Stephen F. Austin State University

Special Education

Special Education

The Special Education Program at SFA is housed in the Human Services/Telecommunications Building (HSTC). Faculty offices are located on the 2nd and 3rd floors. Classrooms are located on the third floor. Undergraduate special education programs are offered online and face-to-face. Graduate programs are offered online. Numerous school districts in the area cooperate with the program in placing special education teaching candidates for field experiences. A Special Education Advisory Board provides input and feedback to the faculty from practitioners in the field including special education directors, educational diagnosticians, and teachers. Special education programs at SFA are aligned with national standards for special educators and state standards for special education teachers. A performance based assessment system is used in which candidate performance is rated on key assessments in various classes in order to provide data for accreditation and for program improvement.

The undergraduate program in EC-12 Special Education and the graduate M.Ed. programs for EC-12 Special Education and Educational Diagnosticians are all nationally recognized by the Council for Exceptional Children.

For more information about the program contact the appropriate program coordinator or a faculty member.

Undergraduate Program


Students who want to teach Special Education major in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Special Education. The degree awarded upon completion of the program is a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies (BSIS). The undergraduate program is designed to prepare students for certification as an EC-12 Special Education teacher and an EC-6 Generalist teacher. Consideration will be given to students who desire a different content area certification rather than the EC-6 Generalist. Students must be advised each semester through the Education Advising Center - College of Education Student Services and Advising Center

The Student Council for Exceptional Children (SCEC) is a way for interested students to become more involved here at Stephen F. Austin State University serving and learning about individuals with exceptionalities as well as the professional field of special education. Students in SCEC engage in a variety of social and professional activities, but most of all they have fun! SCEC is a division of the international organization of Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). CEC, a nonprofit association, accomplishes its mission, which is carried out in support of special education professionals and others working on behalf of individuals with exceptionalities, by advocating for appropriate governmental policies; by setting professional standards; by providing continuing professional development; by advocating for newly and historically under- served individuals with exceptionalities; and by helping professionals achieve the conditions and resources necessary for effective professional practice.

The Online Special Education Degree Completion Program is an innovative program will allow paraprofessionals (instructional aides) working in Texas public schools and other qualified individuals who have completed at least 45 hours at community colleges to seamlessly transfer to SFASU and complete online a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies (BSIS) degree with a concentration in special education and EC-12 special education teacher certification. Paraprofessionals can earn a Texas teaching certificate while remaining in the schools and classrooms where they work, with the addition of one semester of full-time student teaching.

Minor in Special Education

A minor in special education is available to students with a major leading to teacher certification at the EC-6, 4-8, or 8-12 levels. Required courses include: SPE 329, 432, 439, 438, 434, and 461 (TExES 163 required). The minor available for students seeking EC-12 certification includes SPE 329, 432, 439, 438, 434, 461, RDG 318, 320, and ELE 303 (TExES 161 required).Admission to the Educator Certification Program is required and students must work with a special education advisor for course sequence and additional requirements.

Minor in Early Intervention

An 18 hour minor is available for students majoring in rehabilitation, speech language pathology, psychology or other related fields who are interested in becoming an Early Intervention Specialist (EIS) working with infants and toddlers with special needs and their families. Required courses are: SPE 329, 464, 463; HMS 236,443, 459. For students majoring in Human Sciences, the minor includes 18 hours from the following: SPE 329, 439,434, 463, 464, 465, and 466.

Non-teaching Minor

An 18 hour minor is available for those seeking additional training in working with special populations, but who are not seeking teacher certification. This minor is appropriate for students in programs such as psychology, orientation & mobility, kinesiology, rehabilitation, social work, and those seeking the Bachelors of Applied Arts and Sciences (BAAS) degree. Required courses are: SPE 120, 329, 432, 460, 463, 464.

Graduate Program

There are 4 options for candidates seeking a master's degree or certification with a major in special education:

  1. M.Ed. in Special Education Online (non-teacher certification seeking)
  2. M.Ed. in Special Education Online (initial teacher certification in Special Education)
  3. M.Ed. in Special Education Online (Educational Diagnostician certification seeking)
  4. Educational Diagnostician Certification Seeking Only (For individuals who hold an M.ED and teacher certification)

M.Ed. in Special Education

1. M.Ed. in Special Education (non-teacher certification seeking)

The M.Ed. in Special Education program provides graduate level preparation in the area of disability awareness, instructional strategies, formal and informal assessment, and law. Individuals who typically choose this type of M.Ed. are certified teachers who desire to expand on his or her knowledge base and/or individuals who works for a state agency such as Early Childhood Intervention, Mental Health Mental Retardation (MHMR), other state facilities, hospitals, or like agencies.

