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Mason’s Advanced Studies in Teaching and Learning (ASTL) diversity and exceptionality in PK–12 schools concentration joins graduate courses in special education, gifted education, and additional language learning.

This concentration is designed for general education teachers who seek to enhance their professional knowledge and skills in relation to students with disabilities, students who demonstrate advanced capabilities in various domains, and English learners.

What are the Benefits of this Concentration?

Classrooms are locations of great diversity in terms of student abilities, perspectives, languages, cultural identifications, and creativities (among many others). Understanding how to recognize and build on the strengths and opportunities present in today’s classrooms is paramount. The ASTL concentration in diversity and exceptionality in PK–12 schools focuses on three of these opportunities present in almost every classroom by aiding teachers in strengthening their knowledge, understandings, and skills around students with dis/abilities, gifted students, and English learners (as well as those who represent two or more of these distinctions). The concentration provides teachers the opportunity to examine their schools and classrooms as sites of diverse and exceptional learning to ensure stronger educational experiences for all students in the general education setting.

Where Will This Concentration Take You?

  • The broad, research-based knowledge students acquire through the concentration positions them to become leaders in instruction development for all students.
  • Graduates grow their careers with the advantages of a master’s degree, including the possibility of increased pay and opportunities to be curriculum leaders at their schools.
  • Aligned with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, the courses help teachers think and practice with the same level of reflection and skill as Board-certified educators (a great next step after graduating!).

Who Should Apply?

Educators holding a bachelor's degree with or without a master's degree may apply for the full master's degree program, which includes 12 credits of core education courses and 18 credits of courses chosen with support from a Mason advisor. The diversity and exceptionality concentration is especially suited for general education teachers whose classrooms are diverse learning spaces. This is not an initial licensure program.

Can I Use Graduate Credits from Other Universities to Reduce my Course Load?

Possibly! University policy allows for up to 12 credits (depending on the program) that have not been previously used to complete a degree to be transferred from another accredited graduate program. Consultation with an ASTL advisor is necessary to determine if and which courses may be acceptable to a specific concentration. The literacy: K-12 reading specialist concentration does not allow for substitutions. Substitutions cannot be made for the five core courses of the ASTL program (EDUC 612, EDUC 613, EDUC 614, EDUC 606, EDUC 615). Course work that is older than six years will not be accepted, even if the courses were taken at Mason.