Special Education Programs
Graduate study in special education in the ISU Educator Preparation Program offers you a strong background in evidenced-based practices to meet the needs of students with learning disabilities and behavior disorders. We provide flexible options for obtaining a special education teaching endorsement and/or a masters degree in education.
We offer four options for students pursuing graduate study in special education.
Curriculum (PDF) (12 credits minimum)
This program allows you to pursue the courses you need to earn a special education teaching endorsement without completing the additional requirements for a master’s degree. There is a required practicum; most students complete all or part of this requirement in their own classrooms.
Curriculum (PDF) (33 credits; up to 9 credits can transfer in)
This program emphasizes advanced knowledge and skills for practitioners in special education. You complete the core requirements for the Educator Preparation Program, a sequence of special education courses, and a creative component project designed to showcase your status as an advanced practitioner.
Curriculum (PDF) (33-35 credits; up to 9 credits can transfer in)
This program emphasizes advanced knowledge in special education along with research skills. You complete the core requirements for the Educator Preparation Program, a sequence of special education courses, and a thesis that demonstrates your ability to conduct research.
Those wishing to pursue a doctoral degree may apply for the Ph.D. in Education and design a program that emphasizes special education and one or more additional cognate areas.
Courses are offered in the evening, on weekends, and during the summer to accommodate the busy schedules of working professionals.
Online courses: Many courses (particularly those for the Instructional Strategist II: Learning Disabilities/ Behavior Disorders endorsement) are available through video streaming technology that allows you to participate in classes from your own home using a high-speed internet connection.
Iowa State’s program connects you with faculty who are actively engaged in the field at the local, state, and national levels.
Special Education team
The following special education endorsements are offered:
The ISU calendar includes:
Specific calendar dates are available on the ISU Calendar.
All of the graduate classes in special education are designed for working professionals and are offered in the evenings, on weekends, or during the summer. On-campus courses are offered at the ISU campus in Ames.
Online courses: Many of the courses are offered using video streaming technology so that you can participate from a convenient location.
Distance/campus courses: Many graduate courses in special education use a hybrid model that combines distance education components with a limited number of on-campus sessions (usually on Saturdays). All of the courses required for the Strategist II: Behavior Disorders/ Learning Disabilities endorsement are offered using this model. Distance courses in special education make use of WebCT and videostreaming trechnology to maximize real-time interactions with the instructor and fellow students.
Part time students (most of whom are working full time) typically take one course each fall and spring semester and two courses in the summer. Working at this pace, it will take approximately three years to complete a special education teaching endorsement and four to five years to complete a masters degree.
Full time students are generally able to complete a masters degree in two to three years. ISU requires that masters degrees be completed in five years.
The following are requirements for graduate study in special education:
The Special Education Program admission process requires completing two applications/processes:
To get the most current estimate of how much graduate study at ISU will cost, go to the tuition calculator developed by the ISU Graduate College. The majority of the classes you take will be 3 credits. Graduate students who are working full-time typically take one course per semester and one or more courses in the summer. More information is available on the scholarships page.
Graduate assistantships are awarded on a competitive basis, contingent upon funding and areas of need in the Educator Preparation Program. To be considered for a graduate assistantship, submit a rÃ©sumÃ© and a description of your skills, research interests, and experiences to:
You may also contact faculty in special education to obtain information about opportunities specific to their projects. Most assistantships come from faculty who have grants and are in need of assistance with their research.
Additional sources of information about financial assistance include:
Undergraduate credits can only be used to satisfy endorsement requirements. They cannot be applied to a graduate degree program.
You may transfer in credits. However, the decision about which credits will transfer rests with your graduate committee (for a masters or doctorate degree) or with your certificate adviser. Courses that are more than five years old are generally not considered for transfer. Typically, no more than 9 credits will be accepted.
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