M.ED. IN EDUCATION: Special Education K-12 Initial Licensure

Yellow, green, blue, purple, red, and orange colored pencils arranged in a semi-circle on a wooden table top.

The Master of Education in Education: Special Education (K-12) licensure is an initial preparation program in special education. All candidates will be exposed to the legal and social tenets of delivering services in special instructional settings. Candidates will learn to deliver and interpret assessment data for the purposes of eligibility determination. The program also includes developing competencies in instructional design and program evaluation.



Degree in Hand

You’ll need to have earned your bachelor’s degree at an accredited college or university.


Apply Online

Fill out the online admissions application and submit the required materials to the Graduate School.

Once accepted to UA Little Rock, specialized advisors within the School of Education will help you get registered for classes.


Your Chance to Have a Substantial Impact on the Lives of Others

You will see not only the daily impact on the students, but also the lifelong impact on the lives of their families. You will be in a position to help them celebrate the small victories that will lead to greater success and unlock their full potential—a potential most people often do not see. Teaching special and exceptional learners also means advocating for the students and their particular needs. You’ll have the opportunity to work with other educators, parents, and health professionals to find resources that meet the educational needs of these unique students.

Incredible Job Security and Opportunities for Advancement

Special education continues to be reported by the Arkansas Department of Education as a shortage area for teachers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of special education teachers is expected to increase 6% by 2024. As the number of special and exceptional learners increases, so will the demand for special education services, making this a versatile career choice with numerous pathways for advancement. In addition, having a specialization in special education will make you a more marketable candidate for other teaching positions.


The M.Ed. degree in education special education licensure prepares candidates as teachers of students with disabilities. Special education teachers address the professional challenge of designing instruction that meets the needs of children and youth with disabilities.

Additionally, private school personnel, as well as international candidates, may require preparation to meet exceptional students’ needs; they may access the program of study but do not require nor desire licensure in the state.

Admission Requirements

Graduate School Admission

  • Apply for admission to the UA Little Rock Graduate School.
  • $40 non-refundable application fee paid via the link in the initial application email or by contacting the Cashier’s Office.
  • Official transcripts from ALL previously attended colleges and universities (undergraduate and graduate).
    • International students must have their transcripts articulated. Transcripts that have not been articulated can be submitted for the application process; however, if a student is granted admission, WES-articulated transcripts must be submitted to the Graduate School before he or she can register for classes.
  • Proof of 2 MMR vaccines. Contact your program coordinator if you think you are eligible for a waiver. Students only in the UA Little Rock Online programs are exempt.
  • Proof of a grade point average of at least 2.7 on a 4.00 scale, including post-baccalaureate hours.
  • A copy of your government-issued photo ID.

International Student Admission

Required documents for international admission:

  • Tuberculosis screening
    • All applicants must provide proof of a Tuberculosis screening, which must be performed in the United States of America and can be done at the Health Services Center at UA Little Rock.
  • Health and accident insurance
    • All international students must purchase the health and accident insurance provided by UA Little Rock and maintain coverage year-round. Students will be billed at the beginning of each fall and spring semester. A student who enters in a summer semester will be billed for that semester as well, making the total number of times billed three instead of two. If you have any questions, please contact Health Services at 501-569-3188.
  • Transfer forms
    • Applicants transferring from another institution within the United States of America must also provide a Transfer and Visa form completed by the applicant’s International Student Services advisor from his or her current institution.
  • Financial statement (students with F and J visas only)
    • Before they can be accepted into the Graduate School, students must provide a financial statement showing that they are financially capable of pursuing a graduate education in the United States of America. For more information on this form, please contact the office of International Student Services at 501-916-5815.
  • All applicants must submit a copy of their visa.

Transfer Students

Candidates transferring from an accredited graduate program may be eligible for the M.Ed. degree in special education if they have:

  • A minimum of 12 credit hours in an approved graduate program
  • A GPA of at least 3.0

These students may transfer up to 15 credits of their previous graduate level coursework.

