Welcome from ESC

Chair of the ESC Department Laura Fredrick

Laura Fredrick, Chair of the Educational Psychology, Special Education, and Communication Sciences Disorders Department.

The Department of Educational Psychology, Special Education, and Communication Disorders is a unit of the College of Education & Human Development at Georgia State University, which is a member of the University System of Georgia. Our theme is Leadership and Scholarship Focused on Learning and Development. Georgia State University is one of the four institutions of higher education designated as research universities by the University System of Georgia. Georgia State is classified as a Doctoral/Research University: Extensive under the Carnegie classification of institutions of higher education.

The department has a strong record of teaching, research and service. In 1998, the department received the Regents Teaching Excellence Award from the University System of Georgia, which is a reflection of its strong commitment to graduate education. The department has a continuous record of significant levels of external funding for research and service projects, including grants from the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institutes for Health. Members of the department work closely with national and state professional organizations as well as with government agencies at all levels.

If you’re seeking preparation for a career in teaching, as a speech-language clinician, or in research, our department offers high quality programs in the context of a dynamic urban environment. Thank you for your interest in our programs.

When the College of Education & Human Development was reorganized during the 1993-1994 academic year, the former Department of Special Education and the Educational Psychology program in the former Department of Educational Foundations were merged to form the Department of Educational Psychology and Special Education (EPSE).

On July 1, 2014, the department was renamed the Department of Educational Psychology, Special Education, and Communication Disorders (ESC) to reflect all three major program areas in its purview.

Special Education

The first degrees in special education were offered by the Department of Education in the School of Arts and Sciences. They were a bachelor’s degree in 1965 and a M.Ed. degree in 1966, both in mental retardation. In 1968 the Department of Special Education was created and an undergraduate degree in Deaf Education was added. With the beginning of the AY 1969-70 Behavior Disorders and Learning Disabilities were added to the M.Ed. offerings, and both an Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) and a Doctoral (Ph.D.) degree in Special Education were created. In subsequent years additional offerings were added: 1971 M.Ed. in Hearing Impairments, 1974 M.Ed. programs in Early Childhood Special Education, Speech Pathology, and Interrelated Special Education; 1975 M.Ed. in gifted education, 1976 M.Ed. in Multihandicapped (Moderate/Severe Handicaps). By the end of the 1970s there were 16 full-time faculty members in Special Education. The bachelor’s degree programs were deactivated in Fall 1994 and discontinued in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2006 students were no longer accepted into the Ed. S. program due to declines in enrollment and a desire to focus on doctoral training.

Communication Sciences and Disorders

The Communication Sciences and Disorders Program began with a single faculty member in 1974; there were two in 1979. From its inception the program has offered the M.Ed. degree in Speech-Language Pathology. The program continued to grow and received national accreditation in 1993 by ASHA. The ongoing shortage of speech-language pathologists throughout Georgia and the country ensures both a large applicant pool and a 100 percent employment rate for graduates.

Educational Psychology

The study of Educational Psychology at Georgia State dates back more than 70 years. In 1933, three courses in Educational Psychology were offered, including an introductory course, a course in measurement, and a course on intelligence testing. Various courses in educational psychology were offered in the 1940s and 1950s and in 1957 Educational Psychology courses were moved to the newly formed Department of Education. From 1966 to 1970 there was a Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology; however in 1970, Educational Psychology moved to the newly formed Department of Educational Foundations. Course offerings led to the master’s and doctoral degrees. During the 1970s, course offerings included foci on urban education, applied behavior analysis, and cognition and social learning. By 1979, the Educational Psychology program had 10 full-time faculty and offered graduate coursework in life-span human development, information processing, applied behavior analysis, and social psychology of education.

Organizationally, the Department of Educational Psychology, Special Education, and Communication Disorders is divided into four program areas: Behavior and learning disabilities (BLD), communication disorders (CD), educational psychology (EPY), and multiple and severe disabilities (MSD). All of the department’s degree programs are at the graduate level and all teaching certification programs are approved by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). Some initial certification programs are available for persons who already hold an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university.

The NCATE-accredited BLD program in special education offers initial certification (IC), master’s degree (M.Ed.), and doctoral degree (Ph.D.) options for students. The program focuses on mild disabilities, including behavior disorders, learning disabilities, and mild intellectual disability. Initial certification is in interrelated special education, which is cross categorical and subsumes all three disability areas referred to above. Special education certification through an accredited college or university program is a prerequisite for entry into the M.Ed. program. Special education certification, a M.Ed. degree in special education and three years of in-field, classroom teaching experience are prerequisites for entry into the Ph.D. program.

The CD program is nationally accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA) and offers certification and licensure in speech-language pathology through its M.Ed. degree program. This program usually requires students to be enrolled full-time. In addition to the program of classroom study, extensive clinical work is required. Students are accepted for summer or fall semester admission only and the selection process is highly competitive. Applicants with an undergraduate degree in an area other than communication disorders will be considered for admission.

The EPY program offers individually tailored programs to meet students’ interests in the areas of cognition, learning, and development. The program at both the M.S. and Ph.D. levels has a strong emphasis on research. The Ph.D. program is primarily focused on preparing persons for teaching and research careers in colleges and universities.

The NCATE-accredited MSD Program in special education offers initial certification (IC), master’s degree (M.Ed.), and doctoral degree (Ph.D.) options for students. The program focuses on more serious disabilities, including sensory disabilities, orthopedic disabilities, autism, intellectual disabilities, and special needs in early childhood. Initial certification may be in any of the disability areas referred to above. An undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university is a prerequisite for entry into the M.Ed. program leading to initial certification in special education. Special education certification, a M.Ed. degree in special education and three years of in-field, classroom teaching experience are prerequisites for entry into the Ph.D. program.

We invite you to join us as a student in one of the most dynamic departments at the University and in the state of Georgia. We provide our students with excellent preparation for many careers in education. We strive to build constructive and professional relationships with our students, who we consider to be future colleagues in the educational enterprises so important to our society.

  • An initial meeting at which you will receive a detailed handbook, which covers the steps in acquiring a degree or certification in our programs.
  • An ESC faculty member provides you with an overview of the program requirements and answers questions.
  • You will then meet individually with a faculty advisor and plan a program of study, which is signed by you, the faculty advisor and the department chairperson.
  • You will also receive support and encouragement for professional development from our faculty.

Our faculty members are involved in a broad range of activities including:

  • The Coalition for the Study of Adult Literacy is currently conducting a large NIH funded research project on different approaches to teaching adult learners how to read better.
  • The Georgia Sensory Assistance Project provides technical assistance to children and youth with deaf-blindness from birth through 21 years of age and to their families and service providers.
  • The Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic, which provides clinical services to the university and public community.
  • Two assistive technology labs, with one assistive technology lab specializing in physical and learning impairments and the second lab specializing in sensory impairments, augmentative communication and daily living skills.

Application or admission questions should be directed to the Office of Academic Assistance for the College of Education & Human Development at 404-413-8000. For more information about our department and programs, please contact Sandy Vaughn at 404-413-8318.