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University Bulletin
Graduate Degree Programs

Special Education (SPLED)

Program Home Page

RAYNE SPERLING, Director of Graduate Studies
101A CEDAR Building


Degrees Conferred:

Ph.D., M.S., M.Ed.


The Graduate Faculty


The Program

Exceptional children are those who deviate so far from average in physical, intellectual, emotional, or social characteristics that they require highly specialized instruction and related services. The purpose of the M.Ed. program in Special Education is to prepare educational service providers of exceptional children in advanced training in academic and behavior management strategies. . M.Ed. students are trained in behavior management and instructional design, implementation, and evaluation appropriate for effective work with children and youth who qualify for services for intellectual, behavioral, or physical disabilities at all age levels and degrees of severity. The purpose of the M.S. and Ph.D. programs is to prepare researchers and college and university teachers in areas encompassing the education of the children and youth who qualify for services for intellectual, behavioral and/or physical disabilities. The former program is professional in nature; the latter two, academic.

Admission Requirements

Applicants for master's and doctoral programs must present evidence of superior academic achievement, complete a personal statement, and provide professional references. Applications for the M.S. and Ph.D. programs must also present GRE verbal and quantitative test scores. Minimum GPA for master's and doctoral applicants are, respectively, 3.00 for M.Ed. and M.S., and 3.50 for Ph.D. Minimum GRE test scores are (verbal and quantitative combined): 290 for M.S., and 300 for Ph.D. Applicants for doctoral study must have had at least three years of relevant experience with special-needs children or youth. International applicants whose first language is not English must submit TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) scores. Exceptions to the admissions criteria may be made only for highly qualified students with special backgrounds, abilities, and interests. At the discreation of a graduate program, a student may be admitted provisionionally for graduate study in a program wihtout these scores. Requirements listed here are in addition to general Graduate School requirements stated in the GENERAL INFORMATION section of the Graduate Bulletin.

Master's Degree Requirements

Prerequisites for the M.Ed. program include 10 credits basic to the education of exceptional children (courses comparable to SPLED 400, SPLED 403A or 403B, and SPLED 418). M.Ed. candidates are expected to complete the core: SPLED 525, SPLED 573 and SPLED 521 or the equivalment. Of the remaining credits required to complete the degree, at least 21 must be taken in special education and include courses selected by students in conjunction with their adviser. M.Ed. students must submit a master's paper.

M.S. candidates are expected to complete the core: SPLED 573, EDPSY 400, and SPLED 600 (6 credits). Of the remaining 18 credits, 6 must be taken from one discipline outside of education. Students must complete a total of 18 credits in special education; and 18 credits at the 500 level or above. M.S. students must submit a master's thesis and pass a comprehensive examination.

All requirements for either the M.Ed. or the M.S. degree must be met within six years or a period spanning seven consecutive summers.

Doctoral Degree Requirements

The communication and foreign language requirement for the Ph.D. degree is prescribed by each student's committee. Minimum requirements for the Ph.D. degree include 24 credits of research methods; 18 credits in a cognate area such as psychology, sociology, or child development; and 36 credits in education. The student also must enroll in SPLED 500 each semester prior to successful completion of the comprehensive examinations. A candidacy examination is required after the first semester of full-time study; written and oral comprehensive examinations also are required. A student is required to complete the program within seven years from the date of acceptance as a candidate.

Student Aid

In addition to the fellowships, traineeships, graduate assistantships, and other forms of financial aid described in the STUDENT AID section of the Graduate Bulletin, the following award typically has been available to graduate students in this program:

U.S. OFFICE OF EDUCATION ASSISTANTSHIPS OR TRAINEESHIPS IN SPECIAL EDUCATION. Open to graduate students being prepared as leadership personnel in special education; stipend varies, depending on conditions of existing grants. Other graduate assistantships also may be available. Apply to the Graduate Admissions Committee, 125D CEDAR Building.


Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 699 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.



Last Revised by the Department: Spring Semester 2015

Blue Sheet Item #: 43-07-000

Review Date: 06/30/2015

Faculty linked: 6/27/14


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