Degrees & Programs

Special Education

Help exceptional students reach their full potential. The field of special education encompasses a vast and growing body of knowledge for serving students with learning challenges, communications challenges, physical disabilities, developmental disorders, and emotional and behavioral disorders whose needs cannot be met in a traditional classroom environment.

Compassionate, committed educators can make a real difference in the future success of children and adolescents with disabilities. At the IU School of Education, you’ll learn about the theoretical foundations of special education, explore the latest research, and put your knowledge to work in real-world teaching environments that build your teaching skills and your confidence.

IU graduates are leaders in the field of special education. Our special education program is ranked #15 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. And our faculty is actively engaged in research that includes:

  • AAC-in-Action Project, providing research and training in the application and use of communication technology for people with severe communication problems
  • Promoting early social communication for toddlers with autism spectrum disorders
Overview

Our program, Special Education for Indiana Schools Today (SPEDFIST), delivers courses in a hybrid format. While some content is delivered online, face-to-face meetings help us develop real, mutually trusting relationships. Each core course includes two to four face-to-face meetings per semester. Students who live outside of a 50-mile radius are encouraged to contact their instructors and arrange either videoconferencing or an alternative assignment.

Students will also work with a chosen teacher mentor. If you are currently teaching, you can choose a mentor at your school. If you are new to teaching, we will help you find an experienced teacher in your content area who is willing to work with you for the duration of your studies.

Special Education for Indiana Schools Today

Download the Special Education for Indiana Schools Today (SPEDFIST) Handbook for complete information about our programs.

Degrees

The IU School of Education offers the following licensure programs and degrees in Special Education:

Preparing Educators of Students with Autism (PESA) Certificate

Students in all graduate programs are invited to take course work included in the Preparing Educators of Students with Autism (PESA) Certificate. This 15-credit hour collection of courses focuses on autism spectrum disorders (ASD). You'll review current research and evidence-based practices in autism assessment and intervention. You'll also gain a deeper understanding of the perspectives of individuals with ASD and their families.

For more information about the PESA Certificate, contact Aimee Polk at aimpolk@indiana.edu.

Visit the PESA Home page »

Special Education Licensure/Certification

This hybrid program–taught both on campus and online through IUconnectED--prepares you for an Indiana teaching license in high-incidence disabilities.

Develop the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to work in today's classrooms. Course work includes research-based instruction in classroom management, collaboration and service delivery, assessment, instructional strategies, and working with families.

When you complete your certification, you'll be prepared to work in inclusive school and community settings. You'll also understand strategies for other types of special education teaching environments, such as resource and self-contained settings.

Course work can help you achieve the following objectives

  • Initial Certification for Licensure, for new teachers or teachers already working with an emergency permit
  • Additional Certification for Licensure, for licensed Indiana teachers who want to earn a license addition in special education

Degree Requirements

Complete course descriptions and degree requirements can be found in the IU School of Education Graduate Bulletin.

Initial Certification for License in Exceptional Needs: High Incidence (Mild Intervention) (50 cr.)

  • K505 Introduction to Exceptional Children (3 cr.)
  • K565 Collaboration and Service Delivery (3 cr.)
  • K500 Topical Workshop in Special Education: Orientation (1 cr.)
  • K553 Classroom Management (3 cr.)
  • K535 Assessment and Remediation of the Mildly Handicapped (3 cr.)
  • S500 Community of Teachers Seminar (3 cr.) (taken twice)
  • K548 Family, School and Society (3 cr.)
  • One of the following courses:
    • L517 Advanced Study in the Teaching of Secondary School Reading (3 cr.) (secondary educators only)
    • L504 Identifying and Working with Learner Literacy Difficulties (3 cr.) (elementary/secondary educators)
    • L545 Advanced Study of the Teaching of Reading in Elementary Schools (3 cr.) (elementary educators only)
  • K536 Assessment and Remediation of the Mildly Handicapped II (3 cr.)
  • K510 Assistive Technology in Special Education (3 cr.)
  • M550 Student Teaching

Content Area Course Work (9 cr.)

Choose two courses in your chosen content area. This course work may be waived if you have previously taken qualifying course work from an accredited university.

M.S.Ed. in Special Education

Licensed elementary and secondary educators can add certification for "mild" or "intense" intervention through this innovative online program. You’ll be part of a collaborative cohort of students exploring innovations in special education and inclusive classroom practices. You’ll also receive individualized instruction from experienced supervisors during field-based learning experiences that offer you the opportunity to test your skills and knowledge in a real-world setting.

This 36-credit hour degree program includes 12 graduate courses, taken over the course of six semesters, including summers.

Degree Requirements

Complete course descriptions and degree requirements can be found in the IU School of Education Graduate Bulletin.

Prerequisite (3 cr.)

  • K505 Introduction to Exceptional Children (3 cr.)

Special Education Course Work (20 cr.)

  • K565 Collaboration and Service Delivery (3 cr.)
  • K500 Topical Seminar in Special Education: Orientation (1 cr.)
  • K553 Classroom Management (3 cr.)
  • K535 Assessment and Remediation of the Mildly Handicapped (3 cr.)
  • Y510 Action Research (3 cr.) or Y520 Strategies for Education Inquiry (3 cr.)
  • K548 Families, School, and Society (3 cr.)
  • K536 Assessment and Remediation of the Mildly Handicapped II (3 cr.)
  • K500 Seminar (after taking Y510 or Y520) (1 cr.)

Track Course Work (12 cr.)

All students must choose a specialty track of four courses. You may combine courses from multiple tracks, or choose one of the options below:

  • Autism
  • Behavior Strategies
  • Early Childhood
  • Instructional Strategies
  • Intense Interventions

Capstone Project or Thesis (6 cr.)

