Program Overview

A major in special education provides graduates with the foundational knowledge and skills needed to successfully enter the field with initial licensure from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE): Teacher of Students with Moderate Disabilities, PreK-8.  

Comprehensive and Career-Focused

The three pillars of the Special Education program include:

  1. a comprehensive curriculum focused on research-based, best practices for students with diverse needs in prekindergarten through grade eight
  2. a comprehensive pre-practicum / practicum sequence including opportunities for field-based experiences beginning as early as their first semester in the program
  3. career-focused mentoring from a dedicated faculty and staff with decades of experience across the PreK-12 spectrum, as classroom teachers, educational leaders and researchers.  

A Broad Curriculum Supported By Seasoned Instructors

The comprehensive curriculum in the Special Education program provides students with the core content and pedagogical knowledge necessary for supporting students with disabilities in various classroom settings. Coursework covers fundamental topics including key legislation related to disability, evaluation and identification procedures for special education, instructional strategies to teach core academic content for students with disabilities, and Individualized Education Program (IEP).

Unique to Stonehill’s Special Education program is the increased focus placed on reading and writing in course curricula. Students take specialized literacy courses that provide them with the knowledge base necessary for assessment and specialized instruction for their future students experiencing reading and writing difficulties. This program also offers students the opportunity to participate in field-based experiences earlier in their academic careers.

  • EDU130 Introduction to Special Education
  • EDU202 Reading: Theory & Instruction
  • EDU206 Behavior Management 
  • EDU207 English Language Learners in the Classroom
  • EDU215 Language & Literacy in Special Education  
  • EDU216 Teaching Math to Students with Disabilities
  • EDU217 Professional Practice in Special Education
  • EDU308 Assessment in Special Education
  • EDU309 Curriculum & Methods for Special Education
  • EDU433 Practicum: Moderate Disabilities PreK-8 Level
  • EDU440 Practicum Reflective Seminar  
  • EDU201 Developmental Theories  
  • US History  
  • Western/World History  
  • MTH143 Math for Educators  
  • Science Course w/Lab 

Special Education Program Ranked No. 3 in Massachusetts

College Factual recently ranked Stonehill’s special education program as one of the best in the state. For its 2022 ranking, the national higher education data aggregator looked at 18 schools in Massachusetts to determine which ones were the best for students pursuing a special education degree. Among those 18 colleges and universities, Stonehill ranked No. 3.

Featured Special Education Courses

Introduction to Special Education

This course provides a survey of current knowledge on individuals with disabilities within the context of human growth and development across the life span. Content includes historical factors, legislation, etiology, characteristics, needs and educational strategies, including existing and emerging technologies, assessment, and support services, of/for individuals with disabilities ranging from mild, moderate to severe levels of varying disabilities. The course will study the impact of disabilities on academic and social/emotional performances. Field experience is required.

Behavior Management

This course explores how to identify, record, evaluate, and change social and academic behaviors of special and diverse populations. It explores theories of classroom management and various approaches to management including use of technological tools. The course emphasizes developing classroom and individual behavior-management plans.

Teaching Math to Students with Disabilities

This two-credit course examines the causes and correlates of math difficulty, contemporary methods of assessment in the domain of math, and evidence-based instructional approaches and interventions for students with math learning disabilities. Students will acquire an understanding of typical development in the domain of mathematics, profiles of various mathematics learning disabilities, methods for assessing mathematical competencies, and research-proven instructional techniques for this population.

Creating Connections Between Theory and Practice

To complement their coursework, the Special Education program includes a comprehensive pre-practicum / practicum sequence designed to ensure that our graduates have experience working with students and teachers across the grade levels covered by their licensure. All special education majors have the opportunity as early as their first semester in the program to complete field placements alongside general education and special education teachers in a variety of school and community settings.  

Students also complete pre-practica alongside specific courses to enhance their connections between the theory of the college classroom and the reality of the prekindergarten through grade eight practice. These experiences more than prepare our students to complete a full semester practicum (student teaching) alongside a supervising practitioner during their senior year.  

Photo from Camp Shriver at Stonehill College

Career-focused Mentoring

Stonehill’s small class sizes allow licensure candidates to receive career-focused mentoring. Through experiences both inside and outside the classroom, dedicated faculty and staff with decades of experience across the PreK-12 spectrum work with licensure candidates to individualize their program to meet their interests and future career goals. 

Faculty teaching in the Special Education program have extensive teaching experience in public and private PreK-12 settings; deliver professional development to  teachers, schools and districts across the Commonwealth and across the nation; present their research at local, regional and national conferences; have specializations in such areas as autism research and behavioral analysis; and serve on the boards of several professional organizations. This wealth of experience and connection to PreK-12 schools and teachers enables the faculty to provide high quality, practical educational experiences to Stonehill students.  

Creating Caring and Compassionate Educators 

Whether learning in a Stonehill classroom or working in the field as practicum students (student teaching), special education candidates learn to use the knowledge and skills gained from coursework to become global citizens dedicated to creating inclusive learning environment for all students. 

Our professors are not only focused on teaching students what they need to know to secure a teaching license, but also educating them on the necessity of approaching their work in special education with an abundance of care and compassion. 

Career Development Resources for Students

The Stonehill Career Development offers extensive assistance to students seeking employment, pursuing advanced studies or participating in postgraduate service opportunities. By working with our mentors, students are empowered to build lifelong career management skills.

Education Studies Specific Career Resources

  • Education Mock Interview Week – Alumni in administrative positions in school districts prepare students for job interviews.
  • Externships and internships in New York; Washington, D.C.; and Los Angeles (weeklong and semesterlong programs) give students critical field experiences.
  • Career Development staff members regularly work with Education Department faculty to present programs on preparing for teaching jobs from resume and cover letters to interviewing.

Bolstering Professional Experience, Making an Impact

Elementary education students also have access to other opportunities that bolster their professional experience before they even graduate. The Stonehill Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) is an opportunity for students who have completed their first year at Stonehill to perform significant, publishable full time research under the guidance of and in collaboration with an experienced faculty researcher.

The experience helps to solidify and define students' career choices, both through graduate school decisions and in post-college employment. All SURE Scholars and faculty mentors receive a stipend for an 8- or 10-week full-time summer session.

Outside Partnerships & Special Programs

Stonehill College has developed academic affiliations with colleges and universities that enable our students to augment the degree they earn at Stonehill with graduate and undergraduate degrees that further enhance their opportunities.

Complete Your B.A. and Master's in Education in 5 Years

The Skyhawk Accelerated Dual Degree allows undergraduate students in Stonehill’s Education Studies Department to earn a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in five years. The final year of undergraduate study is integrated with coursework at the graduate level. This opportunity is a good fit for students who wish to obtain dual licensure or who wish to have more time with licensing exams. Teacher residency options available.

Contact Information

Lyndsey Aubin Benharris

Associate Professor of Education Studies

Lisa Biederwolf

Administrative Assistant II