Special Education MS

Program Purpose

The Special Education Masters of Science program perpares educators and behavior analysts to use the Multi-tiered System of Supports (MTSS) to systematically improve academic and behavior outcomes for all learners. The framework for MTSS utilizes high quality evidence-based instruction, intervention, and assessment practices to ensure that every student recevies the appropriate level of support to be successful--especially students who are at risk behaviorally.

We accomplish this by supporting the mission and aims of a BYU education as we integrate teaching, research, and service.


Curricular Structure

Theis innovative program prepares special and general educators to work collaboratively with multidisciplinary teams in their schools.  The master's program uses evidence-based Response top Intervention (tI), mutlidisciplinary Systems of Support (MTSS) and Positive Behavior Intervention & Support (PBIS) models to align academic standards and henavioral expectations, implemented with fidelity and sustained over time, in order to accelerate the performance of every student to achieve and/or exceed proficiency. 

The program includes a course sequence that is verified by the Behavior Analysis Certification Board and after completing 1500 hrs of supervised fieldwork, students may take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst exam. Successful completion of this exam allows students to become Licensed Behavior Analysts in the State of Utah. 

The program admits 6-8 students each year. Students complete a minimum of 36 semester hours, which includes 5 hours of elective courses. Required courses for the M.S. degree in Special Education can be found on this website:


A brief overview of the Special Education MS Program is also described in the Graduate Catalog http://registrar.byu.edu/registrar/acadsched/classSched.php

and the program handbook http://education.byu.edu/cpse/masters/index.html

Learning Outcomes

Current Issues in Special Education and Behavior Analysis

Students will be able to analyze current issues in education and behavior analysis in terms of scientific evidences. Students will demonstrate through written assignments, their understanding of current issues. Students identify a research topic that is relevant to the current issues and that will add to the knowledge-base of education and behavior analysis. 

Courses that Contribute: None
Linked to BYU Aims: Faith and testimony, Human knowledge
Effective Writing

Students will design, conduct, write, and defend a comprehensive manuscript based upon original research. Students prepare and orally defend a written thesis based upon research in current issues in education and/or behavior analysis.

Courses that Contribute: None
Linked to BYU Aims: Communicate effectively, Competence
Professional Practices

Students will demonstrate knowledge and use of evidence-based and effective educational practices to improve academic learning, teach social/behavioral skills. Adherence to discipline ethical system. Special Educators adhere to the CEC ethical principles and Behavior Analysts adhere to the BACB ethical code. 

Courses that Contribute: None
Linked to BYU Aims: Faith and testimony, Competence
Leadership and Collaboration

Students will knowledge of effective leadership skills to work collaboratively with school professionals, paraprofessionals, and families of children who are at risk or have disabilities.

Courses that Contribute: None
Linked to BYU Aims: Communicate effectively, Lifelong learning

Evidence of Learning

The M.S. in Special Education graduate faculty use several methods to assess the performance and progress of graduate students as they complete their programs. These assessments are completed at three major transition points: 1) Admission, 2) Academic Preparation, 3) Exit, and 4) Alumni. See the M.S. in Special Education Handbook for more information.

Admission: We gather the following data from applicants: Graduate Studies Application, BYU M.S. in Special Education Supplementary Application, GRE or MAT scores, GPA, Letters of Recommendation, and Statement of Intent.

Academic Preparation: Three tools are used to measure students' academic preparation: End-of-Semester Graduate Student Evaluation, Graduate Student Progress Report, and Course Grades.

Exit: Three primary tools are used to measure students' final performance: Thesis DefenseOral Comprehensive Examination, and Exit Survey.

  1. Pass: No changes are necessary; the thesis is accepted, signed, and copies made for the Library.
  2. Pass with qualifications: The thesis needs minor changes. The committee chair holds up the results of the defense until the changes have been satisfactorily completed.
  3. Recess: The thesis needs revision, further writing, or other fixing. Another defense is necessary but must be held at least one month later.
  4. Fail: The student's degree program is terminated immediately.

Alumni: Alumni surveys are gathered from alumni every three years. Also, surveys are gathered from employers of alumni every three years.

Direct Measures

1. Research

2. Issues

3. Practices

4. Professionalism

5. Legal

Indirect Measures

1. Research

2. Issues

3. Practices



4. Professionalism

5. Legal

Learning and Teaching Assessment and Improvement

Analysis, Evaluation, and Improvement Process

Program assessment data are analyzed by graduate faculty at the following times: (a) student qualifications are reviewed upon admission, (b) student progress in courses/thesis is evaluated following each Fall and Winter semester, (c) final work is reviewed during the final semester of each student's program, and (d) surveys are administered to alumni and their employers every three years.

Plans for improvement are formulated every year for minor changes in the program. Substantial changes will be made upon complete review of the program, which will occur approximately every five years. Changes to be made in the program will be sent for approval at the departmental, school, and university level as currently instituted.