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The Department of Early Childhood, Special Education, and Counselor Education offers a hybrid Master of Science degree program, with three graduate level certification options in Visual Impairments (VI). Candidates can combine the degree program with the appropriate certification option. When this occurs, the candidate should apply to the degree program.

A Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) educates children in a variety of learning and instructional topics including:

  • Assessing and evaluating educational strengths and needs including functional vision and learning media assessments
  • Determining appropriate services and instructional goals
  • Providing training in the use of adapted materials and devices
  • Consulting with classroom teachers and parents regarding the impact of visual impairment on development and learning

We provide direct instruction in:

  • Compensatory Academic Skills
  • Career Exploration
  • Sensory Efficiency Skills
  • Social Skills
  • Assistive Technology
  • Recreation and Leisure Activities
  • Self-determination Skills
  • Independent Living Skills

Why You Should Enroll

Rewarding Career

Make a difference in the lives of children who are blind and visually impaired every day by teaching them the skills necessary to achieve independence and success. Enjoy providing instruction in small groups or one-on-one with children of all ages and ability levels.

Hybrid Courses

Courses are offered via Zoom in the evenings, face-to-face weekends in the fall and/or spring, and one intensive face-to-face summer. This allows individuals who work full time during the day to still participate in the program.

Numerous Vacancies

The graduate program addresses a critical shortage of qualified and certified TVIs throughout Kentucky and nationally. There continues to be unfilled positions to provide services to children who are blind and visually impaired. Teachers of the Visually Impaired are often employed in school districts, early intervention or preschool settings, and specialized schools.

Nationally Recognized Faculty

The Visual Impairment Program Faculty are recognized by national and state agencies and educational systems for commitment to preparing VI and O&M professionals to teach individuals with visual impairments.

Visual Impairment Program Faculty 

Check out our other Visual Impairment Program: M.A. in Orientation & Mobility

Program Details

Delivery Method: Hybrid

Credit Hours: 33

Tuition Cost: Refer to Credit Hour Rates for Graduate Students on the UK Tuition and Mandatory Fees page.

Refund Policies: You can find tuition refund policies, deadlines, amounts, and other important information on the UK Student Account Services website.

The VI program uses a model with synchronous classes offered via Zoom in the evenings and 1-2 face-to-face weekends in the fall and/or spring. All candidates start the VI sequence of courses in the fall and take two courses per semester for five semesters, which includes one intensive summer. See the Program Requirements section for detailed information.

Program Requirements

Face-to-Face Requirements

Attendance of face-to-face meetings is mandatory for all candidates! This includes 1-2 weekends a semester (which sometimes includes a Friday or Monday) and an intensive summer. Summer consists of approximately 9-10 days of class, with a week in mid-June and several days towards the end of July. There is also a week of intensive practicum that needs to be completed between mid-June and the end of July. There are numerous placement options for the summer practicum, examples include:

  • Kentucky School for the Blind (KSB) Summer School
  • Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) PATH program
  • Kentucky Deaf-Blind Project ECC Week
  • Lions Camp Crescendo
  • Visually Impaired Preschool Services (VIPS)


Face-to-face sessions are typically held at KSB in Louisville. Lodging is available for free at KSB, as well as at most summer practicum sites. Candidates are responsible for their own transportation to and from classes, as well as lodging when meetings are not at KSB.


Practicum, Field Experience, and Student Teaching Requirements

Practicum is embedded in the BVI courses throughout the program. Each semester, a minimum of 15 hours are required working with children who are blind and visually impaired. Summer practicum consists of an intensive week at an approved program. Initial certification candidates are required to complete 40 hours a semester and 80 hours in the summer, totaling a minimum of 200 hours prior to student teaching.

Each candidate is required to complete a field experience of no less than 40 days at the end of the program. For candidates who are required to student teach, this is 70 days. Each candidate must have a caseload that meets the minimum requirements of:

  • Preschool or elementary academic student
  • Middle or high school academic student
    • At least one of the academic students must have low vision
  • Braille instruction:
    • 15 hours for field experience
    • 40 hours for student teaching
  • Student with complex needs

Practicum and field experience may occur on-the-job, as long as all requirements are met, with the exception of initial certification candidates.

All candidates should ensure they clearly understand these requirements and can meet them prior to applying to the program. Field experience/student teaching may be delayed up to one calendar year or spread out over multiple semesters.

Curriculum Guide

The degree program consists of ten core BVI classes totaling 33 credit hours of content in blindness and visual impairment.

