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Program Description

The graduate Alternative Certification Program in Moderate and Severe Disabilities (MSD) at the University of Kentucky is a comprehensive training program that allows graduate students to obtain provisional certification to teach students with MSD. It is a certification-only program and does not lead to a degree or rank change. Graduate students who have an undergraduate degree in any area (outside of another discipline of education) may apply to this program.

To enter this program, students must apply to the graduate school and to the Teacher Education Program. Once program requirements are fulfilled, students will then need to obtain employment as a teacher in a classroom serving students with MSD in a school district in Kentucky. This is also referred to as a Functional Mental Disability (FMD) classroom.

While employed and taking classes, the state will issue students a temporary provisional certificate to teach students with MSD for three years. For two years, students will take coursework (two classes each semester) while teaching.

After successfully fulfilling all of these requirements and being recommended by the faculty, students apply to the state of Kentucky to obtain a teaching certificate. Completion of this program does not result in a rank change.

All classes (except two) are offered through distance education via interactive technology two nights per week from 4:30 to 7:00 pm. Students who live within 45 minutes of campus participate in class on campus, while those living more than 45 minutes to campus participate in class from a personal computer using web conferencing software. The two classes that are not offered through distance education are technology courses that are held during the summer sessions, and students must take those courses on campus.

The Alternative Certification program in MSD is approved by the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

Admission Requirements

  1. Applicants must hold a Bachelor’s degree in any area, but those with a degree/certification in another area of education are not eligible.
  2. Applicants must have a minimum of a 2.75 undergraduate grade point average or a 3.0 in their last 30 hours of coursework on the transcript showing the award of the degree.
  3. Applicants must secure three (3) letters of recommendation.  The same letters of recommendation may be used for both the graduate school and teacher education program applications.
  4. Applicants must submit official transcripts from all higher education institutions.
  5. Applicants must submit a writing sample of at least on page in length (e.g., paper completed in previous coursework, philosophy of teaching, autobiographical sketch).
  6. Applicants must participate in interviews with 3 members of the program faculty.
  7. Upon meeting all program requirements, applicants must obtain a position as the lead teacher for students with MSD.

Retention Requirements

  1.  Students must maintain a 2.75 GPA in all program coursework.
  2. Students must maintain a professional portfolio through the program that will be reviewed at entry, midpoint, and exit.
  3. Students must demonstrate professional behaviors throughout program in accordance with the Kentucky School Personnel Code of Ethics as developed by the Education Professional Board, and to the College of Education’s Functional Skills and Dispositions.

How to Apply

To apply to the alternative certification program, students must complete the following sequence of steps.

  1.  Apply to the UK Graduate School online.  On the “Plan of Study” screen, indicate the Admission Category as “external Certification.”  Complete the application and be sure to include three recommendations.
  2. Apply to the College of Education Teacher Education Program and mail all required documents to Mr. Christopher Reese at the University of KY, 166 Taylor Education Building, Lexington, KY  40506-0001.  Contact Mr. Christopher Reese at or 859-257-4112 with questions regarding the teacher application process.
  3. Once all the materials have been submitted, schedule an interview with Dr. Melinda Ault (, 859-257-7689) and two other MSD faculty members.  Dr. Ault will provide you with their contact information.  The interview can take place via phone or web conferencing software if you are unable to come to campus.
  4. Once these steps are completed and you are admitted into the program, Dr. Ault will write a curriculum contract for your course of study and work with your district to develop a mentoring agreement.  Mr Christopher Reese ( or 859-257-4112) will assist you to get the proper certification paperwork submitted to the state.  The state will then issue you a temporary provisional certificate that will allow you to teach students with MSD.


Program of Study for the Alternative Certification Program in Moderate to Severe Disabilities

  • EDS 530: Moderate and Severe Disabilities (3)
  • EDS 548: Assessment and Curriculum in MSD (3)
  • EDS 513: Legal Issues (3)
  • EDS 549: Methods for Teaching MSD (4)
  • EDS 516: Behavior Management (3)
  • EDS 600: Survey of EDS (3)
  • EDS 547: Collaboration and Inclusion (3)
  • EDS 550: Student Teaching in MSD (6)
  • EDS 546: Transdisciplinary Services (3)
  • EDS 550: Student Teaching in MSD (6)
  • EDS 514: Instructional Technology (3) **
  • EDS 517: Assistive Technology (3)**

Total hours = 43

** = Classes taken on-campus

Tuition Information

You can find tuition refund policies, deadlines, amounts and other important information on the UK Student Account Services website and the Registrar’s Tuition and Fees website.

State Authorization and Licensure

If you plan to complete a University of Kentucky online program while living outside of Kentucky, you should check the Out-of-State Students page to determine if the University of Kentucky is authorized to provide this program in your state of residence. If you plan to use the degree to seek licensure, you should also determine if the degree meets the educational requirements for licensure in your state.

Student Relocation Disclosure

All distance education students should keep in mind that relocating during the course of a program to another state could impact whether that student an continue in the course and/or meet the eligibility requirements of that state. If you plan to move to another state during your program, please contact your program advisor as soon as possible.

Licensure Disclosure

States may have additional requirements for programs that lead to professional licensure or certification. If you plan to use the degree to seek licensure, you should also determine if the degree meets the educational requirements for licensure in your state. Visit the UK Out-of-State Educational Activities website to learn more about your program.