Accelerated Master of Arts in Teaching Special Education (AMATSE)


About the program

The Accelerated Master of Arts in Teaching Special Education (AMATSE) program at Seattle Pacific University integrates Washington Residency Teacher Certification with a Master of Arts in Teaching Special Education degree. Candidates in the AMATSE program become effective teachers by:

  • Demonstrating effective teaching practices with students with disabilities.
  • Centering instruction on principles of effective instruction and high expectations for student achievement.
  • Recognizing, responding to, and differentiating instruction to support student learning.
  • Providing clear and intentional focus on subject matter content and curriculum.
  • Fostering and managing a safe, positive learning environment through the application of positive behavioral instructional supports.
  • Using curriculum based measures to modify instruction and improve student academic, behavioral, and emotional outcomes.
  • Communicating and collaborating with parents and the school community.
  • Exhibiting collaborative and collegial practices focused on improving school systems, instruction, data collection, and successful implementation of a problem solving model.

Alternative routes

The AMATSE program recognizes the alternative routes to certification that have been identified by the Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB). These routes are for individuals who possess a unique set of qualifications and wish to earn a Washington state Residency Certificate. SPU is approved to offer Routes 2, 3, and 4. Students should refer to the PESB Alternative Routes site for more information. 

The certification component of the AMATSE program is 45 credits. Approximately one-third of these credits are allocated for student teaching, which is full-time and supervised, for 180 days in a classroom. Completion of certification courses, internship requirements, and passing program assessments qualifies candidates for a Washington Residency Certificate.

This certificate enables candidates to teach in public and private schools in Washington state. The master’s degree is earned by completing an additional 15 graduate-level credits or five classes.

Coursework and internship

Coursework begins in the summer with online and on-campus classes in special education assessments, classroom behavior management, learning disabilities, students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorders, severe disabilities, emotional behavioral disorders, teaching readings to students with disabilities, individualized education programs, special education law, and a special education capstone course. 

Internships begin in late August as K–12 teachers return to school for in-service training. Candidates intern across the school year, while completing online and on-campus coursework. On-campus and online coursework integrate internship experiences to assist candidates in applying educational theory and research to planning, instruction, and assessment.

Candidates are paired with a mentor teacher and university field supervisor in a supervised school setting. Your internship is five days a week, for a total of 180 days, during an entire K–12 school year, including in-service and end-of-the-year activities.

Candidates and mentor teachers follow a co-teaching model, where responsibility for planning, instruction, management, and assessment is shared. You will begin your internship with focused observations and progress to independent teaching. Across internship, you will complete assignments designed to maximize learning from field experiences, such as portfolio reflections, lesson plans, and program assessments. Internship concludes with you returning control of classroom responsibilities to your mentor teacher.

Completion of the MATSE degree

Candidates earn the MATSE degree by completing five graduate-level courses, totaling 15 credits. These classes are taken at the regular graduate tuition rate. Classes required for the MATSE degree are not needed for certification. However, most candidates complete degree requirements immediately following certification to increase their base salary.

Candidates may delay completion of degree requirements for five years following the quarter of admission, as long as active enrollment status is maintained by completing one class every four quarters. Students admitted to the AMATSE program with a master’s degree may complete EDU 6085 Moral and Theological Issues in Education to receive the MATSE degree.

Admission requirements

Applicants must submit the following items to the Graduate Admissions

  • Online application and $50 application processing fee.
  • Official transcript(s) from each college or university attended.
  • Personal statement (1–2 pages).
  • Résumé.
  • GRE (Graduate Record Exam) or MAT (Miller Analogies Test) scores taken within five years of application.
    • On the former GRE exam, preferred minimum combined Verbal and Quantitative score of 950.
    • On the revised GRE exam, preferred minimum scores of Verbal: 148 and Quantitative: 147.
    • On the MAT, preferred minimum scaled score of 400*.
  • Two to four letters of recommendation.
  • Passing WEST-B scores including 240 on each subtest: reading, writing, and mathematics.
    • Applicants may use a combination of SAT, ACT, and WEST-B scores to meet the WEST-B requirement (reading writing, mathematics). Please contact the Graduate Admissions if you have questions.
    • Minimum SAT scores required - Math: 515, Reading: 500, Writing: 490.
    • Minimum ACT scores required - Math: 22, Reading: 22, Writing: 8.
  • Passing state endorsement tests for Special Education and second endorsement.
    • WEST-E or NES for your non-Special Education endorsement must be passed January 1 of the first year of the program.
    • WEST-E in Special Education must be passed by September 1 of the second year of the program.
    • Several NES study guides are located on the main floor Reference section of SPU’s Ames Library
  • Verify endorsement readiness.
    • Endorsements are the content and grade levels a teacher is prepared to teach. The Professional Education Standards Board (PESB) provides a comprehensive list of all endorsements offered at SPU
    • Per WAC 181-78A-132, all teacher who are endorsed in Special Education are required to hold a second endorsement. Students who would like to work with elementary ages should dual endorse in Elementary Education. To work with middle and high school ages SOE recommends students dual endorse in English Language Arts. Please contact the Certification Office for additional information and review of your endorsement readiness. 
    • Several NES study guides are located on the main floor Reference section of SPU's Ames Library
  • Moral Character and Personal Fitness Policy form (found in the online application).

*The GRE or MAT will be waived for students who achieved at least (a) a 3.0 cumulative undergraduate GPA or (b) a 3.0 in the last 45 quarter credits.

Applicants with complete files submitted by the deadline are screened for interviews in March. Invitations to interview are sent by email. 

Enrollment policy

  • Students must be continuously enrolled in required SPU courses to earn this master’s degree, or until officially withdrawing from the program. Exceptions to continuous enrollment must be approved by the program director.
  • Students may be granted a leave of absence for up to four quarters by the program director. Once the leave of absence has expired, the student will either enroll in graduate coursework or be dropped from the program.
  • University academic policy requires continuous enrollment to remain admitted in a graduate program. After four quarters of non-enrollment, students will be placed in “inactive status” and will need to reapply for admission.
  • If a student decides to no longer pursue a master’s degree, the student may officially withdraw from the program and SPU by notifying the program director and the associate director of graduate programs.


Admissions materials should be directed to Graduate Admissions. If you have questions about graduate education or certification programs:


School of Education Graduate Programs