Year One

  • BVI 580: Introduction to Visual Impairment (3)
  • BVI 583: Braille Code I (3)
  • BVI 611: Methods for Teaching Students with VI (3)
  • BVI 617: VI and Multiple Disabilities (3)
  • BVI 615: Assistive Technology for Students with VI (3)
  • BVI 616: ECC for Blind and VI (3)

Year Two

  • BVI 618: Assessment of Children with VI (3)
  • BVI 582: Anatomy & Physiology of the Eye
  • BVI 614: Braille Codes II (3)
  • BVI 710: Student Teaching/Field Experience in VI (6)
  Total Credit Hours: 33

It is important to understand that the degree program does not mean a candidate is eligible to receive a Kentucky teaching certificate in Visual Impairments. The degree must be combined with the appropriate certification options listed below. All certification options require the 10 core BVI courses in addition to other requirements as indicated. Candidates are eligible for financial aid through the degree program, but not certification only.

Certification Options

The Visual Impairment Program offers three certification options. All graduate programs have been approved by the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB). Candidates can opt to complete the certification program on its own or combine it with the degree program.

Initial Certification– For candidates who have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a field outside of education.

Alternate Certification (Option 6)– For candidates who have been hired by a school district as a TVI, but do not hold a valid teaching certificate in any area.

Advanced Certification Leading to a Rank Change– For candidates who currently hold a valid teaching certificate in another area and are seeking VI certification along with a change in rank (2 or 1 depending on current status).

Prerequisite Courses

Required for Each VI Certification Program Initial Alternate Advanced
EDS 513: Legal Issues in Special Education X X X
EDS 516: Principles of Behavior Management and Instruction X X X
EDS 547: Collaboration and Inclusion in School and Community Settings X X X
EDS 600: Survey of Special Education X X X
EDC 533: Teaching Literacy Across Disciplines X X  
MA 201: Math for Elementary Teachers X X  
Child Development course X X  


There is no limit on the number of prerequisite courses that may be transferred in from previous degrees, however all new coursework is expected to occur at the University of Kentucky unless there is an extenuating circumstance (i.e. time conflict with another course). Permission from the Visual Impairment Program Faculty Chair must be obtained prior to enrollment for courses to transfer. All transfer credit grades must be a minimum of a B or equivalent.

Prerequisite courses do not need to be completed prior to starting the program, however a recommendation for certification in visual impairments will not be made to the Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB) until all courses have been successfully completed.

Candidates wishing to begin taking prerequisites now may view the schedule of classes at the UK Registrar’s website.

Initial Certification
Alternate Certification
Advanced Certification
Test Requirements for All Certification Programs
Employment as a TVI While Enrolled in the Program

How to Apply

Applications are now being accepted on a rolling basis.

Click the “I’m Ready to Apply” button or go to the Teacher Preparation Program in Visual Impairments – Graduate page and follow the “Apply Now” link.

For the degree program: In “Plan of Study” the Admission Category should read “Masters degree”, then “Teacher Preparation Program in Visual Impairment” for the Program.

For certification only: In “Plan of Study” the Admission Category should ready “Graduate Certification”, then “Visual Impairment” for the Program.

All candidates must have a minimum 2.75 overall or 3.0 GPA in the last 30 credit hours to apply and include the following in their application:

  • Resume/CV
  • Personal/Biographical Statement
    • 1-2 pages on why you want to be a TVI
    • Double spaced, 12 point, Arial or similar font
  • Transcripts from previous universities or colleges:
    • Official transcripts are required for the degree program
    • Unofficial transcripts can be accepted for certification only
  • Three (3) references
  • If you are currently a teacher, please submit the following:
    • Three pieces of evidence of successful teaching experience. This can include teaching observations, awards, sample lesson plans, an article on something innovative you have done with students, etc. If you have less than three years teaching experience, you may submit your final student teaching report.


Tips for Navigating the “ApplyYourself” Application System
Additional Program Information

I'm Ready to Apply 


Feel free to contact us with any questions you might have regarding this program. We can’t wait to hear from you!


Donna Brostek Lee

Clinical Associate Professor

(859) 257-1520


Tuition and Fees

Questions about tuition should be directed to the Registrar’s Office.  More information about tuition and cost to attend can be found on the Registrar’s website.

Financial Aid

There are occasional opportunities for students to receive funding as Teaching Assistants, Research Assistants, or via Scholarship funding. These announcements will be posted to the Student Advising Center on Canvas regularly. Students who are interested in more information about Financial Aid should contact the University of Kentucky’s Financial Aid Office at (859) 562-CATS (2287) or 128 Funkhouser Building, Lexington KY 40506.

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.

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