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The master’s degree program in special education provides advanced cognitive and educational skills for those who are presently working or expect to work as clinical/developmental personnel serving individuals with exceptionalities or as supervisors of special education programs. This degree program prepares candidates for work as an intervention specialist. Candidates will be introduced to advanced and in-depth teaching strategies which will provide understanding and provide the ability to implement tools as an intervention specialist working with learners with significant disabilities and exceptionalities.


Our program is designed to prepare graduates with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to best serve in schools and agencies in the area. Our accredited Special Education program seeks to meet the educational and service needs of Northeast Ohio and Western Pennsylvania. Our program is exemplified by the quality and diversity of classroom instruction, field experiences, program options, student, faculty, and graduates in the community. We have a long history of producing graduates who have served the area as Special Education teachers, Intervention Specialists, and Special Education Professionals. We have a strong connection with our alumni, program supervisors, schools and agencies, and others who support students with exceptional learning needs in the Youngstown area.

Undergraduate and graduate candidates will find a unique educational experience that prepares them for employment and/or advanced study in Special Education. For more information, review our website and contact Special Education faculty with any questions.

For more information contact the Department Office at 330-941-3251 or visit the Department of Teacher Education.

Program Director

For specific questions about the Master of Science in Education -  Special Education program, please contact the program chair:

Marcia Matanin, PhD
2321 Beeghly College of Education
(330) 941-3652


The Special Education Program supports the mission of both Youngstown State University and the Beeghly College of Education through  our work to: 

  • Prepare outstanding potential special education teachers by providing a rigorous educational program that is contemporary in its approaches, up to the minute in its content base knowledge, based upon didactic learning and practical experience and requiring demonstrated competency prior to graduation; 
  • Foster and require community and school based practicum experiences that involve the candidate developing cultural awareness and the acceptance of the diversity; 
  • Encourage candidates to expand their learning experiences though volunteerism by identifying campus and community opportunities for such practices;
  • Connect candidates with community leaders and current practitioners in the field via guest lecturers and campus and community based presentations as a means of enhancing candidates' learning and advancing their awareness of the cultural and economic life of the community; 
  • Extend the University’s efforts in advancing the intellectual and economic life of the state and region by providing advanced education and degrees to enable practitioners in the field to expand their knowledge base, meet the ever changing federal and state requirements to maintain licensure or certification in their field, and improve the economic status of those practitioners through acquisition of advanced degrees.


The Master of Science - Special Education graduate degree program is accredited by the National Council Association of Teacher Education (NCATE). Our last campus visit was March 20-24, 2010.  Our next campus visit is scheduled for April 2, 2017. To contact our accreditation body, please go to:  

Both the Intervention Specialist Mild/Moderate Disabilities and the Autism & Related Disabilities Option (Moderate/Intensive Disabilities) Program) Special Education Graduate Programs have received full recognition from the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)

Graduate Faculty

Margaret L. Briley, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
Deafblind; low incidence disabilities; autism with a focus on communication and social interaction

Marcia Matanin, Ph.D., Professor, Chair
Assessment of student learning; program assessment; clinical partnerships

Graduate Courses

SPED 5810    Introduction to Sign Language    3 s.h.

Deaf Culture, ASL, and English Sign Language differences will be discussed. Students will acquire basic proficiency in sign language.
Prereq.: Special approval.

SPED 5828    Education for Children and Youth with Emotional and Behavior Needs    4 s.h.

Instruction, curriculum and program development for youth who are identified with emotional disturbance and as a result are often in conflict with educational and social systems. Successful completion of 30-hour field experience is required.
Prereq.: BCOE upper-division status.

SPED 5833    Characteristics and Needs of Exceptional Children and Youth with Moderate/Intensive Disabilities    3 s.h.

Identification and intervention in critical areas of development for individuals with moderate/intensive disabilities including autism. Developing objectives, planning and implementing adapted curriculum in consultation with interdisciplinary specialists.
Prereq.: Upper-division status in COE, SPED 3715.

SPED 5834    Educational Strategies and Methods for Children and Youth with Moderate/Intensive Disabilities    4 s.h.

Curriculum planning, teaching methods, habilitation and rehabilitation for persons with multiple and/or severe developmental disabilities. Practicum included.
Prereq.: Upper-division status in COE, SPED 5833.

SPED 5835    Classroom Management for Exceptional Children and Youth    4 s.h.