Required courses:

2. M.Ed. in Special Education (initial teacher certification seeking)

The M.Ed. in Special Education program provides graduate level preparation in the area of disability awareness, instructional strategies, formal and informal assessment, and law. This M.Ed. and its accompanying certification would qualify an individual to teach in a Texas special education PK -12 public or private school setting. Before you complete the pre-admission process, please contact Dr. Paige Mask (maskp@sfasu.edu) for details and resources regarding the required PACT test prior to program entry.

Note: This type of M.Ed. will require both a degree plan as well as a certification plan from the Teacher Education Department. The program consists of master's level coursework and preparation for certification as a special education teacher. To obtain a professional certification as a special education teacher, an individual person must pass 3 TExES exams: 1) #161 EC-12 Special Education TExES, 2) #160 All-Level Professional Roles and Responsibilities TExES, and 3) an additional content area based on coursework, the candidate interests and career goals, and planned with the graduate program coordinator.

Required courses for the M.Ed. in Special Education with EC -12 Special Education Certification:

Note: SPE 561 should be taken as one of the last courses due to preparation for the #161 EC-12 Special Education TExES and field experience requirements.

More information regarding teacher certification may be found on the following site: http://www.sfasu.edu/coeadvising/266.asp

3. M.Ed. in Special Education Online (Educational Diagnostician certification)

The Educational Diagnostician program provides graduate level preparation in the area of disabilities, instructional strategies, formal assessment, and law. An educational diagnostician is a master's level professional who works within the public school system to ensure than special education services are provided to eligible students in accordance with all applicable federal laws, regulations, state statutes, Texas Education Agency, and the Commissioner of Education. The program consists of master's level coursework and preparation for certification as an Educational Diagnostician.

Required courses for the M.Ed. in Special Education with Educational Diagnostician Certification:

Note: SPE 555 will be taken as one of the last courses due to preparation for the #153 Educational Diagnostician TExES and 160 field experience hours.

4. Educational Diagnostician Certification Seeking Only (for individuals who hold an M.Ed. and teacher certification)

To be eligible for a professional certification as an educational diagnostician, an individual must have a master's degree from an accredited institution of higher education and have two years of classroom teaching experience in a public or accredited private school. An individual possessing a master's degree in a related field and teacher certification may be eligible for the option of seeking certification for the educational diagnostician certificate. If you meet this criteria, please submit the following information to Dr. Paige Mask (maskp@sfasu.edu) for review before completing the pre-admission process:

Graduate Program Admission Requirements

Admission to any of the graduate Special Education Programs is contingent upon admission to the Graduate School; therefore, a student applying to Special Education graduate program must meet the criteria for admission to the graduate school. Criteria for admission to the Graduate School include a 2.5 GPA overall GPA for provisional admission, and a 2.8 overall GPA for Clear Admission. The GRE is waived for individuals who hold an M.Ed. in a related field or for individuals with an undergraduate (overall or last 60 hours) GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Before you complete an application to the Graduate School at Stephen F. Austin State University, please contact Dr. Paige Mask (maskp@sfasu.edu) for a shared folder invitation that will allow you to electronically upload the pre-admission items listed below for your chosen M.Ed. or certification seeking only track. Each applicant's pre-admission items will be reviewed by the program faculty members. Please do not submit a Graduate School application before completing these requirements, as the $50 application fee is non-refundable.

PRE-ADMISSION ITEMS: M.Ed. in Special Education without initial teacher certification and the M.Ed. in Special Education with initial teacher certification.

  1. Copy of undergraduate transcript and, if applicable, a copy of graduate transcript
  2. Initial teacher certification only: Complete and return a provided initial teacher certification seeking tracking form. A copy of this form may be obtained from Paige Mask (maskp@sfasu.edu). This certification tracking form will not be submitted until you are admitted to the program and enrolled in your first semester of coursework.
  3. Three letters of recommendation (two of a professional nature and one can be a community member who has known you for some time). Please make sure these letters are signed.
  4. Current resume
  5. Essay - a typed, double-spaced written statement (minimum 3-5 pages in length) describing your experience in the field of special education, your philosophy on educating students with special needs, and how personal qualities and educational experience would make you an exceptional candidate for the special education graduate program.
  6. A video-recording introducing yourself to program faculty in a professional manner. This video is to be no longer than 5 minutes in duration. A free video recording resource may be found at http://www.screencast-o-matic.com/. Please include the following information in your video.
    • Name
    • Current employment
    • Years of teaching experience and/or types of teaching experiences
    • Teacher certifications (if applicable)
    • Qualities and competencies you possess that would make you a good candidate for our program and a future professional in the field.
    • Statement regarding your ability and motivation to participate in a rigorous program.

All pre-admission items will be uploaded to a shared folder (via invitation email sent by Dr. Paige Mask). In order to receive the shared folder invitation, you will need to create a free Microsoft account that uses your current email account. Directions for creating this account may be obtained from Paige Mask. When your Microsoft account has been created and you are ready to upload your pre-admission items, please email Dr. Paige Mask (maskp@sfasu.edu) to request a shared folder invitation.

