Special Education Master of Education Degree (4+1)

The resident M.Ed. program at the University Park campus provides 30 credits of coursework and two supervised practicum experiences (7 credits), to prepare teachers to provide effective and appropriate instruction for students with disabilities.

This combination of academic and practical experiences supports M.Ed. candidates in learning to meet the needs of all learners through the demonstrated ability to

  • use adapted instruction to support the acquisition of reading, writing, and math skills;

  • design and deliver effective instruction;

  • use appropriate techniques to assess learning;

  • create a positive environment for learning.

The Program

Students who have completed (or who are currently enrolled) in an undergraduate teacher certification program at Penn State have the opportunity to complete the M.Ed. in Special Education (and earn special education teacher certification in Pennsylvania) through the “4+1” program at the University Park campus.

M.Ed. students must accumulate a specified number of credits, complete a sequence of practicum courses, and write a master's paper. Students will follow this course sequence during their fifth year of study:

Summer Session (after senior year and following acceptance into the 4+1 program)
SPLED 5251 - Note that there are special enrollment procedures for this course. Please visit this link for more information.

Fall Semester

Spring Semester

SPLED 525 can also be taken in the summer before a student's senior year as an undergraduate and can be counted toward the SPLED minor (in place of SPLED 461).

The 4+1 M.Ed. program will result (in five years) in


  1. a bachelor’s degree with initial teacher certification

  2. a Masters degree in Special Education, and

  3. recommendation for PA special education teacher certification

How to Apply

Individuals interested in this program should complete an initial degree and teaching certification in their four years as undergraduate students; this part of the program can be completed at the University Park campus or a PSU commonwealth campus that provides a teaching certification program (elementary education, secondary education, physical education, music education, art education). The individual should also complete the minor in Special Education as part of their undergraduate program.

The teacher candidate then applies to the SPLED M.Ed. program in the fall of his/her senior year. If the teacher candidate is accepted into the program, s/he will complete some online summer coursework and then a fall and spring semester in residence at University Park. Upon successful completion, the teacher candidate will graduate with an M.Ed. in Special Education and be eligible for recommendation for special education teacher certification in Pennsylvania. Individuals who are completing the initial teaching certification at a Penn State campus, and who are interested in the 4+1 program, are encouraged to contact Dr. David McNaughton for more information on this program.

Individuals who completed their initial teacher certification at a university other than Penn State are welcome to apply for this program. In addition to the course requirements listed below applicants may need to complete additional coursework as determined by their advisor. For individuals who obtained their initial teaching certification outside of Pennsylvania, there may be additional coursework requirements to be eligible for recommendation for Pennsylvania Certification in Special Education. Individuals who completed their initial teacher certification at a university other than Penn State should contact the Professor in Charge for the Special Education program for additional information.

For admission to the Graduate School, an applicant must hold either (1) a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or (2) a tertiary (postsecondary) degree that is deemed comparable to a four-year bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution. This degree must be from an officially recognized degree-granting institution in the country in which it operates.

All applicants are expected to have a GPA of 3.0 or higher from prior coursework.

The process of applying for graduate admission at Penn State requires the following application materials, all of which are submitted via The Graduate School's online application.


  • Graduate Application and application fee – Applications are submitted electronically and include a nonrefundable application fee. You will need to upload the following items as part of your online application.

  • Résumé or curriculum vitae

  • Personal statement – A one to two page statement addressing your purpose and objectives in enrolling in a graduate program in Special Education.

  • Transcripts – A copy of an official transcript from each institution attended, regardless of the number of credits or semesters completed. Transcripts not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation. Penn State alumni do not need to request transcripts for credits earned at Penn State, but must list Penn State as part of your academic history. Upon admission and your acceptance of admission, you will be asked to send an additional official transcript. You will receive instructions at that time.

  • Three references – Reference forms will be uploaded directly to the Graduate School application by the reference writer who will receive an email from the Graduate School after the applicant enters reference contact information into the application.

  • Proof of English Proficiency – The language of instruction at Penn State is English. All international applicants must take and submit scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS), with some exceptions. For detailed information please visit the Graduate School's Requirements for Graduate Admissionspage.Applicants should request that TOEFL scores be sent to Penn State electronically. Applicants should request that IELTS scores be mailed directly to Penn State's Graduate School at the following address:

  • The Pennsylvania State University
    Graduate Enrollment Services
    114 Kern Building
    University Park, PA 16802

  • GRE test scores are NOT required for M.Ed. applicants.

Apply Now

Begin the graduate school application

  • Choose “DEGREE ADMISSION” as your enrollment type.

  • Choose "UNIVERSITY PARK" as your campus.

  • Choose “SPECIAL EDUCATION” as your major.

  • Choose “M ED” as your degree.

Your degree application, including receipt of all application materials, must be received by the following deadlines to be considered complete:


  • March 1 for Summer semester admission

Deadlines and Important Dates
Your degree application, including receipt of all application materials, must be received by the following deadlines to be considered complete, including completed reference forms;
The SPLED M Ed program at University Park begins in the Summer semester. Applications are received and reviewed beginning in the prior Fall Semester (e.g., Fall 2021 for a Summer 2022 start). Applications must be received by March 1 to be considered for Summer semester admission.

Apply Now