BBE Special Education BISPED

Master of Arts - Bilingual Childhood Special Education Studies (BiSPED)


This Master of Arts degree leads to Initial Certification in Childhood Education (1-6), the Bilingual Extension Certification, and the Teaching Students with Disabilities Certification. If you do not have teacher certification, have an interest in working with bilingual special education children, and have some prior experience with elementary school children in formal or informal contexts, this degree is for you.

It has become clear that the New York DOE is faced with the urgent need to have teachers who can attend to the range of needs of the learners they serve. Students who speak a language other than English now add up to 42% of the total NYC student population. In addition, 22.4% of students classified as English Language Learners (ELLs) have been identified as having a disability in the 2012-2013 academic year alone. Principals of bilingual schools with students with disabilities are struggling to find highly qualified teachers who are certified in both Bilingual Education and Teaching Students with Disabilities. The lack of qualified teacher to address the diverse needs of bilingual learners is pushing children with disabilities out of high quality dual language programs.

The Program in Bilingual/Bicultural Education and the Program in Intellectual Disability/Autism have created this program, Bilingual Special Education Studies (BiSPED) for teacher candidates who wish to work with bilingual students with disabilities. Teacher candidates in the BiSPED program will be asked to participate in a research study for learning about how to improve teacher education teaching and learning in BiSPED. This will include pre- and post-yearly interviews, collection and analysis of data in relation to teaching and learning, and participation in coaching sessions with mentor teachers and supervisors in the Program in Bilingual/Bicultural Education to analyze student work using the Principles for Dual Language Education and the NYS Bilingual Common Core initiative. 

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Admissions Information

Displaying requirements for the Spring 2024, Summer 2024, and Fall 2024 terms.

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Application Deadlines

Select programs remain open beyond our standard application deadlines, such as those with an extended deadline or those that are rolling (open until June or July). If your program is rolling or has an extended deadline indicated above, applications are reviewed as they are received and on a space-available basis. We recommend you complete your application as soon as possible as these programs can close earlier if full capacity has been met.

Application Requirements

Additional Notes

Major Codes - Be sure to put the correct one on your application. If you are applying for Dual Certification, make sure to indicate in your statement of purpose if you wish to be considered for Stream A, B, or BiSPED.

The major code for Master of Arts - Childhood Special Education Studies (BiSPED) is MA-BILS-DU.


Fluency in English and a Language Other than English (LOTE) are required for the Program in Bilingual/Bicultural Education, as well as for the courses of study leading to NY State certification in Bilingual Education.

Students whose first language is English must provide proof of proficiency in a LOTE. During the admissions process, some students may be selected for further language testing by the Program in Bilingual/Bicultural Education. This testing is free to applicants, and is meant to verify written and oral language skills. Students must also submit a supplemental essay in their LOTE.


International students must submit TOEFL scores UNLESS they have received an Undergraduate degree (not Masters or Doctoral) from a school at which English is the primary language of instruction. The minimum TOEFL exam score required by Teachers College is 100 on the internet-based exam (IBT). Applicants may obtain further information on TOEFL at www.toefl.org or from their local overseas educational advising center. IELTS scores may be accepted in lieu of the TOEFL. The minimum IELTS overall band score is 7.0. Score reports must be officially submitted by the testing center. Current and former TC students do not need to submit new scores unless requested by the program to do so.

For information on the interpretation of TOEFL scores, please go to the ETS website.
For information on the interpretation of IELTS scores, please go to the IELTS website.


Students seeking New York State Teacher Certification must also satisfy the Liberal Arts & Sciences Certification Requirements - this consists of undergraduate coursework in four basic content areas. Your undergraduate transcript will be evaluated during the admissions process, and you will be notified if you are deficient in one or more areas. For more information, see the Liberal Arts & Sciences Requirement page under Resources on the BBE website.

Requirements from the TC Catalog (AY 2023-2024)

Displaying catalog information for the Fall 2023, Spring 2024 and Summer 2024 terms.

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All courses of study require three core foundational courses and a bilingual inquiry course. M.A. programs require an integrative project. The teaching strands with Bilingual/Bicultural Studies and the courses of study leading to NY State teacher certification require a practicum or student teaching experience. Students are strongly urged to consult with an academic advisor on all degree requirements.

Foundation and Inquiry Courses:

  • A&HB 4021 Foundations of Bilingual/Bicultural Education (3)

  • A&HB 4024 Linguistic Foundations of Bilingual/Bicultural Education (3)

  • A&HB 4075 Cross-cultural Communication and Classroom Ecology (3)

  • A&HB 4150 Teacher/Educational Inquiry: Bilingual/Bicultural Education (1-3)

Each student will choose courses with advisor assistance. The following shows a sample of recommended courses for potential concentrations.

The Program in Bilingual/Bicultural Education and the Program in Intellectual Disability/Autism have created this program, Bilingual Special Education Studies (BiSPED) for teacher candidates who wish to work with bilingual students with disabilities. 

This Master of Arts degree leads to Initial Certification in Childhood Education (1-6), the Bilingual Extension Certification, and the Teaching Students with Disabilities Certification. This degree program is for students who do not hold teacher certification, have an interest in working with bilingual special education children, and have some prior experience with elementary school children in formal or informal contexts.

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