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Special Education: The UDC Edge

UDC - an urban land-grant university and the only public institution of higher education in Washington, D.C.—traces its roots to the Miner Normal School, a school for African-American girls founded in 1851 that eventually became Miner Teachers College, D.C.’s first public college. As a result, UDC has a long and successful tradition of preparing generations of educators to serve a vital role in the future of children and youth of the nation’s capital.

Founded in 2010, the National Center for Urban Education embodies UDC’s longstanding commitment to teacher training while emphasizing modern teaching and learning theories, techniques, and approaches. To that end, we focus on three key areas of need in all of our education master’s degree programs:

  • Linguistic and cultural discovery
  • Early childhood education and school readiness
  • Instructional support and interventions for children with special needs

Master’s Degree (MA) in Special Education

This program is not accepting new applications. The program was discontinued, effective March 27, 2014, as a result of a resolution of the UDC Board of Trustees.  Students currently matriculating as majors will be able to complete their degree program provided they remain continuously enrolled throughout the teach-out period.   A teach-out program for this discontinued major is available for currently enrolled students. 

The master’s degree in special education at the University of the District of Columbia prepares you to become a highly effective, results-oriented, socially conscious classroom practitioner in a special education setting. You will learn about psychosocial, socio-cultural, and psycho-educational development, and complement this theory with concrete knowledge of and application in education and behavior management best practices for special populations of children and youth.

The program is offered through the Urban Teacher Academy at the National Center for Urban Education (NCUE), which embraces the demands, challenges and opportunities that teachers encounter in high-poverty, high-need schools. While completing professional requirements, you will learn firsthand how to be a positive force for change in our urban schools and communities.

The special education master’s degree program is geared toward individuals with teaching certification and experience in special education or related disciplines.


Curriculum and Requirements in the UDC Special Education Graduate Program

You must complete a minimum of 39 credit hours to earn the master’s degree in special education, including core courses, specialization courses, electives, and a thesis option. Full-time students can complete the program in two years, though you may attend on a part-time basis and enjoy the flexibility of day and evening courses.

Students who have less than one year of teaching experience in special education are required to complete 6 hours of internship. If you seek specialization in Serious Emotional Disturbance or Specific Learning Disabilities, additional courses are required.


Faculty Spotlight: UDC Special Education Graduate Program

Maurice Sykes, director of the Early Childhood Leadership Institute at UDC’s National Center for Urban Education, has spent his career advancing high-quality early childhood education and advocating for educational reform and teacher professional development. Maurice formerly served in the District of Columbia Public School System as deputy superintendent for the Center for Systemic Educational Change and director of Early Childhood Programs. Sykes has also advised the U.S. Department of Education on educational policy and programs related to urban school improvement.

Dr. Taharee A. Jackson has been a school director, public and private school teacher, and family literacy instructor. With specializations in urban, teacher and multicultural education, her research examines the beliefs, classroom practices and life experiences of critical, anti-racist educators who are dedicated to teaching disadvantaged students in urban schools.

Career Pathways and Prospects

With a master’s degree in special education, you can fulfill a number of roles serving the educational needs of special youth populations, including teaching and administrative positions at the elementary, middle and secondary levels in public, charter and private schools.

Special education professionals with a master’s degree are in high demand, and the first-hand teaching experience gained during the program and UDC’s connections with the District public and charter school system gives you an edge upon entering the job market.

Contact info:

E: | T: 202.274.6960