Graduate Catalog 2023-2024

Special Education for Initial Certification, Master of Arts in Teaching (0456)

Department website:

Program Coordinator

Janet L. Tassell,, (270) 745-5306

Program Contact
Rachael Lee,, (270) 745-2819

The Special Education Initial Certification program, which will lead to a Master of Arts in Teaching, is for individuals seeking initial certification in learning and behavioral disorders (LBD) or moderate and severe disabilities (MSD) and may or may not be currently employed as a teacher of students with LBD or MSD. This option is for those individuals with no prior teacher certification in any area. This 33-hour program consists of coursework in induction to the profession of special education, the diagnosis and assessment of disabilities, instructional strategies, data-based individualization, managing behavior and positive behavior supports, transition planning, and special education law. If a student is currently employed or has verification of employment from a school district, the student may be eligible for a Temporary Provisional Teaching Certificate (CA-TP). If the student does not secure employment as the teacher of record in an LBD or MSD setting during the program, the student will be required to complete the equivalent of the state required student teaching experience in an unpaid position in an accredited Public School within WKU's service area. Graduates completing the equivalent of a student teaching experience will be eligible for a Statement of Eligibility for certification as a teacher of students with LBD or MSD.

Students must submit passing scores on the Praxis and be fully admitted to the professional education unit (teacher admissions) PRIOR to enrolling in SPED 590 Students must meet all state requirements for student teaching and initial certification. SPED 590 should be taken as the final course of the program. Courses in the program carry key assessments that must be completed before the final course grade will be recorded. Performance on coursework and key assessments is reviewed at the end of each semester to measure progress through the program.

Note: To be eligible to be recommended for teacher certification, students must document that they have received passing score(s) on the required Praxis examination(s).

Program Admission

To be considered for admission, applicants must:

  • Document completion of a bachelor’s degree with a major, or equivalent, in an approved subject area and from an accredited institution.
  • Present a letter of application (including professional goals).  Document a cumulative overall grade point average (GPA) of 2.75 or above (counting all course work, undergraduate or graduate) OR a GPA of 3.0 in the last 30 hours of course work (counting all course work, undergraduate and graduate).
  • Submit documentation to satisfy partial criteria for admission to professional education, including references, physical including TB test, signed commitment to uphold the code of ethics, and criminal background check.

Graduate School Admission

Please refer to the admission section of this catalog for Graduate School admission requirements.

Program Requirements (33 hours)

Required Courses
EDU 502Positive Learning Environment3
SPED 517Transition Services and Programs for Individuals with Disabilities3
SPED 630Special Education Law and Finance3
SPED 618Social Skills Instruction & Behavioral Programming for Students with Disabilities3
SPED 590Advanced Internship in Special Education 16
Total Hours18

Students currently teaching in a classroom serving students with learning and behavior disorders (LBD) or moderate and severe disabilities (MSD) (depending on concentration area) may use their current teaching position to meet this requirement with advisor approval. Students not currently teaching must complete an internship experience equivalent to state requirements for student teaching in a classroom serving students with LBD or MSD.


Learning and Behavior Disorders (15 hours)

Required Courses
SPED 530Advanced Assessment of Students with Disabilities in General Education3
SPED 531Data-Based Individualization in Special Education3
SPED 525Intervention Support for Students with Dyslexia and Other Reading Disabilities3
SPED 515Introduction to Special Education3
LTCY 519Literacy Development and Instruction3
Total Hours15

Moderate and Severe Disabilities (15 hours)  

Required Courses
SPED 535Curriculum for Individuals with Moderate and Severe Disabilities3
SPED 615Instructional Strategies for Students with Moderate and Severe Disabilities3
SPED 529Assessment of Students with Moderate to Severe Disabilities3
SPED 610Characteristics of Low Incidence Disorders3
SPED 612Collaboration between Schools and Stakeholders for Individuals with Disabilities3
Total Hours15