Childhood Special Education

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  • Master of Science in Education: 36 credits
  • Master of Education

Learn how to engage all children as active learners

Earn certification to Teach Students with Disabilities in grades 1 through 6, and change your prior initial certification to professional

Mimi RosenbergMimi Rosenberg
Interim Program Director

Childhood Special Education is designed for individuals who currently hold initial New York State certification in general education at the childhood or elementary school level, and who seek initial and professional certification in teaching students with disabilities.

Through close observation of your students, you will learn to identify and address emerging special needs. You can then tailor your teaching approach to the needs of each student, creating a classroom that values, validates and nurtures children and difference.

You will learn to create learning environments that accommodate children's abilities and disabilities. You will help children maximize their independence and self-determination. You will develop classroom management techniques that will allow you to reach and engage all learners, while developing safe and nurturing relationships with children and their families.

If this is your second master's degree, you will earn the advanced Master of Education (Ed. M.) degree.

Distinctive Features

  • Meet the needs of diverse learners by building on students' strengths and interests.
  • Prepare to work creatively and effectively in general, special education and inclusion settings
  • Develop specific strategies to promote learning in children with disabilities

Certification in Education

  • This program is for those who have earned a valid initial New York State certification in Childhood Education or Early Childhood Education. 
  • When you graduate, this program will lead to initial certification in Teaching Students with Disabilities, grades 1 through 6.
  • This program leads to professional certification in your areas of initial certification after completing all New York State requirements, including three years of teaching in the certification area.


Courses at Bank Street provide students with the opportunity to engage in readings, discussions, direct experience, and reflection, encouraging a constant interplay between theory and practice. Explore the courses for the Childhood Special Education program.

Supervised Fieldwork/Advisement

Taken concurrently with coursework, supervised fieldwork is designed to foster the integration of theory and practice. During one term you will:

  • Work in classroom settings as a full-time assistant, head teacher or as a student teacher (3 days each week).
    • Student teachers will be placed in special education settings within grades 1 - 6.
    • Working teachers or assistant teachers who teach in general education classrooms may use their own classroom as their setting for fieldwork. These students will gain additional special education experience through a summer practicum.
  • Be supervised by your advisor, a core graduate faculty mentor, as you work with children in your fieldwork setting.
  • Participate in a weekly conference group of 5-7 students and your advisor.
  • Meet individually with your advisor twice each month for one semester.

Career Opportunities

  • Teach in general education classrooms.
  • Teach in inclusive and self-contained special education classrooms.
  • Tutor or work as a learning specialist in schools or in private practice.
  • Work in special education teacher support services (SETSS) roles.

Admission Requirements

  • Applicants need to have, or be working toward, New York State initial certification in general education at the childhood level (grades 1 - 6).
  • Those who hold certification from a state having reciprocity with New York need to apply for New York State certification when applying to this program. If you hold a certificate from another state, you can apply for New York certification through interstate reciprocity. Click here for an outline of the process.
  • See also the Admissions Criteria.