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Teacher of Students with Moderate Disabilities Master's Degree (MEd)

  • Grade Levels:
    PreK-8 or 5-12
  • Credits for Licensure:
  • Degree:
    Masters of Education (MEd)
  • Program Approved:
    Massachusetts Dept. of Elementary & Secondary Education

Program Description

The Master of Education Degree in Special Education program at Cambridge College prepares you for licensure as a Teacher of Students With Moderate Disabilities at either the PreK-8 or grades 5-12 level. The required special education curriculum includes more than a dozen courses focused on key principles of special education such as collaboration, inclusion, assessment, adaptation, and regulations. The master’s in special education degree also requires 300 hours of practicum field work and a practicum seminar prior to graduation. The master’s degree program welcomes students who are already licensed teachers and those who are not. Students who are not already licensed teachers must pass all MTEL exams (Massachusetts Tests for Educational Licensure) before starting practicum placements.

Cambridge College Special Education Master’s Degree Program Highlights

Cambridge College understands that busy students require flexible courses so that academic progress is possible while also taking care of work and family responsibilities.

Choose an academic schedule that offers evening and weekend classes as well as online options. Cambridge College specializes in helping adult students earn their degree and achieve their career goals.

  • Apply without having to take the GRE or MTEL tests in advance. Cambridge College strives to make the admission application process as simple as possible so that you can get started on your special education degree right away. Of course, students who are already licensed teachers have previously passed their MTELs. Students who are not yet teachers simply need to pass the MTEL exams before starting the required degree practicum — not before they apply for admission.
  • Go at your own pace. The special education master’s program at Cambridge College can be completed in as little as two years. You also have the option to complete special education courses and make academic progress at your own pace.
  • Learn from caring and supportive faculty. Special education faculty members at Cambridge College truly understand adult students. They also bring years of special education teaching experience, including the unique challenges of working in underserved areas.
  • Use the latest classroom technology. Cambridge College provides classroom and adaptive technologies used in careers in special education, so you will gain hands-on experience with the same technology used throughout the special education profession.
  • Enjoy less commuting stress. All of our classrooms locations are near public transportation and/or offer ample parking.
  • Pay less tuition and get more value. Compared to similar special education master’s programs, Cambridge College proudly offers more affordable tuition to teachers, current and future, so that they can reach their career and academic goals.
Having a degree in special education, you’ll forever have a job. You’re always going to be employable, and you’ll have infinite possibilities. 
Marie Regonini
Cambridge College Special Education Student


Special Education Master’s Degree Program Concentrations

Careers in special education typically fall into subsets based on the age of the students you want to help. At Cambridge College, you can choose to pursue your master’s in special education through one of two options:

  • Teacher of Students With Moderate Disabilities PreK-8
  • Teacher of Students With Moderate Disabilities grades 5-12

Master’s in Special Education Degree Learning Outcomes

When you graduate from Cambridge College with a master’s in special education (officially called a Master of Education Degree, Teacher of Students With Moderate Disabilities), you exit with the knowledge, skills, and full understanding of how to become a special education teacher:

  • Bring a working knowledge of the characteristics and instructional implications of disabling conditions.
  • Understand public school curriculums and help students with moderate disabilities to access the curriculum.
  • Use state-of-the-art technology specifically designed for special education students, including those that provide augmented or alternate communication and other assistive technologies.
  • Prepare, implement, and evaluate Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).
  • Design or modify curriculum material and classroom environments for students with moderate disabilities.
  • Leverage knowledge of services provided by other agencies and resources.
  • Understand applicable federal and state laws pertaining to special education.
  • Feel confident in your understanding of child development, including basic theories of cognitive, social, emotional, language, and physical development.  
  • Actively employ inclusive practices to create a safe and collaborative learning environment that fosters positive socio-emotional development.
  • Set high expectations for all students.
  • Implement well-structured lessons, with measurable assessments.
  • Engage in ongoing reflection on your professional practice as a special education teacher. 

Careers in Special Education — Special Education Teacher Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment in special ed jobs will grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, which is slightly faster than growth predictions for all occupations in the same time span.

Earning your master’s degree in special education and then becoming licensed as a Teacher of Students With Moderate Disabilities sets the stage for a more secure future — whether you want to make a career change or you’re already a teacher and want to move into special education.

A special ed degree meets hiring requirements for work as a teacher of record in resource room settings, as a consulting teacher, or as a special education co-teacher. Educators who can fill these critical special ed jobs remain in high demand.

