Master's Degree Programs

MEd in Special Education

Special Education, MEd with Licensure Options

The need for special education teachers is urgent, especially in urban areas including Chicagoland.  Research findings indicate that a shortage of special education teachers disproportionately affects minority students, particularly in urban school districts like Chicago that have large majorities African American and Latino students. These minority students are placed in special education programs at a disproportionately higher rate than students of other ethnicities.  Join UIC educators in our quest to ensure that every student, particularly those in urban schools, receives access to an inclusive education that fosters social and academic growth and prepares students for a successful transition out of school services.  Students in the MEd Special Education program also have unique access to the SPEDUCATORS Network to engage with fellow students and alumni in career and social opportunities.

Numerous federal funding opportunities are available to current special educators with their full LBS1 (ages 5 - 21) who would like to pursue learning advanced knowledge and seeking leadership opportunities by earning the IL Learning Behavior Specialist 2 endorsement(s) in six ISBE-approved specialist areas.

All students may be eligible for the Illinois Special Education Teacher Tuition Waiver.

The MEd Special Education program welcomes four different groups of students:

  1. Students entirely new to the teaching profession, who seek both teacher licensure and the Illinois Learning Behavior Specialist 1 endorsement
  2. Students who are currently licensed teachers but new to special education and seek the Illinois Learning Behavior Specialist 1 endorsement
  3. Students who are currently licensed special education teachers who hold a Learning Behavior Specialist 1 endorsement and seek Illinois Learning Behavior Specialist 2 endorsement(s)
  4. Students seeking new knowledge about special education but who are not interested in teacher licensure or Illinois endorsements

The Illinois Learning Behavior Specialist 1 endorsement enables teachers to work with students with a wide range of disabilities, ages 5 – 21, in several instructional delivery models that include teaching in inclusionary settings through consultation and collaborative teaching, and with small groups and in small class settings.

Illinois Learning Behavior Specialist 2 endorsements enable current special educators holding the LBS1 endorsement to become a specialist in 6 IL-approved areas:  Assistive Technology Specialist, Behavior Intervention Specialist, Bilingual Special Education Specialist, Curriculum Adaptation Specialist, Multiple Disability Specialist and Transition Specialist.

  • Assistive Technology Specialist - Support students through use of a wide range of state-of-the-art Assistive Technology clinical services.
  • Behavior Intervention Specialist - Support all students with challenging behaviors that may occur across multiple settings and concurrent with a range of other disabilities.
  • Bilingual Specialist - Support all students who are English language learners (ELLs) and who may also have disabilities (currently not accepting students for this endorsement).
  • Curriculum Adaptation Specialist - Support students by learning best practices to differentiate instruction for students with academic and behavioral support needs.
  • Multiple Disabilities Specialist - Support students with physical and intellectual disabilities and families to enhance the quality of life; interface with agencies, families and related personnel.
  • Transition Specialist - Support students and families to improve school outcomes; interface with community organizations and agencies.

In addition, students interested in pursuing the Illinois Special Education/ Early Childhood approval to work with children ages birth to 5, can do so as part of a MEd program.  Alternately, students can take the four courses for the approval through the UIC Extended Campus.  This endorsement qualifies teachers with a Type 04 certificate to teach children with disabilities from birth to age 5, and qualifies teachers with an LBS I certificate to teach children with special needs, ages 3 through 5.  For more information on this approval, contact Alex Cantero at 312-995-5650 or acante2@uic.edu.

For more information on this program, sign up for our email list below, review degree requirements, submit a question to program advisor Ana Valenta at agarci5@uic.edu or contact the Office of Student Services at 312-996-4532.  Ready to apply?  Start the application process now.

Degree Requirements

The MEd Special Education program offers degrees for four distinct groups of students:

1. Those who are completely new to the career of teaching
2. Those who are currently licensed teachers but are new to special education
3. Those who are currently licensed special education teachers who seek advanced knowledge and leadership skills through specific endorsements
4. Those who are not interested in licensure or endorsement

Additionally, the IL Early Childhood Special Education Approval to teach students with and without disabilities, ages birth – five, is available for students in any of the above groups enrolled in a master’s program.  Those four courses can also be taken as a non-degree with enrollment through UIC Extended Campus.

