Special Education

Program Contacts

B. Keith Lenz, PhD: Department Chair
Telephone: (501) 450-5429 | Email: blenz1@uca.edu

Janet Filer, PhD: Graduate Program Coordinator
Telephone: (501) 450-5462 | Email: janetf@uca.edu

Use these links to jump to specific programs:
Degree programs: MSE in SPED | MAT in SPED
Endorsements and certificates: SPED K–12 | Birth-Kindergarten/Integrated Early Childhood | SPED Resource K–6, 7–12

[1] Master of Science in Education (MSE) in Special Education

[1.1] Objectives

The main purpose of the MSE program in Special Education is to prepare collaborative special education teachers skilled in providing quality instruction to students representing a broad scope of abilities. Candidates will gain expertise in the area of special education including foundations, development and characteristics of learners, individual learning differences, instructional strategies and planning, learning environments, guidance and behavior management, communication, working with families, assessment, and professional and ethical practice. The program recognizes the changing and complex role of the special educator and as such prepares the graduate candidates to

  1. provide support and instruction to students with cognitive, physical, behavior, multiple, and/or health disabilities from kindergarten through 12th grade;
  2. work in different educational settings such as self-contained, resource, and regular classrooms;
  3. access the general education curriculum demonstrating a strong knowledge and skill set in academic content areas; and
  4. effectively collaborate and work closely with general education teachers, related service personnel, administrators, and families to ensure all students are given every opportunity to reach their full potential.

The graduate program is designed to provide candidates with current information and experience with research based best practices in special education to assist candidates in learning about research based practices, how to research and stay current in their personal practices with students, and well versed in best practices that will keep candidates at the top of their field.

The MSE is a 30-graduate credit hour, program developed to meet the performance standards of Arkansas Competencies for Special Education K–12 Teachers, Arkansas Teaching Standards (InTASC), and Council for Exceptional Children Standards, while providing advanced studies in the discipline of special education. Included in the program is a 21-hour core of classes which comprise the Endorsement Program of Study. For candidates holding an Arkansas teaching license in a general education area (elementary, middle-level, or secondary content), successful completion of the Endorsement Program of Study and Praxis II exams will result in the candidate being eligible for an Arkansas Special Education K–12 license.

Program delivery is distance education with courses offered in an asynchronous online setting which will include compressed video, access to online videos and trainings, and Blackboard. For some assignments, students may have to meet online or face-to-face in groups.

[1.2] Guidelines for the MSE in Special Education

  1. Admission into the MSE program will be selective and competitive. Contact the Department of Elementary, Literacy, and Special Education or visit the department’s website (http://uca.edu/else/) for program details and course rotation. In addition to the general application and GPA requirements of the UCA Graduate School, applicants seeking an Arkansas Special Education K–12 license must hold a valid standard Arkansas educator license. For individuals who have an out-of-state educator license and wish to hold an Arkansas Special Education K–12 license, contact the department at (501) 450-3172 for assistance. While individuals not holding a teaching license are eligible for admission into the MSE program, they will not be eligible for Arkansas Special Education K–12 license as the license is considered an endorsement to an Arkansas teaching license in a general education area. These individuals must submit a statement of purpose with their application for admission. Please check the Special Education web page for additional details.
  2. With approval, a maximum of six hours may be transferred from another institution of higher education. These six hours must be approved by the department chair.
  3. Participation in the Comprehensive Examination can only take place during the final semester of study.
  4. Programs in the College of Education that lead to licensure relating to K–12 schools require satisfactory completion of all key assessments identified by the program area.
  5. Candidates have two options regarding the exit assessment: satisfactory completion (as determined by the state) of the state-mandated licensure tests for special education or satisfactory completion of the alternative assessment as identified by the program faculty.

[1.2.1] Continuous Enrollment Requirement

College of Education graduate students are expected to maintain continuous enrollment throughout their program of study until achieving program completion. Specifically, College of Education graduate students are expected to be enrolled in at least two of the three semesters in a given calendar year (Spring, Summer, and Fall). If a student must take a time-out, the student is expected to notify his/her home department. If a student fails to register for more than one semester out of three in a given calendar year, he/she may be ineligible for readmission unless granted by the home department.

