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Master’s Degree in Education: Mild/Moderate Special Education

 Available Online
Female teacher on floor of classroom with young children.

This on-campus, master’s degree program can prepare students for their professional journey through advanced study in education theory and practice with academic requirements for California State Teaching Credentials.

1 1/2 years full time or 2 1/2 years part time
43 credits required for completion
Combines classroom learning with fieldwork in over 25 schools

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M.A. Education: Special Education

The M.A. Education: Special Education builds on the foundation of the bachelor’s degree students bring with them as well as their professional experience. Students in this master’s program develop a sophisticated understanding of the social, political, and cultural contexts of child and human development, preparing them to be advocates for democracy, diversity and inclusion in education at the school, district and state level. Students who complete this education specialist instruction credential program are qualified to teach students with mild to moderate disabilities in K-12 settings and to adults through age 22. Please note: All School of Education programs are taught in eight-week sessions: Fall I and II, Spring I and II, Summer 1 and II. All on-campus courses are “blended,” with 30 hours of face-to-face/in class instruction and 15 hours of online instruction.

Other M.A. Education Credentials

Join the Teacher Residency Program!

Pacific Oaks College, in partnership with AchieveKids, is offering its Teacher Residency program with a grant to help students earn a master’s in education AND a Preliminary Education Specialist Teaching Credential! Participating organizations include AchieveKids, Beacon School, Campbell Union High School District, Creekside School, Institute for the Redesign of Learning (IRL), and The Help Group.

Through the Teacher Residency Program, students earn a Master’s degree while continuing to work as a para educator at a partner organization or school. The Residency Program includes a mentored clinical experience with increasing levels of responsibility throughout the program. This grant includes direct tuition support along with a special grantee tuition rate at Pacific Oaks College.

Review the information below to learn more or please contact [email protected].


The California Preliminary Education Specialist Credential qualifies candidates to teach students with mild to moderate disabilities in K-12 settings. This credential is a two-tiered process. Information on completing the second level is available through the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

View a Teacher Credential Virtual Information Session Video

Learn about the Teaching Credentialing process for Elementary Education and Special Education teachers in California, and how the B.A., M.A., and Stand-Alone teacher education degree programs at Pacific Oaks College help prepare you to make a difference in the classroom. Hear about our approach to preparing you for your career and the way we support you to become a culturally-minded role model for your students.

Credentials Office

For more information to assist you in your journey to obtain your California Preliminary Teaching Credential, visit the Credentials Office page.

Sample Special Education Courses

SPED 563: Teaching Students with Mild/Moderate Disabilities: Creating Inclusive Learning Environments

In this course, Special Education and Multiple Subject credential candidates will explore the impact of various disabilities on development and learning, and how different cultural settings can impact both exceptional groups of learners and students with disabilities. In addition, candidates will learn about the various laws that govern special education and students with disabilities, including the development and implementation of an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and the role of a Case Manager. Emphasis is placed on how to create an inclusive educational environment that benefits all learners in a diverse classroom and school community. Candidates will learn how to collaborate effectively between the General Education and Special Education teachers using Universal Design for Instruction (UDI) principles to plan differentiated instructional strategies, integrate assistive technology when appropriate, and ensure meaningful access to curricula through accommodations and modifications.

SPED 552: Communication and Collaboration: Developing Student, Family, and School Community Partnerships

The SPED 552 course will explore the spectrum of interpersonal and interactive collaboration and communication skills, including problem-solving, empathetic listening, mediation, and conflict resolution. Specifically, candidates will learn how to communicate, collaborate, and consult effectively with students with or without disabilities, their parents or primary caregivers, general and special education teachers, and transdisciplinary Individualized Education Program (IEP) team members. Skills as a Case Manager will be practiced in this course. Also included will be effective communication strategies with IEP team members, counseling strategies, co-teaching techniques, and cross-cultural issues, which are integrated throughout the course. Strategies will be analyzed and evaluated to create a plan which will be reviewed for application to use with students in need of a Least Restrictive Environment (LRE).

Admission Requirements

  • Completed Application for Admission
  • Application Fee
  • Resume
  • Personal Statement
  • Official Transcripts from a Regionally Accredited Bachelor’s Degree Granting Institution Showing Date of Degree Conferral
  • Satisfy the Basic Skills Requirement (e.g., CBEST)
  • Letter of Recommendation required for students whose cumulative GPA is below 2.5
  • Demonstrated commitment to the mission and values of Pacific Oaks College
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