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Applied Sciences of Learning and Special Education
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Applied Sciences of Learning and Special Education
In the Department of Health and Behavior Studies

Degree Requirements > Masters Degrees

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Masters Degrees

Master Degrees Focus Areas:


Masters Degree Requirements

Master of Arts: Teaching as Applied Behavior Analysis

The objective of our M.A. and Ph.D. programs is to prepare teachers and teacher trainers to use measurably effective instructional practices to accelerate all children’s educational progress, including measurable increases in enjoying learning and schooling, academic literacy, problem solving, and self-management. A key to doing this is the acceleration of children’s language development, which appears to be the root problem faced by English language learners, minority children from economically disenfranchised families, and children with autism spectrum diagnoses. Recent research findings provide exciting new ways to do this. Moreover, accelerated instruction is needed for children from well-to-do-families, if we are to assume international leadership in education. In order to meet these objectives, we provide instructional experiences to teach our graduate-student teacher trainees the following aspects of effective teaching:
  • Utilize research-based procedures for all aspects and subject areas of teaching preschool and elementary age children.
  • Manage classrooms and schools such that children are well behaved and motivated to learn, using positive and non-coercive practices.
  • Master the existing science of learning and teaching as it is applied to the varied needs of children.
  • Master protocols to identify and induce missing language developmental cusps and capabilities that result in children learning to learn material they could not learn before and how to learn in new ways (e.g., by observation and incidental experiences).
  • Master how to use key educational standards and how to match existing tested curricula and tested teaching practices to categories of students and individual students in order to ensure that the standards are achieved.
  • Master how to continuously and directly measure all students’ progress in achieving standards and new developmental stages and use that measurement to drive instructional practice, including the selection of alternative scientific practices when initial best practices are not successful with children.
  • Master how to scientifically analyze the source of student learning problems and inadequate teaching.
  • Learn to draw on evidence from cognitive learning and developmental research, reading/writing literacy research implemented through procedures from teaching as applied behavior analysis.
  • Master how to teach children to be self-learners.
The Teaching as Applied Behavior Analysis Program is an approach to teacher training in which all instruction used by teachers is based on scientific evidence and the use of scientific procedures to fit the appropriate science-based practices to individual students’ varied learning and language developmental needs. The program prepares graduates to be dually certified from birth to grade 6 in New York State and reciprocal states. Students accepted in the program are placed in paid teacher assistant positions (M.A. students) or paid teacher positions (Ph.D. students) in schools and classrooms that practice teaching as applied behavior analysis. The training of teachers is also based on scientifically tested procedures (i.e., we teach our graduate students until they demonstrate mastery of using scientific practices). Teacher trainees are taught until they master the science and its application with all children from 2-years to grade 6.

All of the training is done in classrooms that practice the CABAS® Accelerated Independent Learner Model (AIL). Students are trained in paid internship positions, under the supervision of experienced scientist practitioners in the school placements and attend classes in the evening. What is done with the children in the classrooms is the content of the nine core graduate courses--scientific findings and teaching procedures.  What is taught in the core courses and the related courses is placed into practice daily. The effectiveness of the numerous procedures is well documented in the literature. Recent evidence concerning the outcomes for the children in the classes in which our trainees are taught show that the children perform from two to four levels above their current grade level on standardized tests across reading, language, and mathematics. These children include those who receive free or reduced-price lunch, minority children, English language learners, children with learning delay diagnoses, and upper middle-class children. Teachers and teacher assistants collect direct measures of all the children’s responses to instruction and the achievement of state standards. The model classrooms where our M.A. and Ph.D. graduate students are trained include the Fred S. Keller Preschool (children with and without diagnoses from 18 months to age 5), the Morristown AIL classes K-5, and Rockland BOCES elementary district-based classes. Our full-time and adjunct faculty members are onsite in the schools on a regular basis and are accountable for outcomes for our teacher trainees and the children they teach.

All of the work in the classroom and school settings is tied to the ten core courses in Teaching as Applied Behavior Analysis that are devoted to classroom management, curriculum design, effective pedagogical practices, and the advancement of a science of teaching. The other classes in the program are devoted to various scientific approaches to instruction, learning, and development. M.A. students rotate placements across different types of students and ages until they achieve minimal mastery of the relevant scientifically based teaching repertoires. The M.A. program is two years long, and the Ph.D. requires three to four years of additional training.   

