Special Education

The Special Education Program at the University of Memphis is designed to facilitate the development of professional practitioners and leaders with skills specific to meeting the diverse needs of individuals with exceptionalities. Special Education programs include both educator preparation and behavior therapist (BCBA) development options. Additionally, advanced terminal degrees are offered for those seeking leadership roles in both program areas.

Teacher licensure in Special Education is offered in one of two concentration areas. Those seeking to teach students with high incidence disabilities (such as learning disabilities) may seek a license in Modified Special Education. Those seeking to teach students with more involved disabilities (such as more severe intellectual disabilities) may seek licensure in Comprehensive Special Education. 

Bachelor of Science in Education

  • Degree: BSEd
  • Leading to Licensure as a Special Educator
  • The 'Teaching All Learners' or TAL program is an undergraduate bachelor's degree plan leading to teacher licensure in both Special Education (modified) and K-6 Elementary Education.

Master of Arts in Teaching 

  • Degree: MAT
  • Leading to Licensure as a Special Educator
  • The MAT program offers those without a bachelor's degree in teaching the option to further their education while obtaining an initial teaching license. Programs leading to Special Education teacher licensure in both modified and/or comprehensive special education are available.

Master of Science 

  • Degree: MS
  • Leading to Licensure as a Special Educator
  • Leading to Behavior Analyst Certification
  • The MS degree offers those with a teaching license the ability to further their education while obtaining a specialty in a specific area of special education.
  • Alternately, the MS is available as an initial program of studies leading to certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)

Doctor of Education 

Instruction and Curriculum Leadership

  • Degree: EdD
  • Leading to Licensure as a Special Educator
  • Leading to Behavior Analyst Certification
  • The Ed.D program offers a specialized set of courses leading to a terminal degree in Instruction and Curriculum Leadership. Those seeking advanced research skills have the option of specializing in Special Education (General Studies) or Applied Behavior Analysis (Initial or Advanced Certification)

Education Specialist (EdS)

  • Leading to Licensure as a Special Educator
  • Leading to Behavior Analyst Certification
  • The Ed.S program offers a specialized set of courses leading to a specialist degree in Instruction and Curriculum Leadership. Those seeking advanced methodological skills have the option of specializing in Special Education (General Studies) or Applied Behavior Analysis (Initial or Advanced Certification). The Ed.S degree does not require the completion of a dissertation.

Licensure options

Special education encompasses a wide variety of children and thus three licensure programs are available.

  • Early Childhood

    Teachers are licensed to teach infants and young children from birth through age 6. Programs may be delivered in the children’s homes or in special or integrated preschool environments.

  • Modified Licensure

    This licensure is designed for students interested in teaching children with mild disabilities such as learning disabilities or mild developmental delays. The training is much like a traditional teaching program with additional emphases on behavior management, inclusion of children with disabilities in the regular classroom and the role of the special educator as consultant and co teacher with regular educators.

  • Comprehensive Licensure

    This licensure is designed for student interested in working with children whose disabilities are more severe in nature such as intellectual disabilities, autism or physical disabilities. The training emphasizes inclusion but also offers classes which consist of highly specialized skill sets in behavior management, medical issues, and curriculum.

  • Dual Licensure

    There are also opportunities to receive dual licenses. At the undergraduate level we offer Elementary Education (K-6)/Special Education Modified (K-12) and at the graduate level we offer Middle School (4-8)/Special Education Modified (K-12) Licenses.

  • ABA Certification

    We have a board certified program to become a certified Applied Behavioral Analyst. Successfully completing these courses will entitle the student to sit for the Behavior Analysis Certification Examination offered by the Behavior Analysis Certification Board® (BACB). These certification requirements can be completed in conjunction with our MS and EDD Degrees.

Mission Statement

The central mission and vision of the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences, the Department of Instruction and Curriculum Leadership, and the Special Education undergraduate and graduate programs are consistent: the preparation of Educational Leaders who demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the learning process, skill in instructional planning and delivery, and a disposition to create dynamic learning environments that incorporate multicultural knowledge into instructional design and delivery. The primary goal of teacher education programs in the Department of Instruction and Curriculum Leadership is to prepare educational leaders who will, through knowledge, skills and disposition, conduct themselves in ways that command respect for themselves and the profession and inspire others to take positive action. Similarly, the Special Education teacher education program is designed to prepare educational leaders who are able to maximize the development and learning of individuals with diverse and exceptional needs in a variety of multicultural program settings.

Career Opportunities

Students graduating from the Department's Special Education undergraduate and graduate degree programs will find themselves well prepared for a variety of careers in the field of disability services especially teaching. State licensed preK-12 teachers will typically deliver special education curricula in public and private schools while many will take on school leadership roles. There are also careers available in the technical support and adult service fields. There is an extreme shortage of licensed special educators in the field today. Students graduating from the Special Education Program at the University of Memphis are highly sought after and typically have little problem securing teaching positions in area schools. For students interested in career choices in supervision or higher education, the advanced masters and doctoral programs will provide the stepping stones for such undertakings.

Research Projects, Grants, Scholarships Service

The faculty of the Special Education Program conducts research initiatives that target community outreach, cutting edge teaching methodologies, and teaching with technology. The faculty averages about eight externally funded grants per year that bring in over $4,500,000. Most of these research endeavors focus on community outreach in areas such as inclusion, positive behavior supports, paraprofessional training, early intervention, literacy, assistive technology, and teacher recruitment/retention. The faculty and graduate assistants involved in these projects are committed to improving the conditions for persons with disabilities and their families in the Mid-South region. There is also a commitment to carry out research and publish the highest quality research. Special Education faculty members are key national contributors in the areas of applied behavior analysis, cultural diversity, video self-modeling, preschool inclusion, teacher recruitment and retention, family involvement. The program faculty members have developed a history of securing external sponsorship to support a variety of significant research agendas that is second to none. Students leaving our doctoral program have filled professorship positions at colleges across the country as well as becoming leaders in the local special education community.