College of Education and Human Development

Department of Educational Psychology

Special education: MA and PhD admissions

Admissions requirements

Note: The GRE is no longer required for admission into the special education program MA and PhD programs.

  • Graduate school application
  • Application fee
  • Transcripts (Academic History)
  • Non–native English speakers: English language test scores (TOEFL, IELTS, etc.)
  • Strong personal statement
  • Resume/CV
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Diversity Statement (optional but highly encouraged)
  • If applying for PRABA LEAP funding: 
    • Applicants for the MA in special education with an emphasis in applied behavior analysis who are interested in being supported by the PRABA LEAP training grant should submit an additional letter of application to the PRABA LEAP project. In the application letter to the PRABA LEAP project, candidates should describe their commitment to supporting culturally and linguistically diverse students who have high intensity behavioral needs, working as a BCBA in a high-need educational setting, and socially valid approaches to ABA service delivery. 


    Applications for fall 2024 will open the day after Labor Day. Until then, you may start your application in the system. Just be sure to change the term to fall 2024 prior to submitting.

    Note: We do not typically admit students for spring semester.

    The admissions committee considers a variety of factors including your prior academic achievement, relevant employment and life experiences, personal statement, letters of recommendation, and compatibility of your clinical and research interests with those of the program and faculty. Although interviews are not required, you may be called by the program for more information.

    December–January: Admissions decisions

    All applications are reviewed during December and January for entrance the following fall semester. For updates on the status of your application, visit the graduate application or send an email to the program.

    The Office of Graduate Admission completes a final review of your materials. You will receive your official admission decision via the email address provided on the graduate application.

    How to apply

    Upload and submit all application materials, including transcripts, directly to the graduate application. For additional information on how to apply, visit the Graduate School website.

    Graduate school application

    Choose “Ed-Psych Special Education-M.A.” or “Ed-Psych-Special Education Ph.D.” as your proposed major and degree objective.

    Required fields: Program Selection, Term Selection, Biographical Information, Personal Background, Ed Psych – Special Ed questions, Academic History (including transcripts), Test Scores, Employment, Materials (including: Personal Statement, Resume/CV), and Three Letters of Recommendation.

    Optional fields: Diversity Statements are optional but highly encouraged. Extenuating Circumstances Statement will be taken into consideration if submitted. A Writing Sample and Description of Research are not needed. As part of the Ed Psych – Special Ed questions, you have the option to upload a course abstract using this form.

      Visit the Graduate School website for more information.

      Please note: If you apply for more than one program in educational psychology (e.g., special education and school psychology or special education and psychological foundations of education), you will need to pay more than one application fee.

      An application fee waiver is available for students unable to pay due to hardship. Because a limited number of waivers are available, applications will be screened for fit and then the applicant will be notified if they are selected for the waiver. Review the Application Fee Waiver page for further information.

      Unofficial transcripts or academic records should be uploaded directly to the graduate application under the "Academic History" section. International students should also upload an English translation if the transcript is not in English. Please do not mail in paper copies of your transcripts, there is no need for official transcripts or academic records for initial review.

      If you are admitted, the University will then request official copies of this material.

      More information about transcripts and credentials

      Report your TOEFL, IELTS, or MELAB scores (non-native English Speakers only) in the "Test Scores" section.

      More information on English Language test scores

      Three letters of recommendation are required. Acceptable recommendations should come from current or former professors who can assess your potential for graduate work. Other recommenders, such as employers, are also acceptable. You will enter your recommenders name and email into the application. They will be sent direction on how to upload their letter directly into your application.

      Get more information and troubleshooting tips.


      Upload the following items into the corresponding fields of the Materials section.

      Required materials

        Upload a personal statement (not to exceed three double-spaced pages) to your application, outlining your interests and professional goals. This statement is an integral part of your application and will be weighted heavily in its evaluation. You should include, minimally, the following points:

        • How did you become interested in special education?
        • What specific factors have led you to apply to Minnesota for this specialization?
        • From whom have you received encouragement to continue work in special education?
        • What do you consider to be your outstanding strengths and weaknesses?
        • Please mention specific skills, special talents, or aptitudes. What aspects of or specific problems in your area of specialization interest you most at this point? What kinds of educational psychology work do you see yourself doing seven or eight years after you get your degree? Please describe briefly any participation in research, applied educational psychology, or employment which might be relevant to your application.

        Upload the essay under "Personal Statement" in the Materials section in the graduate application.

        Upload it under “Resume/CV” in the Materials section of the graduate application.

        Optional materials

          This statement may be used to nominate exceptional applicants for graduate fellowships. (See the Graduate School's DOVE Fellowship page for more information). Submitting the diversity statement is optional, but highly encouraged, especially for applicants who have experienced hardships or obstacles to complete their previous undergraduate or graduate education (e.g., coming from diverse ethnic, racial, or educational backgrounds; coming from a low-income background; being a first-generation college student).

          Tip: Tell your story. If you learned from obstacles you personally overcame, write about them. If you grew up with privilege, write about how you discovered your privilege. It might be tempting to write about someone else’s experience, an entire group’s experience, or diversity and inclusion in an abstract way. However, most often, admissions teams want to understand how you personally came to be empathetic, reflective, resilient, and aware of systematic inequalities. Describe how your background, experiences, and achievements will contribute to the program and the University’s goals of promoting excellence through diversity. Submitting the diversity statement is optional, but highly encouraged.

          Upload the essay under “Diversity Statement” in the Materials section in the graduation application.

          You may upload a brief statement explaining any extenuating circumstances that may have affected your grades or your test scores under "Extenuating Circumstances Statement" in the Materials section.

          If you wish to be considered for a Common Ground Consortium assistantship (PhD applicants), please be sure to indicate this on your program application, and then upload a statement (no more than 250 words) briefly addressing the following statement: Given that the University of Minnesota is a public grant institution, it is imperative that CGC scholars can both benefit personally from their membership in the program as well as further the university’s founding mission to contribute to scholarship that benefits the local and greater communities.

          Please describe how your participation as a CGC scholar would do the following:

          • Enhance your graduate student experience
          • Prepare you for your chosen career
          • Benefit the public

          Writing Sample and Description of Research are not needed.


          Scholarships, fellowships, and awards

          Special education scholarships, fellowships, and awards

          PhD only: Submit your application materials by Dec. 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

          Financial aid

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