Make an impact in the lives of students with special needs.

The M.A. in Exceptional Child Education is designed to give general teachers tools and methods to help students with special needs in their classroom, and deepen the teaching skills and knowledge of special education teachers. Although this program does lead to an initial teaching certificate, it does offer an add-on Missouri teaching certificate in Early Childhood Special Education.  

Since Southeast has been preparing educators since 1873, you can feel confident in our history, our reputation, and our accreditation. We're fully accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education.  

What You'll Do

As an exceptional child education major, you’ll be able to customize your degree to your interests and needs with three emphasis areas: mild/moderate cross-categorical, autism, and early childhood special education. More specifically, you’ll have the opportunity to: 

  • Work with an advisor with expertise in your area of study. 
  • Conduct research relating to challenges you face in your own teaching. 
  • Earn additional Southeast certificates in Autism Spectrum Disorder or Missouri teaching certificate in Early Childhood Special Education.  

What Can You Do with a M.A. in Exceptional Child Education?

Earning a master’s degree in exceptional child education prepares you to understand and support students with special needs through interventions and assessments. This degree can also cover continuing education requirements. 

Career Opportunities 

  • Autism Consultant 
  • Early Childhood Functional Skills Teacher 
  • Director of Inclusive Programs 

Exceptional Child Degree Map

Explore the courses you'll need to complete your degree

Exceptional Child Education by the Numbers

  • $62K

    Preschool Special Education Teachers

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for Preschool special education teachers is $62,240.

  • 2

    National Recognitions

    The College of Education has received national recognition for excellence from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), & Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI).

Exceptional Child Curriculum

The time it takes to earn a degree will vary based on factors such as dual enrollment, remediation, and summer enrollment. Students meet with an academic advisor each semester and use Degree Works to monitor their progress.

In addition to the criteria established for general admission to graduate studies, applicants must have the following: 

  • An undergraduate grade point average of 2.75 on a 4.0 scale 
  • A valid professional teaching certificate OR a qualifying score on the state content exam appropriate for that certificate OR be in the 50th percentile verbal and analytic components of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Note: This program does not lead to initial teacher licensure. 

International applicants must have a minimum IELTS score of 7.0 OR TOEFL score of 95. This requirement is for non-United States citizens who are not native English speakers. Students from the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are exempt from English proficiency verification. 

 An applicant having the prerequisite GPA of 2.75 may be given provisional admission prior to completion of all steps in the admission process. The program admission process must be completed within one calendar year. Failure to do so will result in reclassification as a non-degree student. Reinstatement to degree-seeing status will require a new application for admission. Courses taken prior to full admission will not necessarily be accepted toward meeting degree requirements. 

Core Requirements:

  • EX601 Educational Assessment Techniques (3)
  • EX628 Introduction to Mild/Moderate Cross-Categorical (3)
  • EX693 Special Education and the Law (3)
  • GR691 Methods of Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Designs (3)
  • GR698 Master's Final Comprehensive Exam (0)
Choose one Emphasis Area:
Autism Emphasis
  • CE614 Family/Scholl Partnerships in Early Childhood (3)
  • EX555 Introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorder (3)
  • EX556 Communication Interventions and Strategies for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (3)
  • EX557 Behavior Management and Interventions for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (3)
  • EX558 Research Autism Spectrum Disorders (3)
  • EX691 Transition Planning for Individuals with Exceptional Learning Needs (3)
Early Childhood Special Education Emphasis
  • CE530 Foundation of Early Childhood and Special Education (3)
  • CE634 Assessing Young Children's Learning and Development (3)
  • ED535 The Trauma-Informed Professional (3)
  • EX507 Family and Child with Exceptionalities (3)
  • EX602 Language Acquisition for the Child with Exceptionalities (3)
  • EX616 Behavior Management (3)
Mild/Moderate Cross-Categorical Emphasis:
  • ED535 The Trauma-Informed Professional (3)
  • EX507 Family and Child with Exceptionalities (3)
  • EX602 Language Acquisition for the Child with Exceptionalities (3)
  • EX616 Behavior Management (3)
  • EX652 Techniques of Teaching the Mild/Moderate Cross-Categorical (3)
  • EX691 Transition Planning for Individuals with Exceptional Learning Needs (3)

  • The Autism Spectrum Disorder and Early Childhood Special Education emphasis areas require a practicum course that may be completed in a variety of settings, such as the Southeast Autism Center or the students’ school district’s early childhood special education program. 
  • The Autism certificate is a 12-credit hour transcripted certificate and is included as a part of the Autism emphasis area. 
  • The Early Childhood Special Education emphasis area offers a MO teaching certificate in Early Childhood Special Education for graduate students who already possess an Early Childhood Education certificate. In addition to the coursework, students must pass the Missouri Content Assessment: Early Childhood Special Education to earn the MO teaching certificate. This exam is not required for the master’s degree. 

  • EX 556, EX 557, EX 558 (pre-requisite – EX 555 Introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorder) 
  • EL 615 Research in Action (pre-requisite - EX 601 Educational Assessment) 
  • GR 698 Action Research Project (pre-requisite - EL 615 Research in Action) 

Assistant Professor and MA in Exceptional Child Program Coordinator for the Department of Exceptional Child Education & Elementary Education

"Stephen King once said, ‘We never know which lives we influence, or when, or why…’ When I teach I always remember the future of the world is in the hands of the students in my classroom today. "

Dr. Dixie McCollum

Headshot of Dr. Dixie McCollum

College of Education, Health and Human Studies

This degree is housed within the College of Education, Health and Human Studies. The college boasts programs that train students in mind, body, and soul. So, whether you want to teach, to care, to support, or to fix, we have a program to get you there.

Earn Your Degree on Your Schedule.

Do more than dream about the future. Take the first steps to make it all happen.

Online Learning at Southeast

When it comes to your success, we do whatever it takes. Online learning at Southeast takes the same reputable college courses taught by Southeast faculty and makes them available anytime, anywhere.

"I am excited about the opportunity to make a difference in children’s lives through education. The training I have received has been phenomenal."

 - Christi Williams, '17, Elementary and Exceptional Child Education


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Getting the Job

Your education is just one piece to launching an extraordinary career. Once you’ve mastered the material, you still have to find the job you want, make the right connections, sell your knowledge and experience—and if all this is giving you anxiety, don’t panic. SEMO’s Career Services office is here to help you with the next step. They’ll provide the expertise and support you need, so you’re landing your dream job in no time.

(573) 651-5184
Office Location
Kent Library 305
Mailing Address
One University Plaza, MS 4610
Cape Girardeau, MO 63701

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