Due to a shortage of special education teachers in Iowa and many other states, 100% of our graduates find teaching positions within a year after graduation. You'll have the opportunity to serve many roles and responsibilities within schools, such as teaching students, collaborating with families and other personnel, and supporting children in a range of different school and community settings. The rewards and satisfaction will be immense, as you have the opportunity to work with others to make a difference for students who display a wide variety of strengths, needs, and challenges. 


All M.Ed. programs require a minimum of 30 semester hours. Students are required to complete either a thesis or research paper and a written comprehensive examination. The thesis option requires 6 hours of 6299 Research and an oral defense of the thesis. A minimum of 18 hours of 6000 level coursework is required for both thesis and non-thesis options. Individual degree plans are developed with an academic advisor based on the student's past academic experiences and future career goals. Students may elect to complete an Iowa teaching endorsement as part of their degree program.

The emphasis of the Master's programs is on enhancing student access to the general education curriculum. The focus is on academic and functional curriculum, interagency collaboration, integration into the community, and collaboration with general education in all aspects of inclusion. Competency areas targeted include: (a) informed inquiry and translation of theory into practice; (b) assessment, instructional methodologies, and curricular adaptations for access to the general education curriculum; (c) understanding and working with students from culturally and linguistically diverse populations; (d) consultation and collaborative teaming; and (e) disability legislation and policies.


MAE Graduate Program Admission Requirements

  • Completion of the Application for Graduate Study form:
  • Formal letter of application
  • Official transcripts from each college or university from which degree was received, if other than UNI
  • Three letters of recommendation (1 must be from a former professor instructor)
  • A personal or telephone interview may be requested


Nondegree Graduate Program Admission Requirements

  • Completion of the Application for Graduate Study form:
  • Official transcripts from each college of university from which degree was received, if other than UNI
  • After notification of admittance into the non-degree graduate program, email with information on your special education area of interest for advisor assignment


MAE Forms


Adding Endorsement to License:

Go to

  • Click on Licensure Forms/Applications
  • Click Add Endorsement
  • Click on the appropriate application link to complete application
  • After completing the application you will pay the fee online through the BOEE website
  • UNI Registrar's Office will receive notification and then contact the Department of Special Education


MAE Policies and Procedures


This program is intended to provide practicing educators the opportunity to continue their study and earn the terminal professional degree in their field. The Ed.D. degree requires a minimum of 60 semester hours of credit beyond the master's degree. The program has three components: 24 semester hours in a Professional Common Core of work in educational foundations, fundamentals, and research; 29 semester hours of Advanced Professional Study in one of three areas of intensive study and a related area; and a dissertation of 7 semester hours.

By design, all students are required to study in basic areas that undergird and define educational practice and develop skills of problem definition, data collection and analysis, and interpretation.

Efforts toward meaningful inclusion and the effective implementation of services to diverse students are highly dependent upon educational leaders who possess a substantive background in special education and cultural diversity. In the absence of such leadership, direct service providers experience great difficulty in acting upon their knowledge and fulfilling their efforts toward accomplishing these goals. Our doctoral programs are designed to prepare leadership personnel who are thoroughly knowledgeable about special education programming, and the legal, social, and policy issues pertaining to the education of individuals with disabilities or those from culturally diverse backgrounds.


Special Education Administration Emphasis

The University of Northern Iowa Department of Special Education, in cooperation with the Department of Educational Leadership, offers an innovative doctoral program specifically designed to prepare educational leaders for administration in K-12 settings. This program centers on preparing leaders who will be able to promote new meanings about diversity, develop inclusive school cultures and instructional programs, and forge productive relationships between schools and their communities.

Special Education administration is an emphasis area in the Department of Educational Leadership. Graduates interested in pursing this emphasis should contact the Department of Special Education for information on how to apply. The application process for all emphasis areas in Educational Leadership may be found at:

The Special Education Administration emphasis area will prepare graduates to be highly effective special education or early intervention administrators or directors using a multidisciplinary approach. With specialized training in evidence-based pedagogy, administrative and organizational competencies derived from scientifically-based research and experience, special education administration skills and dispositions, and research/evaluation methodologies, effective special education directors will apply learned competencies to assist in improving academic and functional outcomes for children with disabilities and the productivity and outcomes of local education agencies. By developing competencies in both special education and educational leadership, the future special education directors will be expertly suited to enhance the goals of both No Child Left Behind and the IDEA for students with disabilities. Concurrent field-based, high-quality practicum experiences in schools will provide authentic opportunities for the student/scholars to apply knowledge and skills, resulting in specified performance tasks and portfolio products.

For more information contact:

Dr. Danielle Cowley, Program Coordinator

Department of Special Education
101 Schindler Education Center
University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0601
Phone: 319-273-7210
Fax: 319-273-7852