Development, implementation and evaluation of behavior management plans and strategies for students with exceptionalities in the classroom environment. Behavior management techniques to facilitate learning, self-management, and the development of social skills. Communicating effective management programs to parents, caregivers, teachers, and stakeholders. Part of the STEM block (field requirement).
Prereq.: Upper-division status in BCOE and special approval.

SPED 5851    Transition Planning, Social Skill Development and Health-Related Issues    3 s.h.

Emphasis on lifelong career orientation and the development and implementation of a K-12 prevocational/vocational curriculum. Effective teaching of interpersonal communication and social skills. Classroom climate, self-esteem, health-related issues. Integration of practical experiences in the classroom, home, and community.
Prereq.: Upper-division status in COE.

SPED 5852    Prog Development Instructional Strategies for Learners with Moderate to Intensive Except Learn Needs    3 s.h.

This course is designed to expand technical terminology and applied practices for candidates working towards licensure for students with moderate to intensive exceptional learning needs. Candidates will create individualized objectives, apply evidence-based practices, and report progress. Successful completion of a 30 hour field experience is required.
Prereq.: Admission to BCOE Upper Division, SPED 5834.

SPED 5853    Diagnosis and Intervention in Mathematics for Special Education    3 s.h.

Principles, practices, materials and aids for teaching mathematics in special education. Diagnostic and evaluation procedures; individualized instructional techniques; observation, tutoring, and participation. Field experience required.
Prereq.: Upper-division status in COE.

SPED 5858    Intervention Concepts and Strategies in Early Childhood Special Education    2 s.h.

Review and analysis of the methods by which young children construct knowledge about their physical, social and intellectual worlds. Study of patterns of normal and atypical development from birth through age eight, as well as the development of appropriate models for effective intervention.
Prereq.: PSYC 3755.

SPED 5864    Service Coordination, Collaboration, and Consultation for Students with Special Needs    3 s.h.

Methods and strategies for the cooperation and involvement of related services professionals, parents, and children in the coordination of comprehensive educational and service plans. Collaboration, communication skills and sensitivity to individual and cultural differences are stressed. Part of the STEP block (field requirement).
Prereq.: Upper-division status in BCOE and special approval.

SPED 5865    Workshop in Special Education    1-4 s.h.

Intensive study and related activities in one or more of the following special education curriculum areas: trainable mentally retarded, educable mentally retarded, learning disability/behavior disorder, multi-handicapped. May be repeated if content is different.
Prereq.: Admission to upper-division COE status.

SPED 5866    Assessment and Referral of Exceptional Children and Youth for the Intervention Specialist    3 s.h.

Development of skills in referral and assessment techniques in the areas of mild/moderate and moderate/intensive disabilities. Informal and formal methods including observation, authentic assessments, standardized measures, interviewing. Referral, initial and subsequent evaluation, annual review concerns.
Prereq.: Upper-division status in COE.

SPED 5867    Intervention and Remediation of Receptive/Expressive Language Dysfunction    3 s.h.

Theory and practice of intervention and remediation of basic cognitive processes especially in the areas of receptive and expressive language and cognitive skills for the intervention specialist.
Prereq.: Upper-division status in COE.

SPED 5868    Mild/Moderate Disabilities Practicum    4 s.h.

Diagnostic procedures used to develop a comprehensive assessment of a child's current functioning. Individualized education program/case study developed and partially implemented.
Prereq.: Upper-division status in COE, SPED 5866 and SPED 5867.

SPED 5870    Independent Study in Special Education    1-4 s.h.

Individual work under special education staff guidance; curriculum development or special education areas; individual problems in community agencies or school.
Prereq.: Admission to upper-division COE status.

SPED 5871    Characteristics and Needs of Gifted Children    3 s.h.

Introduction to gifted education. Overview of the theoretical and research base for gifted education, including appropriate classroom environments, teacher qualifications, and support services to meet the diverse social, emotional, and intellectual needs of gifted children. Current program standards.
Prereq.: Admission to COE upper-division status.

SPED 5872    Assessment and Referral for Children and Youth with Exceptionalities for the Intervention Specialist    3 s.h.

Development of skills in referral and assessment techniques for the special educator in the areas of moderate/intensive disabilities. Emphasis will be given to informal and formal methods such as observation, authentic assessment, alternate assessment, rubrics, inventories, interviewing, task analysis, functional behavioral analysis, curriculum based measurement, DIBELS/SWIS, and formal standardized measures.
Prereq.: Admission to BCOE Upper Division Status.

