will be decided upon between the student and the faculty advisor. 

Students should plan to complete their graduate project during their last semester of enrollment. The graduate project can be completed during the same semester the student completes the culmination internship.

During the first two weeks of the their last semester of enrollment, students must meet with their faculty advisor to discuss the type of graduate project they will complete and fill out the Special Education Master’s Degree Graduate Project form. The student and faculty advisor will sign the form. Once the form is complete, students can begin working on their graduate project. The final due date for the graduate project will be agreed upon by the student and faculty advisor and will be listed on the form.