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Online M.Ed. in Moderate Disabilities


Our 36-credit M.Ed. in Moderate Disabilities prepares you for your Initial License to work with children in grades PreK-8 with moderate disabilities who participate in integrated or self-contained classrooms. Through coursework and field-based experiences, you develop an understanding of subject matter knowledge, curriculum design, instructional strategies, observation and assessment, communication, and collaboration with families and the community.

This program is approved by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and is aligned with the Massachusetts Professional Standards for Teachers and Subject Matter Knowledge requirements.

Initial Licensure students who decide not to pursue their license will still be able to complete their degree as a personalized non-licensure master’s degree.

Learn more about Merrimack’s M.Ed. in Moderate Disabilities.

Tuition-Free Teacher Education Fellowship

Graduate in One Year, Tuition-Free

As a K-12 teacher fellow, you’ll work in a partner school district for a full academic year, gaining unparalleled and invaluable field experience. You’ll engage in a range of classroom-based activities, including small group instruction, co-teaching, and ultimately, independent classroom instruction.

Fellows graduate in one year, tuition-free, and earn a Master of Education in Teacher Education and licensure in their area of specialization.

Available now for both on-campus and online students while spots are still available.

Learn More

Nine Online Courses

You can complete your Moderate Disabilities program through convenient self-paced and online courses. You achieve 36 credits total – with every course lasting eight weeks in length and worth four credits each.

Immersion Events

You and other students in your program have the option of gathering together during your program for immersion events (e.g., seminars, guest speakers, and networking events) to connect in person with your peers, faculty and leading educators in the field.

Field-Based Experiences

You learn in the classroom from the start of your program. There are three pre-practicums and a full practicum of 450 hours, which is the equivalent of 15 weeks. Field-based experiences are arranged at conveniently located schools in Massachusetts, close to home. Your teacher education program specialist provides personalized support throughout your field-based experiences. Successful completion of the 15-week practicum contributes four credits toward the degree for a grand total of 36 credits.

Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL) Exam Preparation Support

You will gain support and preparation assistance for the MTEL exams required for your Initial License in Massachusetts. MTEL preparation is built right into your program. The Moderate Disabilities Concentration requires successful completion of the following MTEL exams:

  • Communications and Literacy (01): Reading subtest
  • Communications and Literacy (01): Writing subtest
  • General Curriculum (78): Language Arts and History/Social Science
  • General Curriculum (78): Mathematics, Science, and Technology/Engineering
  • Foundations of Reading (190)

What Skills Will You Develop?


To earn your Master’s of Education in Moderate Disabilities, you will complete nine courses including a field practicum for a total of 36 credit hours. Classes are eight weeks long and self-paced for your convenience. Field-based experiences include three pre-practicums and one full practicum.*

*The practicum field experience is a full semester of 15 weeks, comprised of 450 hours.

This course will introduce students to the Professional Standards for Teaching (PST) and Licensure Preparation. Students will complete a pre-practicum experience (15 hours) in which they will observe a veteran teacher demonstrating the elements of the PST’s. The course will present the basic components of unit and lesson planning using Understanding by Design (UbD). Students will learn techniques around differentiating instruction, including tiered instruction, scaffolds to accommodate differences in learning styles, needs, interests, and levels of readiness of students. Students will examine specific systematic behaviors teachers use to create orderly, cooperative, and motivating learning environments that promote student achievement. The course will familiarize students with state and federal regulations regarding students with disabilities and second language designation

Co-requisites (0 credits):

  • EDU 6500 – Pre-Practicum Field-Based Experience

This course provides an overview of the challenges that students with moderate disabilities encounter in their personal, social, and academic lives. Beginning with descriptions of typical development, the class will explore how disabilities are identified, what necessary steps are taken to refer students for evaluations in the Special Education process, and research-based accommodations and interventions including the use of assistive technology devices. State and federal laws as well as an overview of local and national support agencies are also reviewed.

This course provides an introduction to the significant theories, practices, and programs for developing literacy skills in children with learning challenges. Beginning with an introduction to literacy development, the focus will be on planning assessment, designing instruction, and selecting research-based interventions for children with disabilities, students from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds, and students with limited educational experiences. Topics will include linking assessment to instruction, research-based methods and strategies, accommodations, modifications, and the use of assistive technology devices to support literacy success.

This course in classroom assessment and instruction examines how effective instruction depends on ongoing, meaningful assessment. Instructional and behavioral assessment, as well as techniques, are addressed. This course will study how models of instruction in different content areas depend on how teachers can collect and use assessment data. Further, this data will be used to inform effective instruction to enable all students to produce great learning outcomes regardless of their learning disabilities and challenges.

Pre-requisite: EDU 5710

This course will focus on curriculum and instruction within science and social studies. The teaching of these content areas is an essential part of prek-8 classrooms not only to achieve key learning goals but also as a means to engage and motivate students. Students will plan and assess appropriate learning experiences and learn strategies to modify and adapt units and lessons for students with moderate disabilities. The course will apply cooperative learning, vocabulary and concept formation, and online resources. Additionally, the course will help students develop skills such as critical and analytical thinking and decision-making. Science: Attention will be given to cognitive development and scientific reasoning skills, science and engineering practices, and elements important to teaching science and assessing student understanding. It will include the content areas of life and physical science and related safety issues. Additionally, students explore the history of major scientific discoveries and inventions. Social Studies: Students will be exposed to the key disciplines within the social studies including – though not limited to – state, national, and world history, economics, geography, and government. Candidates will practice effective means for teaching citizenship skills to students in a way that promotes diversity and social justice.

This course will focus on numbers and operations, and on functions and algebraic concepts as described in the Massachusetts Mathematics Curriculum Frameworks for grades 1 – 8. As many children have mathematical capabilities beyond their grade level, course participants will be stretched to use and apply the mathematical concepts learned to multiple situations and to higher level problems. Emphasis will be placed on the attainment, articulation, and application of the math concepts associated with each strand of learning. Teaching and assessment methods that are challenging yet attainable, and developmentally appropriate for elementary and middle school students will be examined.

This course is designed to enable prospective elementary school teachers to teach mathematics efficiently and effectively to diverse student populations. Prospective teachers will learn how to develop and coordinate learning objectives, assessment techniques, and instructional methodologies according to the psychological principles of how children learn mathematics. Attention will be given to teaching recommendations from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the Common Core State Standards as well as the professional standards for teaching determined by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education of Massachusetts. A 15-hour field based experience is required (EDU6505).

Pre-requisite: EDU 5190
Co-requisite: EDU 6505 Pre-Practicum Field-Based Experience (0 cr)

This course will assist teachers in preparing to effectively design content instruction for English Language Learners (ELLs) to achieve academic success as they prepare for their futures in the 21st century global economy. Effective research-based strategies will be practiced and analyzed, and students will have opportunities for feedback and reflection. Upon successful completion of this course, participating teachers will receive Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) endorsement. An overall course grade of C or better is required to be eligible for the SEI Teacher Endorsement. All core academic teachers responsible for the education of one or more English Language Learners in public schools are required to earn SEI Teacher Endorsement between 2013 and 2016.

Co-requisite: EDU 6507 Pre-Practicum Field-Based Experience (0 cr)

Students will undertake the gradual assumption of full teaching responsibilities in an Elementary classroom under the supervision of a Supervising Practitioner and a Program Supervisor. Students must complete at least 200 hours of full teaching responsibility and another 100 hours observing and/or assisting. Students are required to have a passing score on the Communications and Literacy (01) MTEL and have successfully completed all graduate education courses prior to the practicum.

Co-requisite: EDU 6510 Practicum Seminar (0 cr)


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