Secondary Education of Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing MS

A degree driven by real-time employer demand

Demand for elementary and secondary Teachers of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is growing 20%, more than three times the rate of the overall labor market.

You are on to limitless career growth

21%

Increase in teaching salary with a master’s degree

$58K+

Average salary

Program Highlights

The master of science degree in secondary education (MSSE) of students who are deaf or hard of hearing is designed for deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing students with a passion for teaching. As a teacher-candidate in the program, you’ll earn dual certification to teach a secondary school content area for students who are hearing or deaf as well as in deaf education for grades K-12. The online curriculum is the same as the on-campus program, and taught by the same prestigious faculty at RIT—one of the most innovative universities in the world with more than 1,100 deaf and hard-of-hearing students. The program prepares teachers to be effective and ethical practitioners as well as scholars and leaders in the profession.

RIT's Deaf Education Degree

RIT and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) have created a unique educational community with a diverse online communication environment. The rich inclusive online communication environment at RIT/NTID prepares you for the broad array of communication styles you will encounter in the classroom as a teacher of deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

Degree and Certification

When you successfully complete the program, you will have earned:

  • A master of science degree
  • Initial Certification from New York State to teach in an academic subject area at the secondary school level (grades 7-12). Subject areas include biology, chemistry, earth science, English, math, physics, social studies, or American Sign Language. Thirty (30) credit hours must be completed in one of these subject areas as part of a student’s undergraduate degree in order to receive initial NYSED teacher certification in that academic subject at the secondary level.
  • Initial certification from New York State in education of students who are deaf or hard of hearing, grades K-12
  • Initial certification from Council on Education of the Deaf
    • Note: To be eligible for initial certification, you are required to take and pass the New York State Teacher Certification Examinations (NYSTCE). There are four tests:
      • Educating All Students (EAS)
      • Content Specialty Test (CST), Deaf and Hard of Hearing
      • Content Specialty Test (CST), in the academic subject area for which you wish to become certified to teach.

Why choose RIT/NTID’s Deaf Education degree

With the pressing need for more secondary education teachers, especially in science and mathematics, the strong foundation RIT provides in these areas creates an exceptional learning environment for deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing students to pursue a teaching degree. The RIT/NTID's deaf education degree offers the following advantages:

  • Personal attention from program faculty members.
  • Dual certification in a secondary school content area in grades 7-12 for students who are hearing or deaf as well as in deaf education for grades K-12.
  • Strong faculty with expertise in pedagogy, language development, teaching and curriculum, speech development, research, educational technology, youth and adolescent development, student advisement and placement, and educational issues.
  • Variety of student-teaching placement options.
  • Access to a wide array of research materials.
  • Extensive library resources on the education of students who are deaf or hard of hearing, Deaf culture, sign language, and curriculum materials.
  • Thorough and thoughtful personal advising.
  • Numerous seminars and workshops focused on contemporary educational and cultural topics.
  • Immersion in American Sign Language.
  • Collaborative online projects with faculty, staff members, and students.
  • Specialized training in evidence-based instructional approaches. 

The RIT 4+2 Teacher Education Program

Be part of an exciting new program that creates a bridge between a four-year RIT bachelor’s degree and RIT’s two-year master of science degree in secondary education. The RIT 4+2 Teacher Education Program is an exceptional value and an outstanding choice designed to give you the skills you need for a successful teaching career.

Once you have been enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program at RIT for at least two years, you may complete the application for the MS degree in secondary education at join.rit.edu/apply.  You must have completed 30 credits and earned a GPA of 3.0 or better in your academic subject area (e.g., math, science, history/social studies, or English).  You must already demonstrate proficiency in ASL.  An interview is recommended with the department prior to application.

For more information on the RIT 4+2 Teacher Education Program, contact the NTID Office of Admissions.

How the Program Works 

  • You must be accepted to an RIT bachelor’s degree program in one of the following areas:
    • Any major in the College of Science that requires 30 credits in the area of certification: Biology, Chemistry, Earth Science, Mathematics, or Physics
    • Any major in the College of Engineering that requires 30 credits in the area of certification: Biology, Chemistry, Earth Science, Mathematics, or Physics
    • Any major in the College of Liberal Arts that requires 30 credits in English or history/social studies
    • An applied arts and sciences program requiring 30 credits in either math, science, English, history/social studies, or ASL.
  • Once you are enrolled in one of the bachelor’s degree programs for at least two years, you can complete the application for graduate study to the MS degree in secondary education (during your 4th year of study). You must interview with the department chairperson prior to your admission to qualify for the program.
  • Upon completion of your bachelor's degree program, you must have:
    • A cumulative GPA of 3.25 or higher, Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is not needed.
    • A cumulative GPA of 2.8-3.24, GRE scores must be submitted (combined score of at least 280 and analytic writing score of 3.0 or better).
    • Completed 30 credits and earned a 3.0 GPA in your academic subject area (ex. math, science, history/social studies, or English)
    • Successfully taken and passed at least ASL I and ASL II through RIT's College of Liberal Arts, or earned credit by exam.
  • For more information on the RIT 4+2 Teacher Education Program, contact the NTID Office of Admissions.

