Advanced Preparation Teacher Leader Program in Special Education

Do you want to advance your career as a special education teacher? UK offers 100% online and in-person options for a master’s degree in special education. Our program is ranked 7th in Best Online Master’s in Special Education Programs and 14th in Best Online Master’s in Education Programs by U.S. News and World Report.

The 30-hour master’s can be completed on a part-time basis over the course of five semesters (2.5 calendar years). Students taking the online version of the program attend courses virtually and can interact with professors and classmates in real-time. All classes take place in the evenings to allow teachers to complete their work day prior to attending class. Taking the GRE is not required for entry. Admission is accepted for both Fall and Spring semesters, however the core courses begin in Fall semesters, therefore a Spring admission may not be appropriate unless the student requires some prerequisite coursework.

Coursework focuses on teacher leadership in special education with three options for specialization within the program:

  • The Moderate and Severe Disabilities Track is available for teachers who hold certification in moderate and severe disabilities.
  • The Learning and Behavior Disorders Track* is for teachers who hold certification in learning and behavior disorders.
  • The Assistive Technology track is open to teachers with either type of certification in special education.

The track you choose will offer coursework that shapes your research projects and clinical experiences.

*Learning and Behavior Disorders Track coursework is not currently available online.

*Teachers who complete the special education teacher leader master’s degree will be recommended to the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board for a Rank 2.

Completion of this program does not result in initial certification.

Advanced Preparation Teacher Leader Program in Special Education

The Teacher Leader Masters in Special Education Program is approved by the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).


Retention Requirements

  1. A minimum GPA of 2.75 on all coursework is required and a 3.0 GPA is required on core coursework to maintain status in the program.
  2. Students must maintain a professional portfolio throughout the program. The portfolio will be evaluated at three different points in time (entry, midpoint, and exit).
  3. Students must demonstrate professional behaviors throughout the program in accordance with the College of Education’s Functional Skills and Dispositions.


How to Apply

  1. Applicants must hold a Bachelor’s Degree or Certification in Special Education (see above requirements).
  2. Applicants must have a minimum of a 2.75 undergraduate grade point average.
  3. Applicants must secure three (3) letters of recommendations with one related to academic performance (e.g., from professor, advisor) and two related to the applicants work with children and youth (e.g., from practicum supervisor, research supervisor).
  4. Applicants must submit a writing sample (e.g., paper from previous coursework; teaching philosophy, autobiographical sketch).
  5. Applicants must participate in an interview with program faculty.
  6. Upon acceptance, applicants must satisfactorily pass a criminal background check.

Please review the requirements below and complete an online application to the Graduate School.



Core Courses (16-18 Credit Hours)

EDS 601: Applied Behavior Analysis (3)
EDS 603: Behavioral Consultation in Schools (3)
EDS 630: Advanced Methods for Teaching Students with Disabilities (3)
EDS 633: Single Subject Research Design (3)
EDS 634: Leadership in Special Education (3)
EDS 768: Residence Credit for Master’s Degree (1-3)1

Courses from a Focus Area (9 Credit Hours)

MSD Focus
EDS 631: Programming for Students with Moderate and Severe Disabilities (3)
EDS 632: Advanced Practicum in Moderate and Severe Disabilities (6)

LBD Focus
EDP/EPE 557: Inferential Statistics (3)
EDS 610: Advanced Education Assessment for Students (3)
EDS 611: Contemporary Trends and Issues: Education of Students with Mild Disabilities (3)

AT Focus
EDS 640: Assistive Technology (3)
EDS 641: Assistive Technology Assessment (3)
EDS 648: Coordinating Assistive Technology Programs (3)

Courses Selected from Menu may include the following: (2-5 Credit Hours)

EDC 554: Culture, Education, and Teaching Abroad (3)
EDC 724: Guiding and Analyzing Effective Teaching (3)
HDI 604: Interdisciplinary Leadership Seminar (2)
HDI 605: Interdisciplinary Leadership Practicum (2)
Select from EDL Teacher Leadership Courses (2)

Total: 30 Credit Hours

1 May be repeated


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.