Master of Arts in Special Education


WMU undergraduate special education intern Terra Shockley spends time in the classroom with students and their teaching mentor Tammy Bumgarner at Amberly Elementary.


  • Bachelor's degree with GPA of 3.0 or higher (a graduate grade point average may be considered if at least 9 hours of recent and relevant course work have been completed).
  • Resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV).
  • Official transcripts.
  • Experience in special education, general education, or a related field. 
  • Statement addressing endorsement you are pursuing, current teaching certificates, current special education endorsements, identify your professional goals and explain why an additional special education degree is sought. 
  • Three professional letters of reference.
  • International students must submit a CELCIS transcript with a minimum grade of “BA” or a TOEFL score of 550 or better.


  • Kourtney Bakalyar, alumna
    "The program gave me the experiences and knowledge to problem solve and excel in my various roles in the field. I would not be where I am now without the support of the faculty."Kourtney Bakalyar, alumna

Program overview

This program is offered in-person or online.

Students may focus their studies on obtaining a special education teaching or administration endorsement, in depth study of special education content for personal growth, or preparation for advanced graduate training. All options are based on competencies from the Council for Exceptional Children and/or the Michigan Department of Education. Upon admission, students are assigned an advisor. Prior to taking classes, students must meet with their advisor to develop a graduate program of study and complete an endorsement evaluation. Program concentration options include:

  • NEW! Expedited clinical teacher, initial teaching certification: Program for individuals pursuing their initial teaching certification with a focus in special education and endorsement in autism spectrum disorder (ASD), emotional impairments (EI), or learning disabilities (LD). Candidates include paraprofessionals, teacher aides, and other initial teaching certification seekers that hold a bachelor's degree in any subject and have experience working with children. Select "Main Campus" and "Special Education: Clinical Teacher - MA" on your application to apply for this program.
  • Clinical teacher: Program for individuals seeking their first special education endorsement in either autism, learning disabilities, or emotional impairments. Candidates must have an elementary or secondary teaching certificate to enter the program.
  • Master teacher, additional special education endorsement: Program for current special education teachers to earn an additional endorsement in autism, emotional impairments, or learning disabilities. Candidates must hold a current elementary or secondary teaching certificate and a special education endorsement to enter the program.
  • Master teacher, behavior intervention specialist (online only): Program for general or special education teachers to pursue advanced preparation in positive behavior intervention supports and coaching behavior management. Candidates include general or special education teachers, principals, school psychologists, school social workers, speech pathologists, or other ancillary school staff.
  • Administration: Program for individuals pursuing leadership positions as central office administrators, supervisors, or directors of special education within a school district or ISD. Candidates must have an elementary or secondary teaching certificate and a special education endorsement or related area certification to enter the program. (Admissions are currently suspended)

Why this Masters of Arts in Special Education at Western Michigan University?

  • U.S. News and World Report ranked WMU No. 3 in the state of Michigan for graduate schools in education.  
  • 100% of WMU special education graduate students were employed or continuing education within three months of graduation. 
  • Students are encouraged to pursue additional educational opportunities through one of our many excellent study abroad programs.
  • We are the only institution in the U.S. that includes an optional co-curricular designation known as the WMU Signature. Pathways include: Teaching & Student Success, Leadership, Health & Wellbeing, Diversity, Inclusion, Equity & Justice, and more! 


The WMU teacher education unit is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). 

Graduate teaching assistant opportunities 

The Department of Special Education and Literacy Studies typically hires 3-4 teaching assistants to assist faculty with teaching during the fall and spring semesters. Graduate students wishing to be considered for one of these positions should send a letter of interest and a resume to the chair.


Applicants are asked to include some program-specific information:

Applicants are encouraged to bookmark this information for quick reference while working through the graduate application process.

Applicants are evaluated on:

  • Undergraduate GPA
  • Special education experience
  • Congruence of goals and requested program option
  • Writing skills

Cost & Funding

Helpful links