Program Overview

The Master of Arts in Special Education (initial certification) program at Cardinal Stritch University is designed for students without a teaching license who are passionate about helping in the education of special education needs children. This program focuses on understanding the diversity and impact of different disabilities, and the different ways to work with these specific educational contexts. Those who complete this program will be eligible for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) license in Cross Categorical Special Education, a certification that lets those who hold it to teach students with cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and learning-based disabilities.

Once enrolled, students can choose two paths: one that prepares them only for the certification or one that earns the master’s degree. For students pursuing the certification, students will take courses, develop a portfolio, and participate in field exercises. The portfolio formed during this path is designed to meet the Department of Public Instruction requirements for teacher licensing. To earn the degree, students will complete additional coursework and complete a required Capstone project.

To complete the certification, students must earn a total of 42 overall credits. Individuals must complete one semester of student teaching, and meet all Wisconsin DPI general education requirements, as well as receive passing scores on the Praxis I and II exams. General education requirements include completing coursework (undergraduate work may satisfy some credits) in written and oral communication, mathematics, literature and the humanities, psychology, world history, and the biological and physical sciences. To earn the MA in Special Education, students must complete these requirements, as well as an additional 30 graduate level credits, while maintaining a minimum overall 3.0 GPA in all coursework and receiving no lower than a B- in any one class. All of this must be done within at least seven years.

To qualify for entry into this program, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, while having maintained a minimum overall 2.75 GPA throughout all coursework. Students must also submit, along with the completed application, a personal essay outlining rational and the level of commitment he or she is willing to make, and two completed attitude and disposition questionnaires, to be filled out by professional supervisors or colleagues. Applicants must also have passing scores on all three sections of the Praxis I exam.

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    Program Details

    Degree Level: Master

    Delivery Format: 100% Online

    Accelerated Degree:

    Accreditation & Licensing

    North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission

    The University is approved by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction for initial and continuing licensure. The College of Education and Leadership is also accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), the most rigorous standard of quality awarded to teacher education programs. Cardinal Stritch University has been approved by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA) to offer the Master of Education (M.E. Online) graduate program.


    Students must have earned a Bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.75 overall GPA, and submit a personal essay, two completed attitude and disposition questionnaires, and passing scores on all three sections of the Praxis I exam.

    School Overview

    Initially an all-girls school, the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi founded St. Clair College in 1937, quickly establishing The Literacy Centers, a reading clinic for struggling children. As the century progressed, so too, did the school. The college was renamed Cardinal Stritch University, and achieved regional accreditation, along with developing graduate programs by the mid-1950s. Then in 1970, the University became co-educational. Stritch University continued to expand, introducing associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in nursing followed by a business degree program to meet the needs of adult students, and a distance education program for graduate studies. In 2006, the University offered degree programs fully implemented online.

    Cardinal Stritch University houses four colleges, awarding associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in more than 60 fields of study.​ Furthermore, undergraduate online programs and coursework offers necessary flexibility for professionals and students with busy lifestyles.


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