Educational Psychology

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Special education

Help all students get the support they need to succeed

Improve outcomes for individuals who require specialized support to achieve success throughout their lifespan. At the University of Minnesota, we are committed to engaging in meaningful research—and to bridging research and practice—to improve the lives of children and families in diverse contexts, and to have a lasting impact on teacher education, leadership, and policy.

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Programs and degrees

Graduate degrees

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Conduct research in special education and train other researchers and special educators.

Master's of Arts (MA)

Conduct research and work toward your PhD

Master's of Arts (MA) with an emphasis in applied behavioral analysis (ABA)

Prepare to become a board certified behavior analyst.

Undergraduate degrees

Choose from two tracks.

Bachelor's of Science (BS) with Academic Behavioral Strategist (ABS) licensure

Earn your bachelor's of science in special education and academic behavior strategist (ABS) teaching license in four years.

Bachelor’s of Science (BS): foundations of special education for schools and society

Gain expertise in the field of special education to expand its reach in schools and society. This degree does not lead to a teaching license.

Teaching degrees

Master's of Education/licensure (MEd)

Earn your MEd and become licensed to teach individuals with disabilities from birth to age 21.

Bachelor's of Science (BS) with Academic Behavioral Strategist (ABS) licensure

Earn your degree and teaching license in four years. Upon graduation, you'll be certified to teach students with mild-moderate disabilities in K-12 and 18-21 transition programs

Teaching licensures

Our Academic Behavior Strategist (ABS) license qualifies you to work with students with mild to moderate disabilities in the following areas:

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

We also offer core licenses which do not require an ABS license and allow for specialization in the following areas:

Professional certificate

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) certificate

Assist children and youth with ASD and their families. This program offers professional development opportunities for autism resource specialists, public and private social service agency staff, personnel at public and private schools, treatment facility personnel, and psychology and education professionals.


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


National Center for Leadership in Intensive Intervention (NCLII-2)

As the original NCLII finishes training 28 scholars around the country, a new consortium of seven universities, the National Center for Leadership in Intensive Intervention (NCLII-2), is now funded by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) to prepare a new group of special education leaders to become experts in research on intensive intervention for students with disabilities who have co-occurring, persistent and severe academic (e.g., reading and math) and behavioral difficulties. The project is currently recruiting applicants to begin doctoral study in special education in the fall of 2020. Funding covers tuition, a stipend, travel for professional conferences and meetings, as well as research related materials across the four year program.

Project PACT

Are you interested in a teaching license in Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH), academic and behavioral strategist (ABS), or cross collaboration between the two? Apply to Project PACT to get the funding you need to support your tuition throughout your graduate program!

Scholarships, fellowships and awards

Special education scholarships, fellowships, and awards

PhD only: Submit your application materials by December 1, and you’ll automatically be considered for Graduate School fellowships and departmental awards based on scholastic achievement. Notification of awards will be sent in March.

College of Education and Human Development awards

Financial aid

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



The Department of Educational Psychology is deeply committed to increasing the diversity of our undergraduate and graduate programs, of our teaching and learning, of our research and clinical practice, and of our outreach and service across fields of educational psychology. Visit our diversity page to learn more about our commitment to diversity and resources for supporting diversity and inclusion.

Alumni profile

"This program is what the education field needs to continue to open doors for educators that know and understand the job. Our program is putting teachers into the community that have a love, desire, and passion to be advocates for our sometimes marginalized students."

GinaMarie Theesfeld headshot.

GinaMarie Theesfeld, MEd '16 Special education teacher, Minneapolis Public Schools

Read more about GinaMarie's experience.

Faculty and staff

M.Y. Savana Bak headshot

M.Y. Savana Bak

  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Language and social communications
  • Early intensive behavior intervention
  • Special education
Janet Caven headshot

Janet Caven

  • 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 JohnsonInterim program coordinator | 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
Michelle Marchant-Wood headshot

Michelle Marchant-WoodLicensure and MEd coordinator

  • Positive behavior support
  • Social and emotional learning
  • Multi-tiered systems of support
  • Teacher pedagogy
  • Applied behavior analysis
Jennifer McComas headshot

Jennifer McComasHead special education MA with emphasis in ABA and emotional behavioral disorders licensure and MEd programs | 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
Scott McConnell headshot

Scott McConnell | 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
Kristen McMaster headshot

Kristen McMasterDepartment chair | Lab

Create conditions for successful response to intervention of academically diverse learners by:

  • Promoting teachers’ use of data-based decision-making and evidence-based instruction
  • Developing individualized interventions for students for whom generally effective instruction is not sufficient
Charissa O'Neill headshot

Charissa O'NeillField placement coordinator | Make an appointment

  • Diversity in teacher preparation programs
  • Early intervention
  • Inclusive classrooms
Laura Paczkowski headshot

Laura PaczkowskiAcademic advisor

  • Academic advising
Kathy Seifert headshot

Kathy SeifertDirector of undergraduate studies

  • Adult literacy
  • Effective teacher preparation
Frank Symons headshot

Frank SymonsCEHD Associate Dean for Research and Policy | Lab

  • Development, assessment, and treatment of severe problem behavior among children and adults with neurodevelopmental and emotional/behavioral disorders
  • Bio-behavior analysis of self-injurious behavior
  • Problem of pain among children and adults with significant cognitive impairments and associated developmental disabilities
  • Rett syndrome - refining measurement approaches to improve understanding of the behavioral phenotype
Rose Vukovic headshot

Rose Vukovic | Lab

  • Learning disorders
  • At-risk learners
  • Underserved populations
  • Early identification, intervention, and prevention
  • Social justice
Jason Wolff headshot

Jason WolffMcKnight Presidential Fellow, Autism Spectrum Disorder certificate coordinator | Lab

  • Early brain and behavioral development in children with autism spectrum disorder
  • Restricted and repetitive behaviors associated with autism and other developmental disabilities
  • Identifying neurodevelopmental moderators of response to early intervention
  • Integrating neuroscience with special education research