February 23, 2022

Bowie State Steps Up to Fill the Need for Education Leaders

Tuition Free Special Education Master’s Degree Program Takes Off

Bowie State Steps Up to Fill the Need for Education Leaders


MEDIA CONTACT: David Thompson, dlthompson@bowiestate.edu, 301-860-4311

(BOWIE, Md.) – It’s always been more difficult to hire and retain special education teachers, but thanks to a new program launched this year at Bowie State University students pursuing master’s degrees in special education can complete the degree tuition free.

The first 14 graduate students enrolled in the program this semester at BSU to earn a master’s degree in special education at no charge through a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education and the Special Education Support Services (Project SES).  Bowie State’s special education and school psychology programs collaborate to infuse skills from both areas into the program to fully develop special education leaders.

The project is attracting interest from educators from across the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Applications are now open for fall 2022 enrollment.

“The need for special education professionals is unrelenting and to my knowledge, there is not another college or university in the area where you can earn an advanced degree in special education for free,” said Dr. William Drakeford, associate professor, BSU Department of Teaching, Learning, and Professional Development (TLPD).  “Bowie State is positioned to help fill the void in special education teachers and administrators through our SES program.”

School districts across the DMV all need more special education teachers due to high rates of burnout and teachers retiring from the profession.  Out of more than 1,000 teaching certificates issued in Maryland last year, only 45 were for special education.

During the 2019 – 2020 school year, 14% or 7.3 million public school students nationwide received some type of special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), according to the National Center for Education Statistics.  In Maryland, approximately 12.5% of students received special education services, compared to 13.6 % and 16.2% of students in Virginia and the District of Columbia.

“Our SES program, in conjunction with the Culturally Effective Administrators of Special Education (Project Increase), enables us to attract, train, and prepare teachers for leadership positions as superintendents, principals, curriculum developers, and other administrative roles,” said Drakeford. “Ultimately, children with special education needs and their parents will benefit from the intersection of these two programs.”

Educational leadership and special education program administrators at Bowie State work together through Project Increase to train teachers to become the next generation of public school administrators, while Project SES relies on synergies from the university’s special education and school psychology programs to replicate what occurs in classrooms such as parent teacher conferences and other activities.  Both projects are funded at $1.2 million for the next five years by the U.S. Department of Education.

“Our goal is to dramatically increase the number of students in Project SES and Project Increase for Fall Semester 2022 and each year thereafter,” said. Drakeford.  “We want students to understand the importance of an advanced degree in special education and that the place to earn it is here at Bowie State”.


About Bowie State University
Bowie State University (BSU) is an important higher education access portal for qualified persons from diverse academic and socioeconomic backgrounds, seeking a high-quality and affordable public comprehensive university. The university places special emphasis on the science, technology, cybersecurity, teacher education, business, and nursing disciplines within the context of a liberal arts education. For more information about BSU, visit bowiestate.edu.