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.

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.

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 yearlong, full-time practicum is required for all students. During year one, full-time students complete two semesters of coursework and a summer component. During year two, students take coursework and fulfill practicum requirements. Part-time students must do the full-time practicum, but have a four-year period to complete the coursework.

Moderate Special Needs (Prek-8 or 5-12)

RDG 406 Structure of Language for Teachers
RDG 410 Multisensory Structured Language
SPND 415 Applied Research I
SPND 422 Differentiating Instruction Using Technology
SPND 436 Formal and Informal Assessment
SPND 441 Classroom Management
SPND 444 Special Education Law
SPND 445 IEP Development
SPND 446 Learners with Special Needs
TESL 417 Sheltered English Instruction
SPND 435 or 440 Field Based Experience (PreK-8 or 5-12) (Fall)
SPND 487 Seminar (Fall)
SPND 438 or 439 Practicum Experience (PreK-8or 5-12) (Spring)
SPND 488 Seminar (Spring)

Suggested Course Sequence (Moderate Special Needs)

Severe Special Needs (All Levels)

RDG 410 Multisensory Structured Language
SPND 415 Applied Research I
SPND 422 Differentiating Instruction Using Technology
SPND 442 Analysis of Behavior
SPND 444 Special Education Law
SPND 445 IEP Development
SPND 446 Learners with Special Needs
SPND 447 Assessment and Curriculum Modification
SPND 448 Analysis of Community Resources
TESL 417 Sheltered English Instruction
SPND 467 Field Based Experience (Fall)
SPND 487 Seminar (Fall)
SPND 468 Practicum Experience (Spring)
SPND 488 Seminar (Spring)

Suggested Course Sequence (Severe Special Needs)

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.

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.

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 40-credit non-licensure program of study is also available.

  • Our MSEd programs in Special Education are approved by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and lead to initial teaching licensure in 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)
  • Our annual Education Career Networking Fair, open only to Simmons education students, provides an opportunity to establish the professional connections needed to secure an ideal job and a venue to connect with prospective employers before graduation.
  • Simmons-trained teachers achieve exceptional job placement rates, and the demand for licensed special educators continues to grow. As reported in the 2015 U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Shortage Area list, Special Education is now identified as a high need area in every New England state and throughout much of the country.
  • 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 the license.

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. In many cases, we have been able to assist student interns in securing paid internships or paraprofessional positions in the school or district where they complete their practicum hours.

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

Offered As
  • Masters
Apply NowVisitRequest Info

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.

Graduate Program Videos
Headshot of Josh Keehn

Which Graduate Education Program is Right for You?

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. 

Learn More

Our Faculty

Judah Axe photo

Judah Axe

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

Christine Evans

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