Master of Arts in Teaching: Special Education

Department Chair:  Sunny Styles-Foster  Email:     Phone: (501) 450-5441

Program Coordinator:  Mr. Steve Ward   Email:

As a result of the current teacher shortage in Arkansas, the Arkansas Department of Education approved Special Education as a non-traditional licensure program area, creating the option for institutions to offer Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degrees in Special Education. The MAT program is designed for individuals without teaching credentials but who have successfully completed a baccalaureate degree and wish to become a teacher.

Out of State Candidates: While we welcome any out of state candidates, completion of any program, other than an initial licensure program, may not lead to licensure or endorsement in Arkansas or in the state in which you reside. It is your responsibility to check with your state’s department of education to determine if the license or endorsement requirements are met through the program of study. If you are a potential out of state candidate, please contact the program coordinator directly. The site below provides the contact information for the Departments of Education in each U.S. state and territory.  Contact your state’s department of education for specific licensing requirements for your

Non-U.S. Citizens: If you are a non-U.S. citizen residing out of country, you are not eligible for the MAT program. If you are living in the U.S., you must meet the qualifications found on the DESE site, in order to be eligible for licensure in the state of AR.

Information for Prospective Students

The MAT in Special Education K-12 is a 36 hour program delivered 100% online, and designed to ensure candidates will gain expertise in learner development and individual learning differences, learning environments, curricular content knowledge, assessment, instructional planning and strategies, professional learning and ethical practices, and collaboration. Recognizing the changing and complex role of the special educator, the MAT program prepares candidates to:

  • provide support and instruction to students with cognitive, physical, behavior, multiple, and/or health disabilities from kindergarten through 12th grade;
  • work in different educational settings such as self-contained, resource, and regular classrooms;
  • access the general education curriculum, demonstrating a strong knowledge and skill set in academic content areas; and
  • 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.
Requirements for Graduate School and Program Admission (**IMPORTANT: Admission into the MAT SPED program will only occur twice a year, in the Spring and Summer Semesters**):

For Spring applicants, all documentation for both the Graduate School and the MAT program must be received no later than December 15th (if this date falls on a weekend, the deadline will be the next business day).

For Summer applicants, all documentation for both the Graduate School and the MAT program must be received no later than the Friday before Memorial Day. If you miss the deadline for Summer, you will need to move your application to Fall. **IF you have a job offer after the Summer deadline, you may still be able to start Summer II. Please contact the program coordinator, if this situation applies to you. The latest we can accept applications for Summer II is June 20th.**

  1. Start the Graduate School application available here. A $45 application fee is required.
  2. Submit original, sealed transcripts to the UCA Graduate School from all previous schools attended. (Not necessary for UCA transcripts). The required minimum undergraduate GPA for admission is 2.7. (If you fall below the 2.7 GPA, we suggest taking post-baccalaureate courses to help bring your GPA to the 2.7 minimum. Post-bacc courses can be from any institution, but need to be 3000 or 4000 level courses. We recommend those be in the content area where you wish to teach. We will not review applications that do not meet the minimum GPA requirement).
  3. Once prompted by the Graduate School, you will submit a Statement of Purpose. The guidelines and a submission link will be sent to you by the Graduate School via email, but can also be found at this link: Statement of Purpose Guidelines.
  4. Upload all other required information (including proof of your MAT application AND proof of your cleared AELS background check (see below)–Directions for AELS Background/Child Maltreatment) into the Graduate School system. Once your Graduate School file is complete, it will be sent to the program coordinator for review. The background check is a state law and non-negotiable admission requirement.

 Program of Study 

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 6348 Multisensory Approach to Language I
ELSE 6349 Multisensory Approach to Language II
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’

ASTL 6380 Research Methods
ELSE 6600 Special Education M.A.T. Internship
Suggested Pacing Guides, based on course offerings and start semesters. Additional Information for K-12 Special Education MAT Students


Federal TEACH Grant
 Up to $4,000 per year

State Teacher Education Program (STEP)
Loan repayment up to $3,000 per year

The Teacher Opportunity Program (TOP) offers tuition reimbursement grants to Arkansas teachers and administrators. Teachers and administrators may apply for reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses paid for up to six (6) college credit hours completed for each academic year, not to exceed $3000.