Program Admission

Regular Admission for Licensed Candidates
  • Candidates who do not yet possess a standard or initial license in education, but who earned a baccalaureate degree with a minimum GPA of 2.75 or 3.0 in the last 60 hours may be admitted; these candidates want to obtain a master’s degree in Education and initial licensure in Special Education K-12. Candidates electing this track will be prepared to deliver direct services in K-12 instructional settings.
  • Candidates may also be admitted based on their enrollment in an accredited graduate program with a minimum of 12 credits and a GPA of 3.0. A transfer candidate may transfer up to 15 credits with a GPA of 3.0.
  • Undergraduate candidates within 15 hours of completing their undergraduate program may begin the graduate certificate program and take up to 6 hours of the program with the approval of the graduate coordinator and instructor.
  • Candidates will exit the program with an initial or standard license in special education and a master’s degree.
Conditional Admission for Licensed Candidates
  • Candidates must possess a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution; a GPA of 2.7-2.74. Candidates must take three introductory courses (9 hours) and make a cumulative GPA of 3.0 for full admission, OR
  • A provisional license and completion of at least 9 credits in another UA Little Rock graduate program or graduate program at another regionally accredited college or university with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0.
Licensure and Field Placement Requirements

To be eligible for a provisional teaching license for Special Education K-12 in Arkansas, students enrolled in the program must meet the following criteria:

  • Be fully admitted to the UA Little Rock Graduate School and in good standing in an educational program of study.
  • Continually be taking classes in their program of study.
  • Submit required entrance exam scores in reading, writing, and math.*
  • Pass the Praxis II Content Subject Assessments and required for the Special Education licensure area.
  • Have successfully completed the state approved Special Education 101 course (our SPED 7301 course) and one more special education course prior to applying for provisional license.
  • Complete the online ProEthica requirement.
  • Complete and clear background checks (State Police, FBI, and Child Maltreatment Central Registry).
  • Complete the application for the provisional license.**
  • Receive a viable job offer to teach in special education K-12 at a site approved by the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE)
  • Meet any other licensure requirements for their chosen licensure area as required by the ADE

Students who do not meet the above criteria must complete traditional field placements and an internship in a cooperating teacher’s classroom during normal school hours, Monday through Friday 7:30am-4:30pm, during the K-12 school year (normally August to May).

* For entry into the graduate initial licensure programs, we will accept required ACT scores at or above a minimum math score 19, reading score of 19, and a writing score of 6 or the English/Writing Combined score of 19. If an individual has taken the ACT multiple times, we will consider the highest score in each category. We will accept corresponding comparable SAT and/or GRE scores as well. If a prospective student has ACT scores below the minimum composite score, or have not taken the writing section of the ACT, they may take the Accuplacer Next Generation exam or exams at the UA Little Rock Testing Center and must make at least a score that corresponds to the comparative ACT minimum score. Or, they may also choose to retake the ACT (not offered at the Testing Center) to attempt to reach the minimum score required for entrance into the programs. If an applicant has taken the Praxis Core or Praxis I/PPST, we will also accept what were considered passing scores in those exams as well (Praxis Core minimum scores: reading 156; math 150; writing 162; PPST minimum scores of Reading 172, Math 171, and Writing 173). We will accept any of the above passing scores in any combination for reading, math and writing. There will also be an appeals process for students who do not meet the minimum scores and wish to pursue admission. Ask your advisor about this process.
** Completion of application does not guarantee approval. All sites must be approved by the College of Education and Health Professions and the Arkansas Department of Education.

Retention Requirements

  • All candidates must satisfy the specific common core competencies for special education along with performance standards established for the specialty professional association (CEC).
  • The M.Ed. degree requires a portfolio of scholarship as a culminating experience.
  • Candidates in the M.Ed. in special education program are required to pass state required Praxis content and other state required assessments for the standard license.

Graduation Requirements

  • Cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 on an approved program of study as outlined in the emphasis section.
  • Prepare and present a proficient or above proficient exit portfolio of scholarship.
  • Pass state required Praxis content knowledge and other state required examinations.
Individual emphasis areas may have additional graduation requirements.


Special Education and Teacher Education Core Courses (36 hours)

  • SPED 5303 Assistive Technology in Special Education
  • SPED 5311 or SPED 7305 Managing the Learning Environment
  • SPED 5312 Medical Problems in Special Education
  • SPED 5326 Assessment in Special Education
  • SPED 5328 Teaching Content in Special Education
  • SPED 5343 Disability Law
  • SPED 7301 Foundations in Special Education
  • SPED 7690 Internship
  • TCED 5321 Teaching Diverse Learners
  • TCED 5330 Classroom Management
  • TCED 5383 Instructional Skills

Course Descriptions

Special Education Courses

SPED 5303 Assistive Technology in Special Education
Prerequisite: Successful completion of the Teacher Education Block. This course will prepare teachers to respond to individuals’ functional needs in order to enhance access to the general or special education curricula. Candidates will identify and assess how to evaluate, select and use both hardware and software for the purposes of enhancing instruction, assist students with school-related tasks, help students communicate and help students function better in their environment. Three credit hours.

