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Southern New Hampshire University Launches New Degree in Clinical Education

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) in Manchester launched its new clinical master’s degree program during the 2018-19 academic year. The program offers dual certification in elementary and special education or early childhood and early childhood special education. It is designed to prepare teacher candidates for certification and to ensure that new educators have the required skills, competencies, knowledge, and dispositions specifically needed to support the development and learning of students in elementary grades (K-8) and general special education (K-12).

“It’s an accelerated 15-month clinical program that enables teacher candidates to work clinically with students during 11 of those months,” said Mary Ford, Interim Dean in the School of Education at SNHU. “They are [working] in supervised clinical experiences learning the craft and skill of teaching as well as monitoring the learning progress of their K-12 students.”

Demand for early childhood education and special education professionals is increasing due to a continued focus on the importance of early education and the number of children who require early intervention. With its focus on special education, SNHU’s new program delves into important issues of equity and accessibility to ensure teachers and students are successful in the classroom, and aims to address the shortage of special education teachers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for kindergarten and elementary school teachers is projected to grow 7% through 2026.

“What our research is telling us is that principals prefer to hire candidates who are dually certified because of the breadth of their knowledge and it gives them more flexibility with their workforce,” said Ford. “The graduates of these programs can be hired as either an elementary school teacher who understands how to work with special education students or be hired as a special education teacher who truly understands the general education curriculum and requirements.”

The new master’s degree is a full-time, 36-credit, competency-based iterative program in the state of New Hampshire focused on evidence-based research and clinical opportunities. Plans are underway to expand the program beyond state borders and across the country by 2020 through clinical experiences provided by partnerships with professional development schools in other states.

Learn more about SNHU’s new degree program in this recent recording of Ford’s interview with EduTalk Radio.

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Jerrica Thurman

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