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The Graduate Certificate in Special Education is a flexible program of study that will prepare candidates to deliver non-categorical services to a variety of learners with disabilities. Through supervised practice, candidates will be required to demonstrate competencies required of K-12 special educators. This program does not result in teaching licensure, but does allow teachers to obtain special education certification as an add-on to an existing initial or standard license.



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

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.


A pen and ruler sit on the righthand page of an open textbook surrounded by notebook paper on a desk.

Intended for licensed teachers, this certificate is a minimum of 18 credit hours for candidates who are on emergency certificates or who simply desire an endorsement in special education. The certificate is designed for students to easily continue toward the M.Ed. in Special Education.

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

Transfer students may be admitted with an official transcript from a state-sanctioned graduate program. A total of 9 credits may be approved with a GPA of 3.0.

Program Admission

To be admitted, students must have one of the following:

  • Admission to the Graduate School (an undergraduate cumulative GPA of 2.7 or better, or 3.0 in the last 60 baccalaureate hours), without an initial or standard license OR
  • Admission into an initial licensure program in Early, Middle, or Secondary Education with a minimum of 12 hours and a cumulative GPA of 3.0.
    • Candidates electing this route must sign an acknowledgement form that they were advised that the certificate in special education does not result in licensure in special education.
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.

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).

Graduation Requirements

  • Cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 on an approved program of study as outlined in the emphasis section
  • Passing Praxis and other required examination scores
  • Submission of required program assessments


A minimum 18 credit hours are required for the Graduate Certificate in Special Education, although more courses may be required for licensure.

  • SPED 7301 Foundations in Special Education (Prerequisite Course)
  • SPED 7305 Managing the Learning Environment
  • SPED 5312 Medical Problems in Child Development
  • SPED 7352 Assessment and Intervention Design
  • SPED 7395 Practicum in Special Education
  • SPED 5303 Assistive Technology
  • SPED 5343 Disability Law
  • SPED 7351 Assessment in Special Education
  • SPED 7353 Transition

Course Descriptions

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 5343 Disability Law
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 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. Three credit hours.

SPED 7302 Technology in Special Education
This course will prepare candidates to be better able to respond to individuals’ functional needs in order to enhance their access to the general or special education curricula. Candidates will identify and use technology for instruction, assist students with school related tasks and help students communicate and help students function better in their environment. Three credit hours.

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.

SPED 7352 Assessment and Intervention Design
Prerequisites: SPED 7301 and 7351. Candidates are required to take this course concurrently with a three hour practicum (SPED 7395). The general goals of this course are to develop competencies in the methods of assessment and instructional design in special education. Candidates will expand upon the knowledge and skills developed in coursework and experiences gained in learning environments. The candidate will develop specific skills to assess, identify, and program for students with various learning problems in K-12 environments. Candidates will use various formal and informal assessments and analyze them for their utility in the referral, evaluation, and IEP development process. Additionally, students will analyze strategies to modify and adapt the curriculum for inclusive purposes. Three credit hours.

SPED 7353 Transition and Life Adjustment
Prerequisite: SPED 7352 Assessment and Instructional Design II. This course presents information regarding the transition and life adjustment of persons with disabilities. The focus is on the development and implementation of transition plans for adolescents with disabilities and children with more significant disabilities. Candidates will develop mechanisms for self-advocacy development and access to services available to adults with disabilities. Three credit hours.

SPED 7395 Practicum in Special Education
Candidates will utilize various formal and informal assessments and analyze them for their utility in the pre-referral, referral, evaluation, and IEP development process. Candidates will observe learning behavior, systematically design and implement strategies to address learning concerns, develop and/or administer informal assessments, monitor effects and report outcomes. By the conclusion, students should be writing, implementing, and evaluating instructional programs and conducting individual and small group instruction. This phase requires students to create and implement instructional programs and to demonstrate appropriate educational decision-making using evidence-based best practices. The time committed to a three credit-hour practicum is 120 clock hours in instructional settings plus participation in weekly/bimonthly discussion sessions. Candidates are required to take this course concurrently with SPED 7352. 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, Program Coordinator, Professor

Contact Information


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