Degree requirements for these specific groups follow below.

All applicants seeking an Illinois endorsement or licensure must show evidence of basic skills completion.

Group 1: Students completely new to the career of teaching

Students who are completely new to the career of teaching will earn the MEd Special Education degree and the IL Professional Educators License (PEL) with the IL Learning Behavior Specialist 1 (LBS1).  The LBS1 endorsement enables teachers to work with students with a wide range of disabilities, ages 5 – 21, in several instructional delivery models that include teaching in inclusionary settings through consultation and collaborative teaching, with small groups, and a range of other settings. A total of 33 credits are required for the degree, and an additional 13 credits are required for Illinois teaching licensure.  Degree requirements and course requirements leading to licensure are as follows:

Foundations of Special Education (3 credits)

SPED 461 – Political and Sociocultural Perspectives on Special Education (3)

Development and Disability (6 credits)

SPED 465 – Understanding Students with High Incidence Disabilities (3)
SPED 467 – Understanding Students with Low Incidence Disabilities (3)

Special Education Research and Assessment in Practice (3 credits)

SPED 573 – Understanding Research in Special Education (3)

Additional Courses Required for Licensure (21 credits)

SPED 462 – Assessment for Individuals with Disabilities (3)
SPED 463 – Literacy Instruction for Diverse Learners in Elementary School (3)
SPED 471 – Curricular Adaptations for Learners with Significant Disabilities (3)
SPED 472 – Academic and Prosocial Interventions (3)
SPED 473 – Teaching Math and Science with Adaptations (3)
SPED 563 – Adolescent Literacy for Diverse Learners (3)
SPED 576 – Internship in Assessment (3)

Student Teaching Coursework (13 credits)*

SPED 570 – Field Internship with Teaching (4) SPED 572 – Curriculum and Teaching for Students with Disabilities (3)
SPED 580 – Student Teaching in Special Education (6)

*SPED 570 is taken the semester before student teaching; SPED 572 and 580 are taken concurrently during student teaching in the last semester of the program.

Advising Guide

Group 2: Currently licensed teachers in the State of Illinois who are new to special education

For students who are currently licensed teachers, the program leads to the MEd Special Education degree with the IL Learning Behavior Specialist 1 (LBS1). The LBS1 endorsement enables teachers to work with students with a wide range of disabilities, ages 5 – 21, in several instructional delivery models that include teaching in inclusionary settings through consultation and collaborative teaching, with small groups, and a range of other settings. A total of 33 credits is required for the degree.  Degree requirements and coursework requirements leading to licensure are as follows:

Foundations of Special Education (3 credits)

SPED 461 – Political and Sociocultural Perspectives on Special Education (3)

Development and Disability (6 credits)

SPED 465 – Understanding Students with High Incidence Disabilities (3)
SPED 467 – Understanding Students with Low Incidence Disabilities (3)

Special Education Research and Assessment in Practice (3 credits)

SPED 573 – Understanding Research in Special Education (3)

Additional Courses Required for Licensure (21 credits)

SPED 462 – Assessment for Individuals with Disabilities (3)
SPED 463 – Literacy Instruction for Diverse Learners in Elementary School (3)
SPED 471 – Curricular Adaptations for Learners with Significant Disabilities (3)
SPED 472 – Academic and Prosocial Interventions (3)
SPED 473 – Teaching Math and Science with Adaptations (3)
SPED 563 – Adolescent Literacy for Diverse Learners (3)
SPED 576 – Internship in Assessment (3)

Advising Guide

Group 3: Current special education teachers with the LBS1 endorsement (ages 5 – 21) seeking an advanced LBS 2 endorsement

