Special education MA

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Special education MA

Build your career as a special education researcher and educator

As an MA student in the special education program, you'll be trained to find solutions to problems that help individuals with disabilities learn and grow. Many of our special education MA students go on to earn their PhD in special education.

Note: Due to the various impacts of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the special education program will NOT require the GRE in the application for admissions for the incoming fall 2022 MA and PhD cohort.


Graduates with their MA in special education conduct research, teach in universities, and work in other educational settings in special education.

Watch a replay of a recent info session

Learn more about our special education MA, MA with an emphasis in applied behavior analysis (ABA), and PhD. Watch a recent info session.


Master's of Arts (MA) (32 credits)


Visit the College of Education and Human Development's Finance and Funding page for information on tuition.


Scholarships, fellowships and awards

Special education scholarships, fellowships, and awards

College of Education and Human Development awards

Financial aid

Visit OneStop Student Services for more information on available financial aid.

Faculty and staff

For general questions, contact sped-adm@umn.edu.

M.Y. Savana Bak headshot

M.Y. Savana Bak mbak@umn.edu

  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Language and social communications
  • Behavior measurement
  • Intersectional and culturally responsive interventions
Debbie Golos headshot

Debbie Golos Deaf/Hard of Hearing licensure and MEd coordinator

  • Developing and evaluating the effects of educational media in ASL on young deaf and hearing children's language and literacy skills
  • Examining the portrayal of deafness in media and literature from a cultural perspective and it's effects on children's identity development
  • Exploring alternative routes to literacy development, that meet the needs of visual learners, particularly deaf children
LeAnne Johnson headshot

LeAnne JohnsonProgram coordinator
chaf0032@umn.edu | Lab

  • Motivating and engaging adults in the adoption and implementation of interventions that improve the quality and quantity of learning opportunities available to young children with challenging behavior
  • Closing the research to practice gap and speeding the adoption of new innovations into practice by improving professional development systems
  • Enhancing data driven,precision oriented, problem solving through new tools for monitoring children’s development and response to intervention
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of interventions addressing the social and communication needs of young children with Autism and emotional/behavioral disorders
Jennifer McComas headshot

Jennifer McComasHead emotional behavioral disorders licensure and MEd and special education MA with emphasis in ABA and programs
jmccomas@umn.edu | Lab

  • Functional analysis of problem behavior in educational and residential settings
  • Basic behavioral processes maintaining desirable and undesirable behavior, such as schedules of reinforcement, stimulus control, and establishing operations
  • Behavioral treatment of problem behavior based on concurrent schedules of reinforcement as well as antecedent stimuli
  • Analysis of academic performance of students with behavior problems
Kristen McMaster headshot

Kristen McMaster Associate department chair
mcmas004@umn.edu | Lab

Create conditions for successful response to intervention of academically diverse learners by:

  • Promoting teachers’ use of data-based decision-making and evidence-based instruction
  • Developing individualized interventions for students for whom generally effective instruction is not sufficient
Frank Symons headshot

Frank SymonsCEHD Associate Dean for Research and Policy
symon007@umn.edu | Lab

  • Development, assessment, and treatment of severe problem behavior among children and adults with neurodevelopmental and emotional/behavioral disorders
  • Bio-behavior analysis of self-injurious behavior
  • Problem of pain among children and adults with significant cognitive impairments and associated developmental disabilities
  • Rett syndrome - refining measurement approaches to improve understanding of the behavioral phenotype
Jason Wolff headshot

Jason WolffMcKnight Presidential Fellow, Autism Spectrum Disorder certificate coordinator
jjwolff@umn.edu | Lab

  • Early brain and behavioral development in children with autism spectrum disorder
  • Restricted and repetitive behaviors associated with autism and other developmental disabilities
  • Identifying neurodevelopmental moderators of response to early intervention
  • Integrating neuroscience with special education research