You must complete your research course (Y510 or Y520) before enrolling for your thesis course work.

M.S.Ed. in Special Education for Indiana Schools Today (SPEDFIST)

This online-only degree program prepares you for the challenges of special education in the diverse and changing landscapes of today's classroom. Courses are centered on research and teaching methods that are proven to be effective in preparing individuals to address high-incidence disabilities (mild intervention).

Degree Requirements

Complete course descriptions and degree requirements can be found at IUconnectED.

Prerequisite (3 cr.)

  • K505 Introduction to Exceptional Children

Special Education (36 cr.)

  • K505 Introduction to Exceptional Children
  • K565 Collaboration and Service Delivery
  • K500 Special Education for Indiana Teachers Today Orientation Seminar (1 cr.)
  • K553 Classroom Management
  • K535 Assessment and Remediation of the Mildly Handicapped
  • K548 Families, Schools, and Society
  • K536 Assessment and Remediation of the Mildly Handicapped II

Research (3 cr.)

Y510 Action Research or Y520 Strategies for Educational Inquiry

Track Courses (12 cr.)

All students must choose a specialty track of four courses. You may combine courses from multiple tracks, or choose one of the options below:

  • Autism
  • Behavior Strategies
  • Early Childhood
  • Instructional Strategies
  • Intense Interventions

Capstone Project or Thesis (3 cr.)

Culminating Seminar (1 cr.)

Students will reflect on their experiences with faculty and fellow colleagues.

M.S.Ed. in Special Education with Certification in Mild and Intense Interventions

Earn a master's degree in special education while qualifying for certification as a special education teacher in Indiana. This 36-credit hour degree program prepares experienced teachers to earn a license addition in special education.

Degree Requirements

Complete course descriptions and degree requirements can be found at IUconnectED.

  • K505 Introduction to Special Education
  • K510 Assistive Technology in Special Education
  • Y520 Strategies for Educational Inquiry
  • K548 Families, School, and Society
  • K553 Classroom Management and Behavioral Support
  • K525 Survey of Mild Disabilities
  • Mild Interventions
  • K541 Transition Across the Life Span
  • J 500 Instruction in the Context of Curriculum
  • K562 Curriculum and Methods for Students with Significant Disabilities
  • T531 Organizational Change in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Schools
  • K529 Interagency Collaboration and Behavioral Support
  • Intense Interventions
Ph.D. in Special Education

Train the next generation of special education teachers and prepare for a career as a faculty researcher. You’ll focus your studies on three areas of expertise that will determine the focus of your course work. Topics may include:

  • Disability
  • Early intervention
  • Teacher education
  • Nonaversive behavior management
  • Transition from school to work
  • School reform

In this 90-credit hour program, you’ll be an integral part of our undergraduate and graduate special education courses. You’ll also have the opportunity to take on research projects with these organizations:

  • The Center for Evaluation and Education Policy, a nonpartisan research center that works with Indiana policymakers and other education stakeholders to improve education
  • Indiana Institute on Disability and Community, part of a national network of university-affiliated programs designed to support education and human services for individuals with disabilities
  • IU School of Medicine, whose affiliation with Riley Children’s Hospital offers medical and health-related opportunities for research and interdisciplinary training in the diagnosis, assessment, and medical and physical management of disability

Download the Special Education Doctoral Handbook .

Degree Requirements

Complete course descriptions and detailed degree requirements may be found in the IU Bloomington School of Education Graduate Bulletin.

Inquiry Core (15 cr. minimum)

The inquiry core includes a survey course in research methodologies and beginning courses in statistics, measurement, program evaluation, or in ethnographic, qualitative, quantitative, and historical research methods. See a complete list of approved inquiry core courses.

Major (36 cr.)

At least six (6) credit hours must be in inquiry linkage courses, including an early inquiry experience.

Minor (12 cr.)

At least twelve (12) credit hours of course work will be taken in an area of study outside of special education. The minor must complement the major. The committee member representing the minor field must approve the selection of courses in the minor area. An interdepartmental/interdisciplinary minor is also possible. In this case, the student must submit a written description of the theme of the minor, an explanation of the contribution of each course to that theme, and a rationale for the selection of the minor representative.

Electives (up to 27 cr.)

This category can include foundations courses, minor course work, or inquiry course work.

Dissertation (15 cr.)

  • At least three (3) credit hours of K795 Dissertation Proposal Preparation
  • At least twelve (12) credit hours of K799 Doctoral Thesis in Curriculum and Instruction
Faculty

From adaptive technologies to reforming special education law, our faculty is actively engaged with the issues that affect the future of special education.

Students
  • Ohoud Alhajeri, Ph.D. Student
  • Barbara Bari, Ph.D. Student
  • Allison Coburn, Ph.D. Student
  • Heidi Cornell, Ph.D. Student
  • Kharon Grimmett, Ph.D. Student
  • Kwangwon Lee, Ph.D. Student
  • Alina Mihai, Ph.D. Student
  • Lindsey Ogle, Ph.D. Student
  • Lawrence Ruich, Ph.D. Student
  • Jessie Rome Stephens, Ph.D. Student
  • Paulo Tan
  • Potheini Vaiouli, Ph.D. Student
  • Wenjing Zheng, Ph.D. Student
Contact

For detailed program information, please contact:

Special Education Certification for Licensure

Alfreda Clegg, Graduate Advisor
Email: alclegg@indiana.edu

Gretchen Butera, Program Advisor
W.W. Wright School of Education Building, Room 3211
Bloomington, Indiana 47405
Phone: (812) 856-8153
Email: spedfist@indiana.edu