Skip to Main Content

You are in the main content

M.Ed. in Exceptional Education

*Note:  This program is not designed for initial licensure in special education.

A program of study for individuals who already hold a professional teaching license or those wishing to work with individuals with exceptionalities in areas other than teaching.  Candidates will be prepared for advanced positions in exceptional education, such as department chair, program specialist, RTI specialist, behavior specialist, or instructional coach.  Candidates may choose to pursue a certificate in autism or an endorsement in Gifted Education.

The M.Ed. is, at minimum, a 30 credit hour program with 13-16 core credit hours.  College of Education and Exceptional Education courses comprise the core courses.  The remaining credits are split between a selected concentration and electives that meet specific individual needs and career objectives. 

The M.Ed. includes field experiences integrated into courses, which may occur as a formal placement by the university or as a result of supervised employment. All candidates complete a final portfolio OR an action research project, which serves as their comprehensive assessment.

This program is not designed to meet Virginia requirements for initial teacher licensure or endorsement. However, depending on the concentration selected, the M.Ed. can lead to an endorsement in gifted education provided the individual already holds a valid Virginia teaching license or a certificate in autism.  The final portfolio option has been designed to support candidates who wish to apply for National Board Certification for teaching; however, application for National Board Certification is not a requirement of the program.

Gifted Education Concentration

The gifted education concentration is designed to prepare educators who skillfully contribute to the common good of society through competence in teaching and educational leadership in gifted education. The program enables candidates to complete the approved Virginia Add-on K-12 Gifted Education Endorsement.  For candidates selecting the gifted education concentration, 100% of the program coursework is online. 

Autism Concentration

The autism concentration is designed to enable candidates to increase their knowledge and understanding of individuals with a disability on the autism spectrum, including those with Asperger Syndrome, and to engage in the practice of assessing, planning and implementing programming for this population. The content of this program is suitable for those working with this population anytime along the entire lifespan. Upon completion of the coursework, candidates earn a certificate in autism. For candidates selecting the autism concentration, 90% of the program coursework is online. 

Behavior Specialist Concentration

This represents the collaborative, interdisciplinary program, between Graduate Psychology and Exceptional Education.  Students who are admitted to an approved special education program have the option to also apply to complete the Behavior Specialist Concentration.  

This concentration is an approved course sequence from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board and prepares the student to qualify for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst Exam. 

Admittance to one of the M.Ed. or M.A.T. programs alone does not guarantee admittance to the BCBA course sequence, which must be applied to separately.  Students are admitted after completing an interview process. 

Program of Study

These tables display all individual courses required for each concentration available.  A minimum of 30 graduate credits is required to earn the M.Ed. degree.  Candidates must complete a Program of Study Form with their advisor prior to beginning coursework.  Transfer Credit Forms must be completed at this time.


COE Core Courses1 and Credit Hours

EDUC 630 - Inquiry in Education - 3

EDUC 641 - Learning Theories & Practice - 3

EDUC 642 - Curriculum Theory & Issues - 3

 1 COE core courses are offered in online and face-to-face formats.

EXED Core Courses1 and Credit Hours

EXED 605 - Trends & Issues in EXED2 - 3

Choose One of the Following

EXED 608 - Exceptional Education Portfolio - 2-4

EXED 609 - Research in Exceptional Education - 1-4

1 EXED core courses are offered in face-to-face format, except for the section of EXED 608 reserved for students in the Gifted Concentration.

2 Students in the Gifted Concentration will take EXED 665 in lieu of EXED 605.

Concentrations — Students select ONE of the following concentrations and must complete all courses in the concentration.

Autism Concentration & Credit Hrs. (online)

EXED 506 - Overview & Assessment of Autism Disorders - 3

EXED 602 - Communication, Lang. & Sensory Issues in ASD - 3

EXED 603 - PBS, FBA & BIP - 3

EXED 604 - Practical Experience in Autism - 3

Gifted Education Concentration & Credit Hrs. (online)

EXED 560 - Nature & Needs of Gifted Learners - 3

EXED 565 - Instructional Methods in Gifted Educ. 3

EXED 660 - Curriculum Design in Gifted Educa. - 3

EXED 665 - Trends & Issues in Gifted Educ.1 - 3

EXED 570 - Practicum in Gifted Education - 3

Electives (by advisement only)**

1Students in the gifted concentration will take EXED 665 in lieu of EXED 605.

Behavior Specialist COE Core Courses (6 credits)

EDUC 630 - Inquiry in Education - 3

EDUC 641 - Learning Theories & Practice - 3

Behavior Specialist EXED Core Courses (6 credits)

EDUC 609 - Research in Exceptional Education - 2 x 3

Behavior Specialist

  One Approved Elective Related to Student Specialty Area

Behavior Specialist Concentration Courses

PSY 610 - Applied Behavior Analysis - 3

​PSY 601 – Special Topics / Ethics - 4 (1 credit of ethics for each of the 4 semesters)

​EXED 510 - Systematic Behavioral Interventions - 3

​PSY 805 - Single Case - 3

​PSY 690 - Experimental Analysis of Behavior - 3

​EXED 501/620 - Behavioral Assessment - 3

Dr. Dani Allen-Bronaugh
Dr. Laura Desportes
Dr. Keri Bethune