Graduating with a special ed master’s degree can also increase your annual salary. Special education teachers typically make more money than general education teachers at the same school.

Learn more! What is a typical special education teacher salary?

The greater Boston metropolitan area is one of the top 10 cities with the highest employment levels for special education teachers at the kindergarten and elementary school levels.*

Massachusetts overall is in the top five states with the highest concentration of jobs for special education teachers working at the middle-school level.*

Several cities in Massachusetts rank in the top 10 metropolitan areas with high concentrations of special ed jobs for teachers working at the secondary or high school level.*

The annual incomes for special ed jobs for teachers tend to be higher for teachers working with older students:

  • $58,600 - $93,580, kindergarten and elementary school
  • $59,510 - $95,680, middle school 
  • $60,180 - $97,670, secondary / high school*

Top employers of special ed teachers include the following:

  • Public schools and school systems
  • Providers of private special ed services for individuals and families
  • Child daycare providers
  • State and local government agencies
  • Residential special ed centers and other residential care facilities
  • Educational support services
  • Residential centers for people seeking services for developmental disabilities, mental health conditions, and substance abuse
  • Offices of health care practitioners, especially those serving children at key diagnostic ages

Here are some common special ed jobs titles:

  • School Resource Room Teacher of Record
  • Consulting Teacher
  • Special Education Co-Teacher

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2017. K-elementary:;  Middle school:; Secondary:

Example Special Education Courses

Cambridge College required special ed classes include the following:

  • Adapting Materials for Students With Disabilities in General Education Classrooms
  • Collaborative and Consultation Techniques
  • Laws and Regulations Pertaining to Special Ed
  • Inclusion and Classroom Behavior Management
  • Psych-Educational Assessment for Teaching Exceptional Children
  • Assistive Technology: Modifying Curriculum for Diverse Learners

View the list of required courses (PreK-8 or 5-8).

Special Education Scholarships and Financial Aid

Many graduate students choose Cambridge College because they receive financial aid and tuition help from several sources. Financial aid plays an important role in making a master’s degree possible for many students. Learn more now about financial aid, including how to apply through Cambridge College.

Typically, graduate students consider a combination of grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study. Many also receive tuition assistance from their current employers, so be sure to ask if any tuition assistance is available to you. Learn more about how your employer may pay tuition and expenses.


Related Programs at Cambridge College

If you’re still exploring special education master’s programs, consider these additional master’s degrees offered through Cambridge College:


Non-licensure option: All program components are required except the Practicum, Practicum Seminar and teacher tests. Non-licensure students must complete all pre-practicum hours embedded in the courses. 

Please note: At Cambridge College locations outside of Massachusetts, this program is currently non-licensure only.

Moderate Disabilities - All grade levels
Introduction to Graduate School
EDU 558 1 credit(s)

This course will assist the new student in planning and developing a graduate study program that is appropriate to the student's academic and professional needs. When a student is accepted into the program he/she should enroll immediately only in this course and work with an advisor to schedule additional courses. In addition, this course will offer opportunities for more direct advising, introduction to College protocols such as TaskStream and other opportunities for academic success.

