Graduate Certificate / M.A.T. in Special Education

A heart for serving people with disabilities, and a keen interest in improving their quality of life – this is how students who graduate from our program describe their connection to the field. Through our Graduate Certificate in Special Education, students gain the skills, knowledge and credentials to improve outcomes for people with disabilities.

Completion of the Graduate Certificate (21 hours) leads to the North Carolina Standard Professional 1 (SP1) Educator’s License in Special Education. Students progress toward becoming a fully-licensed teacher through coursework related to people with special needs, classroom management, assessment, and required special education certification. Through your methods courses, you will develop skills in planning, conducting, and reflecting upon instruction while you gain valuable experience in schools.

Graduate Certificate – Fall Start Overview

Graduate Certificate – Spring Start Overview

Graduate Certificate – Summer Start Overview

Graduate Certificate Planning Sheet

Students who complete the Graduate Certificate have the option to pursue a Master of Arts in Teaching and qualify for the North Carolina Standard Professional 2 (SP2) Educator’s License in Special Education. During Phase II, you will continue to develop teaching skills and insights as you apply what you learn to classroom situations. You will also develop skills in research and leadership through courses in research, advanced classroom management, and consultation and collaboration. Students complete individual master’s projects as part of the requirements.

Why choose our program?

Cost Effective

Complete our streamlined certificate in special education at a reduced rate. Learn more about scholarship opportunities and financial aid here.

Flexible Study

Coursework is fully online so it provides flexibility and convenience for you to study and participate from your home or office. In addition to independent course activities, online class meetings allow students to engage with the professor and other students in real time. Our courses are immersive and highly interactive. This combination ensures the rigor, quality and flexibility of our online learning environment, while focusing on the hands-on teaching methods that effectively prepare our students to excel in their future careers. The program culminates with a semester of student teaching, which current teachers may be able to complete in their own classrooms.

Academic Excellence

The Cato College of Education has a strong reputation for academic excellence and is a leader in the field of special education. The graduate special education program is ranked 15th nationally.

Strong Network

Curriculum supports residency teachers in North Carolina school districts who must enroll in a teacher preparation program while teaching.

Learn more about our programs at a teacher licensure open house!

Career Options

The program gives our graduates a credential that affords multiple career opportunities. Examples of areas graduates may pursue (sometimes with additional preparation) include the following:

  • Special Education Teacher (Public and Charter School) at elementary, middle and secondary schools
  • Program administrator
  • Instructional specialist
  • Special education coordinator
  • Exceptional Children’s program administrator
  • School counselor
  • Transition coordinator
  • Principal or assistant principal
  • Rehabilitation counselor
  • Child advocate and disability services consultant
  • Community College or University Learning Specialist
  • Early intervention specialist

Student Opportunities

The Office of Teacher Education Advising and Licensure (TEAL) is an information and support hub for current and potential teacher candidates. The office provides consultation and resources for program admission, and links students to campus resources. In addition, staff provide guidance regarding the teacher licensure application process and verify program completion for teacher licensure.

The Center for Graduate Life provides the support and community students need to meet the challenges they will face throughout their graduate experience. The Center offers professional development, career advice, skill development, and more.

The University Career Center provides services, programs, and support for students and alumni. Services include individual appointments with career advisors and the Hire-A-Niner online job and internship database.

Learn from Exceptional Faculty

Our faculty members are equipped with strong academic backgrounds and practical experience in their fields, which enables them to provide the knowledge and mentoring you need to gain the most from your coursework. In addition, our faculty have successfully sought grants to support our graduate students in completing their degrees.

Faculty members have also received numerous awards for research, teaching and service:

Award for Excellence in Research from the UNC Charlotte College of Education; North Carolina Outstanding Career Award in Teacher Preparation from the North Carolina Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children; Research Early Career Publication Award from the Council for Exceptional Children; Fred Keller Excellence in Behavioral Analysis Award from the North Carolina Association for Behavior Analysis.

Do you want to learn how to make education accessible to all students? If so, click here to learn more about the requirements for the Graduate Certificate in Special Education, graduate student financial aid and the graduate application process.

For more information on the program please contact:

Dr. LuAnn Jordan

Director of the Special Education Graduate Certificate Program

Ashley Langan

TEAL Office

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