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Academic Programs

Childhood Special Education/Dual Degree with Columbia School of Social Work


  • Program Overview

    The Childhood Special Education Dual Certification/Dual Degree with Columbia School of Social Work program prepares model teachers and social workers to work in specialized settings.

    This comprehensive program allows you to earn two master’s degrees for fewer total credits than if you earned the degrees separately.

    For more information on the program at Columbia School of Social Work, contact Cheiku Camara at

    This program is for teachers and prospective teachers like yourself, wishing to work with children with variations in grades 1 through 6. As a student in your program you have the opportunity to work in a range of special education settings. This includes children from diverse racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and linguistic backgrounds. You will think specifically about designing accessible curricula and differentiated experiences for children with a variety of social, emotional, behavioral, physical, and cognitive profiles. You will:

    • Construct developmentally responsive learning experiences that encourage all learners to follow their curiosities.
    • Create accessible curricula so all learners can explore literacy, literature, mathematics, science, arts, and social studies content.
    • Develop a strong social justice focus in order to advocate for and with children and families.
    • Plan for dynamic and collaborative partnerships with families and school professionals.
    • Engage in critical explorations of yourself, others, and the wider world.

    This program culminates in a Master of Science in Education or a Master of Education (for those students with a prior master’s degree in education), requiring 36 credits, and a Master of Social Work (with additional course requirements for the social work degree from Columbia), requiring 48-54 credits.

    Graduate student in class raising hand

  • Admissions Requirements

    In addition to the main admissions criteria, there are additional requirements needed to apply for this program:

    • Applicants must already hold a valid New York State certification in General Education at the Early Childhood or Childhood level. If you are certified at the Early Childhood level, there may be additional Childhood tests you need to take to become certified in working with Students with Disabilities (1st-6th grade).
    • Applicants must also apply separately to Columbia’s program and be admitted into both.
  • Coursework

  • Supervised Fieldwork/Advisement

    Our unique supervised fieldwork program is designed to support your integration of theory and practice. You will:

    • Be supervised by your advisor, a core graduate faculty mentor and experienced teacher.
    • Participate in a weekly conference group of 5-7 students and your advisor.
    • Reflect on a lesson with your advisor once each month.
    • Meet individually with your advisor twice once month.
    • Complete projects to help you take a deeper look at the setting and students you work with.

    You will work in a classroom setting as a full-time head teacher or assistant, or as a student teacher (3 days each week):

    • As a student teacher you will be placed in one special education setting within grades 1-6.
    • As a working head or assistant teacher you will use your own classroom as your fieldwork.

    New York State requires all graduate students in this program to have a supervised fieldwork experience in a special education or inclusion setting. Student teachers fulfill this experience through their placement in the fall or spring. Working teachers and assistants may need to enroll in an additional fieldwork placement, where they will be placed by Bank Street in the appropriate setting to fulfill their degree requirements.

  • Career Opportunities

    Childhood Special/General Education and Social Work graduates go on to:

    • Teach in general education, special education, or inclusion classrooms in public, charter, and independent schools.
    • Tutor or work as learning specialists in schools or in private practice.
    • Work in special education teacher support services (SETSS) roles.
    • Work as a school social worker.
    • Work as a psycho-therapist in private practice.
  • Faculty

  • Certification

    When you complete the Childhood Special Education program you will be eligible for your:

    • Initial certification Teaching Students with Disabilities, grades 1-6: for those who meet experience requirements and pass state assessments.

    After teaching for three years you will be eligible for professional certification.

I value Bank Street's approach to teacher preparation because it recognizes that our work as educators is inextricably linked to how well we understand, honor, and engage with the many facets of our own identity, including biases, and the identities of our students and colleagues.
Rachel McEvoy, GSE ’17