Special Education - specialization in intellectual disability

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Master's degree in Special Education with specialization in intellectual disability

Head of Program: Prof. Hefziba Lifshitz

Email: hefziba.lifshitz@biu.ac.il

According to the new special education law, it is within each parents' rights to choose the school in which their child studies. Thus, special needs populations such as students with developmental and intellectual disabilities will attend regular school systems.

The UN Convention on Human Rights (2006) states: "[countries] shall ensure an inclusive education system at all levels and lifelong learning directed to the development by persons with disabilities of their personality, talents and creativity, as well as their mental and physical abilities, to their fullest potential".

Bar-Ilan University's Special Education with specialization in intellectual disability program is designed to do just that- highlight those inherent abilities in all people with severe or borderline intellectual disability.

Our students are professionals from the field of education, social work, and paramedical fields who are taught the theoretical and empirical information on the abilities of people with intellectual disability. Our program covers subjects such as language and thinking of people with disabilities, diagnosis of reading difficulties and development of intervention programs, social and emotional problems, autism, etc. and integrates knowledge from the fields of education, genetics, and neuroscience relevant to the field of intellectual disability. Our graduates go on to serve in key positions in the system of mental disabilities, including professional training and management positions.


Framework of studies

The program comprises of theoretical courses that include: retention and compensation mechanisms present in the intellectual disability population, syndromes, brain and cognition, memory disorders, socio-emotional functioning and neurological aspects of lingual-communicative and autism. The specialization also includes 3 practicum courses - a unique experience in working with children and adults with intellectual disabilities (all within the university walls):

  • "Otzmot" project - Academic enrichment for adults with developmental intellectual disability
  • "Baker Center" - Imparting an e-book story to young children with intellectual disabilities
  • Identification of reading difficulties in the population with intellectual disability


Our program is built for the following professionals: Teachers, educational counselors, preschool teachers, psychologists, speech therapists, and graduates of a bachelor's degree of all programs in the humanities and social sciences. Prior experience with special education is not a requirement.


Click to see the curriculum for the 2019-2020 academic year (1st year) (Hebrew)

Click to see the curriculum for the 2019-2020 academic year (2nd year)(Hebrew)


For students accepted for the 2019-2020 academic year, the program is taught over 2 years (4 semesters). Studies during the first year are on Thursdays and the second year on Sundays.

There may be changes in the curriculum and study days from academic year to academic year.


Study Tracks

Track A – Master's degree with thesis (18 course credits)*

Track B – Master's degree without a thesis (22 course credits)

*Students studying in track A have the possibility of obtaining a research grant of 7,000 NIS from the "Keren Fund" according to the criteria appearing on the fund's website. Details can be found at Prof. Lifshitz.

Opening the program depends on the number of registrants.


Admission requirements

  • Applicants must be bachelor's degree graduates in special education or similar fields (e.g. psychology, brain science, behavioral sciences, etc.) with an average grade of 85 or above from an accredited university or college
  • Experience preferred in education or special education
  • Provide recommendations- an academic recommendation and a letter of recommendation from an employer
  • Pass a personal interview


Application Process

  1. Registration online on the Bar-Ilan University website
  2. Two recommendations must be sent – a letter of recommendation from an employer and an academic recommendation (students who completed their degree requirements beyond the two year period can instead submit two letters of recommendation letters from an employer).
    1. Academic recommendation form (Hebrew) - Recommendations from a lecturer in an academic course (preferably a seminar course)
    2. Letter of recommendation from an employer (Hebrew) - Recommendation from a professional who knows the candidate from field experience.

The recommendations must arrive at the School of Education, the secretariat for M.A. studies directly from the person providing the recommendation and not from the applicant.

(Applicants must note their personal details on the back of the recommendation forms which the recommenders fill out)


Applications can be sent in the following formats:

Secretariat e-mail: Toar2.Edu@biu.ac.il

Secretariat fax: 03-738-4123

Mail: Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, 5290002, School of Education, M.A. studies

After registering, the following documents must be sent to the M.A. Committee office:

  • Graduation certificate – official and original (should include the stamp of the accredited university or establishment, signature, and establishment logo)
  • An updated curriculum vida (CV)
  • Photograph of Israeli identity card (Te'udat Zehut)
  • A passport picture


An invitation to an interview is dependent on the completion of registration and confirmation of receiving the abovementioned forms by the university.

Applicants who are eligible will be invited to an interview

The above mentioned are the minimum requirements and do not guarantee acceptance


For more information, please refer to the program secretariat: meytal.goldberger@biu.ac.il

Tel: 03-531-8456

Fax: 03-738-4123

Telephone reception hours Sunday through Thursday: 10: 30-11: 30 and 13: 30-14: 30

Reception hours on Sunday, Wednesday between the hours of 11: 30-14: 00 and on Mondays, Thursdays between 8:30 and 10:30.

On Tuesdays, there is no reception