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M.S.Ed. Special Education

Since its inception in 1964, the philosophy of Duquesne University's Special Education Program has been one that acknowledges the dignity and uniqueness of each individual. Our mission is to prepare skilled educators who will maximize the potential for achieving meaningful quality of life for individuals with disabilities. Our graduates serve as advocates recognizing that disability is a natural part of the human experience and that individuals with disabilities have a right to support allowing for full participation in the social, economic and educational mainstream of life. Therefore, we are committed to the preparation of leaders distinguished not only by their academic and professional expertise, but also by their ethics and guided by consciences sensitive to the needs of global society. The philosophy and mission of the Special Education Program are rooted in the Duquesne University and School of Education Missions stressing excellence, values and a commitment to serve.

The graduate curriculum in Special Education is designed to facilitate students' development of state-of-the-art competencies. Coursework is built on the three fundamental themes of the School of Education's Leading Teacher Program- leadership, technology and diversity. In addition, the curriculum helps students build the knowledge and skills in the five domains (Learning Theorist, Curriculum Designer, Expert in School Context, Instructional Leader, Master Practitioner) that provide the theoretical framework of professional development in the School of Education. The knowledge base, skills and dispositions of the program of study reflect Content Standards, Common Core Knowledge requirements, and the Individualized General Curriculum and Individualized Independence Curriculum standards of CEC and NCATE. Graduates of this program are prepared as specialists in the areas of assessment, curriculum, instruction, learning and behavior support, professional advocate and collaborative partnerships.

Special Education- CBP

Due to the changes in certification requirements from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), the following certificate holders may enroll in:

Special Education PreK-8 program:

  • N-3
  • K-6
  • Pre K-4
  •  Grades 4-8
  • K-12 (including Music Education, all Foreign Languages, Art, BCIT, Health & Physical Ed majors)
  • Reading Specialist

Special Education 7-12 program:

  •  7-12
  • K-12 (including Music Education, all Foreign Languages, Art, BCIT, Health & Physical Ed majors)
  • Reading Specialist

The Special Education Hearing Impaired, Speech and Language, and Visually Impaired instructional certificates do not qualify as content certificates under both HQT and Chapter 49.85 and therefore certificate holders cannot add the Special Education PreK-8 or 7-12 certificate areas.

This program requires a minimum of 33 semester hours, meets the requirements for the degree and certification to teach in special education programs for students with Cognitive, Behavior, Physical/Health Disabilities (CBP/HD) in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in PreK to twelfth grades.

Application Requirements

Course Information 

PreK-8 Course Information 

7-12 Course Information 

Special Education- CSES

This program requires a minimum of 30 semester hours. The candidate will develop advanced training for employment and advancement within various Community and Special Education Support agencies. Candidates will develop competencies appropriate for the positions of direct care, health maintenance, advocacy, intensive case management or independent support coordination in environments that serve individuals with disabilities.

Course Information          Application Requirements

Autism Endorsement

This endorsement requires a minimum of 12 semester hours and meets the requirements for an Autism Endorsement in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. For students who intend to apply to the Pennsylvania Department of Education for the endorsement, a Level I or Level II certificate from the Pennsylvania Department of Education is a prerequisite. Students who do not hold an instructional certificate from the Pennsylvania Department of Education may apply for and complete the required courses without the PDE endorsement. Requirements include coursework with ongoing, targeted special education field experiences.

The requirements may be completed in an accelerated format in a summer semester from May to July, or in a traditional academic semester format from fall through summer.

Course Information          Application Requirements


The Behavior Analyst Certification Board, Inc.® has approved the following course sequence as meeting the coursework requirements for eligibility to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst Examination®. Applicants will have to meet additional requirements to qualify. The course sequence meets the required 270 classroom hours of graduate-level instruction aligned with the Fourth Edition Task List of the BACB. Arrangement and completion of the supervised practicum hours, which are also required for certification, is the responsibility of the student and is separate from Duquesne University coursework.

BACB certificants are equipped to work with individuals with diverse academic and behavioral needs. At Duquesne University, our approved course sequence is heavily focused on working with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board, Inc.® states that board certified behavior analysts (BCBA) are independent practitioners who also may work as employees or independent contractors for an organization. This approved course sequence and additional requirements for certification will prepare students to:

• Conduct descriptive and systematic behavioral assessments
• Conduct Functional Analyses
• Design and conduct behavior analytic interventions
• Implement assessments and interventions for persons with or without disabilities

The Approved Course Sequence at Duquesne University consists of the following 6 courses:

Applied Behavior Analysis (GSPE 602)
High Incidence Behavior (GSPE 651)
Single Subject Methods for School Psychologists (GPSY 705)
Evidence-Based Practices for Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorders (GSPE 656)
Legal/Ethical Issues: Special Education (GSPE 502)
Autism Spectrum Disorders (GSPE 653)

Courses and Content Hours

Approved Course Sequence Program Sheet