Special Education: Moderate or Severe Disabilities

Our MSEd program in Special Education offers extensive opportunities to hone your teaching practice in real-world classroom settings and benefit from the expertise of mentors who are experienced practitioners, while completing the requirements for initial teaching licensure in Massachusetts.

Students in class

Meeting the needs of all children in the classroom

My calling. My passion. My purpose. These are a few of the ways in which students who graduate from our Special Education programs describe their connection to the field. Whether you already relate to these sentiments or have been searching for a profession where you can truly make a difference, special education may be an ideal fit. With special education now identified as a high need teaching area in nearly every state, this degree provides the skills and certification you need to launch a meaningful career in an in-demand field.

As a leader in preparing special educators since 1975, our initial licensure programs for Moderate or Severe Disabilities offer a proven curriculum that blends theory with supervised practice to provide the framework for your career as a classroom leader. With our emphasis on inclusion and evidence-based practice, you’ll learn to adapt teaching strategies and employ research-based interventions to meet the needs of all learners.

Our graduates achieve exceptional job placement rates, with many students beginning or continuing to work full-time in the field while enrolled. Whether you aim to work in an inclusive or sub-separate classroom; wish to meet the needs of students with autism, emotional/behavior disorders, or learning disabilities; or hope to take the first educational step towards a career as a special education administrator or reading specialist, Simmons will provide the foundation for your success.

Degree Options

Simmons offers a Master of Science in Education (M.S.Ed.) in Moderate Disabilities (48-credits) and Severe Disabilities (46-credits) which includes initial license preparation. A non-licensure program of study is also available.

MSEd in Moderate Disabilities

Simmons's program for Massachusetts state licensure in Moderate Disabilities (PreK-8 or 5-12) prepares specialists to provide direct service to learners in inclusive classrooms. Students are prepared to teach all core education curriculum areas and to address a variety of learning styles. This program provides the skills and strategies to work with learners with moderate disabilities in a variety of settings, including general education classrooms, resource rooms, self-contained classes, and day and/or residential programs.

MSEd in Severe Disabilities

The Severe Disabilities program provides preparation for initial licensure in teaching learners with severe disabilities (PreK-12). Coursework and related practicum experiences prepare teachers to work in a variety of settings, including special education classes in public schools, as well as private residential or day schools. Students are prepared to teach in all core general education curriculum areas, as well as communication, social behavior, job competency, and life skills.
 

Sequence of Courses

Students design individual plans of study in consultation with the program director, and may complete the program on a full- or part-time basis. A year-long, full-time practicum is required for all students.

Please review our suggested course sequences below to determine the start term that best meets your needs.

Moderate Disabilities (PreK-8 or 5-12)

Required Coursework

GEDUC 430
Inclusive Lesson Planning
(2 credits)

GEDUC 445
Educational Psychology
(4 credits)

GEDUC 461
Social Studies & Science Methods
(4 credits)

GEDUC 464
Reading Methods
(4 credits)

GEDUC 467
Math Methods
(4 credits)

SPND 420
Introduction to Assistive Technology
(2 credits)

SPND 436
Formal and Informal Assessment
(4 credits)

SPND 441
Creating a Caring Classroom Community
(4 credits)

SPND 444
Special Education Laws
(2 credits)

SPND 445
Individualized Education Program
(2 credits)

SPND 446
Learners with Special Needs
(4 credits)

TESL 417
Sheltered English Instruction
(4 credits)

SPND 487
Seminar (Fall)
(2 credits)

SPND 438 or 439
Practicum (Spring)
(4 credits)

SPND 488
Seminar (Spring)
(2 credits)

Suggested Course Sequences

YEAR 1Fall StartSpring StartSummer Start
FALLSPND 446
SPND 441
  
SPRINGGEDUC 445
GEDUC 467
SPND 444
SPND 445
GEDUC 445
GEDUC 467
 
SUMMERGEDUC 461
GEDUC 430
SPND 420
GEDUC 430
SPND 420
SPND 444
SPND 445
SPND 430
YEAR 2Fall StartSpring StartSummer Start
FALLSPND 436
GEDUC 464
SPND 487
SPND 441
SPND 446
SPND 446
SPND 441
SPRINGTESL 417
SPND 438 or 439
SPND 488
SPND 444
SPND 445
GEDUC 445
GEDUC 467
SUMMER GEDUC 461GEDUC 461
GEDUC 420
YEAR 3Fall StartSpring StartSummer Start
FALL SPND 436
GEDUC 464
SPND 487
SPND 436
GEDUC 464
SPND 487
SPRING TESL 417
SPND 438 or 439
SPND 488
TESL 417
SPND 438 or 439
SPND 488

