Special Education, M.S.Sp.Ed.

Program Description

The Master of Science in Special Education develops technical skills, such as special education pedagogy, assessment, behavior management, curriculum design, diagnosis, remediation, consultation, collaboration, and instructional techniques to assist those with special needs.

Program Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the Master of Science in Special Education, students will be able to:

  1. Identify and articulate God’s calling as Christian educators by reflecting on their spiritual journey and their educational preparation through a Biblically integrated essay, reflective prayer projects, and authentic learning experience assignments; and demonstrate Christian attitudes and actions conducive to professional excellence and witness by maintaining high professional disposition marks in coursework and fieldwork (ULO 1, 2, 3).
  2. Examine and analyze their students’ cognitive, social, and physical growth through the gathering of student profile data, monitoring their progress, and providing constructive feedback to maximize students’ optimum development through a fieldwork assessment case study and authentic learning experience assignments (ULO 1).
  3. Demonstrate respect for diversity in cross-cultural and special population educational settings in order to promote equity and justice as exhibited in differentiated learning plans, authentic learning experience assignments, journal article position papers, and high marks in professional dispositions throughout coursework and fieldwork experiences (ULO 1, 2, 3).
  4. Design and implement appropriate adaptations to ensure the attainment of a productive learning environment for each student enrolled in candidates’ classes by focused evaluation and reflection of each student’s strengths and needs. Candidates will also utilize developmental and learning theories as a foundation for professional decision-making and reflection by identifying student learning needs and making appropriate adaptations to ensure student learning. This outcome will be exhibited through a disability inclusion paper, a reading case study report, journal article position papers, and a reflective pedagogy assignment (ULO 1, 3).
  5. Design and implement developmentally appropriate lessons, by using the California state-adopted academic content and Common Core Standards as a foundation for lessons that integrate aspects of God’s natural revelation. This outcome will be exhibited through journal article review and responses, and an inclusion lesson plan and report (ULO 1, 3).
  6. Design and implement appropriate and learning strategies, demonstrated through a fieldwork assessment case study, research papers, fieldwork interviews and reports, and case study reports (ULO 1, 3).
  7. Design and practice strategies that foster a safe and equitable learning environment that encourages students to take intellectual risks, demonstrated through a collaboration project and a behavior management project (ULO 1, 3).
  8. Analyze, evaluate, and apply knowledge of current special education settings, and legislative requirements from a biblical perspective through preparing a philosophy of education, analyzing case studies, and developing an educational portfolio (ULO 1).
  9. Conduct quality database and empirical research, communicate findings, and evidence initial pursuit of lifelong learning by successfully completing the thesis or research project with a focused topic in special education (ULO 1, 3).

Each Program Learning Outcome (PLO) listed above references at least one of the University Learning Outcomes (ULO 1, 2, 3), which may be found in the General Information section of this catalog.

Admissions Requirements

  • Applicants must have completed all bachelors requirements prior to the start of the program and must have a bachelors degree conferred from a regionally accredited institution prior to the start of the second term.
  • Have a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA on a 4.0 scale.
  • Submit GRE General test scores to determine writing proficiency (waived if cumulative GPA is 3.5 or above or if CBEST and all CSET subtests are passed).
  • Hold a preliminary credential or provide verification of the equivalent professional experience. 
  • Applicants for whom English is not a primary language must verify a score of 100 iBT on the TOEFL exam.
  • Complete Biola University’s Graduate Education application.
  • Interview with a member of the School of Education.

Those applying to the M.S. in Special Education who also desire the Preliminary Education Specialist Instruction (Mild/Moderate) credential will need the following additional admissions requirements:

  • Must be a California resident in order to fulfill fieldwork requirements.
  • Take the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) or have satisfied the Basic Skills Requirement (BSR).
  • Verify subject matter competency. Candidates must present a letter verifying completion of a state-approved subject matter waiver program or evidence of passing one subtest of the CSET in their subject area.
  • Verify possession of Certificate of Clearance from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing and submit valid TB tests results.

