Urban Education MS: Special Education concentration

School of Urban Education
Graduate degree

About this program

Program accreditation

This program is accredited by the Minnesota Professional Education and Licensing Standards Board (PELSB) to meet the Standards of Effective Practice for Beginning Teachers as part of the requirements for being licensed to teach in a specific subject area.

Expand your credentials to serve the needs of students with exceptionalities for success in school and life. Gain an additional Minnesota teaching license for grades K-12 Special Education-Academic Behavioral Strategist (ABS) and your Masters degree. Our flexible program also allows you to complete only the additional K12 Special Education-ABS licensure program if you are not interested in the Masters, or only the Masters degree without licensure if you just want more understanding and skill in working with students who have mild-moderate special needs.

Our approach to teacher education focuses on preparing diverse, reflective and resilient teachers who are outstanding in their commitment to teaching urban youth and creating equitable educational opportunities. While this program is primarily designed to meet the needs of urban elementary, middle and high schools for licensed Special Education teachers who can improve students' educational achievement, others who work with youth who have special needs outside of the K-12 school setting will find this concentration worthwhile in our Urban Education Masters degree.

Student outcomes

Students completing this program will meet the following standards for K12 Special Education-Academic Behavioral Strategist licensure:

  • understands the foundations of special education services for students who have mild to moderate needs in the areas of academics, behavior, social, emotional, communication, and functional performance on which to base practice.
  • understands and applies principles of prevention and intervening early and procedures for referral, assessment, evaluation, individualized planning, programming, and placement specific to teaching students who have mild to moderate needs in the areas of academics, behavior, social, emotional, communication, and functional performance.
  • understands how to use individualized education program plans to design, implement, monitor, and adjust instruction for students who have mild to moderate needs in the areas of academics, behavior, social, emotional, communication, and functional performance.
  • cultivates and maintains positive, collaborative relationships with children and youth with disabilities who have a range of mild to moderate needs in the areas of academics, behavior, social, emotional, communication, and functional performance, families, educators, other professionals, and the community to support development and educational progress.

Metro State connects you to your future. Get info about taking your next step toward a degree!

Enrolling in this program

Program eligibility requirements

Earned Bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited institution with a GPA of 2.75 or higher. Students seeking additional K12 licensure must already possess a current Minnesota teaching license in another field.

Application instructions

Application deadlines

United States applicants

Apr 1 - Summer semester
Jul 1 - Fall semester
Dec 1 - Spring semester

International students 

No Summer Admissions
May 1 - Fall semester
Sep 1 - Spring semester

NOTE: Applications are accepted throughout the year, but early applications are encouraged to ensure classes are available.

Application file

A complete application file consists of two parts. Begin the application process by first applying online using the online graduate application. Once you've applied online you can log in to the Applicant Portal using your StarID and password at any time and upload your remaining documents, submit your references, and check on the status of your application. All application materials become the property of Metropolitan State University and are not returned.

Part one

  • Online Graduate Programs Application. Please note you will need a Minnesota State StarID to complete the application. If you don't have a StarID, you will create one at the beginning of the application.
    • If you do not have or choose not to provide your Social Security number (SSN) you will need to follow the No SSN instructions to activate your StarID.
    • If you encounter difficulty with the online application, email graduate.studies@metrostate.edu
  • $20 Non-refundable Application Fee; pay online
    • Waived for graduates of Metropolitan State University and for certified veterans and active military.
  • Official Transcripts
    • For those applicants that were previously admitted to Metropolitan State University we will reuse official transcripts that we received IF they were electronically imaged at that time; if they were not, we will inform you of the transcripts we still need.
    • Any course work completed elsewhere AFTER attending Metropolitan State University will require an official transcript.
    • Submit official transcripts showing a baccalaureate degree or higher earned from an accredited institution with grade-point average or narrative description describing courses completed.
    • Transcripts from ALL schools attended after high school and from any graduate or professional programs are required.
    • Must have a cumulative GPA of 2.75 or higher for full admission (GPAs of 2.5 to 2.74 may be considered for conditional admission)
    • All transcripts from non-U.S. schools must be evaluated (course-by-course) by either ECE (preferred) or WES.
    • Electronic transcripts (preferred) sent to graduate.studies@metrostate.edu
    • Paper transcripts sent directly from the sending institution (preferred) to:
    • Metropolitan State University
      Attn: Graduate Admissions
      700 East Seventh Street
      Saint Paul MN 55106

Part two

After you have submitted your online application, log in to the Applicant Portal using your StarID and password to upload application materials, and check on the status of your application.  The Applicant Portal will indicate missing application items.