Successful applicants will present evidence of excellent undergraduate academic performance in liberal arts degrees or degrees with strong liberal arts requirements, strong recommendations, and a passion for working with children whose future prognosis depends on highly effective instructional interventions. The program is academically rigorous, and the applied component is highly demanding. Graduates of the program are highly sought after by public schools and graduate programs. Between 15 and 25 applicants are accepted annually.

There are other approaches to teaching and the training of teachers and some who wish to become teachers will find those approaches more in keeping with their goals. But for those who are interested in a measurably effective and scientific approach and who are committed to bridging the educational gap and high quality education for all children, we invite you to join us in what we find to be exceptionally exciting and rewarding work.

Specialization Requirements, Applied Behavior Analysis:
  • HBSE 4015     Applied behavior analysis I
  • HBSE 4016     Applied behavior analysis II
  • HBSE 4017     Applied behavior analysis III: School-wide systems applications
  • HBSE 4044     Curricular and pedagogical foundations for teaching pre-listening through early academic literacy
  • HBSE 4045     Curricular and pedagogical operations for teaching the foundations of functional academic literacy
  • HBSE 4046     Curricular and pedagogical operations for teaching advanced functional academic literacy (4th grade through early middle school)
  • HBSE 4704     Observation and student teaching in special education: Applied behavioral analysis and behavioral disorders (4 terms)

Breadth Requirement:

(For the list of required cognate courses that provide breadth scholarship and practice, contact the program coordinator or the special education secretary.) In order to broaden the student’s background in education, three Teachers College courses outside the Teachers College major program (in this case, a course is defined as one for which at least two points are earned), must be completed.


Master's Degree Programs: Deaf and Hard of Hearing (M.A./Ed.M.)

In order to meet New York State Certification requirements the preservice preparation in the Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing offers two basic programs each of which is two-year in length and requires a minimum 60-point.  The first basic program is intended for applicants who are not yet certified in regular education and are interested in teaching in an inclusion class, a self-contained classroom, a school for the Deaf or hard of hearing, or a specific content domain. This program leads to dual certification in the education of individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing and regular education either at the preschool, elementary, or secondary level in the areas of mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, environmental sciences, social studies, or English education. They will earn a Master of Education (Ed.M.) degree upon completion of the program and will be eligible for an M.A. degree en passant. These individuals will be eligible for dual certification as a Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and in regular education depending upon their specialization. These individuals will be expected to have student teaching experiences with both individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing and with individuals with hearing.

The second basic option is intended for those individuals primarily interested in teaching individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing K-12 in the capacity of an itinerant teacher not responsible for subject matter  This option like the previous one is a two-year, 60-point program.  This option also leads to an Ed.M. and New York State certification as Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.  These individuals will be expected to have two student teaching experiences in an itinerant teaching setting working with children who are deaf or hard of hearing.

For individuals who are already certified in regular education, a number of other options are available.  One such option is a two-year, 60-point program that leads to an Ed.M and a M.A. en passant as well as certification  as a Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing K-12 and certification as a reading specialist.  Another Ed.M. 60-point option for those already certified in regular education is obtaining certification in another area of regular education, e.g. early childhood education for an individual already certified in elementary education or another area of science education for those already certified as a teacher of science, in addition to being certified as a Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.  Another possible option is obtaining certification in regular Special Education (through a transcript review) and Teaching the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.  Should the individual, who is already certified in regular education, wish not to pursue additional credentials in another area of regular, special education or related services (reading specialist), there exists a 34 credit option leading to a single degree, the M.A., and a single certification, Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing K-12.

With advisor’s approval, coursework taken at the undergraduate level or elsewhere that fulfills any of the certification requirements may result in a waiver of such coursework at Teachers College. However, this waiver only applies to certification requirements and not degree requirements.  The majority of program options described above would still require completion of 60-points of coursework.  The only exception to this is the M.A. degree in the education of the deaf with New York State certification as a Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing K-12 for individuals who are already certified in regular education, which requires 34 credits of study..

