The special education field is broad, meaning that professionals with an advanced degree in special education can work in several different spaces. The online Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) in Special Education program from Eastern Michigan University (EMU) offers five areas of concentration that students can choose from: Autism Spectrum Disorder, Cognitive Impairment, Emotional Impairment, Learning Disabilities and Physical and Other Health Impairments.

This online degree program provides students with the unique skills and knowledge necessary to serve children across the spectrum of special education. Earning an advanced degree in special education qualifies graduates to pursue roles as a behavior intervention specialist, special education teacher and instructional coordinator.

Five Areas of Concentration in the Master of Arts in Teaching in Special Education Program

A special education degree provides opportunities to assist students with differing learning styles and abilities. Studying special education can help educators develop multiple communication techniques, build patience, build strong analytical skills, learn how to model positivity, foster empathy and gain essential knowledge in a specialized area. Below are five areas of concentration that special education students can concentrate in while enrolled at EMU:

  1. Autism spectrum disorder. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) impacts how people communicate, learn and behave. Since ASD has a wide range of severity and symptoms, various treatments and services are available for students with ASD. Professionals who specialize in autism spectrum disorder will learn about the characteristics of ASD, evidence-based intervention models, formal and informal models of assessment and its impact on schools. The specialization also covers best practices in curriculum design, instructional strategies and techniques, and how visual supports can aid communication, learning, socialization skills and behavioral challenges.
  2. Cognitive impairment. Cognitive impairment can range from mild to severe and affects how a person remembers, learns new tasks, makes decisions and concentrates. Since these issues impact social skills, mental functioning and self-care, children with cognitive impairment benefit from having a teacher who is skilled in providing support. Some areas of focus in this specialization are the range of philosophies that influence educational practices and life management; curriculum, teaching methods, assessment and classroom management techniques for students with cognitive impairment; and lesson modifications, effective instructional strategies, classroom modifications and clinical and diagnostic teaching.
  3. Emotional impairment. Emotional impairment encompasses an inability to develop or maintain relationships, depression, an inability to learn and a tendency to develop fears or physical symptoms related to school issues. An emotional impairment specialization focuses on teaching methods, materials and techniques for emotionally impaired children, studying theories about the etiology of emotional-behavioral impairments and analyzing abnormal behaviors. State and federal regulations regarding individualized education programs are also covered.
  4. Learning disabilities. Learning disabilities encompass disorders that impact the ability to understand or use written or spoken language, coordinate movements, undertake mathematical calculations or direct attention. Studying learning disabilities covers appropriate educational services, practical skills that identify the link between academic strengths and weaknesses, an integrated curriculum and instructional strategies and methods for K-12 students.
  5. Physical and other health impairments. Common physical disabilities include muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, orthopedic and musculoskeletal conditions and spina bifida. Specialization in this area involves studying cognitive impairments and related developmental disabilities, ancillary health procedures and services for teachers of physically impaired students and educational strategies to develop, implement and assess curriculum and teaching methods.

Completion of EMU’s online M.A.T. in Special Education program will fulfill Michigan course and content requirements for currently certified teachers to add an initial or additional special education endorsement to their teaching certificate. Students must also pass the Michigan Tests for Teacher Certification (MTTC) in the particular endorsement area.

What’s Next

Students in this 100% online program can learn to develop their skills, master diverse modes of inquiry, collect data and make informed decisions regarding their students.

Learn more about Eastern Michigan University’s online Master of Arts in Teaching in Special Education program.