UM Introduces New Graduate Degrees in Special Education

Online coursework makes graduate study accessible to special education teachers

OXFORD, Miss. – In an effort to meet a growing need for special education teachers in Mississippi and across the nation, the University of Mississippi has introduced two new graduate degrees in the field, including a doctorate and an online master’s degree.

Within the last 10 years, national, regional and state shortages of certified special education teachers has been reported. According to data from the U.S. Department of Education, 47 states have reported these shortages due to a growing population of students with special needs and the retirement of a large portion of special education teachers. The demand is expected to rise 5.9 percent by 2020.

“We’ve made a big step to meet the demand,” said Diane Lowry, UM special education coordinator. “The day after the program was posted online, we already had two people apply to the Ph.D. and inquiries about the online master’s.”

The online Master of Education program caters to working teachers who would like to earn a master’s degree in special education to advance their careers on their own schedule. Face-to-face time may be scheduled with instructors during each semester; however, it is not required.

Prerequisites for the program include a bachelor’s degree and professional licensure in a related field. The degree is designed to be completed in 15 months with students taking two courses per semester. Graduates will qualify for an advanced teaching license in special education.

“This degree will allow us to meet the academic and research needs of individuals who have a strong desire to improve the lives of students with disabilities,” said Susan McClelland, interim chair of teacher education. “We have faculty with diverse academic backgrounds and areas of expertise, which will strengthen the program and attract students from across the country.”

The new Doctor of Philosophy degree with an emphasis in special education will be available fall 2013. The program is designed for educators who want to teach special education instruction at the collegiate level, move into administrative K-12 roles or become specialists in their field. Those applying for admission to the doctoral program must hold a master’s degree in a related field and meet all Graduate School and School of Education requirements.

The new master’s degree marks the fifth online graduate degree offered by the UM School of Education, the state’s largest producer of teachers and educational leaders. The school also offers online master’s degrees in elementary education, literacy education and higher education as well as an educational specialist degree in play therapy.

Get more information about new graduate programs in special education.