[1.2.2] Required Courses for the MSE in Special Education K–12

Courses comprising the 21-hour core are designated by an asterisk (*).

ELSE 6300 SPED 101 Academy: Philosophical, Historical, and Legal Aspects of Special Education *
ELSE 6304 Behavior Management and Analysis in Special Education *
ELSE 6308 Educational Assessment in Special Education *
ELSE 6347 Foundations of Dyslexia and the Language *
ELSE 6366 Educational Programming for Students with Mild Disabilities K-12 *
ELSE 6367 Educational Programming for Students with Significant Disabilities K-12 *
ELSE 6333 Math and Science for Diverse Learners *
ELSE 6384 Research and Best Practices in Special Education
ELSE 6309 Solution-Focused Learning
ASTL 6380 Research Methods

Graduate candidates pursuing the MSE in Special Education who also wish to complete the Gifted and Talented certificate program (15 credit hours) may substitute six hours of gifted and talented (GATE) coursework for ELSE 6384 Research and Best Practices in Special Education and ELSE 6309 Solution-Focused Learning.

[1.3] Endorsements and Graduate Certificates

Programs of study exist for the following:

  • GC, Special Education K-12 (leading to an Arkansas teaching endorsement)
  • GC, Integrated Early Childhood Education (B-K) (leading to an Arkansas teaching endorsement)
  • Special Education Resource K–6 or 7–12 endorsement (non-degree seeking)

In addition to the general application and GPA requirements of the UCA Graduate School,

  • Applicants seeking an Arkansas endorsement must hold a valid standard Arkansas educator license.
  • Applicants not seeking an endorsement or who do not hold a valid standard Arkansas teaching license, must submit a statement of purpose with their admission application.
  • While individuals not holding a teaching license are eligible for admission into these programs, they will not be eligible for an Arkansas endorsement as the license is an endorsement to an existing Arkansas teaching license in a general education area.

[1.3.1] Required Courses for the Special Education K–12 Endorsement and Graduate Certificate

The 21-hour graduate level program is designed to provide knowledge and skills in the discipline of special education to licensed general education teachers. Candidates will gain expertise in the area of special education including foundations, development and characteristics of learners, individual learning differences, instructional strategies and planning (for teaching content areas such as literacy, math, and science), learning environments, guidance and behavior management, communication, working with families, assessment, and professional and ethical practice. Upon the successful completion of the proposed curriculum and Arkansas state licensure tests, candidates will be eligible for an Arkansas teaching license in Special Education K–12.

ELSE 6300 SPED 101 Academy: Philosophical, Historical, and Legal Aspects of Special Education
ELSE 6304 Behavior Management and Analysis in Special Education
ELSE 6308 Educational Assessment in Special Education
ELSE 6333 Math and Science for Diverse Learners
ELSE 6347 Foundations of Dyslexia and the Language
ELSE 6366 Educational Programming for Students with Mild Disabilities K-12
ELSE 6367 Educational Programming for Students with Significant Disabilities K-12

 → Gainful Employment Information – Graduate Certificate in Special Education K–12: 2018 

[1.3.2] Requirements for the B–K Endorsement and the Graduate Certificate in Integrated Early Childhood Education (B–K)

The 15-hour graduate-level program of study is designed to prepare licensed teachers who desire to work with typical and atypical children from birth through 5 years of age. With completion of the program and Praxis Licensure Test, candidates will be eligible for the Arkansas Licensure Endorsement in Early Childhood/Special Education Integrated B-K. Prerequisite: Candidates must have instruction in reading pedagogy which includes theories and strategies for teaching reading, diagnosis of reading difficulties, intervention strategies for struggling readers, and disciplinary literacy. Instruction in the area of reading will be determined by an audit of the candidate’s transcript and/or current areas of license. Candidates who do not have instruction in this area will be required to complete additional course work: ELSE 6314 Diagnosis and Interventions of Reading Difficulties OR ELSE 6347 Foundations of Dyslexia and the Language.