SPED 5873    Communication and Literacy Skills for Learners with Significant Disabilities    3 s.h.

This course focuses on enhancing functional communication and literacy skills of students with severe disabilities. Assessment and strategies to increase communication form, function and literacy are covered. The course addresses aided and non-aided augmentative systems and alternative communication systems with an emphasis on using a multi-modality approach.
Prereq.: Admission to BCOE Upper Division Status.

SPED 5878    Teaching Gifted and Talented Students    4 s.h.

Theory and organization of curriculum with design and integration of content subjects into varying models. Wide range of strategies and identification of resources and materials as well as investigations in educational technology and appropriate applications for gifted children.
Prereq.: Upper division status in COE; SPED 5871 and permission of instructor.

SPED 5965    Special Education Workshop    1-5 s.h.

A workshop designed to examine contemporary topics in the field.

SPED 6900    Issues, Trends & Foundations in Special Education    3 s.h.

Exploratory study of the issues, trends, and foundations in special education. Evidence-based principles, laws and policies, diverse and historical points of view, and human issues that focus on the education of individuals with mild or intensive exceptional learning needs are examined. The relationship of special education to the organizations and functions of schools/agencies is explored.
Prereq.: Admission into the program and approval of the department chair.

SPED 6901    System-Wide Consultation/Collaboration in the Schools    3 s.h.

Current educational practices have made collaboration an essential way education professionals do their work. This course will cover the theoretical bases and consultation/collaboration skills necessary for affecting change in the educational environment from a system wide perspective. The aim of this course is to prepare Intervention Services students to function as collaborative consultants promoting systematic and planned strategies for use within the public schools and with families with children with disabilities.

SPED 6905    Cultural/Ethnic Issues Relating to Youth and Families    3 s.h.

Introduces pertinent theoretical cultural issues which relate to mental health professionals as they work with diversified populations. In particular, therapeutic skill enhancement of professionals will be advanced, since all counseling may be seen as cross-cultural. Group work and experiential exercises will provide an avenue for the professional and personal cultural growth of each participant. The goal is to also enhance participant's level of cultural sensitivity.

SPED 6906    Characteristics and Behaviors of Learners with Mild/Moderate and Moderate/Intensive Exceptional Le    3 s.h.

Course focuses on federal and state laws and initiatives that influence the operations and decisions of educational opportunities for students with mild/severe disabilities. Topics include categories of disabilities, current trends and best practices for instruction and assessment. Also, recommended collaboration strategies for educators, administrators and families.
Prereq.: Successful completion or concurrent enrollment in SPED 6900.

SPED 6907    Guidelines for Teaching Children Who are Deafblind With and Without Concomitant Disabilities    4 s.h.

This course focuses on understanding and meeting the needs of children with multiple disabilitities and/or concomitant conditions in addition to visual impairment in P-12 settings. In particular, this course will emphasize the needs of the child who has combined hearing-vision loss (i.e., deafblindness or dual sensory impairments). The additional concomitant conditions may include autism, traumatic brain injury, intellectual disability, orthopedic impairments, and/or the impact of various syndromes. There is a supervised 30 field experience associated with the course.

SPED 6908    Practicum in Visual Impairment    2 s.h.

This course represents the clinical practice/practicum portion of the EDVI program. Fifty hours of practicum experience will take place in a variety of instructional and age/grade level setting serving children with VI.
Prereq.: SPED 6907.

SPED 6909    Assessment and Intervention for Students with Low Incidence Disabilities    3 s.h.

Emphasis will be on current most effective practices of the professional collaboration process across three tiers of service to include specific models and strategies for students in general education and especially those with autism and/or a low incidence disability. Candidates will develop a team training model and will evaluate evidence-based practices.

SPED 6911    International Area Study: Project Learning Around the World    3 s.h.

This course is designed to enhance mental health or teacher's professional and personal level of sensitivity and competence via introducing them to innovative and traditional forms of intervention or healing in community and school settings in a developing country. Students will participate in philanthropic activities by helping to gather and deliver educational supplies via Project Learning Around the World (

SPED 6912    Multilevel Tier Interventions Across General Education and Special Education Programming    3 s.h.

