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Master of Arts in Educational Studies, Special Education

The master's in special education is designed for experienced educators who want to advance their careers and help children with learning disabilities become successful life-long learners.


The Master of Arts program in special education at The Ohio State University will help lead you to a fulfilling career helping children with disabilities reach their full learning potentials.

This accredited, research-based program is strongly focused in applied behavioral analysis to provide you with the knowledge required to analyze and develop learning and behavior programs for people with disabilities. Whether you want to continue your career in education or become an independent provider, there are several options to expand your knowledge in special education.

Each special education specialization requires the development and completion of a thesis in an applied research project or study. As a part to the thesis, you will demonstrate how to take evidence and apply it in a rigorous way.


Applied Behavior Analysis - Focusing on the principles of learning and behavior, you'll be taught a systematic approach to influence socially important behavior caused by environmental variables. You will be able to sit for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board exam upon successful completion of the master's program. Learn more about the verified course sequence for BCBA certification.

Early Childhood Intervention Specialist - Teach children age 3 to grade three who have disabilities or are at risk for developing disabilities. Teachers use intervention tactics that have lasting effects on the educational lives of young children. You must already have a teaching license to complete this specialization.

Mild-to-Moderate Intervention Specialist - Obtain the skills to teach students in grades K-12 who have learning or mild intellectual disabilities or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Teachers with this specialization use instructional strategies to develop individual learning plans for students. You must already have a teaching license to complete this specialization.

Moderate to Intensive Intervention Specialist - Learn the expertise needed that will help you play an important role in the lives of children with significant disabilities. This specialization allows you to work with children in grades K-12 reach educational and developmental milestones. You must already have a teaching license to complete this specialization.

Hearing Impairment Intervention Specialist - Develop skills to teach d/Deaf and hard of hearing children and adolescents in grades PreK to 12 in educational settings. Get experiences in a range of settings, including oral and simultaneous (speaking and signing) communication. This is an initial licensure specialization.

Orientation and Mobility Specialist - Learn the specialized instruction to work with individuals who are blind or visually impaired and who may have additional disabilities in a variety of educational and rehabilitation settings. The focus in on helping these individuals to travel safely with maximum independence. This is an initial licensure specialization.

Career Paths

Many graduates of the master's program in applied behavior analysis go on to become behavior specialists in local school districts, become independent providers of behavior analysis services or work for companies that offer those services. Those who complete the master's program in special education earn an additional teaching license and take on new teaching roles in their schools. Our program also is a launching pad to PhD programs in special education.


Deadline to Apply: 
December 1
Program Start: 
Summer semester
Prerequisites/Pre-major Requirements: 
Bachelor's degree
Minimum Program Hours: 

Coursework: Communication skills for children, reading instruction, delivering effective services, methods of instruction, behavioral research methods
Degree requirements: Foundational courses (3 hours), multicultural and diversity courses (3-4 hours), research methods (3 hours), specialization courses (22-25 hours), thesis (3 hours)
Other requirements: Field experience
Academic opportunities: Student Council for Exceptional Children, Kappa Phi Kappa
Other opportunities: Association for Behavior Analysis (ABA); Association for Positive Behavior Support (APBS); Association for Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT); Council for Children With Behavioral Disorders (CCBD); Council for Exceptional Children (CEC); Council for Learning Disabilities (CLD); National Institute for Direct InstructionStandard Celeration Society; TASH

View the Curriculum Sheet


Sheila Alber Morgan, PhD, BCBA-D, Professor
Christina Billman, PhD, Senior Lecturer
Matthew Brock, PhD, Associate Professor
Donna Y. Ford, PhD, EHE Distinguished Professor
Leah M. Herner-Patnode, EdD, Associate Professor
Terri Hessler, PhD, Associate Professor
Yvonne Goddard, PhD, Associate Professor
Moira Konrad, PhD, Associate Professor
Helen Malone, PhD, BCBA-D, Professor
Peter Paul, PhD, Professor
Mary Peters, PhD, Senior Lecturer
Alana Telesman, PhD, Senior Lecturer


Peter Paul
Program Chair/Professor

Ohio State academic programs are designed to prepare students to sit for applicable licensure or certification in Ohio. If you plan to pursue licensure or certification in a state other than Ohio, please review state educational requirements for licensure and certification and state licensing board contact information at