Important Dates

Summer  Deadline
SPED Application April 1st
Cal State Apply Application April 1st
Basic Skills Requirement April 1st
Subject Matter Competence/CSET July 1st
Program Start Summer Quarter 
Program End Spring Quarter 


Alumni Profiles

Sadie Pinotti

Class of 2010
Administrative Program Specialist
El Dorado County Office of Education SELPA/Charter SELPA


“The knowledge base that I acquired while attending the Cal Poly School of Education, Integrated M. A. in Special Education helped to lay the foundation for my current career in education. The program's academic rigor challenged me to grow professionally, the program also presented opportunities to grow personally by expanding my experience working directly with families and community organizations. I am especially grateful to the Cal Poly faculty for their leadership and the vision that has lead to this program, it has shaped my future and I love what I do.”


Kate Medina

Class of 2011
Admissions Officer, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo
Integrated M.A. Education/Education Specialist Mild/Moderate Credential
SDC M/M 6-8 Teacher, Livermore, CA


“I can honestly say that Cal Poly's Special Education Program was one of the most positive and fulfilling experiences of my life to date. The program's structure allowed graduates to learn applications of special education while engaging in learn-by-doing experiences through student teaching and a year long Autism inquiry project. Although the course work was vigorous and challenging, it allowed all members of the cohort to learn the underlying principles of special education and best teacher practices. As the year went on, our cohort naturally became close and many of us still keep in contact. My current school district of employment has been so happy with the work ethic of this program's graduates that it continually seeks out new graduates each year to work in it's district for the betterment of it's schools. I highly recommend this program to anyone who is looking to pursue a teaching degree in mild/moderate special education.”


Lisa Fletcher

Class of 2011
Program Manager, Adult Transition Services
Xcite Steps, LLC
San Diego, CA


“The M.A. in Special Education program at Cal Poly has so much to offer and I frequently reflect back on my experience and the significant impact it’s had in my development as a professional in this field. The “learn by doing” teaching philosophy it encompasses, combined with the wealth of knowledge of the professors and a small cohort of students created a very hands on, interactive environment for learning. The knowledge I gained from the close mentorship with my professors and the unique opportunities that a small program presents are just a few of the many outstanding pillars that lends to its success. These same characteristics created a strong sense of community and partnership that runs much greater than the length of the program itself. It not only strengthened and further inspired my passion to enter a profession of serving those with special needs, but gave me the skill set to do so effectively and most importantly with compassion. I am so grateful for my invaluable experiences at this university and will always be one of many proud alumni. I hope to return to Cal Poly someday to give back to a program that provided me with so much!”


Courtney Eynck

Class of 2013
Special Education Teacher
Roseville, CA


“With the cohort model that the Special Education program provides, it allowed me to sustain collaborative relationships that I carry into my career as a special education teacher. The invaluable knowledge gained from the professors in the Special Education program and teaching professionals from around the San Luis Obispo area has given me the confidence and success that I apply on a daily basis. The special education program gives its students an opportunity to learn through teaching experiences, creating an outcome of graduates who are readily prepared for the challenging career of working with individuals with special needs. I was also able to become aware of the several opportunities outside of teaching as a result of the special education program, such as an autism behavior specialist or an in-home therapist for children with autism or other needs. The support that I received from the faculty at Cal Poly is unlike any support that I've experienced elsewhere and helped guide me through the program. Without hesitation, I would recommend this program to any individual who has a passion for working with individuals with specials needs.”


Janelle Jenison

Class of 2013
Special Education Teacher
Morro Bay High School
Morro Bay, CA


“The Special Education MA/Credential Program's cohort model allowed me to be part of a professional learning community. This collaborative program provided me with meaningful experience in a variety of school settings. I received exceptional support and mentorship from the faculty of this program. Part of program provided me the formative learning and coursework, while the student teaching and in-home autism behavior support provided me the opportunity to build relationships with the student, family, and school. I highly recommend this program for its professional and supportive faculty, the variety enriching experiences, and the relevant and up-to-date coursework.”


Ashley Ely

Class of 2010
Special Education Teacher
Curtis School of Excellence
Chicago, IL


“Originally I entered the Special Education program with the intention of increasing my knowledge as a general education teacher. By the time I completed the program I was certain I wanted a career working alongside children with special needs. The master's program has fostered an appreciation of differences and a great passion for assisting those with disabilities. Thanks to the intensive coursework and multiple opportunities for practical application, I felt competent and capable during my first year of teaching. The skills I gained and the connections I made continue to help me in my career today as a diverse learning teacher in the Chicago Public Schools. I highly encourage those interested in Cal Poly's Special Education M.A. program to apply.”