Applicants who previously earned full graduate admission to the Urban Teacher Program seeking 5-12 licensure are not required to provide part two documents. All other applicants must submit the following:

  • One Professional Reference: submit reference contact information using the online application.
    • The reference should be a person familiar with the quality of your work as a student, as a teacher or other work related to diverse youth/communities. Personal references will not be considered. Applicants should remind their references of the application deadline when speaking with them.
    • Once submitted, references will receive a "no-reply" email from Minnesota State with a link to the recommendation form. References should check junk mail if the email is not in their inbox.
    • The link is good for 60 days, however, the application deadline may be sooner.
  • Resume: Upload
    • Include work and volunteer experience related to urban education and diverse communities
    • Include titles of teaching license(s) earned (if any), state issued, and license number
  • Letter of Application: Upload
    • Stating which of the following concentrations you are interested in completing and why
      • Curriculum, Pedagogy and Schooling (non-licensure)
      • English as a Second Language (for additional licensure or non-licensure)
      • Special Education (for additional ABS licensure or non-licensure)
      • Secondary Education Teacher Preparation (for grades 5-12 licensure to teach English Language Arts, Life Science/General Science, Mathematics, or Social Studies)
    • Explaining how the MS-Urban Education would contribute to your professional growth and professional goals or interests, especially in relation to the School of Urban Education's Vision and Mission
      • Information about your experience working with culturally and linguistically diverse youth in urban settings and what you have learned from these experiences
    • Plan/strategy for completing the master's degree
    • Letters of application should be typed with 1.5-2.0 line spacing and a total of 1-2 pages in length. The letter serves as a demonstration of your writing skills and will be judged on both content and professionalism in writing mechanics needed for a master's degree candidate

Part three - international students only

In addition to parts one and two, international applicants in the U.S. or abroad, on any type of visa, are required to provide this information for admission to the university.

  • Proof of English proficiency (official TOEFL or IELTS score)
    • Minimum scores: TOEFL 80 IBT, 213 CBT, 550 PBT or IELTS 6.5
    • IBT=internet based; CBT=computer based; PBT=paper based
  • Financial statement (F1 visa only)
  • Immunization records
  • Copies of passport, visa, I-94, and international home address and phone numbers

Visit International Student Services graduate admissions for part three details.

Questions about applying to the Master of Science in Urban Education?

Questions about the online application, fee, transcripts, references, and document upload feature can be sent to graduate.studies@metrostate.edu (preferred) or you can call 651-793-1302.

Questions about Part Two requirements or the program, in general, can be sent to Graduate Program Coordinator nicholas.hartlep@metrostate.edu (preferred) or you can call 651-999-5929.

Program requirements

Field experiences (60 hours) and a 4 week student teaching experience in special education are required for those seeking additional licensure.  Most of these experiences may be completed where a student works as a teacher.

Student licensure

This is not an initial licensure program. Students seeking additional K12 licensure must already possess a current Minnesota teaching license in another field before completing this program and being recommended for this additional licensure. Passing the MTLE content test for this Special Education licensure is required.

Course requirements


These prerequisites are only for students seeking additional licensure, and may be completed with initial required Core courses. Students only seeking the masters (without licensure) do not need to complete these two courses.

EDU 483 Foundations of Teaching Reading in Urban Grades K-6

3 credits

This course explores the fundamentals of reading instruction. The course provides Early Childhood and pre service k-6 teachers with knowledge of the foundations of the reading and writing process, strategies and curriculum materials to support reading and writing instruction, assessment tools and practices to plan and evaluate effective reading instruction, and create a literate environment that fosters reading and writing.