All programs noted above also lead to Council on the Education of the Deaf (CED) certification.  Also Teachers College has reciprocity agreements with most states throughout the country.

Specialization Requirements, Deaf and Hard of Hearing:

  • HBSE 4070     Psychosocial and cultural aspects of people who are Deaf 
or hard of hearing (2 terms)
  • HBSE 4071     Special methods: Methods of teaching reading and writing to individuals who are Deaf or hard of hearing; and language, reading, and writing instruction in the content areas for individuals who are Deaf or hard of hearing 
  • HBSE 4072     Development of language of individuals who are Deaf or hard of hearing
  • HBSE 4073     Audiological principles and the teaching of speech and listening skills to individuals who are Deaf and hard of hearing
  • HBSE 4074     Linguistics of American Sign Language
  • HBSE 4077     Seminar in teacher-as-researcher
  • HBSE 4079     Language development and rehabilitation: The foundations
  • HBSE 4300     Practicum in assessment and evaluation of individuals with exceptionalities
  • HBSE 4707     Observation and student teaching in special education - 
Deaf and hard of hearing (two terms)
  • HBSE 4871     American Sign Language I
  • HBSE 4872     American Sign Language II
  • Area specialization courses in deaf and hard of hearing (15+ points)
For those individuals who matriculate into the Program in the Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and are not yet certified in a common branch area in regular education, the students will complete a 60-point program leading to dual certification and an Ed.M. in education at the preschool, elementary, or secondary level in mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, environmental sciences, social studies, or English education.

Breadth Requirements:

In order to broaden the student’s background in education, three Teachers College courses outside the Teachers College major department must be completed (in this case, a course is defined as one for which at least two points are earned). These courses should be selected from the following areas:

  • Age-appropriate developmental psychology course
  • Educational foundations course
  • Health requirement
  • Technology requirement
  • Reading course


Master of Arts: Guidance and Rehabilitation

The M.A. in Guidance and Rehabilitation, which does not lead to New York State teacher certification, is available to interested students with a broad range of career goals.

Required Department Courses:
  • HBSE 4010     Nature and needs of persons with intellectual disability/autism
  • HBSE 4011     Education of persons with intellectual disability/autism
  • HBSE 4015     Applied behavior analysis I
  • HBSE 4070     Psychosocial and cultural aspects of people who are deaf and hard of hearing
  • HBSE 4071     Special methods: Methods of teaching reading and writing to individuals who are Deaf or hard of hearing
  • HBSE 4082     Assessment and evaluation of infants, children, and youth with exceptionalities
  • HBSE 4880     Opportunities and outcomes for people with disabilities - Annual conference
  • HBSE 5309     Advanced practicum in special education - Rehabilitation of persons with developmental disabilities
  • HBSE 5909     Problems in special education - Guidance, rehabilitation, and career education


Master's Degree Programs: Intellectual Disability/Autism (M.A. and Ed.M.)

For individuals with an interest in the Intellectual Disability/Autism program area, four master’s-level program options leading to initial New York State teacher certification are available: (1) Master of Arts (M.A.) Degree Program in the Teaching of Students with Intellectual Disability/Autism at the Adolescence Level — for individuals who are seeking initial certification as a teacher of students with disabilities at the adolescence/ generalist (grades 7-12) level. This 38-point full-time program typically requires a year and a half to complete. (2) Master of Arts (M.A.), Degree Program in the Teaching of Students with Intellectual Disability/Autism and Students without Disabilities at the Childhood  Level — for individuals who are seeking initial dual certification as a teacher of students with and without disabilities at the childhood/ elementary (grades 1-6) level. This integrated 43-point full-time program typically requires a year and a half to complete; (3) Master of Education (Ed.M.), degree program in the Teaching of Students with Intellectual Disability/Autism and Elementary/Childhood — for individuals who are seeking initial dual certification as a teacher of students with and without disabilities at the childhood (elementary) level (grades 1-6). This 60-point full-time program typically requires two years to complete; (4) Master of Education (Ed.M.), Degree Program in the Teaching of Students with Intellectual Disability/Autism and Early Childhood Education — for individuals who are seeking initial dual certification as a teacher of students with and without disabilities at the early childhood level (birth through grade 2). This 60-point full-time program typically requires two years to complete. All four programs prepare preservice teachers to work with students with disabilities in inclusive and specialized settings. Through coursework and practicum experiences, the programs foster the acquisition of the broad-based knowledge and skills needed to provide effective educational programs for students with the full range of learning and behavior characteristics. In addition, the programs provide specialized preparation in working with children with and without Intellectual Disability/Autism at specific age levels.

