College of Education and Human Development

Department of Educational Psychology

Special education

Help all students get the support they need to succeed

Improve outcomes for individuals who require specialized support to achieve success throughout their lifespan. At the University of Minnesota, we are committed to engaging in meaningful research—and to bridging research and practice—to improve the lives of children and families in diverse contexts, and to have a lasting impact on teacher education, leadership, and policy.

#10 U.S. News & World Report, 2024

Rated #10 in the nation among special education graduate programs.

Programs and degrees


    Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD)

    Prepare to be an innovative researcher and engage in leadership that shapes the field of special education.

    Master's of Arts (MA)

    Conduct research and gain experience that is valuable to careers in research and practice as well as a future PhD.

    Master's of Arts (MA) with an emphasis in applied behavior analysis (ABA)

    Prepare to become a board certified behavior analyst.

    Master's of Education with or without licensure

    Advance your expertise for work within school systems while also having the option to become eligible to obtain a teaching license from one of our teacher licensure programs.


    Choose from three tracks.

      Bachelor's of Science (BS) with Academic Behavioral Strategist (ABS) licensure

      Earn your bachelor's of science in special education and academic behavior strategist (ABS) teaching license in four years. Upon graduation, you'll be eligible to be certified to teach students with mild-moderate disabilities in K-12 school systems.

      Bachelor’s of Science (BS) with Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) licensure

      Earn your bachelor's of science in special education and early childhood special education teaching license in four years. Upon graduation, you'll be eligible to be certified to teach infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with delays/disabilities in a wide variety of home, community, and school settings.

      Bachelor’s of Science (BS): foundations of special education for schools and society

      Gain expertise in the field of special education to expand its reach in schools and society. This degree does not lead to a teaching license.

      Master's degrees and teaching licensures

        Academic behavior strategist MEd and licensure

        Become eligible to obtain an ABS teaching license to work with students in K-12 schools with a broad array of mild to moderate disabilities. This licensure program may be combined with the BS or MEd degrees.

        Deaf and hard of hearing MEd and licensure

        Become eligible to obtain a DHH teaching license to teach students from infancy through age 21 who are Deaf or hard of hearing. This licensure program may be combined with the MEd degree.

        Early childhood special education MEd and licensure

        Become eligible to obtain an ECSE teaching license to teach young children and their families from infancy through age six who experience a broad array of disabilities. This licensure program may be combined with the BS or MEd degree.

        Minor, certificates, and study abroad

          Graduate minor in special education

          Complement your master’s degree with the knowledge and skills to improve the way your field supports people with disabilities by earning a graduate minor in special education.

          Students wishing to pursue this graduate minor must be currently enrolled in a graduate degree program at the University of Minnesota. Students with an educational psychology major may elect a minor in special education, but no courses may count for both the major and the minor.

          Special education minor

          Increase your knowledge, skill level, and experience in working with children with special needs in educational settings. As you become more familiar with the field of special education, this minor offers the opportunity to expand your knowledge in teaching methods for children with mild to moderate academic, social/emotional, and behavioral needs in order to increase their academic potential.

          This minor is a good choice for preservice Elementary and DirecTrack teacher candidates, Developmental and Child Psychology majors as well as others who wish to learn more about methods to help children with special needs be more successful in classroom settings.

          Online autism spectrum disorder (ASD) certificate

          Obtain a certificate that demonstrates advanced expertise in working with individuals with ASD in school settings. This certificate does not lead to a teaching license, but may be combined with one of our other teaching licensure programs. The certificate program is available to any undergraduate or graduate student.

          Global Seminar: In the field - Teaching and learning in Danish schools & communities

          Gain firsthand experience in Danish schools and communities.

          During your seminar, you'll:

          • Observe classrooms, participate in field studies, and hear from local educators.
          • Visit lively cultural centers such as Kronborg Castle and Tivoli Gardens.
          • Explore connections between Viking history and Minnesota.

          Tuition and funding

            Special education scholarships, fellowships, and awards

            PhD only: Submit your application materials by December 1, and you’ll automatically be considered for Graduate School fellowships and departmental awards based on scholastic achievement. Notification of awards will be sent in March.

            College of Education and Human Development awards

            Visit OneStop Student Services for more information on available financial aid.

            Faculty and staff

            M.Y. Savana Bak

            Assistant professor

            Sam Choo

            Assistant professor

            Anne Foegen

            Professor and department chair

            Debbie Golos

            Associate professor, Deaf/Hard of Hearing licensure and MEd coordinator

            Robert Henery


            LeAnne Johnson

            Associate professor, special education program coordinator

            Brynn Kraning


            Amy Kunkel

            Assistant teaching professor, special education licensure coordinator, ABS licensure program lead

            Jennifer McComas

            Professor and head of special education MA with emphasis in ABA

            Kristen McMaster

            Professor and Guy Bond Chair in Reading

            Charissa O'Neill

            Special education field placement coordinator, teaching specialist

            Brenna Rudolph

            Lecturer, early childhood special education (ECSE) licensure program lead

            Kathy Seifert

            Director of undergraduate studies, teaching associate professor

            Frank Symons

            CEHD Senior Associate Dean for Research and Policy, Distinguished McKnight University Professor

            Jason Wolff

            McKnight Presidential Fellow, associate professor, director of graduate studies, Autism Spectrum Disorder certificate coordinator