ELSE 6300 SPED 101 Academy: Philosophical, Historical, and Legal Aspects of Special Education
ELSE 6309 Solution-Focused Learning
ELSE 6327 Educational Programming for Young Children
ELSE 6336 Advanced Studies in the Guidance and Management of Young Children
ELSE 6338 Instructional Strategies and Assessment of Young Children

 → Gainful Employment Information – Graduate Certificate in Integrated Early Childhood Education (B–K): 2017 

For further information about Special Education licensure coursework, visit the Department of Elementary, Literacy, and Special Education web page (http://uca.edu/else/) or phone (501) 450-3172.

[1.3.3] Required Courses for the Special Education Resource K–6, 7–12 Endorsement

This 12-hour graduate-level program of study is designed to prepare licensed teachers who desire to work with students with exceptionalities typically served in an inclusive, co-taught, and/or resource classroom setting. With completion of the program and Praxis Licensure Test, candidates will be eligible for the Arkansas Licensure Endorsement in Special Education Resource K–6, 7–12.

ELSE 6300 Special Education 101 Academy: The Philosophical, Historical, and Legal Aspects of Special Education
ELSE 6304 Behavior Management and Analysis in Special Education
ELSE 6347 Foundations of Dyslexia and the Language
ELSE 6366 Educational Programming for Students with Mild Disabilities K–12

For further information about Special Education licensure coursework, visit the Department of Elementary, Literacy, and Special Education web page (http://uca.edu/else/) or phone (50l) 450-3172.

[2] Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in Special Education

[2.1] Objectives

The College of Education offers the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in Special Education for individuals without teaching credentials who have earned baccalaureate degrees in specific content areas and want to become special education teachers in an expeditious fashion. The Special Education MAT is a 36-hour program designed to prepare collaborative special education teachers skilled in providing quality instruction to students representing a broad scope of abilities. Candidates in the program will demonstrate competencies in the following areas: learner development and individual learning differences, learning environments, curricular content knowledge, assessment, instructional planning and strategies, professional learning and ethical practice, and collaboration. The program recognizes the changing and complex role of the special educator and as such prepares the graduate candidates to

  1. provide support and instruction to students with cognitive, physical, behavior, multiple, and/or health disabilities from kindergarten through 12th grade;
  2. work in different educational settings such as self-contained, resource, and regular classrooms;
  3. access the general education curriculum demonstrating a strong knowledge and skill set in academic content areas; and
  4. effectively collaborate and work closely with general education teachers, related service personnel, administrators, and families to ensure all students are given every opportunity to reach their full potential.

The program is designed to provide knowledge and skills in the discipline of special education while also meeting Arkansas Teaching Standards (ATS/InTASC), Arkansas Teacher Excellence and Support System (TESS), and the standards of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). In addition, the MAT curriculum is aligned to Arkansas Competencies for Special Education Teachers K–12 First Time Standard License (2015) and International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE) standards.

Graduates of the MAT will be eligible to pursue an Arkansas standard teaching license in Special Education K–12.

Program delivery is distance education with courses offered in an asynchronous and/or synchronous online setting which will include compressed video, access to online videos and trainings, and Blackboard. Most of the program is delivered online, with the opportunity for face-to-face class sessions in selected courses. Given that the program is designed to accommodate most student employment schedules, face-to-face class times will be scheduled at non-traditional times (i.e., evenings and/or weekends).

[2.2] Guidelines for the MAT in Special Education

[2.2.1] Program Prerequisites

In order to apply for a UCA graduate program, candidates will be required to provide transcripts from all institutions attended, and must hold a bachelor’s degree.

[2.2.2] Program Admission Requirements

Candidates interested in pursuing the MAT in Special Education must meet the general admission requirements of the Graduate School as well as the MAT program-specific admission requirements. This includes an undergraduate minimum grade point average of 2.7, a minimum 3.0 grade point average in all graduate work, and a program-specific statement of purpose. Please check the special education web page for information about the statement of purpose.

