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University of Canterbury
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Master of Specialist Teaching

This course is available

On-Campus, Online

Level of Study

Master's Degree


12 months

Next start date

Expected Feb 2023


University of Canterbury


The Specialist Teaching programme is relevant for educators working with children and learners who have special educational needs in early childhood, primary, and secondary sectors.

The programme is coursework-based, meaning it is ideal for educators who aim to provide professional leadership in their area of expertise but who do not wish to undertake a thesis. The Master of Specialist Teaching (MSpecTchg) employs a mix of distance and blended learning delivery options that provide flexibility for all students, regardless of location.

The degree can be awarded unendorsed, or endorsed in one of four areas. Graduates will gain a comprehensive understanding of their selected specialism, and will have the expertise, knowledge, interdisciplinary networks, and strategies to provide innovative approaches to meet children’s and learners’ special education needs in their workplace.

The MSpecTchg consists of two parts. In Part I, students complete one compulsory core theory and foundations course (30 points), and three compulsory courses (90 points) from one of the endorsement schedules. Each endorsement includes:

  • one specialist theory and foundations course
  • one professional practice course (including practical assignments)
  • one extended practicum course including experience in specialty practice settings.

On satisfactory completion of Part I with a B grade average or higher, students will be eligible to progress to Part II.

Part II consists of two 30-point courses, one chosen from three courses, and one optional course. Part II can be completed by distance study.

The degree can be awarded unendorsed, or endorsed in one of four areas:

  • Complex Educational Needs
  • Deaf and Hard of Hearing
  • Early Intervention
  • Learning and Behaviour

Career Opportunities

Postgraduate study can bring many career benefits, such as specialist skills and enhanced knowledge, possible into specific occupations, higher starting salary/progression rates, research capability/achievement, and evidence of high academic attainment/self-discipline.

Entry criteria

Students wishing to enrol in the Master of Specialist Teaching must have:

  • qualified for an Aotearoa New Zealand teacher education degree, or qualified for a recognised three-year diploma in early childhood, primary, or secondary teaching in Aotearoa, with at least a B Grade Point Average in their 300-level courses; and
  • hold current teacher registration in Aotearoa (not a requirement for the Early Intervention endorsement); and
  • normally acquired at least two years experience as a teacher or educator in a recognised educational, workplace, or community setting.

Students must be approved to enrol by the Dean of Education and Health Sciences. The relevance and standard of undergraduate studies and any subsequent professional work experience are the main criteria of approval.

Students who do not hold current Aotearoa New Zealand Professional Registration will be required to undergo police vetting prior to gaining entry into the programme. They must meet requirements equivalent to those set down by Teaching Council of New Zealand for registration as a teacher in terms of character and fitness to be a teacher.

Applicants must also satisfy our English language entry requirements:

  • IELTS (Academic): Minimum overall score of 6.5, with a minimum of 6.0 in reading, writing, listening and speaking.
  • TOEFL (IBT): Minimum overall score of 90, with a minimum score of 19 in Reading, Listening and Writing.
  • PTE (Pearson Test of English - Academic): Overall score of 58 and no communicative skills score below 50.

Application deadline: At least 6 months before the planned start date.

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