SPED 5312 Medical Problems in Child Development
The primary concern of the course is to review medical conditions and events arising during prenatal, postnatal and early childhood which contribute to the nature and cause of major educational disabilities. Special attention is given to syndromes associated with mental retardation, disorders of the central nervous system, infections disease, and a wide range of conditions placing children at risk for developmental delays. Emphasis is directed toward early medical identification, prevention of secondary disabilities, and strategies for responding to chronic health conditions in educational settings. Guest lectures by physicians and other health related professionals are an integral part of the course. Three credit hours.

SPED 5326 Assessment in Special Education
This course addresses assessment strategies for K-12 special education. A specific focus will be given to the principles of assessment. Various aspects of the learning environment are examined and procedures for gathering assessment data are explored. The general goal of this course is to develop competencies in assessment. Candidates will use content from foundational knowledge and skill related to the characteristics of disability and ways to identify disability. Major emphasis will focus on assessment for eligibility for special educational services. Specific emphasis will be placed upon developing skills to observe learners for disabilities, identify and evaluate relevant formal and informal assessment strategies that contribute to the identification, placement and instructional planning for students with learning problems in both early and school age populations. Candidates will learn to identify the needs of children related to health and/or sensory impairments, the identification of abilities in the developmental domains along various age groups. Prerequisites: SPED 7301 or equivalent.

SPED 5328 Teaching Content in Special Education
The purpose of the course is to provide students with the basic understanding of the legal and ethical issues that impact assessment, eligibility, placement, and delivery of services of students with disabilities. The focus will be on the due process procedures and elements of Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) necessary for successful teaching of students with disabilities as found in Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Three credit hours.

SPED 5343 Disability Law
The general goals of this course are to expand upon the knowledge and skills developed in previous assessment coursework and field experiences. The knowledge will be enfolded into individualized instructional design for students with various learning problems. Candidates will use assessment data to design instruction in general academic content. Additionally, students will identify strategies to modify and adapt the curriculum for delivery in inclusive settings. Candidates will align instruction to Common Core standards, use evidence-based best practices to individualize instruction, and design curriculum basedassessments. Three credit hours.

SPED 7301 Foundations in Special Education
This course surveys the foundations of educational programs for students with disabilities, emphasizing the historical, philosophical, and legal aspects of special education. Course work includes surveys of the characteristics and needs of students with various disabilities.

SPED 5311 OR SPED 7305 Managing the Learning Environment
Theory, research, and application for behavioral management. Current issues and research in applied behavioral analysis and other forms of classroom management; cognitive behavioral and emerging management procedures, emphasis on application of research. Three credit hours.

Teacher Education Courses

TCED 5321 Teaching Diverse Learners
Teacher candidates use basic concepts of learner development and cultural diversity to design lessons and to select and use teaching materials and techniques to meet the needs of students at different developmental stages and of different cultures. Three credit hours.

TCED 5330 – Classroom Management
Emphasizes creation of and fostering of classroom management techniques and strategies for the design of environments that are conducive to a safe place for teaching and learning. Includes connecting the school-home-community connections. Incorporates technology for learning and teaching. Candidates will have taken or passed Praxis CORE prior to course. Students with credit for TCED 4330 cannot take this course for credit. Three credit hours.

TCED 5383 – Instructional Skills
This course provides knowledge of instructional skills, assessment, and disciplinary literacy. Lesson planning and design, evaluation, equity, legal issues, technology implementation, and content area literacy strategies will be addressed. Includes a field component of 15 hours individualized or small group instruction/support in a K-12 classroom setting under the supervision of a cooperating teacher. Students with credit for TCED 4383 may take TCED 5383 for credit. Three credit hours.


Portrait of Dr. Jennifer Hune

Jennifer B. Hune, Ph.D.

Graduate Advisor, Associate Professor

Contact Information

Bruce Smith

Bruce Smith, Ph.D.

Director of the School of Education, Undergraduate Advisor, Professor

Contact Information


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