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School of Special Education

Director Harvey Rude, Ed.D.

Location: McKee 29

Telephone: 970.351.2691

Faculty: Diane Bassett, Ph.D.; George T. Betts, Ed.D.; Sandra K. Bowen, Ph.D.; Robin D. Brewer, Ed.D.; Paula W. Conroy, Ed.D.; Kay A. Ferrell, Ph.D.; Allen Huang, Ed.D.; Lewis B. Jackson, Ed.D.; John L. Luckner, Ed.D.;Tracy Mueller, Ph.D.; Francie R. Murry, Ph.D.; Stuart N. Omdal, Ph.D.; Corey D. Pierce, Ph.D.; Harvey Rude, Ed.D.; Debora L. Scheffel, Ph.D., Hannah H. Schertz, Ph.D.;Jennifer Urbach, Ph.D..

The School of Special Education offers one of the most comprehensive training programs for special educators (undergraduate, master's, doctoral) in the nation. UNC is the only institution in a six-state region that offers degree programs in special education in all areas of exceptionality. Special programs associated with special education include the Summer Enrichment Program for the Gifted and Talented, the Bresnahan-Halstead Center on Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, and the Kephart Memorial Child Study Center and an annual symposium in Vail, Colorado featuring renowned speakers.

Faculty in Special Education are nationally recognized, have published in their respective areas, presented papers at prestigious conferences and have many of their publications translated into several foreign languages. Numerous program and research grants provide support for professional development and student scholarships at the graduate levels.

American Sign Language - English Interpretation B.A.

The American Sign Language-English Interpretation program is an online (with summer onsite requirements) baccalaureate degree program that prepares majors to provide competent interpreting services between individuals who are deaf and use ASL as their primary means of communication, and individuals who are not deaf and do not know sign language. Graduates of this program will be prepared to interpret in a range of low-risk settings with professional autonomy and be work- and/or certification-ready.

For degree and program requirements, see:

American Sign Language - English Interpretation B.A.

Special Education B.A.

The curriculum consists of recommended Liberal Arts core requirements, courses in professional teacher preparation, courses in special education theory, practice, and pedagogy and courses in Liberal Arts Core content to ensure teachers have the breadth of knowledge needed to be a special education teacher. Strong emphasis is placed on literacy and mathematics in both Liberal Arts Core requirements and content area coursework. Students are required to take technology courses; and the use of technology is incorporated into the special education coursework. The program is organized around nine themes including individual differences (disabilities, culture, and language), interpersonal/collaborative skills, direct instruction, legal responsibilities/processes, organizational/systemic processes, behavioral management, knowledge and access of resources, inquiry skills, and implementation of special educator roles. Topics emphasized within these themes include normal developmental learning, general assessment concepts, foundational characteristics of disabilities, service delivery models, and technology.

For degree and program requirements, see:

Special Education Minor

Special Education B.A.

Special Education, B.A. - PTEP

Special Education M.A.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Emphasis

The MA degree in Special Education with a Deaf/Hard of Hearing emphasis prepares professionals as a special education specialist: deaf/hard of hearing to work with children and youth with hearing losses ages birth-21 and their families in order to help them develop their full potential. The Special Education Deaf/Hard of Hearing Specialist is required to pass an approved elementary education content exam prior to entry into the preparation program, and the Deaf Education PLACE exam prior to licensing. The program consists of the required courses and practicum requirements agreed upon by the student and advisor. Students entering the Master of Arts program in Special Education: Deaf/Hard of Hearing without a current teacher licensure are required to complete additional admission requirements and course requirements listed under Professional Teacher Education. Students are encouraged to contact a program advisor to determine additional requirements. Also, individuals who are not proficient in sign can enroll in the program and concurrently take sign courses. The Special Education Deaf/Hard of Hearing Specialist is required to pass a sign proficiency examination prior to student teaching.

Early Childhood Special Education Emphasis

This master's program is designed to prepare teachers who will work with young children from birth to age 8 across the full spectrum of learning needs and abilities. Because it promotes an inclusive approach to early education, the program is appropriate for teachers who will work in Early Childhood Special Education and/or Early Childhood Education settings. Teacher candidates will demonstrate knowledge and skills in parent-professional partnerships, recommended research-based practices, typical and atypical early child development, and approaches to effective assessment and intervention. Students are required to pass the Early Childhood Special Education PLACE exam before enrolling in practicum coursework. For candidates without a current teaching license who wish to obtain licensure, additional courses are required through the Professional Teacher Education Program.

Generalist Emphasis

The MA degree in Special Education with Generalist emphasis prepares teachers who will work with students who are identified with a variety of disabilities from moderate to severe intensity. The emphasis of the program content focuses on literacy and mathematics instruction, understanding standards and assessment, differentiated instruction, and technology. Teachers completing this program will demonstrate the skills needed to provide appropriate behavior supports and accommodations for learning of students with disabilities. The Special Education Generalist is required to pass the approved elementary education content exam prior to entry into the preparation program, and the special education generalist PLACE exam prior to licensing. The program consists of the required courses and practicum requirements agreed upon by the student and advisor. If a student enters the Master of Arts program in Special Education: Generalist without a current teacher licensure, s/he is required to complete additional admission requirements and course requirements listed under Professional Teacher Education.