Teaching Phonological and Phonemic Awareness and Phonics
ELE 500
This course is a prerequisite for ELE521. This course will emphasize the development of children’s phonemic awareness, phonological awareness and phonics skills and the learning environment that supports the development of such skills. It will also cover concepts of print, explicit/implicit instruction, analytic/synthetic methods, word analysis skills, the alphabetic principle, and language development.
Adapting Materials for Students w/Disabilities in Gen Ed Classrooms
ESP 592 1 credit(s)
In this course students adapt materials and modify curriculum to meet students' Individual Education Programs (IEP). Models of inclusion and teaching techniques for students with disabilities in general education classrooms are explored. Students examine academic interventions in mathematics, reading and writing and develop strategies to increase participation of their students in inclusive classrooms by acquiring teaching strategies to create a positive learning environment. They design reasonable classroom accommodations, identify realistic alternatives, propose classroom management techniques, routines and rituals to promote positive behavior, and adapt assessments to meet learners' diverse needs. Students demonstrate understanding through case study analysis and lesson presentation.
Collaboration and Consultation Techniques
ESP 594 2 credit(s)
The course explores the concept of school and community working together as partners to support each other in a strong coalition. A school district serves several smaller communities in one, and rarely does a community act as a single entity. To establish and sustain community and school linkage is critical to an effective partnership. The course explores the core mission of public schools and creates an environment that helps young people learn and achieve at high standards. The community school approach supports young people’s academic, social, and interpersonal goals by creating an effective learning atmosphere. Schools are a microcosm of societal values and community philosophy that daily affects students’ lives. The power structure of a community — its formal and informal networks and the people in them — that makes things happen is studied.
Inclusion and Classroom Behavior Management
ESP 512 3 credit(s)
In this course students learn the basic components of an effective inclusionary program. They acquire knowledge of the etiology of learning problems and specific techniques to fully include special education students into the regular classroom. Course assignments connect theories to classroom practice. Emphasis is on learning behavior management skills that are effective with both regular and special education students. Pre-practicum hours of directed field-based training required.
Principles of Language Development Bridging Differences and Disorders
ESP 662 3 credit(s)
Language acquisition is one of the most important domains within the sciences of the mind. Developments in cognitive neuroscience have made it evident that language has constant neural reorganization. Students develop an overview of the course of language development, biological foundations for language, the major linguistic systems individuals must acquire, and finally the methods of study for language development. Theories of first and second language acquisition and development are introduced. Candidates examine different theories of semantic development, phonological development, morphological development and syntax. Students come to understand the relationship between language acquisition, language impairment, and treatments of children with learning differences including dyslexia as well as other communicative disabilities are also discussed. Pre-practicum hours of directed field-based training required.
Theories of Typical and Atypical Human Development
ESP 689 3 credit(s)
This course examines current research and theoretical models that focus on typical and atypical development of children. Emphasis is on understanding children's psychological, intellectual, physical and socio-emotional development. Piaget's theory of cognitive development is examined along with recent investigations and adaptations. Theories of the role of context (physical, social and cultural impacts on development) are compared. The impact of developmental theories on the education of children with disabilities is examined. Formulation of a developmentally appropriate Individual educational Plan is required. Pre-practicum hours required.
Psycho-Educational Assessment for Teaching Exceptional Students
ESP 607 3 credit(s)
This course prepares candidates to assess various educational test instruments, understand outcome data, analyze various data sets and make hypotheses, and formulate academic goals and objectives. Candidates develop a conceptual framework to understand student's academic needs and develop appropriate interventions based upon testing outcome data. Test construction is introduced for evaluating various assessment instruments and the appropriateness of their use. Students utilize formal and informal assessments, standardized instrumentation, and screening instrumentation to gather data and formulate appropriate interventions and accommodations for various educational plans. Specific practices include formative assessment, academic feedback, and questioning. Pre-practicum hours of directed field-based training required.
Assistive Technology: Modifying the Curriculum for Diverse Learners
ESP 615 3 credit(s)
How do we as educators implement the mandated requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act that calls for assistive technology to be considered in each Individualized Education Program (IEP)? Candidates examine assistive technologies and the federal laws impacting the education of students with disabilities and investigate assistive technologies addressing seating and positioning, access to the technology, augmentative and alternative communication (low-tech and high-tech). Candidates examine curriculum modifications using technology, and software that addresses these modifications and individual learning styles. The course provides a comprehensive understanding of the various augmentative and alternative communications (AAC) methodologies, including the appropriate use of aids and devices. Course assignments connect assistive technologies to classroom practice.
Pedagogy in Reading and English Language Arts
ESP 680 3 credit(s)
In this course students acquire knowledge of scientifically-based reading instruction. Topics include: oral language development, explicit systematic and sequential instruction in phonological processing and phonemic awareness, phonics instruction, spelling; fluency, comprehension; vocabulary instruction to include morphology, grammar/syntax. Candidates implement well-structured lessons that reflect knowledge of the essential elements of scientifically-based reading instruction, formative assessment, differentiated instruction, cooperative learning, and the role of academic feedback, and questioning to support higher-order thinking. Pre-practicum hours of directed field-based training required.
Laws and Regulations Pertaining to Special Education
ESP 695 3 credit(s)
This course reviews all special education laws (IDEIA, 2004, and specific regulations such as 34 C.F.R. 300; 603 CMR 28:00) regarding the pre-referral and referral of a student, and the development of an Individual Education Plan (IEP). Additionally, the course examines the relevance of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA, 1990), the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), as well as the procedures for Special Education Appeals relating to public schools’ obligations to provide Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) for students with disabilities. Additional emphasis is placed on students with a diagnosis of Autism and developing IEPs for these students in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), using theories and strategies for including students in general education classrooms. Special attention is paid to legislation governing special education. Pre-practicum hours of directed field-based training required.
Inclusion in Math Class
MAT700 3 credit(s)

