Early Childhood Special Education

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

Discover how to help all children find joy and excitement in learning

Earn certification to Teach Students with Disabilities, birth through grade 2, and change your prior initial certification in general education to professional certification

Sue CarbarySue Carbary
Program Director

Early Childhood Special Education is designed for individuals who currently hold initial New York State certification in general education at the Early Childhood or Childhood level. You will develop the understanding and skill to work with children who are developing typically and atypically.

You will learn to differentiate learning experiences for a wide range of young learners, including children with specific disabilities. Through the study of the ongoing cycle of observation, assessment and instructional planning, you will be able to help young children realize their full functional and educational potential.

Practical experiences will help you learn how to collaborate with families, other teachers and professionals in your work. Discover ways to recognize and nurture individual learning styles and build home/school connections.

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

Distinctive Features

  • Learn about the importance of play in children's development.
  • Help children learn through discovery, exploration and inquiry.
  • Build on children's strengths while addressing their areas of weakness.
  • Learn how to work with families and young children in general, inclusion, or special education settings in schools, home, or community.

Admission Requirements

  • Applicants need to have, or be working toward, New York State initial certification in general education at the early childhood level (birth through grade 2) or 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.

Certification in Education

  • Individuals with initial New York State certification in Childhood General Education will be qualified for 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 Early 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 at three age levels within the early childhood range (pre-k, kindergarten, and grade 1 or 2), and in general education, inclusive, and special education settings.
    • Working teachers and assistants (in approved settings) who stay with a particular grade in the age range may use their own classrooms for their fieldwork setting. These students will gain additional experience through summer supervised fieldwork / advisement during a July (summer 2) term.
  • 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.

Career Opportunities

  • Teach in early childhood general education, special education, or inclusion classrooms in public, charter or independent schools.
  • Work as an early-interventionist in social service or education-based agencies, as well as in hospitals or daycare settings.
  • Work one-on-one as a Special Education Itinerant Teacher (SEIT) in home or school-based programs.