For students who are currently licensed special education teachers, the program leads to the MEd Special Education degree and one or more IL Learning Behavioral Specialist 2 (LBS2) endorsements.  The LBS2 endorsement enables current special educators to become a specialist in 6 IL-approved areas:  Assistive Technology Specialist, Behavior Intervention Specialist, Bilingual Special Education Specialist, Curriculum Adaptation Specialist, Multiple Disability Specialist and Transition Specialist.  Graduate studies focus on gaining knowledge and leadership skills. A minimum of 33 credits is required to complete the degree.  Each endorsement requires 15 – 18 credits, and multiple endorsements can be earned.   Degree requirements are as follows.  Prospective students should seek advising to learn ways to overlap LBS2 endorsement studies. Please see an advisor for a list of approved coursework to align with each requirement.

Foundations of Special Education (3 credits)

SPED 481 -  Theoretical Foundations and Issues of Bilingual Special Education (3)
SPED 522 - Advanced Procedures in Special Education as Consultant (3)

Special Education Research and Assessment in Practice (3 credits)

SPED 578 - Classroom-Based Inquiry Internship (3)

Development and Disability (6 credits)

See advisor to choose specific to the LBS2 you seek.

Additional Courses (21 credits)

See advisor to choose specific to the LBS2 you seek.  Courses for each endorsement are listed below:

Assistive Technology Specialist Required Coursework

SPED 510 - Advanced Curricular Adaptations for Learners with Significant and Multiple Disabilities
SPED 512 - Advanced Procedures in Adaptations: Curricular and Social Adaptations for working with Learners with High Incidence Disabilities
SPED 522 - Advanced Procedures in Special Education as Consultant
DHD 440 - Introduction to Assistive Technology: Principles and Practice
DHD 555 - Consideration, Assessment and Documentation of Assistive Technology in PreK – 12 Educational Setting
SPED 578 - Classroom-Based Inquiry Internship

Behavior Intervention Specialist Required Coursework

SPED 509 - Educational Implications of Learners with Low-Incidence and Multiple Disabilities
SPED 510 - Advanced Curricular Adaptations for Learners with Significant and Multiple Disabilities
SPED 514 - Principles of ABA and Experimental Analysis of Behavior
SPED 517 - Principles of ABA and Experimental Analysis of Behavior
SPED 522 - Advanced Procedures in Special Education as Consultant
SPED 578 - Classroom-Based Inquiry Internship

Bilingual Special Education Specialist

Under revision and not currently accepting students for this endorsement.

Curriculum Adaptation Specialist Required Coursework

DHD 440 - Introduction to Assistive Technology: Principles and Practice
SPED 510 - Advanced Curricular Adaptations for Learners with Significant and Multiple Disabilities
SPED 512 - Advanced Procedures in Adaptations: Curricular and Social Adaptations for working with Learners with High Incidence Disabilities
SPED 517 - Principles of ABA and Experimental Analysis of Behavior
SPED 522 - Advanced Procedures in Special Education as Consultant
SPED 578 - Classroom-Based Inquiry Internship

Multiple Disabilities Specialist Required Coursework

DHD 440 - Introduction to Assistive Technology: Principles and Practice
SPED 509 - Educational Implications of Learners with Low-Incidence and Multiple Disabilities
SPED 510 - Advanced Curricular Adaptations for Learners with Significant and Multiple Disabilities
SPED 515 - Transition Planning and Vocational Programming for Students with Disabilities, Part 1
SPED 522 - Advanced Procedures in Special Education as Consultant
SPED 578 - Classroom-Based Inquiry Internship

Transition Specialist Required Coursework

SPED 515 - Transition Planning and Vocational Programming for Students with Disabilities, Part 1
SPED 516 - Transition Planning and Vocational Programming for Students with Disabilities, Part 2
SPED 522 - Advanced Procedures in Special Education as Consultant
DHD 535 - Advocacy and Empowerment in Disability
SPED 578 - Classroom-Based Inquiry Internship (3)

Choose one:

SPED 510 - Advanced Curricular Adaptations for Learners with Significant and Multiple Disabilities (3)
SPED 512 - Advanced Procedures in Adaptations: Curricular and Social Adaptations for working with Learners with High Incidence Disabilities (3)

