Special Education Master of Science Program

The Department of Special Education offers graduate online and face to face education for students interested in teaching, research, and professional service related to children, adolescents, and adults with disabilities and their families. Since the 1970s, the department has received national and international recognition. The faculty is known for its leadership to the field, commitment to high-quality education for children and youth with disabilities, innovative field-based research, and preparation of highly effective program graduates. The annual U.S. News and World Report graduate program survey consistently ranks KU's Department of Special Education at the top when compared to more than 200 graduate programs in this field. As one of the most comprehensive special education preparation programs in the country, the department attracts students from many states and countries.

 Students may pursue a master’s degree emphasizing teaching in one of 5 areas:

  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Early childhood unified (ECU, birth through kindergarten)
  • High-incidence disabilities
  • Low-incidence disabilities
  • Secondary transition education and services

Students seeking Kansas State Department of Education teaching licensure can complete requirements for special education endorsement in the following areas:

  • Early childhood unified (ECU, birth through kindergarten)
  • High-incidence
  • Low-incidence

With the exception of ECU, all endorsement areas require current Kansas licensure in elementary, secondary, or early childhood education.

Students seeking initial licensure or an endorsement to an existing license must review their individual state licensure requirements with the appropriate licensing or regulatory authorities prior to enrolling.

Graduate Admission to the School of Education

Graduate programs in education are open to students with acceptable baccalaureate and graduate degrees whose academic records indicate that they can do successful work at the graduate level. Regular admission requires a grade-point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Individual departments may require additional information and may have more stringent admission and retention requirements.

Some departments may offer special provisional admission categories to students who may not qualify under traditional admission criteria. Departments that offer provisional admission require a grade-point average of at least 2.5.  Applicants must provide evidence of ability to work successfully at the graduate level, including experience in and commitment to the profession. Exceptions to established policies must be sought individually by petition to the Graduate Division of the School of Education.

See Admission in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog for more information.

Each department in the School of Education sets its own application deadlines.  Prospective graduate students should contact their departments for more information.


M.S.E. Degree Program

Graduates are employed as general educators, special educators, or consultants. Some hold teaching positions in clinics, hospitals, residential treatment centers, community-based centers, and early childhood programs. Many complete course work required for Kansas special education teaching endorsements. Some students work in related fields (e.g., general educators, speech therapists, social workers) and pursue this degree to expand their professional knowledge and skills by adding competence teaching children and youth with disabilities. These students may choose not to complete endorsement requirements.

The M.S.Ed. program ranges from 30 to 36 credit hours, depending on whether one pursues a thesis/project (30-hour) or nonthesis (36-hour) program option. The addition of professional endorsements will lengthen a student’s program to 35 to 42 credit hours, depending on the endorsement(s) chosen by the student. The degree requires courses in the area of study (plus any endorsement-related courses); a research class; and completion of a project, thesis, or written examination.

Further information is available from the department.