Master of Arts in Special Education

Department of Teaching and Learning

The Master of Arts in Education with a programmatic focus on special education will help you develop research and inquiry skills in education and leadership.

It differs from the Ed.M. degree, in that the M.A. degree requires a thesis, while the Ed.M. degree requires a special project. Although students in both programs take research courses and conduct research (and students in the Ed.M. program can pursue an endorsement in special education by taking a specific set of courses), the goals of the two degree programs are different. The M.A. degree is designed for students who may pursue a doctoral degree or who want to focus on educational research, while the Ed.M. program emphasizes the application of educational research in school settings.

The research, foundation and core courses are offered on the Vancouver campus and at other sites. Many of the special education endorsement courses are offered in an online-only format; there is no designated time you have to be online in a given week. Other special education courses may be offered on campus. A classroom-based practicum is required for the endorsement. View the practicum handbook (PDF).

If you have a disability that requires special materials, services or assistance, contact the Access Center at 360-546-9238 or as soon as possible to discuss your specific needs.

Application process

First, complete a Graduate School Application. Then obtain a Departmental Application Portfolio for the Master of Arts in Education with a specialization in Special Education from Jennifer Gallagher at or 360-546-9075. Priority application deadlines are:

  • Jan. 10 for fall admission (applications accepted until June 15)
  • July 1 for spring admission (applications accepted until Nov. 1)
  • Feb. 1 for summer admission (applications accepted until March 15)

Admission requirements

Admission is selective and requires a minimum 3.0 GPA and verification of prior certification as a teacher or education staff associate. A selection committee made up of faculty from the Department of Teaching and Learning approves application materials.

To learn more, please contact Jennifer Gallagher, academic coordinator at or 360-546-9673, or Michael Dunn, associate professor of special education and literacy, or 360-546-9662.