Advising Guide

Group 4: Students not interested in licensure or endorsement

For students who are interested in learning about special education, including inclusion, assessment, differentiation of instruction, supports and services for youth, their families and connections to community. A minimum of 33 credits is required to complete the degree. Degree requirements are as follows:

Foundations of Special Education (3 credits)

SPED 461 – Political and Sociocultural Perspectives on Special Education (3)

Development and Disability (3 credits) (choose one)

SPED 465 – Understanding Students with High Incidence Disabilities (3)
SPED 467 – Understanding Students with Low Incidence Disabilities (3)

Special Education Research and Assessment in Practice (3 credits)

SPED 573 – Understanding Research in Special Education (3)

Additional Electives (24 credits)

Please consult an advisor for a list of approved courses.

Advising Guide

Illinois Early Childhood Special Education Approval

These courses could also be taken as a non-degree UIC student or as a student through UIC Extended Campus. For more information, please see the Continuing Education page for Early Childhood Special Education.

Required courses are:

SPED 466 – Language Development, Diversity, and Disabilities (3)
SPED 482 – Collaborating with Families, Community, and Professionals (3)
SPED 506 – Characteristics and Assessment of Young Children with Disabilities (4)
SPED 508 – Methods of Instruction & Assessment of Young Children with Disabilities (4)

Advising Guide

Advising Guides for students admitted for Fall 2016 forward:

Group 1:  Students completely new to the career of teaching, pursuing the MEd degree, LBS 1 and professional educator license | Advising Guide

Group 2:  Currently licensed teachers in the State of Illinois who are new to special education, pursuing the MEd degree and LBS 1 | Advising Guide

Group 3:  Current special education teachers with the LBS1 endorsement (ages 5 – 21) seeking an advanced LBS 2 endorsement, pursuing the MEd degree and LBS 2 | Advising Guide

Group 4:  Students not interested in licensure or endorsement, only pursuing the MEd degree and no license or endorsement | Advising Guide

Options and Outcomes

While many students teach in classrooms or work in school settings, other students may choose other opportunities, including:

  • Family support and liaison work
  • Coaching such as transition-based life coaches
  • Work in community agencies and organization to support students with disabilities and their families
  • Leadership roles in schools and communities as LBS2 "specialists"
  • Youth and Youth Advocacy Groups
  • Teacher educators
  • Educational researchers
  • Educational policy-making
  • Educational media work

Application Process

Application Deadlines

Fall Deadline: March 15
Spring Deadline: October 1
Summer Deadline: February 1

Program Options

  • Non-licensure or endorsement:  MEd only
  • LBS1:  MEd plus the Learning Behavior Specialist I endorsement
  • LBS2:  MEd plus the Learning Behavior Specialist II endorsement.  Applicants will need to provide  proof of a minimum of one year of teaching in special education experience. A minimum of two years of experience will be required upon completion of the program.  Applicants will also need to submit proof of having taken a research methods course or the intention to take one.