Curriculum

First Year

MSSE-700
Credits 3
A historical analysis of change and continuity in educational history from colonial through contemporary America. Special emphasis will be given to the development of the field of Deaf education in the United States. Lectures, seminar discussions, and readings offer comprehensive coverage of the salient intellectual themes.
MSSE-701
Credits 3
The purpose of this course is to examine the psychological and social development of deaf and hard-of-hearing students in childhood and adolescence. The ways that family, school, and community affect the student's development, including effects on cognitive processes, identity formation, and peer relationships, are considered. Psychological and sociological perspectives on students' experience in general are used to provide a framework for understanding the development of deaf and hard-of-hearing students. Educational implications of the theories and research presented are discussed.
MSSE-703
Credits 3
This course takes a sociological approach to disability and the historical foundations of special education. Three models of disability are introduced: medical, social, and political. These three models provide a foundation for the course, and guide study of three major aspects of disability and special education. First, the class will explore how each of these models has historically guided and, in some cases, continues to guide services and social institutions for persons with disabilities, including educational and rehabilitation services. Second, the course will examine the process through which people with disabilities are so labeled and the interaction between these individuals and others (family, peers, school, community). Third, the course will analyze the changing role of the human service professional (including teachers) and the ways in which professional preparation programs reflect the various models of disability. The course will draw heavily on a variety of philosophical, theoretical, conceptual and methodological perspectives, including phenomenology, symbolic interaction, and human ecology.
MSSE-704
Credits 3
This course focuses on providing students with basic information regarding the needs of deaf and hard of hearing learners with special educational needs, including (1) developmental disability, (2) emotional or behavioral disorder (3) learning disability, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or (4) visual impairment. Topics include incidence, identification, assessment, teaching strategies, and working with parents. The goal is to enable students to see students in a holistic fashion, and thus will include the perspectives of parents, teachers and deaf and hard of hearing learners with special educational needs. Learning strategies may include site visits, presentations, films, and interactive workshop style classes offered by experienced teachers, psychologists, counselors, disability advocates, and parents of learners with special educational needs. The course will regularly incorporate guest lecturers who have specialized expertise in teaching or research in one or more of the topic areas covered in the course.
MSSE-710
Credits 3
This introductory course provides an overview of the current theories of assessment, curriculum, instruction, and learning across diverse educational settings in the field of deaf education. The course covers the use of educational technologies to enhance the learning experiences of deaf students and options for classroom management, learning environment appropriate to K-12 classrooms, and methods for assessment. Reflection and application of effective instructional practices are demonstrated through microteaching and field-based experiences. To progress to MSSE-714 Practicum, student must obtain a grade of at least B in this course.
MSSE-712
Credits 2
As required by the New York State Education Department, each MSSE student is required to complete 100 hours of practicum experience during their first year in the program. This practicum experience provides students with opportunities to observe and reflect on their content, professional, pedagogical knowledge, skills and disposition in classroom settings at both schools for the deaf and mainstreamed programs. There will also be course-related observations. Students will also be required to attend selected Deaf culture events. After completion of all of the required observations, the students are required to submit a practicum experience portfolio. Guidelines will be provided to the student. The practicum experience must be completed with a grade of least a B before the first student teaching assignment.
MSSE-713
Credits 3
This course addresses assessment as educational decision-making, involving the selection and interpretation of assessment tools as applied to classroom-based student learning. The course focuses on students who are deaf and hard of hearing; including students with diverse learning needs. Assessment and educational planning for students are discussed as part of a cooperative model, including the relevant stakeholders in the decision-making process. This course also addresses the development and interpretation of both formative and summative assessment strategies in light of acceptable criteria of validity and reliability, and the absence of assessment bias. Criteria for evaluating the appropriateness of standardized tests, with emphasis on deaf and hard-of-hearing students, are discussed and practiced. Collection and interpretation of assessment information are applied to the development and revision of Individualized Education Plans (IEPs).
MSSE-725
Credits 3
This course concentrates on the linguistic structures of American Sign Language (ASL) and English. This course introduces students to the structural description of ASL and English languages at various levels (phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and discourse/pragmatics). Issues related to language change and variation, language use in contact situations (for example, code-mode switching), and language use in education will be discussed.
MSSE-726
Credits 3
This course introduces students to current theories of language acquisition and learning in educational settings. The stages of acquisition and learning, and variables that influence these processes will be included. Bilingual and second language acquisition and learning will also be addressed. Implications for instruction with Deaf students will be discussed.
MSSE-727
Credits 3
This course is designed to improve the ASL proficiencies of classroom teachers. It provides students strategies and skill building to teach content areas in and through ASL. Students will enhance their ASL skills for the purpose of conveying concepts to Deaf students accurately. Topics include ASL instructional strategies, curriculum development in ASL, assessment modifications, student products in ASL, and vocabulary/phrases for effective communication and instructional delivery.
MSSE-785
Credits 3
This course is an introduction to research and inquiry in education. The course includes the evaluation of selected Deaf education research studies, including methodologies, data collection and analyses, and implications of the studies to teaching and learning. Action research in the classroom is examined in depth. Students will prepare a review of literature and an action research plan related to a specific curriculum topic or problem in the learning/teaching of their content areas. The focus of the course is upon the student as a consumer rather than a practitioner of research, however the student will exit the course with basic practitioner knowledge, especially in the area of teacher research.

