Every Student Needs a Champion

Working with special needs students takes someone special. Someone who knows how to help them reach their full potential. Someone with heart, compassion, and expertise. Nova Southeastern University’s M.S. in Exceptional Student Education (ESE) prepares you to support the educational, behavioral, social, and emotional needs of these students.

At NSU, you’ll be able to focus your studies on a specific disability learning category or choose from a broader combination of courses. You’ll learn how to empower your students, while driving your career forward. NSU graduates have built rewarding careers as special education teachers, school counselors, administrators, college professors, and special needs service providers. Now it’s your turn to become a leader in this exceptional community.

Degree-Only Program

This program track is open to all certified teachers and non-certified professionals. It prepares teachers and professionals to work in programs serving students with disabilities (K-12) who seek an M.S. in ESE or wish to add an ESE categorical endorsement to current certification. For non-certified professionals, it will enhance your knowledge, skills, and dispositions concentrating a disability specific area. This program does not result in certification.

Quick Facts


Tuition is $1,130 per credit hour. Additional fees apply. See Tuition and Fees for details. 


NSU’s M.S. in Exceptional Student Education program is 36 total credits to complete.

Delivery Options

Coursework for the Master of Science in Exceptional Student Education is conducted entirely online, allowing you to earn your degree without work disruption or long commutes.

Application Deadlines

Applications for admission are accepted online and on a rolling basis for all graduate programs throughout the calendar year.

Earning Potential

Postsecondary Teachers

$80,560 Median Salary Per Year

Special Education Teachers

$61,500 Median Salary Per Year

School/Career Counselors

$58,120 Median Salary Per Year

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2020

M.S. in Education - Exceptional Student Education

Core Courses (9 credits)
CUR 526
Educational Research for Practitioners (CUR 526 / Credits: 3 )
CBD 501
Special Education Law (CBD 501 / Credits: 3 )
ESE 630
Educational and Psychological Assessment of Exceptional Students (alternative to CBD 502 - choose one) (ESE 630 / Credits: 3 )
EP 650
Assessment, Diagnosis, and Nature of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (EP 650 / Credits: 3 )
EP 655
Nature of Autism Spectrum Disorder: Intervention Methods, Strategies, and Application (EP 655 / Credits: 3 )
EP 660
Behavioral Assessment and Intervention for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (EP 660 / Credits: 3 )
EP 665
Language, Communication Development and Augmentative Communication in Autism Spectrum Disorders (EP 665 / Credits: 3 )
Developmental/Intellectual Disabilities
CBD 510
Characteristics and Needs of Students with Developmental Disabilities (CBD 510 / Credits: 3 )
CBD 513
Methods for Teaching Students with Developmental Disabilities (CBD 513 / Credits: 3 )
Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
CBD 512
Characteristics and Needs of Students with Emotional Behavioral Disorders (CBD 512 / Credits: 3 )
CBD 515
Methods for Teaching Students with Emotional Behavioral Disorders (CBD 515 / Credits: 3 )
Learning Disabilities
CBD 511
Characteristics and Needs of Students with Learning Disabilities (CBD 511 / Credits: 3 )
CBD 514
Methods for Teaching Students with Learning Disabilities (CBD 514 / Credits: 3 )
Prekindergarten Disabilities
EP 5265
Nature and Needs of Young Children with Disabilities (EP 5265 / Credits: 3 )
EP 5270
Assessing the Needs of Young Children with Disabilities (EP 5270 / Credits: 3 )
EP 5275
Intervention Strategies and Classroom Behavior Management of Young Children with Disabilities (EP 5275 / Credits: 3 )
EP 5280
Working with Families of Young Children with Disabilities and the Community (EP 5280 / Credits: 3 )
Additional Exceptional Student Education Course Options
CBD 503
Classroom Management (CBD 503 / Credits: 3 )
CBD 505
Working with Families of Exceptional Learners (CBD 505 / Credits: 3 )
CBD 516
Teaching Mathematics to Exceptional Learners (CBD 516 / Credits: 3 )
CBD 517
Teaching Reading to Exceptional Learners (CBD 517 / Credits: 3 )
ESE 600
Survey of Exceptionalities of Children and Youth (ESE 600 / Credits: 3 )
ESE 610
Speech and Language Development and Disabilities (ESE 610 / Credits: 3 )
ESE 620
Behavior Management of Exceptional Students (ESE 620 / Credits: 3 )
ESE 640
Transition Skills and Services for Exceptional Students (ESE 640 / Credits: 3 )
ESE 650
Instructional Strategies for Exceptional Students (ESE 650 / Credits: 3 )
ESE 660
Curriculum and Instructional Materials for Exceptional Students (ESE 660 / Credits: 3 )
ESE 670
Inclusive Education for Exceptional Students (ESE 670 / Credits: 3 )
ESE 680
Teaching Social and Personal Skills to Exceptional Students (ESE 680 / Credits: 3 )
ESE 690
Consultation and Collaboration in Exceptional Student Education (ESE 690 / Credits: 3 )
ESE 699
Applied Professional Experience in Exceptional Student Education (ESE 699 / Credits: 3 )

*The remaining nine (9) courses are to be selected from the following categorical program options. Students may select from the full menu of courses available. For the purposes of planning, disability specific courses are grouped by categorical area; additional ESE courses are listed following the categorical information.


M.S. in ESE Professional Licensure Disclosure

The applied professional experience is one of many practical applications included in the exceptional student education specialization. It is the final step in the completion of the program. Conducted in an appropriate educational setting, candidates will maintain reflective journals and create files of samples of their students’ work and the assessment instruments used to demonstrate achievement of the state professional and content standards. All applied professional experiences are accompanied by portfolios detailing the rationale, process, and evaluation of the project.

Admission Requirements

Have the following items ready to submit with your online application:

  • $50 application fee
  • Transcripts from all schools attended

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