Improving math instruction for students with disabilities: This course is designed to promote collaboration between mathematics and special educators to improve math instruction and outcomes for all students including students with disabilities. The course is intended to assist math instructors and special needs teachers by providing a structure for developing a shared vision, common language and foundational knowledge of mathematics instruction and the instructional needs of math students with disabilities. The course will focus on protocols developed as the result of a four-year collaboration between DESE Offices of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and the Special Education Planning and Policy at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, EDC and math and special educators from the districts participating in the Massachusetts Urban Math support Network. High quality core curriculum and instruction begins with the Mathematics Curriculum Frameworks. These protocols address the conceptual understandings and mathematical practices that are an essential part of rigorous math expectations for all students with disabilities when planning mathematics instruction, educators will be better able to address the needs of all learners.

Moderate Disabilities (PreK-8)
Common Core Math
MAT 623 3 credit(s)
Course will address all Massachusetts Common Core State Standards in Mathematics.
Moderate Disabilities (Grades 5-12)
Attaining Science Literacy
SCI 680 3 credit(s)
This course addresses science literacy by (1) examining the development of the knowledge and skills needed to understand the natural world and to intelligently participate in decisions that affect it, (2) considering science as a way of knowing and as a basis for thinking and problem-solving, and (3) reviewing strategies for promoting science literacy in school programs. Course content includes practical and theoretical constructs with emphasis on connecting theory to practice, applying conceptual understandings to individual teaching settings, and developing skills for independent professional development and scholarship. Pre-practicum hours of directed field-based training required.
Teaching Social Science, History and Multicultural Education in Grades 5-12
ESP 636 3 credit(s)
This course prepares candidates to co-teach and conslult with general educators in the area of social studies. Topics investigated are taken form the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks/Common Core in history and social studies. Candidates produce and implement well-structured lessons that center on core disciplinary ideas in the K-12 social studies curriculum, utilize primary source materials, and reflect knowledge of formative assessment, differentiated instruction, cooperative learning, and the role of academic feedback, and questioning to support higher-order thinking.
Practicum Prerequisites (For Licensure)
  • For PreK-8: Pass all MTELs required by Massachusetts for the PreK-8 license: Communication and Literacy, General Curriculum (multi-subject + math subtest (Elementary Math (53), Middle School Math (47) or Mathematics (09) will also meet the math subtest requirement.) + Foundations of Reading (Reading (08) will also meet this requirement.).
  • For Grades 5-12: Pass all MTELs required by Massachusetts for the 5-12 license: Communication and Literacy, Foundations of Reading, and either the General Curriculum test or a subject matter test in an approved academic subject: English, mathematics, science (biology, chemistry, earth science, general science, and physics), history, middle school humanities, middle school mathematics/science, or political science/political philosophy (5-8 or 8-12).
  • For both grade levels:
    • SEI605    Sheltered English Immersion (3 credits) or ESE-endorsed course or SEI MTEL.
    • Pass all required courses.
    • Pre-Practicum — Successfully complete program-specific hours in diverse settings (0 credit)
    • EDU704    Practicum Readiness (1 credit)
    • Submit Practicum Application and Placement Approval Forms.
SEI (Sheltered English Immersion) Content License Endorsement Course
SEI 605 3 credit(s)
This Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) Content License Endorsement Course is designed for educator licensure candidates in all core academic areas, to prepare them to address the needs, and build on the multilingual and multicultural assets, of a diverse and ever-changing student population in Massachusetts. The course is a key element of the Massachusetts RETELL initiative (Rethinking Equity and Teaching for English Language Learners). RETELL also includes statewide implementation of the WIDA ELD (English Language Development) standards, and the WIDA-ACCESS assessment tools. Participants will be introduced to ELD standard and WIDA tools, and will practice applying research-based SEI instructional strategies as they teach their content to English language learners (ELLs). They will also be introduced to a variety of professional growth opportunities to prepare them to extend their learning by making SEI the focus of professional practice within the new educator evaluation process.
Practicum Readiness
EDU 704 1 credit(s)

This course is specifically designed to determine readiness for the practicum. It will assist the teacher candidate to develop his/her skills to be ready to assume the role of student teacher from the first day of practicum. Students will understand the requirements of CAP by engaging in and completing the forms for each of the "essentials" and completing their own goals. All of the TaskStream components, other than the practicum documents, will be completed. MTELs will be completed. Those having difficulty with the MTELs will be directed for support. Field work assignments will be required.