Those applying to the M.S. in Special Education online program will need the following additional admissions requirements:

  • Verify computer literacy sufficient to become actively engaged in learning online by passing an online proficiency test offered by Biola University’s Distance Learning Department or providing proof of successful online learning in a prior course.
  • Verify access to a computer and the Internet sufficient to engage in Biola University’s Distance Learning Programs.

Official documents presented for admission or evaluation become part of the student’s academic file and normally cannot be returned or copied for distribution.

Graduation Requirements

  1. M.S.Sp.Ed. program courses and Capstone must be passed with a grade of “B” or higher.
  2. Candidates must complete the Master of Science in Special Education with a 3.0 cumulative GPA.
  3. Candidates must successfully complete one Capstone, participate on a research team, and fulfill all professional requirements (e.g., portfolio, including key assignments) related to the coursework and learning outcomes.
  4. Candidates must demonstrate professional behavior as an important aspect of their preparation to effectively impact the field of education (inside and beyond the classroom). For candidates on probationary status, or where a candidate has struggled with professional dispositions (scores of 1 or 2), these concerns may prevent the candidate from moving forward in the program and graduation.
  5. A minimum of 41 credits is required for the Master of Science in Special Education.
  6. Candidates must meet with a department advisor and Graduate Graduation Counselor in the Office of the Registrar one year prior to graduation to declare intent to graduate. (See Graduate Graduation Check description in the Admission, Enrollment and Graduation Requirements section.)

Transfer of Credits 

Students transferring from an accredited graduate program may transfer a maximum of 6 approved credits for their Master of Science in Special Education. Courses transferred must be equivalent to Biola University’s and have direct applicability to the student’s program design. Only courses with a grade of “B” (3.0) on a 4.0 grade scale or higher will be considered for transfer towards the Master of Science in Special Education degree; a grade of “B-” or lower is not transferable. Credits considered for transfer must have been taken within five years prior to the date of admission.

Taskstream Subscription 

Candidates must have a paid subscription to Taskstream while taking special education courses and during student teaching or intern support seminar.

Curriculum Requirements

Program Courses
SEED 501Philosophy and Values in Schools and Society3
SEED 503Educational Research and Statistics3
SEED 524Research in Culture and Intercultural Instruction3
SEED 532Diagnosis and Remediation in Reading3
SEED 548Collaborative Research 11
SEED 553Writing Literature Reviews 22
SEED 561Issues in Special Education3
SEED 562Assessment and Evaluation of Exceptional Learners3
SEED 563Teaching Students with Mild Disabilities in Inclusive Settings3
SEED 564Behavior and Classroom Management for Students with Special Needs3
SEED 580Introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorders3
SEED 582Consultation, Collaboration, and Communication for the Education Specialist3
SEED 583Curriculum Design for Students with Mild/Moderate Disabilities3
SEED 596Professional Development Module1
Select one of the following:3
Exposition of New Testament Segments or Themes (taken as "Life of Christ")
Other approved TTBE course
Capstone Course
Select one of the following:1
Curriculum Research Project 3
Thesis 3

SEED 548 Collaborative Research will be ongoing throughout the program, but actual enrollment in the 1 credit course will occur in the last term of the M.S. in Special Education program.


Successful passage of SEED 553 is required for advancement in the program. Writing support and documentation may be mandatory for some students. SEED 554 may be substituted for SEED 553.


Register for one credit per term. May take up to three terms to complete. To produce quality research, it is recommended to be the only class taken in the final semester.

Candidates wanting to earn a Preliminary Education Specialist Instruction Credential (Mild/Moderate), in addition to the M.S. in Special Education, should complete the credential program requirements prior to starting M.S. core coursework.  See the Education Specialist Instruction Credential (Mild/Moderate) section in the catalog.