One additional master’s-level programs in the Intellectual Disability/Autism program area leads to New York State Transitional B certification: Master of Arts (M.A.) degree program in the Teaching of Students with Intellectual Disability/Autism at the Childhood level (grades 1-6). This 36-point degree program is restricted to students who have been admitted to the Peace Corps Fellows Program, and it requires participation in the pre-service summer component and in other activities associated with the Peace Corps Fellows Program. An additional track of the M.A. Program in Intellectual Disability/ Autism is available through the Teaching Residents at Teachers College program (www.tc.edu/teachingresidents). To qualify for this option, applicants must be admitted to both the M.A. Program at the adolescence level (ITDA-IN) and to the Teaching Residents at Teachers College program. The program requires participation in intensive summer components and an ongoing integrating seminar, as well as a full school year residency in a high-need New York City school.  In addition, students who complete this program are required to teach in a high-need New York City school for three additional years. Please refer to the TR@TC website listed above for more information.

Specialization Requirements, Intellectual Disability/Autism:
  • HBSE 4000     Introduction to special education
  • HBSE 4001     Teaching students with disabilities in the general 
education classroom
  • HBSE 4002     Instruction and curriculum for students with and without disabilities
  • HBSE 4005     Applications of technology in special education
  • HBSE 4006     Working with families of children with disabilities
  • HBSE 4010     Nature and needs of persons with intellectual disability/autism
  • HBSE 4011     Education of persons with intellectual disability/autism
  • HBSE 4015     Applied behavior analysis I
  • HBSE 4079     Language development and habilitation
  • HBSE 4082     Assessment and evaluation of infants, children, and youth with exceptionalities
  • HBSE 4300     Practicum in assessment and evaluation of individuals with exceptionalities
  • HBSE 4700     Field observation in special education: Pre-student teaching
  • HBSE 4701     Observation and student teaching in special education: Intellectual disability/autism (two terms)
  • HBSE 4880     Opportunities and outcomes for people with disabilities - 
Annual conference  

Breadth Requirements:

In order to broaden the student’s background in education, three Teachers College courses outside the Teachers College major department must be completed (in this case, a course is defined as one for which at least two points are earned). These courses should be selected from the following areas:
  • Age-appropriate developmental psychology course
  • Educational foundations course
  • Health requirement
  • Technology requirement
  • Reading course

Master of Arts: Severe or Multiple Disabilities

A Master of Arts (M.A.) Program in the Teaching of Students with Severe or Multiple Disabilities is available for individuals who already hold New York State initial certification in the teaching of students with disabilities at the early childhood, childhood, or adolescence age levels; in teaching of students who have intellectual disability/autism, behavior disorders, or who are deaf or hard of hearing, or who have speech and language disabilities. This 32-point M.A. program in the Teaching of Students with Severe or Multiple Disabilities leads to a recommendation for an annotation to the New York State certification, which recognizes additional pedagogical knowledge, skills, and experiences in the teaching of students with severe or multiple disabilities.

Required Department Courses:
  • HBSE 4001     Teaching students with disabilities in the general education classroom
  • HBSE 4002     Instruction and curriculum for students with and without disabilities
  • HBSE 4005     Applications of technology in special education
  • HBSE 4006     Working with families of children with disabilities
  • HBSE 4010     Nature and needs of persons with intellectual disability/autism
  • HBSE 4011     Education of persons with intellectual disability/autism
  • HBSE 4015     Applied behavior analysis I
  • HBSE 4082     Assessment and evaluation of infants, children, and youth with exceptionalities
  • HBSE 4701     Observation and student teaching in special education: Intellectual disability/autism
  • HBSE 4880     Opportunities and outcomes for people with disabilities -  Annual conference



Degree Requirements