New Master of Arts in Teaching: Exceptional Child Approved

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., June 19, 2015 – The Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents today approved a new Master of Arts in Teaching: Exceptional Child to be offered through the Department of Elementary, Early, and Special Education in the College of Education.

The program will be offered as an online degree and will be designed for those with an undergraduate degree in a related field, such as communication disorders, psychology or child development, but not certified as a teacher.

“Special education is a high demand field, and this graduate level initial certification can help fill the need for schools districts in our service region and beyond,” said Dr. Gerald McDougall, Southeast interim provost.

McDougall said the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that employment opportunities for special education teachers are expected to grow by six percent and that improved screening and diagnosis of children with special needs will increase the demand for special education services. Additionally, he said, children with disabilities are being identified at an earlier age, with an expected 16 percent increase in demand for early childhood special education teachers.

“Special education is a shortage field,” said Dr. Diana Rogers Adkinson, dean of the Southeast College of Education. “This program allows folks to become certified by not just taking coursework and piecing classes together. This gives them a degree that aligns them with mandates and brings them in at a higher pay scale.”

McDougall said the Department of Elementary, Early, and Special Education often gets inquiries from individuals with a non-education undergraduate degree who want to become teachers but do not want to complete a second undergraduate degree. Currently, their only option is Alternative Certification, however he says faculty members have found a higher rate of turnover of teachers in the field who earned Alternative Certification.

The new Master of Arts in Teaching: Exceptional Child will offer cohesive online graduate level coursework and supervised field experiences in special education content and pedagogy with two options for certification: Early Childhood Special Education (birth-third grade) and Mild/Moderate Cross-Categorical (K-12th grade), McDougall said.

Candidates must pass appropriate state level content assessments for the certifications.

No additional budget or resources are needed for the new program, McDougall said. Existing graduate courses in the Master of Arts in Exceptional Child and Elementary Education programs will be used, and department faculty will teach these courses.