Direct experiences in planned multilevel interventions across the three tiers of services within educational school systems for regular education and children with disabilities. Participation in RTI team meetings, curriculum academic and applied and functional behavioral analysis, progress monitoring, goal attainment scaling and determining effectiveness of intervention plans will be introduced.

SPED 6914    Behavior Management for Educators    3 s.h.

Classroom application consistent with the study of behavior management with a focus on ethical strategies and implementation of intervention techniques for learners with mild/intensive exceptional learning needs. Successful completion of a 30-hour field experience is required.
Prereq.: Successful completion of SPED 6906 or concurrent enrollment in SPED 6906.

SPED 6915    Classroom Management and Crisis Intervention for Learners with Severe Emotional and Behavior Disor    3 s.h.

Behavior analysis, behavior management, instruction, curriculum and program development for youth with severe emotional and/or behavior disorders. Advanced behavior change interventions and a practicum consisting of work in the field with emotionally and/or behaviorally disturbed youth required.
Prereq.: Successful completion of SPED 6909.

SPED 6927    Curriculum Design, Adaptations and Resources for Learners with Mild/Moderate Exceptional Learning    3 s.h.

Knowledge of curriculum terminology approaches and models, content, and design to provide and enhance access to the general curriculum for students with exceptional learning needs. Course focuses on the skills to select and implement curricular adaptations for learners with exceptional learning needs within the general education classroom.
Prereq.: Successful completion of SPED 6906.

SPED 6928    Transition and Life Skill Supports for Learners with Moderate/Intensive Exceptional Learning Needs    3 s.h.

Course focuses on best practices of the professional collaboration process with regard to the transition process for students with moderate/intensive exceptional learning needs. Learner's individual strengths and characteristics will be considered to facilitate social, vocational and daily living skills for all learners. Successful completion of a two-hour field experience is required.
Prereq.: Successful completion of SPED 6906.

SPED 6929    Assessment of Gifted and Exceptional Learners    3 s.h.

Course focuses on the educational assessment process as it applies to exceptionalities (learners with disabilities as well as gifts and talents). Topics include a review of state and federal regulations, data collection techniques including both formal and informal methods, appropriate test preparation and interpretation, design of identification and placement procedures.
Prereq.: Successful completion of SPED 6906.

SPED 6930    Instructional Methodologies for Learners with Mild/Moderate and Moderate/Intensive Exceptional Lea    4 s.h.

This course is designed to provide candidate with the opportunity to research, study, apply and analyze instructional strategies and delivery systems in the four major content areas. The candidates will use the referenced strategies to both support and promote single subject and cross-curricular high quality instruction for candidates with special needs.
Prereq.: Successful completion of SPED 6914, SPED 6927, SPED 6928, SPED 6929.

SPED 6931    Clinical Experience-Learners with Exceptional Learning Needs 1    3 s.h.

Supervised clinical experience incorporation theory, planning and implementation of services for students with mild/moderate learning needs. Weekly seminars will connect theory to practice.
Prereq.: SPED 6906, SPED 6927, SPED 6928, SPED 6929, SPED 6930 or taken concurrently with SPED 6930 and passage of state licensure exam.

SPED 6932    Clinical Experience-Learners with Exceptional Learning Needs 2    3 s.h.

Supervised clinical experience incorporation theory, planning and implementation of services for students with mild/moderate learning needs. Weekly seminars will connect theory to practice.
Prereq.: SPED 6906, SPED 6927, SPED 6928, SPED 6929, SPED 6930, SPED 6931 and passage of state licensure exam.

SPED 6965    Special Topics in Disabilities Education    1-4 s.h.

Workshop will include information on various current topics appropriate to the education of students with disabilities. These include assessment, identification, and instructional processes.
Prereq.: PRAXIS passage.

SPED 6980    Topical Seminar in Special Education    1-4 s.h.

Selected topics in special education. May be repeated for different content.

SPED 6981    Seminar in Special Education    3 s.h.

This course details current issues in the field of special education involving research, pedagogy, methodologies, and application. Emphasis is on the intervention and remediation of receptive/expressive language dysfunctions, as well as other issues related to children and youth with disabilities.
Prereq.: SPED 6983.

SPED 6982    Educational Assessment in Gifted and Special Education    3 s.h.

The course focuses on the educational assessment process as it applies to students with exceptionalities. Topics include a review of state and federal regulations; data collection techniques, including both formal and informal methods; appropriate test preparation and interpretations; and design of identification and placement procedures.
Prereq.: SPED 5871.