[2.2.3] Program Continuation Requirement

To continue in the Special Education MAT program, students must

  • Submit competitive standardized test scores in reading, writing, and math (e.g., Praxis Core, GRE) by the end of the first semester of enrollment.
  • Secure a provisional teaching license and provide evidence of employment as teacher of record, teaching a minimum of three (3) hours per day in a special education capacity/setting. Candidates can apply for their provisional license upon completion of ELSE 6300 SPED 101 Academy, ELSE 6375 The Practice of Teaching Diverse Learners, and successful completion of the Praxis II Special Education Core Knowledge and Application. The requirement of holding an Arkansas Provisional License must be met within the first 12 hours of the program or the candidate will be dismissed from the program. If the candidate fulfills this requirement after dismissal from the program, he/she can reapply for admission into the program.

According to Arkansas Department of Education Policies Governing Education Preparation Program Approval, candidates shall be placed only with mentors who have received at least a proficient or equivalent rating in their latest TESS performance review or other private or public school setting where content standards adopted by the State Board are taught, and faculty are subject to an evaluation system that uses a framework substantially similar to TESS.

Candidates not meeting the required academic performance criteria (including minimum GPA and test scores) and/or not demonstrating appropriate dispositions will be counseled by a faculty committee to be comprised of the program coordinator, the candidate’s advisor, and faculty who have interacted with the candidate in class settings. Decisions regarding professional and ethical conduct will be guided by the professional and ethical conduct policy adopted by the professional education unit licensure programs and College of Education degree and licensure programs. These candidates may be required to complete professional growth plans. Failure to meet the guidelines of the professional growth plan may be cause for dismissal from the MAT in Special Education program.

Candidates are required to maintain at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA throughout their program.

[2.2.4] Entrance into Internship Requirements

Upon completion of 30 hours and prior to Internship, candidates must submit a professional growth paper that summarizes their growth through the program in understanding of TESS and the CEC standards, while comparing and contrasting their new understandings to those contained in the reflective paper comparing and contrasting the TESS Framework and the CEC Standards, completed in ELSE 6375 The Practice of Teaching Diverse Learners. This reflective paper must be submitted to Chalk and Wire, and all criteria must receive a rating of 2 or better before candidates are eligible to enter Internship.

[2.2.5] Program Exit Requirements

After successful completion of all required courses and model key assessments, candidates must submit passing scores on all ADE licensure required tests.

Successful completion of a comprehensive written evaluation will be required for those candidates who are unable to submit passing scores on all licensure required tests.

Note: In order to apply for a standard teaching license in special education K–12, candidates MUST pass all ADE licensure required tests.

[2.2.6] Continuous Enrollment Requirement

College of Education graduate students are expected to maintain continuous enrollment throughout their program of study until achieving program completion. Specifically, College of Education graduate students are expected to be enrolled in at least two of the three semesters in a given calendar year (Spring, Summer, and Fall). If a student must take a time-out, the student is expected to notify his/her home department. If a student fails to register for more than one semester out of three in a given calendar year, he/she may be ineligible for readmission unless granted by the home department.

[2.3] Program of Study

Required Courses for the MAT in Special Education

ELSE 6300 SPED 101 Academy: Philosophical, Historical, and Legal Aspects of Special Education
ELSE 6304 Behavior Management and Analysis in Special Education
ELSE 6308 Educational Assessment in Special Education
ELSE 6314 Diagnosis and Intervention of Reading Difficulties
ELSE 6333 Math and Science for Diverse Learners
ELSE 6348 Multisensory Approach to Language I
ELSE 6366 Educational Programming for Students with Mild Disabilities K-12
ELSE 6367 Educational Programming for Students with Significant Disabilities K-12
ELSE 6375 The Practice and Teaching of Diverse Learners
ELSE 6600 Special Education M.A.T. Internship
ASTL 6380 Research Methods

[3] Graduate Course Links

Follow this link for ELSE course descriptions: course link.

Follow this link for ASTL course descriptions: course link.

Follow this link for GATE course descriptions: course link.