Early Childhood Special Education teaching licensure and MEd

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Early childhood special education
teaching licensure and MEd

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.

Rated #9 in the nation among special education graduate programs by U.S. News & World Report in 2020

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.

Note: The ECSE program has extended its fall 2020 deadline to July 15. Applicants will be notified of decisions by August 1.

Watch a replay of an info session on the program.


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 MEd in Special Education requires the completion of about 45 credits. For completion of a MEd 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.

Required ECSE licensure courses (47 credits)

  • CI 5645 – Methods for Teaching English Learners (3 credits)
  • MTHE 5355 – Mathematics for Diverse Learners (3 credits) or EPSY 5619: Specialized Interventions for Students with Mild to Moderate Disabilities in Mathematics (3 credits)
  • EPSY 5609 – Family-Centered Services (3 credits)
  • EPSY 5613 – Foundations of Special Education (3 credits)
  • EPSY 5614 – Assessment and Due Process in Special Education (3 credits)
  • EPSY 5616 – Classroom Management and Behavior Analytic Problem Solving (3 credits)
  • EPSY 5618 – Specialized Interventions for Students with Mild/Moderate Disabilities in Reading and Written Language (3 credits)
  • EPSY 5625 – Education of Infants, Toddlers, and Preschool Children with Disabilities: Introduction (2 credits)
  • EPSY 5631 – Module 1: Introduction to Augmentative and Alternative Communication (1 credits)
  • EPSY 5681 – Education of Preschool Children with Disabilities: Methods and Materials (3 credits)
  • EPSY 5682 – Education of infants and Toddlers with Disabilities: Methods and Materials (1 credit)
  • EPSY 5705 – Practicum in ECSE / Elementary settings (1 credits)
  • EPSY 5761 – Student Teaching in Early Childhood Special Education for Children Aged Three to Five Years (3 credits)
  • EPSY 5762 – Student Teaching in Early Childhood Special Education for Children Aged Birth to Three Years (3 credits)

Common content courses (7.5 credits)

These courses are required for all College of Education and Human Development initial teaching licensures and degrees.

  • OLPD 5005 – School and Society (2 credits)
  • OLPD 5009 – Human Relations (1 credit)
  • CI 5307 – Technology (1.5 credits)
  • EPsy 5001 – Learning Cognition and Assessment (3 credits)

Option to add an autism spectrum disorder certificate

As a student in the ECSE program, you have the option to add an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) certificate to your licensure and/or degree. The specialized training you’ll receive related to assessment and treatment practices for children with ASD will lead to a certificate in ASD. With your ECSE MEd and ASD certificate in hand, you’ll be equipped to facilitate early identification and intervention for toddlers and preschoolers with ASD. These skills will make you a valuable addition to any ECSE program.

Download a sample plan of the ECSE course schedule with an option to add an ASD certificate.


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


Scholarships, fellowships and awards

Special education scholarships, fellowships, and awards

College of Education and Human Development awards

Financial aid

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

"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 JohnsonInterim program 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 descreditsibing 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
Laura Paczkowski headshot

Laura PaczkowskiAcademic advisor

  • Academic advising
Brenna Rudolph headshot

Brenna RudolphECSE coordinator, lecturer


Program contact

Alicia Vegell

Program staff special education

acvegell@umn.edu | 612-626-0367

Laura Paczkowski

Academic advisor


University contacts

Disability Services