Early Childhood Education: Special Education MA Initial

M.A. in Early Childhood Special Education with Initial Certification

In the Early Childhood Special Education M.A. Program at Teachers College, Columbia University, we prepare early interventionists and early childhood special education professionals committed to the well-being of young children with disabilities and their families, and knowledgeable about early intervention and early childhood special education (Birth-Grade 2). This degree program focuses on urban settings and centers issues pertaining to the education of children with disabilities and those receiving early intervention services, espousing a social justice perspective. Our students are prepared to engage with real world issues pertaining to early intervention and to the education of young children with disabilities via pedagogical, political, psychological, and sociological perspectives.

Through a curriculum that integrates early childhood education, special education, and bilingual education content, we aim to enable our initial certification students to become outstanding early interventionists, early childhood special education teachers, decision makers, and leaders. Honoring the importance of understanding children’s development and learning in contextualized and situated ways, the Master of Arts program emphasizes collaboration with families and other professionals and considers policies that affect families’ access to services. Our students participate in several field experiences, which serve as the foundation from which theories about development, learning, and curriculum come to life and through which teachers begin to construct their professional practice.

Early Childhood Programs Handbook

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

Admissions Information

Master of Arts

  • Points/Credits: 40
  • Entry Terms: Summer/Fall


  • NY State Initial: Students with Disabilities Birth-2

Application Deadlines

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

* Summer/Fall 2020 deadline extended to June 1.

Supplemental Application Requirements/Comments

  • GRE General Test

Course Requirements

Master of Arts - Early/Special-Initial Cert


Course requirements for M.A. students seeking initial certification as teachers of students with disabilities in early childhood (birth–8 years):

Core Courses

  • C&T 4080               Risk and resilience in early development (3)
  • C&T 4112               Integrated curriculum in early childhood (6)
  • C&T 4302               Supervised practicum in the educational assessment of young children with exceptionalities (3)             
  • C&T 4708               Student teaching- infancy and early childhood (two terms) (6)
  • C&T 5118               Infant and toddler development and practice (3)

Methods Courses

  • A&HM 4022           The artistic lives of young children (2)
  • C&T 4131               Language and literacy in the early childhood curriculum (3)
  • C&T 4132               Learning and teaching in the primary reading/writing classroom (3)
  • HBSS 4116             Health education for teachers (1)
  • HUDK 4027            How children learn math (3) OR
  • MTSM 4057            Teaching & learning math in early childhood (3)

Foundation Courses

  • C&T 4001      Differentiating instruction in inclusive classrooms (2)
  • C&T 4615      Young children, families and social policy (3)  OR
  • C&T 4083      Working with families of young children with disabilities (or equivalent) (3);
  • Out of Dept.  Special education elective (2)

Culminating Project:

Students complete an integrative portfolio over the course of the program reflecting their growth as an early childhood teacher.

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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