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Online Master’s Degree in Education: Special Education

The Online M.A. Education: Special Education enables students to reach the next level in their professional journey by combining the convenience of online coursework in advanced study in education theory with hands-on practice.

1 1/2 years full-time or 2 1/2 years part-time
43 credits required for completion
Offered completely online

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Online Master’s Degree in Education: Special Education

This Special Education master’s degree program builds on the foundation of the bachelor’s degree as well as previous or current professional experience.

Students enrolled in this Online M.A. Education program will develop an understanding of all areas of child and human development, including social, political, and cultural contexts. In addition to meeting all the academic requirements for California State Teaching Credentials, students who complete this program will be qualified to teach students with mild to moderate disabilities in K-12 settings and adults to age 22.

Please note: Students enrolled in any of our online California Teacher Credential Preparation programs MUST complete all observation, fieldwork, and student teaching hours in California classrooms. There are no exceptions.

Other M.A. in Education & Teaching 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! IN addition to AchieveKids, participating organizations include 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 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 Teacher 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 Degree Courses

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

In this course, Special Education and Elementary Education 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
  • Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution
  • Resume
  • Personal statement
  • Official transcripts from all institutions attended
  • Official CBEST (California Basic Educational Skills Test) scores*
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