Special Education

Students with disabilities or learning needs require educational environments that incorporate special features. These environments must be adjustable and adaptable to accommodate the learning characteristics of students who differ from other learners in approaches to mastery and acceleration.

The UVA School of Education and Human Development Impact

The UVA School of Education and Human Development's Special Education program prepares you to become a teacher, consultant, clinician or teacher educator and researcher who can promote the application of evidence-based practices to the service of children and youth with special education needs. We offer degree programs if you are just beginning your career as a special educator, as well as advanced graduate programs if you have extensive experience and seek to help others by discovering and disseminating new evidence about effective practices.

Special Education at the School of Education and Human Development includes areas of emphasis for Learning Disabilities (LD), Emotional and Behavioral Disorders (EBD), and Intellectual Disabilities (ID). At the master’s level, these programs prepare you to provide exemplary, evidence-based services for individuals with disabilities. At the doctoral level, you will contribute to the advancement of scholarly knowledge about disabilities and special education, prepare future professionals and contribute to the common wealth of the discipline.


Teacher preparation - After completing the teacher preparation program at the School of Education and Human Development, you can work in a variety of school settings, depending on your area of preparation. If you completed our high-incidence programs (with an emphasis on LD, EBD, and ID), you will likely focus on preschool through secondary-aged students (preK–12) in school settings. Although you may teach in special schools or self-contained special education classrooms, you will probably find employment in collaborative or inclusion settings where you work with regular educators to meet students’ unique needs in typical school situations. Special education teaching is the #1 teacher shortage area in the country. 

Doctoral preparation - As a graduate of UVA School of Education and Human Development’s Special Education doctoral program, you can take a position at a research organization or in a school or college and conduct research. Many of our doctoral graduates have become noted scholars who have contributed to the discipline of special education by teaching and publishing texts and research papers as well as by serving as officers in national and international organizations.

By the Numbers

  • 4 th

    Best Special Education Program in the Country, U.S. News & World Report

  • 15 th

    Best Education Graduate School in the Country, U.S. News & World Report

  • 6 th

    Best Secondary Education Program in the Country, U.S. News & World Report

EDH School's partnership with the Virginia Institute of Autism is laying the Foundation for a larger cross-Grounds effort to help individuals on the autism spectrum.

Explore Our Degrees

Choosing the right degree within our program is important to ensuring that you achieve an outcome that supports your career goals. Let us help guide you through your choices.

  • BSED - Special Education

    The School of Education and Human Development's new four-year undergraduate degree is a more affordable option to becoming a special education teacher. Our clinically based program prepares you to teach students with mild to moderate disabilities in grades K-12, combining intensive classroom study with significant time spent applying your knowledge in real classrooms. For UVA graduates who wish to further specialize their training, the School of Education and Human Development also offers early admission to our one-year master's degree programs.

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  • MT - Special Education

    Teaching special education is a truly rewarding career, and one that is in high demand. The School of Education and Human Development is proud to offer a Master of Teaching (MT) degree with licensure and endorsement in Special Education-General Curriculum (K–12). Many students have unique needs as learners: learning disabilities, behavioral disorders, language barriers, unique challenges through a gifted program, etc. In addition to being a fantastic coach and having the desire to help, teaching these students requires extraordinary knowledge about optimally effective teaching methods and superior communication skills. The School of Education and Human Development’s combination of intensive classroom study and hands-on field work prepares you to succeed by using evidence-based, proven-effective approaches. Help someone do what they thought they never could. At the School of Education and Human Development, our Special Education program is recognized as the 4th best in the country!

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  • MT - Special Education (Online)

    If you are interested in a online option, you can earn an MT—Special Education degree with Virginia licensure and endorsement in Special Education–General Curriculum (K-12). This part-time program is designed specifically for professionals who work during the day and have already completed an undergraduate degree. This program is ideal for teachers in general curriculum SPED classrooms with a provisional license and want to earn a master’s degree while obtaining a professional level license, paraprofessionals in general curriculum SPED classrooms who want to earn their professional teaching licenses, and recent college graduates who have determined that working in a Special Education classroom is the right career move.

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  • Special Education General Curriculum Add-On Endorsement Non-Degree Course Series

    Interested in developing critical skills needed to teach students with disabilities? The School of Education and Human Development is pleased to launch an online course series leading to add-on endorsement in Special Education-General Curriculum, launching Summer 2019. Teachers who hold a professional teaching license in Virginia and complete this online course series will be eligible to add the Special Education-General Curriculum endorsement. The Special Education – General Curriculum online course series is designed to equip licensed elementary, middle, and high school teachers with the knowledge and skills necessary to address the distinct learning needs of students with disabilities. This course series will provide teachers with research-based strategies to support these students in the general curriculum settings.

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  • Online M.Ed. Curriculum and Instruction (Areas of focus include SPED and Applied Behavior Analysis)

    The School of Education and Human Development is pleased to offer a Master of Education Degree in Curriculum and Instruction entirely online. This program is designed for individuals who want to make a difference in educational settings by developing more effective instructional practices and better curriculum development strategies.Earn your degree from a top ranked institution offering the best education available, through a convenient online environment working when and where you want, on a full time or part-time basis – all at a lower than average online tuition rate. You may choose a 15-credit area of focus in the area of Special Education, which may lead to the Special Education - General Curriculum add-on endorsement for teachers who already hold a professional teaching license. You may choose an 18-credit area of focus in the area of Applied Behavior Analysis, which can satisfy part of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board’s requirements to sit for the BCBA examination, focuses on preparing teaching and administrators to address the behavioral characteristics and needs of children

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  • Ph.D. in Education - Special Education

    Your studies in the rigorous Ph.D. in Education—Special Education program will focus on one of two areas, high-incidence disabilities or gifted education. In this program, you will have the unique opportunity to develop skills needed for success as a teacher educator, researcher, and scholar in the field of education. Along with coursework, this program also includes an apprenticeship and practical experiences that prepare you to produce original research contributing to the knowledge base in special education and to teacher education in general. You will work closely with faculty members on their research projects, teach college courses, support professional organizations, and perform other activities and duties that will be important parts of your educational career, no matter where it takes you.

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  • Applied Behavior Analysis Certificate (non-degree)

    This fully online, 21-credit certificate is designed for candidates holding a bachelor's or master’s degree who wish to gain specific skills and knowledge to address the behavioral needs of students. This certificate includes a verified course sequence, approved by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB). Completing the certificate fulfills the coursework requirement needed to sit for either the BCBA (master's degree required) or BCaBA examination.

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