Degree overview
A master’s degree (M.Ed.) in special education from the University of Maine provides graduates with an understanding of how to apply current evidence-based practices in PreK-12 classrooms for children with special needs. Understanding a child’s needs is essential to ensure that he or she receives the proper attention, assistance and intervention to succeed in school. Our graduates apply best practices to address the needs of students in inclusive, general-education learning environments. We also offer a Certificate of Advanced Study (C.A.S.) degree that goes beyond the master’s level and can serve as a good introduction to graduate research in the field of special education.

Careers in special education
To be successful in the special education programs, graduate students must have access to children with disabilities or be working as special education teachers to fulfill program requirements. A graduate degree in special education can lead to opportunities for career advancement, including positions as lead teachers, coaches and special education directors.

Program delivery
All of the M.Ed. degrees in special education at the University of Maine require at least 36 credit hours, and all can be completed online. Students can choose one of three concentrations or do an individually designed program in consultation with a faculty advisor. Those seeking a C.A.S. will complete an individually designed program of study. The master’s concentrations are (Click the links for more information on our entirely online M.Ed. programs):

  • Early Intervention: Leads to state certification as a Teacher of Children with Disabilities (birth to age five). This program is designed to prepare students in the fundamentals of professional practice in early intervention for inclusive environments, provide students with advanced content in a variety of research areas (e.g., early childhood, early childhood special education, family relationships, collaborative consultation), and support students in practicum experiences with high needs children birth to age five and their families. To ensure program success, potential students should be currently working or volunteering with young children, birth to age five, and their families.
  • High incidence: Leads to state certification as Teacher of Students with Disabilities (K-8 or 7-12). The program prepares master’s level special educators to serve students in the areas of reading, math, writing and challenging behavior. All courses require fieldwork, so students must be working or volunteering in K-12 schools.
  • Low incidence: Leads to state certification as an Educational Specialist for Students with Severe Disabilities. This program prepares master’s level special educators to serve students with autism spectrum disorder, significant intellectual disabilities, and students with multiple disabilities. All courses require fieldwork, so students must be working or volunteering in K-12 schools.

Professional portfolio and teacher certification
All students must complete a professional portfolio that demonstrates their competencies and achievements in the program. Elements of the portfolio are completed in each of the core courses.

Teacher certification is granted by the Maine Department of Education, not by the University of Maine. Students who successfully complete all the requirements of our NCATE-approved, professional preparation programs — including documentation of passing scores on Praxis II in Special Education — will be eligible for certification. Specific information regarding certification is available from the Maine Department of Education, Certification Services, State House Station 23, Augusta, Maine 04333.

To apply
In addition to the University of Maine Graduate School application, all applicants must submit passing scores on the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators test, as well as the MAT or GRE. However, the MAT/GRE requirement is waived for students whose undergraduate GPA is 3.0 or better.

The special education programs have a rolling application deadline. But it is recommended that you complete your application by June for a fall start date and by October for a spring start date.

Special education faculty

Deborah Rooks-Ellis, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Special Education, Program Coordinator
James Artesani, Ed.D, Associate Professor of Special Education and Associate Dean of Graduate Education, Research, and Outreach
Sara Flanagan, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Special Education
Diane Jackson, Ed.D, Lecturer
Courtney Pacholski, BCBA, Lecturer
Janet Spector, Ph.D, Associate Professor of Special Education

Programs of Study

Click on the links below to access the program of study for each of our three M.Ed. concentrations and our graduate certificate in autism.