Special education MEd and teacher licensures

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Special education MEd
and teacher licensures

Learn from leaders in the field of special education

Learn the art and science of teaching special education for young people from birth to age 21. At the University of Minnesota, we are D-R-I-V-E-N to to prepare the next generation of scientist-practitioners to be:

  • Data-based collaborators who deliver
  • Robust, rigorous, relentless instruction to address
  • Individual differences and needs, adding
  • Value to student outcomes using
  • Evidence-based practices and believing
  • No problem is unsolvable

Our program is designed by leaders in the field of special education who train our teacher candidates, using the IDEAL Problem Solving Model to:

  1. Identify the problem
  2. Define the problem
  3. Explore alternative solutions
  4. Apply solutions
  5. Look at the effects of solutions

Attend an upcoming info session

Join us for information on the Department of Educational Psychology's special education MEd/licensure, minor for master's students, and online ASD certificate.

March 28

5 to 6 p.m., Central

Register for Zoom link

Become a special education teacher

If you already hold a bachelor's degree, you may choose to just pursue a teaching license or a teaching license with a master of education (MEd) degree. Most of our students choose to obtain their MEd at the same time as their license. However, those who already hold a Minnesota teaching license may obtain a teaching license in another area in fewer credits. Most still see a benefit to also obtaining an MEd degree if they do not already hold a masters degree.

Most of our graduate classes are offered in the evenings, with several offered fully online, to allow many students to continue to work while enrolled.

MEd degree requirements

A minimum of 30 credits are required for completion of the MEd degree. If the MEd is being combined with an initial teaching license, all degree requirements are included in the licensure requirements. If the MEd is being combined with an additional license for someone who already holds a teaching license, depending on the licensure you choose, an additional 8 - 17 credits may be required, including a final paper/project. Prior equivalent coursework may be substituted for some degree requirements (maximum of 12 credits). You and your advisor will review specific requirements once you are admitted.

Licensure requirements

Course requirements vary by licensure program. Depending on the licensure you choose and whether or not this is your first Minnesota teaching license, 38-54.5 credits may be required. You and your advisor will review specific requirements once you are admitted.

Available teaching licensures

Academic and Behavior Strategist (ABS) teaching licensure

The ABS license program leads to eligibility to obtain an initial teaching license or an additional license added to another teaching license to expand the age range and/or types of students a teacher is licensed to teach. An ABS license qualifies you to work with students in K-12 schools or age 18-21 transition programs who may have a broad range of mild to moderate disabilities in the following areas:

  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Developmental disabilities
  • Emotional and behavioral Disorders
  • Learning disabilities
  • Other health disparities

Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) teaching licensure

In the DHH program, you'll receive the training you need to teach students, birth through age 21, with diverse backgrounds and hearing levels. Our graduates earn the qualifications needed to apply for licensure in the state of Minnesota as an initial or additional license and the skills needed to improve education of Deaf and Hard of Hearing students and their families. You’ll leave the program ready to incorporate best practices into teaching, help students develop their identities, and promote respect and equity for ASL/English and cultural diversity.

Early childhood special education (ECSE) teaching licensure

Help young children with developmental delays and disabilities succeed. In the ECSE program, you'll prepare to teach young children, birth through age six, with a variety of developmental delays and disabilities. This program leads to eligibility to obtain an ECSE license as either an initial teaching license or an additional license added to another teaching license to expand the age range and/or types of students a teacher is licensed to teach. 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.

Minor and certificate

Special education minor for master's students

Complement your master’s degree with the knowledge and skills to improve the way your field supports people with disabilities by earning a graduate minor in special education.

Students wishing to pursue this graduate minor must be currently enrolled in a graduate degree program at the University of Minnesota. Students with an educational psychology major may elect a minor in special education, but no courses may count for both the major and the minor.

Add an online autism spectrum disorder certificate

Help young people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families. The now fully online ASD certificate program helps educational professionals gain additional expert knowledge and skills for working with individuals with ASD from birth to age 21. While the program does not prepare you to be a licensed teacher in the field of ASD, it does provide a focused set of expertise and an additional credential that may be embedded into other teacher licensure or MEd degree programs with minimal additional coursework.


Visit the College of Education and Human Development's Finance and Funding page for information on tuition.


Project I-LEAD

Project I-LEAD helps fund future special educators or school psychologists interested in supporting students with severe learning disabilities in schools. Get more information on Project I-LEAD.

Scholarships, fellowships and awards

Special education scholarships, fellowships, and awards

College of Education and Human Development awards

TEACH Grants

TEACH Grants are part of a federal program to provide financial support to students who will teach in a high need area at a low-income school for at least four years. Application information is available from Onestop on their grants and waivers page.

Financial aid

Visit OneStop Student Services for more information on available financial aid.

Yakira Moore headshot
The College of Education and Human Development is a community where the staff are knowledgeable, experts within their fields, and provide real life classroom situations. The individuals within CEHD will selflessly make themselves available to you in order to help you succeed and go far. This is how I knew that this was the perfect program for me.

Yakira Moore
ECSE and DHH program alumni


For general questions, contact sped-adm@umn.edu

Janet Caven headshot

Janet Caven Teaching specialist

  • Language and literacy development in learners who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
  • Effective teaching preparation to meet the needs of diverse learners using differentiated instruction and assessment
Debbie Golos headshot

Debbie Golos Deaf/Hard of Hearing licensure and MEd coordinator

  • Developing and evaluating the effects of educational media in ASL on young deaf and hearing children's language and literacy skills
  • Examining the portrayal of deafness in media and literature from a cultural perspective and it's effects on children's identity development
  • Exploring alternative routes to literacy development, that meet the needs of visual learners, particularly deaf children

Rob Henery head shot

Robert HeneryLecturer

  • Preparing teachers to:
    • Meet behavioral challenges in schools
    • Take on leadership roles in schools and districts
  • Prejudice and stereotyping in school settings
  • Stimulus equivalence
  • Teacher preparation
LeAnne Johnson headshot

LeAnne JohnsonSpecial education program coordinator
leannej@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

Amy Kunkel head shot

Amy KunkelAssistant teaching professor, special education licensure coordinator, ABS program lead

  • Effective preparation of future teachers of special and general education
  • Use of technology to augment learning and academic intervention
  • Dissemination of effective practices through teaching and meta-analysis of educational research
  • Functional assessment of behavior to fully support student engagement and communication
  • Multi-tiered systems of support and data-based decision making in K-12 education
Jennifer McComas headshot

Jennifer McComasSpecial education MA with emphasis in ABA coordinator
jmccomas@umn.edu | Lab

  • Functional analysis of problem behavior in educational and residential settings
  • Basic behavioral processes maintaining desirable and undesirable behavior, such as schedules of reinforcement, stimulus control, and establishing operations
  • Behavioral treatment of problem behavior based on concurrent schedules of reinforcement as well as antecedent stimuli
  • Analysis of academic performance of students with behavior problems
Laura Paczkowski headshot

Laura PaczkowskiAcademic advisor

Brenna Rudolph headshot

Brenna RudolphEarly childhood special education coordinator, lecturer

Kathy Seifert headshot

Kathy SeifertDirector of undergraduate studies, senior lecturer

  • Adolescent literacy
  • Effective teacher preparation