SPED 6984    Major Concepts and Program Design for Students in Special Education    3 s.h.

Major concepts, program development, and program evaluation involving youth with special needs are parts of this course. Programs related to the transition process will be studied and reviewed.

SPED 6986    Severe Behavior Disorders    3 s.h.

A comprehensive analysis of programs and the description of the delivery of services to a wide range of seriously emotionally disturbed children and youth.
Prereq.: SPED 6906 or SPED 6983.

SPED 6991    Referral and Assessment in Early Childhood Special Education    3 s.h.

Intensive hands-on experience in referral and assessment of young children. Emphasis on philosophies and ethical considerations, as well as techniques, instruments, and the referral process. Participation within the assessment team with parents involved as equal partners in the multidisciplinary process. Written assessment reports are required based upon knowledge of child development and a variety of sources of input.
Prereq.: Admission to College of Education upper division; SPED 5858.

SPED 6992    Teaching Methods in Early Childhood Special Education    3 s.h.

Examines accepted curricular models in early childhood special education, as well as classroom management and motivation strategies as they relate to young children with special needs. Emphasizes the inclusion of parents in planning process. Students will learn to integrate curriculum with individual IEP/IFSP goals and objectives.
Prereq.: SPED 5858.

SPED 6993    Health and Related Issues in Early Childhood Special Education    2 s.h.

A study of curricular experiences focusing on those aspects of early childhood special education dealing with the instructional applications of technology and the use of adaptive equipment and related services as these relate to technologically dependent or chronically ill children.

SPED 6994    Field Experiences in Early Childhood Special Education    4-8 s.h.

Supervised field experiences incorporating theory, planning and implementation of services for young children with special needs.
Prereq.: SPED 5858, SPED 6991, SPED 6992, SPED 6993.

SPED 6996    Teaching Strategies/Autism    4 s.h.

Application of assessment, curriculum planning, preparation of materials and practice teaching methods for students with autism spectrum disorders and related disabilities. Methodology emphasizes most effective practices for instructing students who need academic and/or life skills curricula.
Prereq.: SPED 6914 or equivalent.

SPED 6998    AAC Strategies    3 s.h.

Assessment and application of methods to increase communication form, function, and literacy for individuals who need alternate and/or augmentative communication (AAC).
Prereq.: SPED 6996 and PSYC 6960 or PSYC 6990.

SPED 6999    Field Experiences Autism/Related Disorders    3-6 s.h.

Supervised clinical field experiences incorporating theory, planning, and implementation of services for children with autism spectrum disorders. Weekly seminars connect theory to practice. May be repeated once for a maximum of 6 s.h.
Prereq.: SPED 6996, SPED 6998, and PSYC 6960 or PSYC 6990.

SPED 7021    Field Experience 1    3 s.h.


SPED 7040    Field Experience in Gifted and Talented Education    2 s.h.

Supervised field experience that incorporates theory, planning, and implementation of curriculum for gifted and talented students. Individual conferences and completion of contracted assignments.
Prereq.: SPED 5871, SPED 5878, SPED 6982, SPED 6983 and COUN 5879.

SPED 7042    Professional Development for Classroom Teacher Educators    2 s.h.

A restricted professional development course for classroom teacher educators invited to supervise the instructional program of student teachers and field experience students. The course concentrates on developing analytical observation, conferencing, evaluation, and supervision skills based on scientific knowledge and theoretical constructs.
Prereq.: Invitation from YSU and endorsement from home school district to serve as a classroom teacher educator.

SPED 7043    Instructional Leadership in Special Education    3 s.h.

Implementation, coordination, and evaluation of quality instructional programs for exceptional, at-risk, and other students experiencing learning problems. Administrative roles and strategies related to instructional leadership, school climate, collaborative decision making, and restructuring.
Prereq.: COUN 6961 and SPED 7977.

SPED 7077    Leadership in Special Education    3 s.h.

The course focuses on leadership, administration, and supervision of a broad range of programs and services for students with exceptionalities (students with disabilities). Topics include review of theoretical foundations, historical and sociological issues as these relate to education for special populations, as well as in-depth study of federal and state legal issues, differentiated programming and procedures, student identification and placement, individualized education plans, due process, lease restrictive environment, and program monitoring and evaluation.