Full course description for Foundations of Teaching Reading in Urban Grades K-6

EDU 487 Methods of Teaching Reading in Urban Grades K-6

3 credits

This course presents an in-depth study of the predominant current philosophies and methodologies of Early Childhood and Elementary reading instruction. Emphasis will be placed on the critical elements in literacy development. These elements are: phonemic awareness, phonic instruction, vocabulary development, fluency, and comprehension. Current organizational procedures and foundations of reading instruction will be presented. Special consideration is given to effective practices and adapting instruction for culturally and linguistically diverse students.

Full course description for Methods of Teaching Reading in Urban Grades K-6


Core (22 credits)

These courses are required for all students in the program, whether interested in earning additional licensure, masters or both. In addition to courses listed, SPED 605 is required.

SPED 600 Socio-Cultural Foundations in Teaching Exceptional Urban Learners

4 credits

The course shall provide students with an overview of student exceptionality: students with disabilities and students with gifts and talents. Special emphasis will be placed on characteristics of exceptional children; the legal aspects of educating students with disabilities; and assessment, instructional, and collaborative strategies. An important outcome of this course is to foster participant dispositions toward appreciating the diverse talents of all learners with exceptionalities and to value flexibility and collaboration in adapting instruction for urban students with diverse needs. The content and skills learned and practiced in this course are designed to meet Minnesota standards of effective teaching practice in the area of special education. This course contributes to the mission, vision, and guiding principles of the Metropolitan State Urban Teacher Program. In addition the course is designed for students to integrate knowledge through content reflection and discussion and…

Full course description for Socio-Cultural Foundations in Teaching Exceptional Urban Learners

SPED 601 Behavioral and Learning Principles for Exceptional Urban Learners

4 credits

This course is designed for special education professionals to build knowledge and skill in examining the characteristics and risk factors leading to chronic learning, behavioral, and mental health issues of diverse urban students with disabilities. Participants will learn mediating practices that support students with disabilities from an ecological perspective that examines, service integration, and individual social integration supports that promote lifelong social and academic learning. Students enrolled in this course fulfill requirements toward teacher certification in special education. Competence Statement: Participants in this course will develop content and skills well enough to meet Minnesota standards of effective teaching practice in the area of special education regarding knowledge and practice in federal and state law as well as pedagogy and professional responsibility in serving children and adolescents with disabilities.

Full course description for Behavioral and Learning Principles for Exceptional Urban Learners

SPED 602 Legal, Political, and Ethical Issues in Urban Special Education

3 credits

Students in this course examine, discuss, and practice the elements of special education law, litigation, ethics of professional practice in special education and how these elements affect the identification, eligibility determination, planning, programming, and instruction of diverse student with disabilities. Attention is paid to the social and political issues and contexts affecting such services, especially regarding the differences and similarities that would facilitate the involvement of students with disabilities and their families from diverse ethnic/racial, linguistic, and social, gendered, and socio-economic backgrounds. Topics include the rights and responsibilities of students, parents, and educators, due process, data privacy safeguards, ethical practices, and effective communication strategies for working with diverse students with disabilities and their families.

Full course description for Legal, Political, and Ethical Issues in Urban Special Education

SPED 603 Assessment in Urban Special Education

4 credits

This course will introduce students to the basic psychometric foundations of standardized and classroom-based assessment to inform data-based decision-making about exceptionality, eligibility, and educational programming for students with disabilities. Students in this course will learn models of educational assessment, practice methods of observation in classroom and clinical education settings, and administration of standardized assessments of academic achievement. Participants will be introduced to methods of providing and promoting assessment accommodations, adaptations, and modifications for a range of diverse learners including the use of interpreters and assistive technologies. Finally, this course will be technology-enhanced in the following areas: (1) incorporate knowledge about technology-based program planning solutions in special education (2) use of online methods and materials to enhance instruction between class times and to compensate for potential class period…

Full course description for Assessment in Urban Special Education

SPED 606 Characteristics of Diverse Urban Learners with Mild/Moderate Disabilities

3 credits

This course will prepare educators and other professionals in advanced theory and practice to support the education of exceptional urban and diverse learners with mild to moderate forms of emotional or behavioral disorders, specific learning disabilities, developmental cognitive disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, and other health disabilities. The course will include characteristics of students from prevalent categories of mild to moderate exceptionality; the legal aspects of addressing students with mild/moderate disabilities, and assessment, instructional, and collaborative strategies in the knowledge and practice for managing the teaching and learning of culturally and linguistically diverse exceptional students in urban schools and other cross-cultural educational settings. Finally, students will learn models of culturally and linguistically responsive practices in the context of emerging models of special education and general education class-wide and school-wide systems.