Gifted and Talented Education Emphasis

The MA degree in Special Education with Gifted and Talented emphasis prepares teachers at the elementary and secondary level to work with gifted and talented students in order to help them develop their full potential.

The Special Education Gifted and Talented Specialist is required to pass the approved PLACE exam prior to licensing. The program consists of the required courses and practicum requirements agreed upon by the student and advisor. If a student enters the Master of Arts program in Special Education: Gifted and Talented without a current teacher licensure, s/he is required to complete additional admission requirements and course requirements listed under Professional Teacher Education.

Visual Impairment Emphasis

The MA degree in Special Education with a Visual Impairment Emphasis is designed to prepare teachers who will work with students who are visually impaired. The program consists of the required courses and practicum requirements agreed upon by the student and advisor. Students entering the Master of Arts program in Special Education: Visual Impairment without a current teacher licensure are required to complete additional course requirements listed under Professional Teacher Education. Students may complete licensure and degree requirements in a minimum of 42 credits if they desire licensure of education of students with visual impairments only. Students seeking an added endorsement in Orientation and Mobility may complete this 15 credit program in consultation with their program advisor.

Admission. The student must possess a grade point average on the last 60 semester hours of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, provide a minimum of two letters of recommendation from previous employers or academic professors, provide a statement of philosophy and goals of application in relation to the needs in the field and, if possible, arrange for a personal interview. Acceptance or rejection of an applicant will be made after an evaluation of all of the above requirements is made.

Please see degree and program requirements for any additional admission information.

Comprehensive Examination: In addition to admission to the program and satisfactory completion of all coursework, each student must pass a written comprehensive examination before she or he is allowed to graduate.

Evaluation. Evaluation of the student's professional potential will be an ongoing process throughout the program. Continuation/exit requirements will be based on multiple criteria such as faculty interview, professional recommendations, recommendations of the advisor or other program faculty, academic ethics, successful completion of the comprehensive examination and potential for teaching handicapped infants and adults. The multiple criteria approach does not assume that each of these factors carry equal weights; any one factor might well outweigh all others.

Licensure. Students who seek Colorado licensure in an area of Special Education or request an institutional recommendation for licensure from UNC must meet Colorado teacher licensure requirements.

Students wishing to obtain Colorado licensure are required to pass proficiency examination(s). Students should contact the School of Special Education in McKee for information.

A master's degree or a school approved licensure program is required before the University of Northern Colorado will recommend the student for endorsement.

Students entering the licensure program must meet the same entrance requirements as the Master's degree students. They must also demonstrate achievement of all program standards through a combination of UNC coursework, prior coursework, or other approved documentation and completion of a licensure examination. However, a minimum of 15 semester hours must be taken at UNC.

For degree and program requirements, see:

Special Education M.A.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Emphasis

Early Childhood Special Education Emphasis

Generalist Emphasis

Gifted and Talented Education Emphasis

Visual Impairment Emphasis

Orientation and Mobility (O&M) Endorsement

Special Education Ed.D.

The student must receive a positive recommendation by the School of Special Education Doctoral Admissions and Review Committee. When a prospective student has met general University requirements for admission, his or her application is submitted to the Division for evaluation. In addition to an interview with members of the faculty, the School of Special Education requires the submission of: a resume;

  1. a written statement of academic and professional goals;
  2. a published or professional writing sample.

The Committee reviews each application for admission to determine evidence of:

Each applicant must receive a positive recommendation from a majority of the Doctoral Admissions and Review Committee members to be recommended for admission to the Graduate School.

The philosophy of the doctoral program is based on the concept that learning is an active, self-regulated process. Therefore, doctoral programs are individually tailored through interactive planning that involves the student, the advisor, the doctoral committee, other students and people from outside the University.

Students are expected to enter the program with a clear sense of personal direction and a set of learning goals. In this context, a personalized program is developed in which the focus is on finding innovative and flexible ways to meet the needs of each student while insuring that the student develops advanced skills and knowledge. The overall goal of each student's program is to develop leadership abilities in five major themes in relation to special education, namely: theory, effective teaching, inquiry, scholarly production and intra-interpersonal skills.

Upon admission to the doctoral program, each student will be assigned an advisor. In consultation with this advisor, she or he should determine courses for the first semester.

In joint planning sessions the student and advisor, in consultation with the doctoral committee, other students and people from outside the University, should establish a tentative doctoral program during the first and second semesters on campus.

This program should be based on past experience and training and on student interests and goals. The program must include an emphasis on critical thinking, breadth and depth of theoretical understanding, apprenticeships that lead to scholarly production before completion of the program, methods of inquiry in education and direct experiences in schools with diverse populations.

The program plan must include a statement of goals and rationale for proposed coursework and educational experiences. The program and rationale must then be submitted to the School of Special Education Doctoral Admissions and Review Committee for approval. If the Committee is concerned with elements of the plan, they will make recommendations for revisions or additions. Enrollment in third semester courses without an approved program may lead to the inclusion of courses not ultimately approved as part of the doctoral plan.

For degree and program requirements, see:

Special Education Administration Licensure (Non-Degree)

Special Education Doctoral Minor

Special Education Ed.D.


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