When the above items have been completed and submitted, you may be asked to participate in a short, online video-conferencing interview session in which you will be asked up to five additional questions. You will access this interview via a provided web link. Once this process is completed and you been notified of your acceptance to the program, you may apply to the Graduate School. The application can be accessed and submitted electronically from the following website: http://www.sfasu.edu/graduate/101.asp. Please complete the application as an M.Ed. seeking student. Please do not submit a Graduate School application before completing these requirements, as the $50 application fee is non-refundable.

PRE-ADMISSION ITEMS: M.Ed. in Special Education with the educational diagnostician certification and the educational diagnostician certification seeking only track.

  1. Letter from your Special Education Director indicating permission for you to complete a 160-hour practicum experience over the course of two semesters at the end of your certification program. An information letter that you can provide to your special education director may be obtained from Dr. Paige Mask (maskp@sfasu.edu). The practicum letter is not completed at this time but rather serves to inform your director of experiences we would like for you to have during your last two semesters in the program.

    Note: Please know that school districts are not required or obligated to grant permission for practicum experiences to prospective SFA program students. Your request for practicum experiences must be done respectfully and with the full knowledge that your first priority to the district/school are your teaching responsibilities or other currently held position in the district. You will have 2 semesters in which to earn 160 hours of practicum experience. The majority of our students continue to work full-time in a district while completing these hours.
  2. Copy of your official Teacher Service Record (TSR)
  3. Copy of undergraduate transcript and, if applicable, a copy of graduate transcript
  4. Copy of your teacher certifications, which may be obtained from the following website: https://secure.sbec.state.tx.us/sbeconline/virtcert.asp
  5. Complete and return a provided advanced certification seeking tracking form. This certification tracking form will not be submitted until you are admitted to the program and enrolled in your first semester of coursework.
  6. Three letters of recommendation (two of a professional nature and one can be a community member who has known you for some time). Please make sure these letters are signed.
  7. Current resume
  8. Essay - a typed, double-spaced written statement (minimum 3-5 pages in length) describing your experience in the field of special education, your philosophy on educating students with special needs, and how personal qualities and educational experience would make you an exceptional candidate for the special education graduate program.
  9. A video-recording introducing yourself to program faculty in a professional manner. This video is to be no longer than 5 minutes in duration. A free video recording resource may be found at http://www.screencast-o-matic.com/. Please include the following information in your video.
    • Name
    • Current employment
    • Years of teaching experience and types of teaching experiences
    • Teacher certifications
    • Qualities and competencies you possess that would make you a good candidate for our program and a future quality educational diagnostician in the field.
    • Statement regarding your ability and motivation to participate in a rigorous certification program.

All pre-admission items will be uploaded to a shared folder (via invitation email sent by Dr. Paige Mask). In order to receive the shared folder invitation, you will need to create a free Microsoft account that uses your current email account. Directions for creating this account may be obtained from Paige Mask. When your Microsoft account has been created and you are ready to upload your pre-admission items, please email Dr. Paige Mask (maskp@sfasu.edu) to request a shared folder invitation.

When the above items have been completed and submitted, you may be asked to participate in a short, online video-conferencing interview session in which you will be asked up to five additional questions. You will access this interview via a provided web link. Once this process is completed and you been notified of your acceptance to the program, you may apply to the Graduate School. The application can be accessed and submitted electronically from the following website: http://www.sfasu.edu/graduate/101.asp. Please complete the application as an M.Ed. seeking student. Please do not submit a Graduate School application before completing these requirements, as the $50 application fee is non-refundable.

Review Process


Candidates for admission will only be considered following the submission of a completed pre-admission folder. The applicant's pre-admission folder is reviewed by program faculty. An applicant is then notified by email regarding the program recommendation on his/her application.

Job Announcements


Educational Diagnostician

Educational Diagnostician Career Guide

File size: 552.05 KB

Updated: Thursday, December 15, 2011

Online Masters in Special Education Program Handbook

Online Masters in Special Education Program Handbook

File size: 581.19 KB

Updated: Thursday, September 08, 2016

Undergraduate Special Education Handbook

Undergraduate Handbook

File size: 217.50 KB

Updated: Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Prospective Student Letter

Download the letter here.

Educational Diagnostician Week letter

View the PDF here: EdDiagWeekGov.pdf

TExES Links

http://cms.texes-ets.org/files/8814/5881/8906/161_special_education_ec_12.pdf

http://cms.texes-ets.org/files/9514/2841/1753/160_pedagogy_professional_responsibilities_ec_12.pdf

http://cms.texes-ets.org/files/5914/1881/7139/core_subjects_ec_6_291.pdf

http://cms.texes-ets.org/files/2513/5722/7792/educational_diagnostician_153.pdf

Other Docs.

Alaska Teaching Position Brochure

File size: 1223.41 KB

Updated: Thursday, February 07, 2013