Full course description for Characteristics of Diverse Urban Learners with Mild/Moderate Disabilities

For master's only (3 credits)

This course is only required for earning the Masters degree if students have not completed a previous course in literacy education. (For example, Metro State graduates who have completed EDU 400 or EDU 487 have met this requirement.)

EDU 614 Literacy Education in Urban Schools - Advanced Theory and Practice

3 credits

This course explores advanced theory and practice to support academic literacy among urban learners in secondary classrooms. First, through readings, discursive presentations, and applied exercises, participants in this course will acquire techniques to assist struggling readers and writers. Alongside these skills, course participants will learn how to engage secondary urban learners in assuming responsibility for literacy self-development. Third, the course will include review and development of a variety of materials to teach diverse middle and high school students whose reading and developmental levels vary widely.

Full course description for Literacy Education in Urban Schools - Advanced Theory and Practice

For licensure (14 credits)

These courses are only required for students seeking additional K12 Special Education (ABS) licensure. (Students interested in Masters degree only are not required to take these courses.) In addition to course listed the following are required: SPED 604, SPED 609, SPED 650, SPED 690

SPED 611 Urban Special Education Practicum and Seminar

1-2 credits

This field experience practicum is a co requisite of SPED 603: Special Education Assessment designed to give special education teacher candidates the opportunity to document and reflect upon at least 30 contact hours of field-based educational assessment of diverse youth with disabilities in a linguistically, economically, and ethnically diverse urban elementary, middle school, or high school. Most of the field experience hours will be determined by field-based assignments required in UTP SPED courses, especially SPED 603 or SPED 601 for conducting a variety of special education assessments. However, field experiences can include work needed for other SPED courses as needed to fulfill field experience requirements. Urban SPED teacher candidates will have opportunity to apply knowledge, theories and skills in their placement(s) as they progress through coursework. Successful completion of this practicum is a prerequisite for student teaching. Prerequisite(s): SPED 600: Foundations of…

Full course description for Urban Special Education Practicum and Seminar

Final core sequence for master's degree completion (12 credits)

These courses are only required for students interested in earning the Masters degree. (Students interested only in licensure are not required to take these courses)

EDU 670 Advanced Reflective Practice for Urban Educators

4 credits

This course examines the important role of critical reflection for the professional development and effectiveness of urban teachers in their efforts to provide equitable educational opportunities and increase achievement of their diverse students. Various types of reflection will be practiced in critically thinking about the multiple and complex aspects of the teaching and learning process within a racial, socio-economic, cultural, historical, structural and systemic context. The role of urban educators as agents and leaders of change will be examined, in addition to how reflection can be used as a tool to foster change for educational equity. Reflection during the course will lead to identifying a central focus and question for thesis research.

Full course description for Advanced Reflective Practice for Urban Educators

EDU 688 Research Methods in Urban/Cross-Cultural Education

4 credits

The course engages students in the variety of educational research designs, analyses and conceptual frameworks appropriate for research in diverse and urban educational settings. The course examines approaches to research for improving classroom or school practices and/or connections with diverse urban or cross-cultural communities. Research methods learned include responsible conduct of research and human subjects protections, quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods along with issues of sampling, measurement, and technical adequacy of observed research results in urban educational settings.

Full course description for Research Methods in Urban/Cross-Cultural Education

EDU 698 Capstone: Conducting Research in Urban Classrooms, Schools and Communities

4 credits

This course provides both an introduction to modes of research and scholarship useful in urban education or other diverse cross-cultural educational settings and an opportunity for applying principles learned to classrooms, schools, or communities. Students develop and complete a culminating project of research to improve an aspect of teaching, student learning, a school program/initiative or a community service and share their findings with others.

Full course description for Capstone: Conducting Research in Urban Classrooms, Schools and Communities