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. 

A group of students converse in a study group at Teachers College.

Admissions Information

Master of Arts

  • Points/Credits: 44
  • Entry Terms: Fall Only


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  • NY State Initial: Childhood Education 1-6
  • NYS Initial: Students with Disabilities 1-6
  • Bilingual Education Extension
  • Optional Middle School Certification 7-9

Application Deadlines

  • Spring: N/A
  • Summer/Fall (Priority): January 15
  • Summer/Fall (Final): April 15

Supplemental Application Requirements/Comments

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 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

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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 programs leading to NY State 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.

MA in Bilingual/Bicultural Education (Academic track, not leading to certification)

Concentration on Research - Choose among the following courses:              

  • ITSF 4060 Latinos in Urban Schools           

  • ITSF 5016 Ethnography of Education 

  • A&HB 4140 Latina Women Narratives          

  • A&HL 4003 Schools of Linguistic Analysis

  • A&HL 4104 Discourse Analysis

  • EDPS 5020 Methods of Social Research

  • EDPS 5022 Sociological Analysis of Educational Systems

  • C&T 5000 Theory and Inquiry in Curriculum and Teaching

  • HBSK 5085 Observing and assessing preschool children

Concentration on Policy - Choose among the following courses:

  • ITSF 4025 Languages, Society, and Schools            

  • A&HB 5024 Bilingual/Multilingual Education: International Perspectives

  • A&HB 4199 Topics in Bilingualism and Bilingual/Bicultural Education

  • EDPS 4000 Education and Public Policy

  • EDPP 5042 Urban Politics and Education

  • EDPP 5045 Race, Ethnicity, and U.S. Educational Policy

  • Policy courses in Curriculum and Teaching

MA in Bilingual/Bicultural Education (leading to NYS Teacher Certification)

Concentration on Teaching - Choose among courses that are required for programs leading to certification.

Courses of study leading to certification require the following:

  • A&HB 4020 Bilingualism and Disabilities (1)

  • A&HB 4028 Teaching Literacy in Bilingual Settings (3)

  • A&HB 4121 Bilingual/Bicultural Curriculum Design in Elementary and Middle schools (3)

  • A&HB 4133 Curriculum and Methods for Bilingual Teachers: Science (2-3)

  • A&HB 4134 Curriculum and Methods for Bilingual Teachers: Mathematics (2-3)

  • A&HL 4076 TESOL Methodologies for PK-6 (3)

The Master of Arts - Dual program leading to Initial Certification in Childhood Education and the Bilingual Extension Certification has two options:

Stream A (for students with less than 1 year of full-time teaching experience as a head teacher) requires one full year of student teaching with the accompanying courses (a total of 17 additional credits), for a minimum of 40 credits for the degree.

Stream B (for students with at least 1 year of full-time teaching experience as a head teacher) requires a half-year of student teaching (7 credits) for a minimum of 33 credits for the degree.

The Master of Arts - Transitional B program requires a practicum course in conjunction with full-time teaching, or a student teaching experience if the student does not have his/her own classroom, for a minimum of 33 credits for the degree.

The Master of Arts - Bilingual Extension leads to the Bilingual Extension Certification, requires a half-year of student teaching or a practicum (depending on whether the student has his/her own classroom), for a minimum of 33 credits for the degree.


Students who are not pursuing an M.A. in Bilingual/Bicultural Education and who either hold teacher certification in another area or are simultaneously pursuing teacher certification in another area can choose the 15-16 credit Advanced Certificate. The course of study includes the foundation courses and at least 3 points from any of the following courses:

  • A&HB 4121 Bilingual/Bicultural Curriculum Design in Elementary and Middle Schools

  • A&HB 4133 Curriculum and Methods for Bilingual Teachers: Science

  • A&HB 4134 Curriculum and Methods for Bilingual Teachers: Mathematics

  • A&HB 4028 Teaching Literacy in Bilingual Settings

  • A&HB 4323/4720 Practicum/Student Teaching in Bilingual/Bicultural Education

New York State Education Department (NYSED) has teacher certification requirements that are needed for program completion and graduation which are listed in the Office of Teacher Education section of the catalog.

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