Practicum & Seminar

Licensure students only.

The practicum is guided and evaluated by a licensed/certified special educator in the classroom and a Cambridge College supervisor. Practicum locations are subject to ESE regulations and must be discussed with the program chair and approved by the pre-practicum/practicum coordinator.

Practicum: Special Education (PreK-8) 300 hours
ESP 794A 2 credit(s)
14-week supervised field experience of a minimum of 300 hours in which candidates demonstrate proficiency in meeting the Professional Standards for Teachers. The practicum must meet the hours and setting requirements for the license sought, under the guidance of a supervising practitioner with the appropriate license, with Cambridge College supervision. Assessment follows the Candidate Assessment of Performance (CAP) and assesses ability with respect to: well-structured lessons, high expectations, meeting diverse needs, adjustment to practice, safe learning environment, professional culture/reflective practice, as well as formative assessment, differentiation and providing academic feedback. Artifacts are uploaded into an Exit Portfolio. An Application to Practicum is required.
Practicum Seminar: Special Education
ESP 791 2 credit(s)

Practicum required concurrently: ESP790 A/B. The seminar, based on the Professional Standards for Teachers in Massachusetts and those of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), provides opportunities for classroom experience and supports students' growth as they assume the teaching role. Candidates receive feedback on lesson plans, and develop instructional practice by analyzing case studies, engaging in role play and viewing of instructor-selected video tapes that depict examples of practice. Candidates upload required key assessments into an Exit Portfolio in TaskStream.

Practicum: Special Education (5-12) 300 hours
ESP 794B 2 credit(s)
14-week supervised field experience of a minimum of 300 hours in which candidates demonstrate proficiency in meeting the Professional Standards for Teachers. The practicum must meet the hours and setting requirements for the license sought, under the guidance of a supervising practitioner with the appropriate license, with Cambridge College supervision. Assessment follows the Candidate Assessment of Performance (CAP) and assesses ability with respect to: well-structured lessons, high expectations, meeting diverse needs, adjustment to practice, safe learning environment, professional culture/reflective practice, as well as formative assessment, differentiation and providing academic feedback. Artifacts are uploaded into an Exit Portfolio. An Application to Practicum is required.

Senior Instructor

Adjunct Instructor



  • Admission Test:

    No standardized graduate school tests required for admission into non-licensure programs.

  • Admissions Office:
  • Application Form:
  • Application Fee:
    $50 ($100 for international students; $100 for EdD)

Health Requirements for Massachusetts Students

The Massachusetts Health Department and Cambridge College require the following of students in Massachusetts:

Immunizations – All students in Massachusetts are required to get certain immunizations before you can register for your first term. See form

Health Insurance – In Massachusetts, undergraduate students taking nine or more credits/term and graduate students taking six or more credits/term must enroll in the College’s health insurance plan. Students who have insurance with comparable coverage may request a waiver. See information and enroll or waive.


School Requirements

See Admissions Requirements for School of Education

International Students 

International students need to provide supplemental documentation:

  • Official demonstration of English language proficiency
  • Supplemental documentation for issuance of I-20
  • International transcripts, evaluated by an accepted evaluation service

Transfer Credit

Graduate program applicants, please complete the transfer credit request form if you wish to have prior course work evaluated for transfer. Learn more.

Undergraduate program applicants, once you are accepted, your official transcripts are evaluated for transfer credit.



  • Credits for Licensure:
  • Cost per credit hour:
  • Application Fee:
    $50 ($100 for international students; $100 for EdD)
  • Health Insurance Fee:
    $3,962 - Required for Massachusetts students only. See waiver details on Tuition & Fees page.

Note: Rates are as of July 2022, and are subject to change without notice. Rates apply to all students, unless otherwise noted.

Financial Aid

Cambridge College offers financial aid to students in our degree programs who are enrolled at least half time. Undergraduate students must be enrolled in at least 6 credits each term. Graduate and doctoral students must be enrolled in at least 4 credits each term. Learn more

Grants, Scholarships and Loans

Cambridge College welcomes the opportunity to support your efforts to pay for college.  Federal, state and local resources in the form of grants, scholarships, loans and work-study, including Cambridge College Scholarships, are available to help defray the cost of tuition. Learn more

Getting Your Company to Help

Many companies have tuition assistance programs, designed to help their employees with their professional development. Learn more

Take the Next Step Toward Your Special Education Degree