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Student Handbook

Welcome to the Master of Special Education Program!  You will very quickly be brought into a vibrant online learning community that will support and enhance your professional development experience.  The M.Sp.Ed. Program adheres to CEHSP College Graduate Program policies.  Procedures and policies specific to the M.Sp.Ed. program are outlined in this handbook.   

Master of Special Education Degree Requirements

Minimum degree requirements are established by the CEHSP Graduate Program Council. Exceptions must be recommended by the graduate committee and approved by the Graduate Program Council. 

  • Candidates must complete a minimum 30 semester credits, 5000-level or above, which have not been used to fulfill an undergraduate requirement, or 4000-level that have been approved for graduate credit through the Graduate School. All courses toward a graduate degree must have been taken after the awarding of the baccalaureate degree and must have been registered for graduate credit.
  • At least 20 credits must be completed at UMD including core courses as specified by the program.
  • No more than 12 semester degree credits may be taken prior to admission in the program, and such credit must be earned within five years prior to admission to the program.
  • Use of credit earned more than five years prior to admission must be (1) validated (see credit validation process); (2) recommended by the Committee; and (3) approved by the Collegiate Graduate Program Council. 
  • All credit must be completed within seven years of admission. Any course completed more than seven years before completion of the program must be validated by a CEHSP / UMD faculty member in the content area, recommended by the Committee, and approved by the Director.
  • A minimum of 20 credits must be taken for A-F grades.
  • A minimum 2.8 cumulative grade point average is required for the M.Ed. to be conferred.

Credit validation process

Candidates who petition to use credit in the program that was completed more than five years before admission, or seven years prior to graduate date must have the course content validated. The student writes a paper about the course, with three parts:

  • the content of the course and what was learned, retained;
  • how the learning has been applied and continues to be applied;
  • and what the student has done to stay current, or update the original content.

The paper is evaluated and approved/disapproved by a faculty member with expertise in the content area. Paper and action become part of the student´s graduate file.

Required degree components (Curriculum)

The Master of Special Education program is a three-year, summer-only cohort, designed for licensed special educators who apply theory and content gained in summer study to their classrooms each subsequent year of the program. The curriculum begins once every three years.

Summer I

  • SPED 7800, Special Education Law (3)
  • SPED 7100, Professional Issues in Special Education (3)
  • Research Methods

Summer II

  • SPED 7200, Advanced Behavior Management Principles and Practices (3)
  • SPED 7912, Special Education Administration and Supervision (3)
  • PSY 5052, Advanced Statistical Methods (3)
  • SPED 7710, Practice, Research, & Leadership I (3)

Summer III

  • EDUC 7444, Principles of Program Evaluation in Educational Settings (3)
  • SPED 7720, Practice, Research & Leadership II (3)
  • SPED 7730, Practice, Research, & Practice III (3)


Academic Progress Standards


Continuous Enrollment

Once admitted, students must maintain continuous enrollment until the degree is posted. If all course work has been completed and final project credits have been registered but are incomplete, or if for any reason a student does not register for actual course work in a term, continuous enrollment must be maintained by registration in EHS 0799, CEHSP Masters Active Status. Students will be assessed basic internet access fees, but no tuition is assessed for this course. No credit is attached to this course. The Graduate Program Office will automatically enroll students in this course if no other enrollment is in the system three working days prior to the first day of classes. Subsequent dropping of this course by the student, with no other enrollment, will cause a program discontinuation. Re–entry to the M.Ed. program will require a new application, application fee, and new program plan.

Minimum Grade Requirements

  • A minimum of 20 credits must be taken for A–F grades.
  • A minimum 2.8 cumulative grade point average is required for the M.Ed. to be conferred.

Delivery Mode

Required Forms

Required forms are used to document progression through the program. They are required to assist students, and to prevent any misunderstanding at the point at which a degree should be conferred. All forms indicated below can be found on our Resources page.

