Expand your career and transform the lives of students with disabilities through the graduate special education programs at Mercyhurst University. 

Our mission is to produce some of the most skilled special education professionals in northwestern Pennsylvania. Whether you want to complete your master’s in special education or receive a special education certification to pursue licensure, you’ll benefit from the special education curriculum at Mercyhurst.

At Mercyhurst, we continue to shape the field of special education at a national level through our service, publication, and presentation. Join us and develop the critical thinking and analytical skills you need to become a special education leader in your community.

  • Prepare for certification from the Association for Behavior Analysis 
  • Learn from expert faculty with decades of experience
  • Explore possible career paths in special education 
  • Gain hands-on experience as a graduate student assistant

Master of Science in Special Education Degree Overview

  • Options: Master’s (with concentrations), graduate certificates, 4+1 (for Mercyhurst undergrads)
  • Location(s): On campus; limited online courses available
  • Credits: 30 to 39
  • Duration: Minimum 21 months
  • Cost: $894 per credit; $27,620 total
  • Deadline: Rolling admissions
  • Start term(s): Fall or Spring semester

Why choose one of Mercyhurst’s special education programs?

The special education curriculum at Mercyhurst will help you become a skilled provider of educational and behavioral services. You’ll refine your critical thinking and analytical skills as well as learn to apply the research competencies necessary to benefit individuals with disabilities and unique learning needs. 

You’ll be prepared through our special education programs to: 

  • Analyze and critique educational research
  • Design single-case research proposals in APA writing style
  • Critically evaluate and apply ethical guidelines according to professional standards 
  • Apply dimensions of applied behavior analysis
  • Utilize evidence-based practices and assessments in clinical settings
  • Write measurable objectives, as found in Individual Education Plans (IEP)
  • Write procedures for evidence-based practices across different disability groups

Which special education degree or certification is right for you?

Whether your goal is to earn an advanced special education degree or certification to pursue licensure, Mercyhurst’s special education programs will give you a competitive edge in the marketplace. 

Educational opportunities are available with or without teaching certifications. Within the master’s in special education program, you can choose from concentrations in applied behavior analysis, applied disability service in higher education, autism, and English language learning.

Advanced special education certification programs are also available to prepare you for certification by the Behavior Analysis Certification Board and endorsement by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. 

No matter which of our special education programs you choose, you’ll learn from expert faculty who are focused on helping you succeed in your chosen career.

What can you do with a master’s in special education?

The job market for special education professionals is on the rise. Job growth in special education is expected to grow by 8% through 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

The special education certification and graduate degree programs at Mercyhurst can prepare you for careers in:

  • Autism support
  • Behavioral health and analysis
  • Developmental disability services
  • English as a second language education
  • Postsecondary academic support and career services
  • Traditional special education

Master's in Special Education Admissions Requirements

When you apply to the special education degree program, you’ll need to provide the following:

  • Completed (free) online application
  • A bachelor’s degree in any discipline from an accredited school with a preferred overall minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions you’ve attended 
  • A current resume 
  • A 500- to 750-word personal statement outlining your reasons for enrolling and personal and professional goals
  • A letter of recommendation from a professional or academic source (such as an employer or professor)
  • International applicants whose records are written in a language other than English must have their documents translated into English and a notarized statement attesting to the accuracy of the translations
  • International applicants whose primary language is not English must attain a TOEFL score of at least 79 on the internet-based exam OR an IELTS score of at least 6.5 OR a Duolingo English Test score of no less than 100.
  • Please note: for those seeking special education certification or ABA certification, during the course of your program it will be necessary for you to undergo the following:
    • Criminal background check
    • Fingerprinting
    • Child abuse clearance
    • Drug screening
    • Medical verification of TB vaccination

To obtain a Master’s Degree in Special Education at Mercyhurst, students must complete a core of 30-39 graduate credit hours. Credit hour requirements may vary depending on concentration selected. The program may be completed in 24 months (full-time), or 30-36 months (part-time). 

If a student is seeking special education teaching certification from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, he or she must also hold teaching certification in another area, such as early childhood education (grades PK-4), middle level education (grades 4-8), or a specific content area in secondary education (grades 7-12). 

Candidates who do not already hold a valid teaching certification may have to take prerequisite or co-required courses in addition to the required special education graduate courses. This will affect the length of the program from start to finish. Additionally, there may be cases where exceptions to the following sequences may be made, based on previous related coursework.

Available to qualified Mercyhurst undergraduate students, the M.S. in Special Education 4+1 program allows students to begin earning graduate credits during their junior year at no additional cost. Students starting the 4+1 program in the fall of their junior years can earn up to six credits, saving more than $5,000. Learn More.

Boost Your Career in Special Education

Take your career to the next level by choosing one of Mercyhurst University’s graduate special education programs.

Apply Today

If you’re ready to get started on a graduate special education program at Mercyhurst, complete your free online application today.

Explore Financial Aid

Our special education programs are competitively priced. We also offer graduate financial aid options. Visit our Graduate Cost and Financial Aid webpage or contact us at grad@mercyhurst.edu or 814-824-3351 to learn more.

Request More Information

If you need more information about special education programs at Mercyhurst, fill out this brief form and we’ll be in touch soon.

Contact Us

Phillip Belfiore, Ph.D.
Program Director, Graduate Special Education
Office: Hirt 300B
Phone: 814-824-2267
Email: pbelfiore@mercyhurst.edu

Colleen Hordych
Assistant Director, Graduate Admissions
Phone: 814-824-2297
Email: chordych@mercyhurst.edu