Application Process

  1. Complete the UIC Graduate School application.  (International applicants should use this application).  Submit your application fee when completing the application.  If you are applying for the ATLiS scholarship, please skip this step.
  2. Complete the online College of Education application.
  3. The following documents should be uploaded online upon receiving email instructions after completing the UIC Graduate School application. View the Document Upload Guide for more information.
    • Upload undergraduate transcripts for your last 60 hours of the undergraduate degree and all graduate transcripts.
    • TOEFL or IELTS test scores for international applicants only
    • Three letters of recommendation. These letters should address the applicant's academic qualifications, research ability/experience and ability to carry on advanced degree studies. Letters may be from current or former professors or supervisors. At least one letter should be from someone who can address your experience working with children.  Please ask your recommenders to use letterhead if it is available and they are uploading an electronic version of the letter of recommendation.
    • Non-licensure or endorsementand LBS1 ONLY:  Personal Statement. In approximately 300 to 400 words, this statement should discuss your professional goals, indicating experiences and attitudes towards working with children in urban environments.
    • LBS2 ONLY:  Personal Statement.  All applicants must submit a goals statement in the form of a letter of application that includes a self-appraisal of UIC Department of Special Education LBSII Dispositional Qualities. Directions: In 500 words (approximately two to four pages, double-spaced), please describe your strengths and achievements using the UIC Teacher Candidate LBSII Dispositional Qualities as a guide. Also describe areas in which you can improve, and how you intend to make such improvements.
  4. LBS2 ONLY:  Resume and proof of 1 year of teaching in special education experience. A minimum of two years of experience will be required upon completion of the program.
  5. LBS2 ONLY:  A copy of the LBSI license and endorsement
  6. LBS1 ONLY:  Submit test scores from the Basic Skills test or Test of Academic Proficiency.  For information on the test, visit this site: www.il.nesinc.com. An ACT or SAT score may be submitted with a waiver; for information on this process, visit the Council on Teacher Education.
  7. Faculty interview and impromptu writing sample. You will be contacted to submit an impromptu writing sample and arrange a time for an interview with a faculty member.

Documents & Forms

Scholarship Funding

The following scholarship funding opportunities are available for students pursuing Learning Behavioral Specialist II endorsement(s).

Assistive Technology Leaders in Special Education (ATLiS)

Applications for the Spring 2018 cohort are due October 1, 2017

Assistive Technology Leaders in Special Education (ATLiS) Assistive Technology is a collaborative, interdisciplinary project designed to prepare school and district leaders with expertise in the development, implementation, and evaluation of assistive technology programs for students with multiple disabilities. ATLiS scholars will participate in an intensive series of courses and experiences that will prepare participants with deep knowledge of assistive technology practices and polices. Graduates will acquire the skills to become school and district leaders who are able to support the academic and behavioral needs of students with multiple disabilities through the use of effective, evidence-based assistive technology methods.

ATLiS scholarships include costs for tuition, an annual book stipend, and opportunities to attend and present at local conferences.

Read more about eligibility requirements, benefits and the application process at education.uic.edu/atlis.

PLUS

Applications for the second cohort (Spring 2018 enrollment) open in Fall 2017.  The next information sessions will be held in Fall 2017.

Preparing Leaders in Urban Special Education (PLUS) is a special education master’s program that will prepare scholars to become school leaders with expertise to develop, implement, and evaluate effective inclusive programs for students with disabilities. PLUS scholars will participate in an interdisciplinary program that will include coursework in special education and educational leadership. Graduates will acquire the skills to become school leaders who are able to support the instructional needs of students with disabilities within the broader school context.

PLUS scholarships include costs for tuition, university fees, and an annual book stipend.

Read more about eligibility requirements, benefits and the application process at education.uic.edu/plus.

PULSSE

Applications for PULSSE are currently closed.

Preparing Urban Leaders in Secondary Special Education (PULSSE) is a special education master’s program that will prepare scholars to become school leaders with expertise in serving secondary students with multiple disabilities. PULSSE scholars will participate in a rigorous series of courses that will develop the ability of scholars to develop educational programs that are both evidence-based and adapted to the needs of individual students. Graduates will acquire the skills to become school leaders who are able to support the academic and behavioral needs of students with multiple disabilities in inclusive settings.

PULSSE scholarships include costs for tuition and university fees.

Read more about eligibility requirements, benefits and the application process at education.uic.edu/pulsse.

Project SET

Become a LBS2 Transition Specialist to help students, families and communities ensure successful adult outcomes for students with disabilities after high school. Earn the LBS2 endorsement in three semesters in evening and online course study.  For more information, write projectset.uic@gmail.com.

Limited scholarships are available for students interested in taking the LBS2 transition courses: Transition Planning and Vocational Programming for Students with Disabilities, Part 1 and 2.  Please note: only students who are currently enrolled or who have applied for summer admission through Continuing Education qualify for these scholarships. If interested, please fill out this form and send it to the SET Coordinator, Samantha Walte at walte1@uic.edu by March 15, 2017.  Application