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Special Education

The Department of Special Education offers multiple options for graduate study to meet the varying professional needs and goals of teachers interested in enhancing their competency to educate individuals with disabilities.

The Master of Science program is designed to meet the advanced study needs of current teachers with special education licensure. The program focuses on developing leadership, action research, and other advanced competencies.

The Master of Science in Education program is designed to develop foundation competencies in special education, while supporting the induction of general education teachers into the field of special education. The program addresses the needs of individuals with teacher licensure in fields other than special education. The program is appropriate for both individuals who wish to better serve students with disabilities as general education teachers and those who wish to move into the role of special education teacher.

These programs offer a hybrid curriculum, requiring two or three Saturdays on campus each semester and the remaining curriculum online.

University Admission Requirements

A student applying to a master's program must:

  • have earned a four-year bachelor's degree or its equivalent from a college or university that is accredited by the appropriate regional accrediting association, or do so within one academic year
  • present official transcripts from each college or university other than Illinois State at which graduate, undergraduate, or non-degree credit was earned. Transcripts can be emailed from the university to or mailed in a sealed envelope to: Office of Admissions, 201 Hovey Hall, Campus Box 2200, Normal, IL 61790-2200

International students can learn more about specific application requirements by visiting the Office of Admissions.

Additional Program Admission Requirements

A student applying to one of these programs must:

  • submit a current resume
  • submit a cover letter outlining professional goals
  • submit evidence of one year of successful teaching experience. This can come from an administrator or HR representative.
  • submit official GRE scores if you have less than a cumulative 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale (use institution code 1319)
  • submit names and email addresses of three references for letters of recommendation within the online application
  • submit a screenshot of your teaching credentials from your Educator Licensure Information System (ELIS) account. Be sure your name and endorsement(s) are visible.

Admission Dates and Deadlines

Term Application Deadline
Fall (August)  January 31 (preferred) 
Summer (May/June)  January 31 (preferred) 

Graduate Assistantship Information

The University provides graduate assistantships as a means of financial support. They are intended as a way to facilitate a student's progress to degree while providing important professional development.


To be eligible for an assistantship a student must, generally,

  • be admitted unconditionally as a degree-seeking student into a graduate academic program, or have a minimum of 120 undergraduate hours if in an integrated degree program
  • be in good-standing
  • be enrolled full-time (typically at least 9 credit hours during the fall or spring semesters, or at least 6 hours during the summer session).


Graduate assistants receive

  • monthly wages paid in the form of either a stipend or an hourly wage
  • a waiver for 100% of tuition during a semester of appointment
  • a waiver for up to 12 credit hours of tuition for the summer term immediately following a fall or spring appointment

Cost & Funding

See Student Accounts for information on tuition and fees. Funding for graduate students is available from several different sources. Students who have been admitted from continuous states including Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, and Wisconsin will receive in-state tuition.

Graduate Coordinator

Name Office Email Phone
Debbie Shelden  DeGarmo 513  (309) 438-5661 
2016-08-30T13:46:29.206-05:00 2016