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Master's Degrees | Special Education

Special Education

Entrance Exam: GRE
College of Education

The NC State University Masters of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in Special Education prepares candidates to teach in K-12 schools in the U.S. Graduates earn both an initial North Carolina teaching license in Special Education: General Curriculum and a master’s degree. In the MAT curriculum, teachers grow in knowledge and impact while learning how to integrate practice with theory in today’s culturally diverse and technology-enhanced classrooms.

Read more about Professional Licensure.

The MAT program in Special Education is designed for those who hold a bachelor’s degree but do not hold a valid North Carolina teaching license. In order to be eligible for admittance, applicants must already have at least 6 college-level credit hours (with a grade of “B” or better) in each of the following content areas: English, Math, and Science. Applicants must also have at least 3 college-level credit hours (with a grade of “B” or better) in each of the following content areas: Sociology/Anthropology, U.S. History, and Psychology/Human Development.

Candidates lacking coursework in these content areas can complete them at another college or university or as a non-degree student (NDS) at NC State prior to admission. Applicants who are unsure whether or not they meet the required undergraduate, college-level credit-hour criteria are encouraged to contact the Special Education Program Coordinator.

The MAT program at NC State University follows a mixed instructional model consisting of online, on-campus, hybrid, and face-to-face off-campus classes that are held in Raleigh.

A total of 30 credit hours are required to complete the MAT program in Special Education. Students are allowed to enroll with either part- or full-time status and can begin their studies in the spring, fall, or summer academic terms.

In order to satisfactorily complete the MAT program, all students must pass the edTPA assessment protocol, which “is a performance-based, subject-specific assessment and support system used by teacher preparation programs throughout the U.S. to emphasize, measure, and support the skills and knowledge that all teachers need from Day 1 in the classroom." Additionally, in order to receive initial teaching licensure in North Carolina Exceptional Children: General Curriculum, all MAT - Special Education graduates must pass the State of North Carolina Foundations of Reading test, the General Curriculum Mathematics Subtest, and the Praxis Special Education: Core Knowledge and Mild to Moderate Applications test (5543).


Applicants must have:

  • Bachelor’s degree from a college or university that holds regional accreditation from a recognized accrediting agency such as SACS;
  • 3.0 GPA or higher in prior work, as required by the Graduate School;
  • The GRE is no longer required for admission to the Elementary MAT program if you have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher. If your GPA is below 3.0, a combined Verbal and Quantitative score of 300 on GRE is required. Scores should be no older than 5 years prior to the date of admission;
  • Minimum passing score of 100 on the TOEFL AND an official course-by-course evaluation from an accredited foreign credential evaluation service required for applicants with non-U.S. degrees*;
  • Meet the specific requirements of content area or grade level. See specialty coursework under curriculum for content standards.

In the absence of a content degree, 24 semester hours/credits in content relevant to the area in which you wish to teach are needed. Candidates who are missing content area courses can take them at a local college or university or as a PBS (post-baccalaureate student) at NC State prior to admission.

If an applicant does not have the 24 content area credits needed to be accepted into the program, he or she can still enroll in the first graduate classes as a Non-Degree student (NDS) while completing the full 24 content-specific hours and transfer those credits into the degree program. Up to 12 credit hours with a grade of “B” or better can be transferred into a master’s degree program (either completed as an NDS student or at another institution).

* Please note that the Master of Arts in Teaching is a Distance Education program, so students on university-sponsored visas are not eligible for this program. Please contact the Office of International Services with any questions.

Plan of Study

MAT participants can undertake this program full-time or part-time. Depending on the content area, the program is approximately 33 credit hours, including a full-semester student teaching experience.

Career Prospects

Special education teachers are best equipped for success when they receive instruction in teaching methodologies, assessment, assistive technology, special education law, and planning and curriculum specific to children with special needs. The MAT in Special Education also delves into diagnosis and related accommodations and prescriptive strategies unique to children with exceptionalities, preparing graduates for successful careers working in special education.