Early Childhood Special Education teaching licensure and M.Ed.

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Early childhood special education
teaching licensure and M.Ed.

kids play outside New Hope Learning Center
Assistant professor LeAnne Johnson and her students are simplifying the way early educators collect and analyze data to help kids with and without emotional and behavioral challenges succeed in school. Read more.

Help young children with developmental delays and disabilities succeed

In the early childhood special education (ECSE) program, you'll prepare to teach young children, birth through age six, with a variety of developmental delays and disabilities. You'll leave the program with the skills to: identify the need for early intervention, provide research-based services to children and their families in their home, school, and community settings, and, ultimately, help children and families successfully transition to kindergarten.

Rated #5 in the nation among special education graduate programs by U.S. News & World Report in 2018


Graduates of the ECSE licensure program:

  • Teach in preschool classrooms
  • Provide in-home service to children and their families
  • Collaborate with regular classroom teachers, related service providers, and evaluation team members
  • Deliver high quality, effective services to to children from birth through age six with wide variety of needs (e.g., developmental delays, physical or health impairments, autism) and from a variety of cultural, linguistic and socio-economic backgrounds


All classes are offered in the evening to allow students to maintain full time employment while completing course requirements. Most courses are taught in person on the Minneapolis campus. Some online classes are available.

The ECSE licensure program with a M.Ed. in Special Education requires the completion of about 45 credits. For completion of a M.Ed. only without licensure, 30 credits are required, with opportunities to select courses suited to your interests. Your total number of required credits may vary based on previous educational experience or areas of licensure.

Download a sample plan of an ESCE course schedule.
Note: This plan is an example only. You'll work with your advisor to develop a couse schedule specific to your needs.

Required courses for M.Ed. (2 credits)

  • EPSY 5690 – Experimental Teaching Seminar: M.Ed. Culminating Project (2cr)

Core courses (16 credits)

  • EPSY 5613 – Foundations of Special Education (3cr)
  • EPSY 5609 – Family-Centered Services (2cr)
  • EPSY 5614 – Assessment and Due Process in Special Education (3cr)
  • EPSY 5616 – Classroom Management and Behavior Analytic Problem Solving (3cr)
  • EPsy 5631 – Module 1: Introduction to Augmentative and Alternative Communication (1cr)
  • EPSY 5618 – Specialized Interventions for Students with Mild/Moderate Disabilities in Reading and Written Expression (3cr)
  • EPSY 5705 – Practicum in ECSE / Elementary Settings (1cr)

Required ECSE licensure courses (14 credits)

  • EPsy 5625 – Education of Infants, Toddlers, and Preschool Children with Disabilities: Introduction (2cr)
  • EPsy 5681 – Education of Preschool Children With Disabilities: Methods and Materials (3cr)
  • EPsy 5682 – Education of Infants and Toddlers With Disabilities: Methods and Materials (3cr)
  • EPsy 5761 – Student Teaching in Early Childhood Special Education Settings for Children Aged Three to Five Years (3cr)
  • EPsy 5762 – Student Teaching in Early Childhood Special Education for Children Aged Birth to Three Years (3cr)

"My experience in the Early Childhood Special Education program was extremely beneficial for my professional development. I found the faculty and staff in the department to be extremely helpful and the program itself prepared me well for a career as a licensed ECSE teacher."

Lauren Matysik headshot

Lauren MatysikAlumna, ECSE Infant/Toddler Teacher
Osseo Area School District


LeAnne Johnson headshot

LeAnne JohnsonEarly childhood special education licensure & M.Ed. coordinator
chaf0032@umn.edu | Lab

  • Motivating and engaging adults in the adoption and implementation of interventions that improve the quality and quantity of learning opportunities available to young children with challenging behavior
  • Closing the research to practice gap and speeding the adoption of new innovations into practice by improving professional development systems
  • Enhancing data driven, precision oriented, problem solving through new tools for monitoring children’s development and response to intervention
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of interventions addressing the social and communication needs of young children with Autism and emotional/behavioral disorders
Scott McConnell headshot

Scott McConnellsmcconne@umn.edu | Lab

  • Skills and competencies that enable pre-school aged children to learn and participate in school and other settings
  • Design, evaluation, and application of:
  • Easy-to-use tools for describing children’s current language, literacy, and other important skills
  • Interventions that support development of these skills, particularly in “non specialized” settings
  • Design and improvement of programs – from classroom efforts to comprehensive community-wide efforts – that help children of all ages develop fully


ESCE program advisor

Paul Edwards


Program contact

Alicia Vegell, program staff special education



University contacts

Disability Services