Secondary Education of Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing Master of science degree

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The MS degree in secondary education of students who are deaf or hard of hearing prepares students to meet the national need for teachers of secondary students who are deaf or hard of hearing. The program prepares teachers as effective and ethical practitioners and also as scholars and leaders in the profession.

Faculty members are international leaders in research and are highly skilled in the education of deaf people. A carefully designed system of faculty advisement is a prominent feature of the program. On-campus facilities, state-of-the-art technology, and a well-established system of educational access services combine to make this a vital program for both deaf and hearing students who desire careers as professional educators of deaf students.

Plan of study

Course work requires a minimum of four semesters. A cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 must be maintained. Before graduation, students are expected to have at least intermediate-level signing skills as determined by a Sign Language Proficiency Interview.


  • K-12 Education

  • Non-Profit

  • Other Education

Typical Job Titles

Teacher of the Deaf

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Secondary education for students who are deaf or hard of hearing, MS degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
History of Deaf Educational Thought and Practice
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.
Psychology and Human Development
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.
Special Education in the Social Context
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.
Teaching Deaf Learners with Special Educational Needs
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.
General Instructional Methods
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.
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.
Issues in Mainstream Education
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.
Structures of ASL and English
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.
Language Acquisition and Learning
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.
ASL in Instructional Delivery
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.
Foundations of Educational Research
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
Educational and Cultural Diversity
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.
Assessment Principles and Practices
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).
Curriculum Content and Methods of Instruction
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.
Educational Audiology and Spoken Language Development
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.
Literacy and the Deaf Adolescent
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.
Student Teaching I*
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.
Student Teaching II*
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.
Professional Portfolio
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.
Inquiry in Teaching (elective)
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.
Total Semester Credit Hours

Admission Requirements

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:

  • Complete a graduate application,
  • Hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university,
  • Have a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher,
  • Submit official transcripts (in English) of all previously completed undergraduate and graduate course work,
  • Have a basic knowledge of American Sign Language as measured by a departmental skill assessment, or willingness to take American Sign Language I (or its equivalent) at NTID or another college prior to beginning the program,
  • Have a level of writing proficiency appropriate to graduate study as indicated by a review of undergraduate writing-intensive courses and an expository essay,
  • Submit letters of reference and an expository essay that indicates evidence of professional commitment and potential for success in the program,
  • Submit scores from Graduate Record Exam (GRE), and
  • Participate in an individual interview.
  • International applicants whose native language is not English must submit scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Minimum scores of 550 (paper-based) or 213 (internet-based) are required.

Additionally, 30 semester credit hours in a content area are required by the New York State Education Department for initial certification to teach a secondary (grades 7–12) content area. 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 at least 21 semester hours in the history and geography of the United States and the world.

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Additional Info

Financial Aid

NTID graduate tuition rates are less than one-half of RIT’s tuition. Approximately 70 percent of students enrolled in the MS program in secondary education receive some type of financial assistance each year. Students complete only the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for financial aid. In addition, federal loan programs may be available.