Severe Disabilities (All Levels)

Required Coursework

GEDUC 430
Inclusive Lesson Planning
(2 credits)

GEDUC 467
Math Methods
(4 credits)

RDG 410
Multisensory Structured Language Strategies for Reading
(4 credits)

SPND 420
Introduction to Assistive Technology
(2 credits)

SPND 442
Analysis of Behavior: Principles and Classroom Applications
(4 credits)

SPND 444
Special Education Laws
(2 credits)

SPND 445
Individualized Education Program
(2 credits)

SPND 446
Learners with Special Needs
(4 credits)

SPND 447
Assessment & Curriculum Modification & Development for Learners with Severe Disabilities
(4 credits)

SPND 448
Foundations of Transition
(2 credits)

TESL 417
Sheltered English Instruction
(4 credits)

SPND 467
Pre-Practicum: Severe
(4 credits)

SPND 487
Pre-Practicum Seminar
(2 credits)

SPND 468
Practicum: Severe
(4 credits)

SPND 488
Practicum Seminar
(2 credits)

YEAR 1Fall StartSpring StartSummer Start
FALLSPND 446
SPND 441
  
SPRINGGEDUC 445
GEDUC 467
SPND 444
SPND 445
GEDUC 445
GEDUC 467
 
SUMMERGEDUC 461
GEDUC 430
SPND 420
GEDUC 430
SPND 420
SPND 444
SPND 445
SPND 430
YEAR 2Fall StartSpring StartSummer Start
FALLSPND 436
GEDUC 464
SPND 487
SPND 441
SPND 446
SPND 446
SPND 441
SPRINGTESL 417
SPND 438 or 439
SPND 488
SPND 444
SPND 445
GEDUC 445
GEDUC 467
SUMMER GEDUC 461GEDUC 461
GEDUC 420
YEAR 3Fall StartSpring StartSummer Start
FALL SPND 436
GEDUC 464
SPND 487
SPND 436
GEDUC 464
SPND 487
SPRING TESL 417
SPND 438 or 439
SPND 488
TESL 417
SPND 438 or 439
SPND 488
  • Our MSEd programs in Special Education are approved by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to lead to initial teaching licensure for the following fields and grade levels:
    • Teacher of Students with Moderate Disabilities (Grades PreK-8 OR 5-12)
    • Teacher of Students with Severe Disabilities (All grade levels)
  • Simmons-trained teachers achieve exceptional job placement rates, and the demand for licensed special educators continues to grow. As reported in the most recent U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Shortage Area list, Special Education is now identified as a high need area in most US states.
  • Teacher candidates prepared at Simmons may take advantage of the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement, which allows teachers prepared through a Massachusetts approved program to earn an equivalent license in another state or the District of Columbia, pending completion of any state-specific prerequisites for licensure.

All students are assigned to a yearlong, full-time teaching practicum in a school setting. This extensive classroom experience allows students to develop the skills, competencies, and confidence for successful teaching, including strategies for inclusion, behavior management, social skill instruction, and modifying classroom instruction. Students also benefit from the supervision and mentorship of experienced practitioners and field supervisors — many of whom are Simmons alumni/ae. In many instances, students who have the support of their employers have been able to complete their practicum hours in paid positions as paraprofessionals or classroom teachers. 

We place students in a wide variety of schools and communities, including public school districts, charter schools, private institutions, and educational collaboratives, including:

Academy of the Pacific RimLighthouse School
ACCEPT CollaborativeLexington Public Schools
Andover Public SchoolsMalden Public Schools
Boston Public SchoolsMATCH Charter School
Brookline Public SchoolsNewton Public Schools
Cambridge Public SchoolsProspect Hill Academy
Carter Development CenterQuincy Public Schools
The Cotting SchoolSEEM Collaborative
Crossroads SchoolSomerville Public Schools
City on a Hill Charter SchoolWellesley Public Schools
Innovation AcademyWeston Public Schools

Awards of up to $25,000 will be granted to students who have demonstrated a commitment to the field of special education.

Learn more about scholarship options.

Ready to take the next step? We'll guide you through the requirements and deadlines — and get you started on your way.

Apply Now

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Education Programs at Simmons University

We offer graduate level programs in elementary education and special education. We provide a highly collaborative environment, individualized programs of study, supportive faculty mentors, and plenty of hands-on experience.

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If you are passionate about a teaching career, our graduate Education programs can help you to acquire the skills needed to be an impactful teacher in today's complex classrooms. 

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Our Faculty

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Judah Axe

  • Associate Professor of Education and Behavior Analysis and Director of Special Education
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Christine Evans

  • Associate Professor of Practice of Education and Director of the NECC Program