teacher working with young student on a reading assignment in a classroom

Master of Arts in Educational Studies, Special Education

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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.

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Applied Behavior Analysis

ABAI Masters Degree accreditation logoThis program prepares students to use evidence-based practices based on the principles of applied behavior analysis to increase learning, independence, and the quality of life for individuals with disabilities. The master’s program fulfills the course requirements to pursue the BCBA credential. Learn more about the verified course sequence for BCBA certification.

ABAI Accredited Master's Program Information

Special Education Studies

The Special Education Studies Master of Arts program focuses on research and practice. You will become an expert in the design, implementation, and analysis of interventions to improve outcomes for children and youth with disabilities and those at risk for developing disabilities. This program allows you to either add on a teaching license or customize your advanced study program in a special education area of interest.

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Optional Add-On Teacher Licensure

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The MA program in special education prepares practitioners with the knowledge and skills necessary for the development and implementation of evidence-based interventions for improving socially significant behavior across a wide range of diverse learners in applied settings.

The master's program is hybrid. Most of the courses in the MA program are online (asynchronous) to accommodate the practicing teachers in the field. There is also a culminating experience, which is either master's thesis or a master's project, depending on the specialization you select.

Full time students can complete the program in 2 years. Part time students can complete the program in 3 to 4 years.

Students who complete the MA program have a wide range of employment options as teachers in K-12 schools serving students with a wide range of abilities. Students who complete the requirements for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) have opportunities to serve students with disabilities and supervise staff in other community settings (e.g., special schools, clinics, hospitals).

Many of our part time MA students who are practicing teachers can do their field experience and thesis research in their own classrooms or other settings if they are interested. For our full time students, we offer many different options for field placement depending on the students' interests and academic focus.

At the start of the master's program, each student will select a specialization and then work with their advisors to customize a program to fit their interests. Throughout the program, students will work closely with their advisors to express their interests, leading up to their culminating project or thesis.

Almost all special education courses in this program are taught by OSU special education faculty. These faculty have experience teaching children and youth with disabilities in a variety of settings, have doctoral degrees in special education, are leading researchers in the field, are dedicated to teacher education, care deeply about their OSU students and the children they will teach and are committed to supporting master's candidates.

There are a number of clubs, organizations and related gatherings at Ohio State for graduate students. Find your niche at the OSU student organization site.

The College offers scholarships for newly-admitted and continuing graduate students, who have qualified credentials and a financial need. Several of these scholarships are geared toward individuals in special education programs. There may be graduate associateship positions (Graduate Teaching Associateship or Graduate Research Associateships) available at the Department or Program level. Individuals should apply for these funding opportunities, which are made public during the admission process.

The SPED faculty is a dedicated group, who desire to facilitate the development of competent  scholars and practitioners, who are exposed to and acquire evidence-based practices and critical-thinking skills. Members of the SPED faculty have received several national and international awards and are actively engaged in on-going research and scholarship. The faculty is accessible and committed to contribute to the professional development of students, enabling them to achieve their future professional goals.

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Career Paths 

Behavior analysts working with a student in a classroom
Behavior analyst in school or clinic
Teacher sitting at a table with young student reviewing an assignment
Licensed special education teacher (intervention specialist)
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Funding Options 

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Degree Requirements 

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Bachelor’s degree

Minimum program hours


Deadline to apply

December 1 

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Program start

Summer Semester 

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Licensure disclosure 

Ohio State academic programs are designed to prepare students for 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 at

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