Second Year

MSSE-702
Credits 3
This course focuses upon knowledge and understanding of existing diversities within the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing communities, and ways in which teaching can most effectively meet the needs and interests of these students for effective learning. Readings and discussions will explore the educational needs of Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing students with variations of experience related to culture, race/ethnicity, language, educational and socio-economic backgrounds and settings, communication skills, and learning styles. These concepts will be applied to effective teaching and curriculum development.
MSSE-714
Credits 3
Note: There are five discipline-specific courses here, designated by section: 01 (English), 02 (Mathematics), 03 (Science), 04 (Social Studies) and 05 (American Sign Language). Students will take only the section focusing on the content area in which they will be certified. Section 01 English. This course examines issues and methods related to teaching English in the secondary level to students who are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing. Students investigate and analyze current approaches to curriculum, instruction and materials in the area of English instruction through readings, observations, and seminars. Students design content area projects to demonstrate a variety of methodological philosophies. Section 02 Mathematics. This course examines issues and methods related to teaching mathematics at the secondary level to students who are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing. Current instructional methods, curriculum and professional resources in mathematics are studied through seminars, readings, special projects, observations and work with content-area specialists and teachers in secondary-level mathematics courses. Section 03 Science. This course examines issues and methods in teaching secondary-level science to Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing students, including the selection, modifications, and use of curriculum materials in science. Discussions will be concerned with instructional strategies, classroom managements, cognitive development, testing and evaluation, lab report writing and theories of science teaching. Students will be required to observe teachers in secondary level science courses. Section 04 Social Studies. This course examines issues and methods related to teaching social studies at the secondary level to students who are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing. Through seminars, readings, special projects, and work with content area specialists/teachers, current instructional methods, curriculum and professional resources in social studies are examined. Students will be required to observe teachers of secondary level social studies courses at public schools, residential schools for Deaf students or in mainstream programs. Section 05 American Sign Language. This course examines issues and methods related to teaching American Sign Language at the secondary level. Students investigate and analyze current approaches to ASL curriculum, instruction, and materials through readings, observations, and seminars. Students design content area projects to demonstrate their understanding of teaching theories and methods, curriculum design, and evaluation techniques. To progress to MSSE-760, students must obtain a minimum grade of B in this course.
MSSE-715
Credits 3
This course will prepare students to work with Deaf and Hard of Hearing children and youth with a broad range of disabilities and educational needs in mainstreamed school settings. The course is designed to foster acceptance of diversity among individuals as well as to develop skills in writing appropriate Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), including behavior modification methods, communication strategies, and psycho-educational approaches.
MSSE-722
Credits 3
This course provides a basic understanding of the mechanisms of hearing and speech and causes of hearing loss. Emphasis is placed on development of a functional understanding of speech perception, speech development, hearing aids, cochlear implants, and assistive listening devices. Procedures for audiological and speech/language assessment are examined, together with strategies for supporting use and development of spoken language in the classroom.
MSSE-728
Credits 3
This course is designed to familiarize students with the process involved in English literacy development. Particular emphasis is placed on the literacy development of deaf and hard-of-hearing students in grades 7-12. Students learn about various language and literacy instructional methods and how to incorporate literacy instruction into all secondary content area classrooms.
MSSE-760
Credits 6
This first assignment consists of 8 weeks (40 days or 250 hours) of teaching and observation. Teacher candidates are placed with cooperating teachers in residential schools for the Deaf or mainstreamed programs. They develop lesson and unit plans and teach in the content area in which they plan to receive New York State certification. To progress to MSSE-761, students must pass this student teaching assignment with a minimum grade of B and submit a student teaching portfolio.
MSSE-761
Credits 6
This second assignment consists of 8 weeks (40 days or 250 hours) of teaching and observation. Student teachers are placed with cooperating teachers in residential schools for the Deaf or mainstreamed program. They develop lesson and unit plans and teach in the content area in which they plan to receive New York State certification. Students must pass this student teaching assignment with a minimum grade of B and submit a student teaching portfolio.
MSSE-790
Credits 3
The professional portfolio presents a clear picture of pre-service professional growth and accomplishments in the complex teaching field. It demonstrates a teacher candidate's reflective and constructive professional performance. The performance includes, but is not limited to, the teacher candidate's actual teaching, reflecting on learning and teaching, developing and implementing lessons, conducting qualitative and quantitative research projects, and applying theory and research to practice. The portfolio includes extensive evidence of teaching and learning experience, including teaching philosophy, pedagogy, classroom management, and the integration of research and teaching. Professional portfolios will be reviewed by a committee of program faculty for approval.
MSSE-794
Credits 3
This is an elective enrichment course that facilitates development of scholarship skills in conjunction with the completion of an independent project on an important educational topic. The project may be an experimental study that creates new knowledge, curriculum development that results in a novel and tangible product, a comprehensive review and analysis of a body of literature, or a grant proposal suitable for submission to funding sources. Students will seek a project mentor by the end of their first semester and will work independently under the guidance of that mentor. A committee of program faculty will evaluate the final written report for level of critical thinking, integration of concepts, clarity of expression, and adherence to the principles of scientific inquiry.