Christina Crocco

Class of 2012
Graduate Assistant, Early Intervention Program
Florida International University
Miami, FL


“The Special Education MA program introduced me to what quickly became my passion and prepared me for what would ultimately become my career path. The ASD focus, specifically the major project, allowed me to have an in-depth look at the daily life of a child on the spectrum. As a result of spending time with this child at school and at home throughout the year, my partner and I were able to design and implement an intervention that improved his social skills at school. The coursework and student teaching were aligned in a way that allowed me to implement what I was learning with my students in the K-6 resource class where I was placed. Cal Poly’s learn by doing approach allowed for me to become an ABA therapist immediately after graduating. My major project inspired me to pursue a doctorate degree in Special Education in order to continue to improve the lives of children with ASD through research and practice.”


Julie Koopmans

Class of 2015
Special Education Teacher
San Marcos Unified School District
Discovery Elementary School


“My Cal Poly experience as an undergraduate in Liberal Studies (Multiple Subjects Elementary Credential Program) and a graduate student in the Special Education Program have provided many meaningful opportunities for my teaching career and overall growth as a professional. The Integrated M. A. in Education/ Education Specialist and Mild/Moderate Disabilities Credential Program has a cohort model, which provides a valuable positive network of support and community throughout the program. The blend of research and instructional methods that the program offers have prepared me very well for my future career by providing a strong foundational knowledge about special education and effective practices that I can apply to my own teaching and instruction in the classroom. My field placements at multiple school sties as well as my in-home placement for the Autism Inquiry Project, have positively shaped my instructional abilities and further developed my confidence as a teacher. All of the professors and faculty members provide guidance and support to ensure that candidates feel confident in their learning and demonstrate success in the program. Overall, the knowledge and experiences I have gained at Cal Poly have undoubtedly prepared me to be a successful and effective teacher in my future. I highly recommend this program to prospective students who are passionate about working in the field of Special Education and making a positive impact on the lives of others! ”


Stacy Stapleton

Class of 2012
Program Supervisor
Kids Overcoming, LLC
Oakland, CA


“The Special Education master’s program at Cal Poly helped me define my passion and strengths within the field. With the numerous placement opportunities available with this program, everyone that enters finds something that allows them to grow personally and professionally. The faculty is devoted to mentoring and coaching the cohort through every step. The cohort model formed a community in which we could share ideas and grow together. My time at Cal Poly was irreplaceable and I highly recommend the program to anyone pursuing a master’s degree in Special Education.”


Alana Smith-Grove

Class of 2015
K-5 Special Education Teacher
Kermit King Elementary, Robles Unified School District


“There are certain things I expect out of a graduate program. I want a program to challenge me with its rigor and simultaneously inspire me to achieve what’s possible and to grow in my field. These are two areas Cal Poly’s SPED program does not fall short of. Thus far, I have been endowed with what I feel is an exceptional education that will surely prepare me for a teaching job within the field of special education. I feel challenged by the course load that seamlessly blends theory and practice into a concrete, functional tool that I can use in the classroom. The Autism Inquiry Project has been a truly motivating and rewarding experience. Getting to know a family on a day to day basis and to make such a positive impact on a child’s quality of life has been an experience I will never forget. Additionally, the SPED faculty have been nothing short of inspiring, and the level of support they give to each of us members of the Cohort is what makes this program so special. I feel incredibly lucky to say that I am a part of this community, learning from and sharing with each other, with hopes and confidence that I will use what I learn to touch the lives of many.”


Camille Chavez

Class of 2014
Special Education Teacher
Righetti High School
Santa Maria, CA


“The Special Education MA/Credential Program at Cal Poly SLO granted me an intensive experience in the field that left me well equipped to work with students with disabilities and their families. The hands-on experiences were the most meaningful parts of the program. From student teaching under veteran educators in both the elementary and secondary levels to working directly with a family in increasing socialization skills for their son on the spectrum, I left the program with the ability to succeed in countless areas. The connections made within the cohort model with both classmates and professors have proved to be invaluable. I am now a part of a community of fellow special educators who are exceptional in their knowledge, compassion, and understanding. I am thankful for the connections made with extraordinary educators and the knowledge they continue to bestow upon me and feel very fortunate to have been a part of Cohort 9.”


Trevor Bacchus

Class of 2014
Special Education Teacher
Righetti High School
Santa Maria, CA


“My experience in the Special Education Master’s Program was a great proving ground as I have embarked on a career as an educator of students with special needs. There is no substitute for hands on application of theory, and the student teaching component of the program provided me with that opportunity and so much more. Each component of the program provided me with a strong foundation from which I could follow several career paths in addition to that of a teacher and be successful. Participating in the Autism Project component of the program will arm you with very real techniques and skills to use as you grow as a teacher, or as a behaviorist if that is a route that you are interested in. Prior to participating in the program I was completely unsure of my ability to be effective as an educator in a population of neurologically diverse students. However, it was not until I had my very own class of students that I realized just how prepared I was for the job of helping students with disabilities find their strengths and capitalize upon them. The Master’s in Special Education Program offered me answers to questions I didn’t even know to ask, and I count myself fortunate to have been able to learn from such a talented group of well-versed professionals.”


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San Luis Obispo, CA 93407