Jul 14, 2024  
2024-2025 Graduate Catalog [Current Academic Year] 
2024-2025 Graduate Catalog [Current Academic Year]

Special Education [Sp.A.]

Location(s): In-person/hybrid

The Special Education & Communication Sciences and Disorders Department offers a Specialist of Arts degree designed to prepare highly qualified leadership personnel in two general areas of study:

  1. Administration and supervision of special education programs.
  2. Curriculum development/assistive technology.


Eastern Michigan University’s advanced professional education programs support inquiry, advocacy and leadership in education for a diverse and democratic society. In addition, the master’s level programs in the Department of Special Education & Communication Sciences and Disorders produce professionals with the comprehensive knowledge, skills, and attitudes to deliver a continuum of habilitative/rehabilitative services to persons with special needs, and to their families, within a diverse society.

Program Admission

Admit Terms and Deadlines

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis; students may start the program in the Summer, Fall, or Winter. See Application Deadlines.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

For full admission, applicants must have 1) Earned a four-year baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or an equivalent degree from a non-U.S. institution, 2) a minimum cumulative undergraduate grade point average of 2.7 on a 4.0 scale, or 3.0 in the last half of the undergraduate program. Conditional admission may be available to applicants not meeting minimum admission requirements.

Program Requirements  

Applicants must also meet the following program requirements:

  • Possess a master’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university, with a minimum 3.3 GPA.
  • Have three years of documented professional experience in special education.
  • Have an endorsement in one area of special education.
  • Submit two letters of recommendation, including one letter verifying three years of successful professional experience in special education and one letter from a faculty member or someone knowledgeable of a candidate’s academic competence.
  • Have a successful personal interview with a faculty member.


Your application will be submitted using GradCAS, a Centralized Application Service (CAS) hosted by Liaison. After reviewing the admission requirements, please review the application instructions  and select the appropriate application.

Domestic Applicants Within the application, follow the instructions to submit an official transcript from all previously attended institutions.

International Applicants Before applying, applicants must review the international application/process deadlines at emich.edu/international as they may differ from general program requirements.

For additional information regarding the application process, please see Graduate Admissions or International Admissions.


Department Information

Special Education & Communication Sciences and Disorders 128 Porter, 734.487.3300

David Winters, PhD, Department Head

Jennifer Desiderio, EdS, Graduate Coordinator

Advisor Information

David Winters, PhD, Department Head

Contact the program advisor for all questions regarding this program.

Program Requirements

The program requirements for the Specialist of Arts degree include:

  1. Completion of a minimum of 33 hours beyond the master’s degree.
  2. Achievement of an overall GPA of 3.3 (B+) or better.
  3. Recommendation from the Specialist’s degree committee for continuance in the program. This is to be done upon completion of 12-15 hours of course work, and before internship and thesis or independent study. The committee will consider GPA, faculty recommendations, demonstrated competence in academic and professional work, and rate of progress in the program. Students must demonstrate behaviors that indicate stability, maturity, understanding, and aptitude as judged necessary for predicted success as a Specialist in special education administration/curriculum.
  4. Completion of an internship.
  5. Achievement of passing scores on oral and written examinations near the completion of the program.
  6. Completion of all other requirements of the Office of Graduate Studies and Research.

Degree Requirements: 41 hours

Concentration Courses: 13 hours

Select from either option I or option II:

Option I: Administrative Strand (SPAD)

Thirteen hours selected in consultation with the graduate advisor.

Option II: Curriculum/Assistive Technology Strand (SPCD)

Thirteen hours selected in consultation with the graduate advisor.

Culminating Experience: 8 hours

Required by all specialist’s degree candidates:

Exit Criteria

Criteria are to meet all the objectives listed previously for graduate study in special education, as demonstrated by successful completion of:

  • All course work in the program of study (minimum GPA of 3.3)
  • Approved internship
  • Thesis or independent study
  • Oral and written examinations

Critical Graduation Information

Each graduate student is responsible for fulfilling the requirements or their equivalents of the Eastern Michigan University catalog in force at the time of their initial registration or a subsequent catalog, including the one in effect at the time of their graduation.

Specialist’s degree requirements must be completed within six (6) years of admission if entering with a master’s degree or eight years if entering with a bachelor’s degree.

In the event a student does not complete the specialist degree requirements within six or eight years of the date of their original registration, the student may be required to have their credits re-evaluated by the academic department(s) of their degree in keeping with catalog requirements in force during the year of their graduation.

The following are minimum requirements for all specialist degrees awarded by Eastern Michigan University. Some programs require more than the minimum in one or more areas below.

  • A specialist degree must require a minimum of 32 credit hours (post master’s degree).
  • No more than six credits of independent study courses, and no more than 12 credit hours of special topics and independent study courses combined, may be applied to a graduate degree.  
  • Residency Requirement:
    • For students admitted to specialist degree programs of 36 or fewer required hours, at least 24 new graduate hours beginning the semester of acceptance and enrollment into the degree program must be earned at EMU. The remaining program requirement hours may be met through transfer or prior degree credit (EMU or elsewhere). 
    • For students admitted to specialist degree programs of 37 or more required hours, at least 30 new graduate hours beginning the semester of acceptance and enrollment into the degree program must be earned at EMU. Minimum degree hours must still be met for graduation. The remaining program requirement hours may be met through transfer or prior degree credit (EMU or elsewhere).
  • Only credits from one completed graduate certificate may be applied to a master’s or specialist degree in a relevant field of study, as determined by the Graduate School and with the approval of the degree-granting academic department, and be included in the residency hours above.
  • The Graduate School does not permit the use of undergraduate courses (499 and below) to meet degree requirements on graduate programs of study.
  • Students must maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA in all graduate-level courses taken at EMU and in their program of study to remain in good academic standing and be eligible for graduation. Students do not need to be registered for classes during the semester of graduation.