Program Plan

Signed by the student and all graduate committee members, the Program Plan outlines all course work that will be completed for the degree. If independent study is part of the program, at least a general topic area must be indicated in the program plan. The Program Plan must be filed with the Collegiate Graduate Programs Office by the end of the second semester of enrollment following admission to the program. Failure to file a program Plan will result in a hold on registration.

Project Proposal

A Project Proposal form must be submitted and approved prior to registration in EHS 5990 or Educ 7099. The form must be signed by the student and all members of the Graduate Committee. Permission numbers for enrollment will be released by the Graduate Program Office only after the Project Proposal has been filed. The following must be attached:

  • For thesis or research project: Full statement of the problem; Brief literature review; Description of methodology (sufficient for submission of IRB)
  • For curriculum project: Full statement of the problem; Brief literature review; Description of the curriculum and how it will be evaluated.
  • For literature review: Full statement of the problem; Background and significance

Recommendation for Degree

A Recommendation for Degree must be signed and filed in the Graduate Program Office for degree clearance. This must be the original form with signatures, not faxed or emailed; this is the only form that is permanently archived. The degree clearance process verifies that all credits approved as the student´s program plan (or addendums) have been completed, the minimum g.p.a. has been met, all independent study has been documented, and official transcripts for all transfer work are on file. Student will be advised of any discrepancies that must be resolved before the degree is cleared with the Registrar.

Other Forms

Pre–Approval of Electives

Students applying to the program whose matriculation depends on whether transfer credit is accepted, or students who want to enroll in elective courses before the graduate committee is forms, may seek pre–approval of electives.

Forms indicated below can be found on our Resources page

Program Plan Addendum

Any changes to the Program Plan, prior to or at the time of submission of degree clearance papers, must be documented by addendum, signed by the student, and approved by all members of the Committee.

Independent Study Contract

An Independent Study Contract must be filed for any independent study or readings course that is part of the program plan for a CEHSP graduate degree. It must be submitted before permission numbers (from the Graduate Program Office) for registration are released.


One of four faculty who will teach a core course in the first year of any cohort will be appointed first–year Cohort Advisor. The Cohort Advisor is responsible for assisting students with matching electives to program objectives and goals, interpretation and assistance with program procedures, and serves as the main contact for students until a committee chair is selected. The advisor monitors the cohort and works in cooperation with the Graduate Program office to keep students aware of timelines, building awareness of procedures that will ensure degree completion in a timely manner.

Students must choose members of their Graduate Committee by the end of the second semester of core classes. The committee chair must be a member of the CEHSP graduate faculty (any faculty member who holds a doctorate degree). You must have at least one other committee member who must be graduate faculty or be approved by the Graduate Program Council. The Committee approves the student´s program plan, makes recommendations to the Collegiate Graduate Program Director on prior work that can be used in the program, guides the student´s final project, reviews and signs off on the final product and degree recommendation forms.

Final Project Guidelines


A thesis is the most traditional format for investigation of a project by means of data gathering and analysis. Student must enroll for six (6) credits of EHS 5990 on approval of the project proposal. American Psychological Association (APA) format is required. The following sections are required:

  1. Cover page, dedication (optional) table of contents, table of appendices.
  2. Chapter 1: Statement of the Problem: Informs the reader what research topic you are studying, the significance of your project or research, the scope of the study, and describes the setting and participants.
  3. Chapter 2: Literature Review: Provides an overview of what other researchers have determined in relation to your topic.
  4. Chapter 3: Research Design: Describes everything you did to conduct your research.
  5. Chapter 4: Results and Discussion: Presents your data and discusses your data´s relevance in the context of the literature you reviewed.
  6. Chapter 5: Summary and Conclusions: The "Reader´s Digest" version of your study project. It briefly summarizes all aspects of the research project, discusses the educational implications or your results, and suggests topics for further study.
  7. References

A minimum of 60 text pages (chapters and references) is required, plus appendices.

Chapter descriptions. Helpful ideas about the focus of each chapter.