Director of Exceptional Needs Licensure FAQs

FAQs for Director of Exceptional Needs Licensure Program

The licensure is open to anyone who is interested in special education leadership. Completion of this program will result in an Indiana license for Director of Exceptional Needs.Click here for more information.

Coursework generally takes 2 years to complete. However, it is possible to complete coursework in less time. The minimum time for completion is a year.

A wide variety of school professionals including:

  • Public and private school teachers;
  • School leaders including special education coordinators, principals, department heads, school psychologists and others

Candidates for this program must hold a professional license in one of the following areas: special education, communication disorders, or school psychology. Candidates must have a master’s degree or be enrolled in a master’s program.

Some non-cohort courses are online. However, there are three courses that are completed as a part of a cohort, and these courses are face-to-face courses. We believe that the face-to-face contact and cohort concept for the three Special Education leadership courses is important, and our experience (and feedback from students) is that this cohort experience creates a professional bond with a group of colleagues that is invaluable as a network of support after completion of the license.

Currently, there are three courses in this program that are taken as a cohort: A 676, A735, and A695. The cohort begins in Spring of each year with A676, Leading Special Education Services. This course meets one day a month from January to May at a location in Indianapolis. The second course, A735, Unified Systems meets for a full week in the summer in Bloomington. The final course, A695 is a fall practicum and is completed in the student’s home district.

All other courses for this licensure can be taken outside of the cohort at the student’s convenience.

The Director of Special Education licensure program is 21 credits (exceptions are School Psychology and Communication Disorder majors who may require additional special education courses).

We begin new cohorts every January.

Yes, many students complete the Director of Exceptional Needs licensure program and also enroll in the Ed.D. Educational Leadership program. Students who intend to complete both the Director’s license and Ed.D. should consult with Dr. Sandi Cole.

Yes, many students complete the Director of Exceptional Needs licensure program and also enroll in the online Education Law Certificate program. Because special education is the most litigious area in schools, many students opt to complete three additional courses (A615, A675 and A710) to improve their legal literacy and obtain an education law specialization to add to their resumes.

Yes, you can be enrolled in a Master’s program while completing the courses for the Director of Special Education program. However, you cannot apply for the Director license until you have earned a Master’s degree.

Tuition information can be found here. To be eligible for financial aid to pursue the Certificate, you must also apply and be accepted to one of the following programs: M.S.Ed., Ed.D., or the Ed.S. in Educational Leadership (or any other IU degree program).

It is possible to take up to two courses before being formally admitted but students who start the program before being formally admitted are not guaranteed admission. If a student is not admitted into the Special Education Leadership Program, s/he might be able to transfer these courses into another university. Please contact Ed Leadership Student Support at or 812-856-8371 to discuss this option.

It will generally take 6-8 weeks after your full application is complete.

Your Special Education Leadership cohort courses will be taught by Dr. Sandi Cole, Director of the Center on Education and Lifelong Learning and the program coordinator for the Special Education Leadership program. Your non-cohort courses will generally be taught by full-time faculty members at Indiana University. Our professors have worked as teachers, principals, superintendents, lawyers, and have published widely in their areas of expertise. Several of the faculty members have been school and district administrators Indiana and/or other states.


We consider your undergraduate and if relevant, any graduate grades as well as your personal statement and recommendations. We are interested in students with a genuine interest in special education leadership issues who demonstrate strong academic abilities.

The program is coordinated by Dr. Sandi Cole, Director of the Center on Education and Lifelong Learning at Indiana University. Please feel free to contact her ( if you would like additional information.