Admission Requirements

Refer to Application Instructions and Requirements for additional information and Graduate Admission Deadlines and Requirements for information on application deadlines, entry terms, and more. To be considered for admission to the MS program in secondary education of students who are deaf or hard of hearing, candidates must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Application: Complete an online graduate application at join.rit.edu/apply. You will be asked to provide information about your teaching content course work, sign language background and associated credits.
  • Essay: Attach to your application a writing sample of which you are the sole author that reflects your critical thinking addressing the following questions: What is your philosophy of teaching and learning? Why do you want to be a deaf education professional?
  • College Transcript: Submit copies of official transcript(s) in English of all previously completed undergraduate and graduate course work.  A transcript is required from each school of attendance. NOTE: We will accept unofficial copies but an official copy is required prior to enrollment.
  • Hold a baccalaureate degree (or US equivalent) from an accredited university or college by time of enrollment.
  • Resume/Curriculum Vitae: Attach to your application a current resume or curriculum vitae.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Attach two letters of recommendation to your application.
  • GRE: Submit GRE scores if your undergraduate cumulative GPA is below 3.0.  
  • Sign Language Proficiency: Applicants must demonstrate at least basic skills in ASL.  Applicants who are not yet proficient in ASL will be interviewed by the academic department as part of the application review process. Before graduation, students are expected to have at least intermediate-level signing skills as determined by a Sign Language Proficiency Interview.
  • International applicants whose native language is not English must submit official test scores from the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE. Deaf/hard of hearing applicants only need to take the reading and writing sections of the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE. International applicants may be considered for an English test requirement waiver. Refer to Additional Requirements for International Applicants to review waiver eligibility.

Additionally, 30 undergraduate semester credit hours in a content area are required by the New York State Education Department for initial certification to teach a secondary content area (grades 7-12). Students who do not have the required number of hours must complete the additional credits before applying for New York State certification. Secondary academic subjects include American Sign Language, English, mathematics, social studies, or science. Please note: The social studies content area includes economics and government, and requires at least 21 semester hours in the history and geography of the United States and the world.

Reduced Tuition Rates and Financial Aid

NTID graduate tuition rates are less than one-half of RIT’s tuition for U.S. citizens. Students who are interested in applying for financial assistance need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). International applicants should contact the NTID Admissions Office for additional information. Questions related to the program, including scholarship opportunities, should be directed to the NTID Office of Admissions.

Learn about admissions, cost, and financial aid.

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