Special Education (M.Ed.)

Special Education (M.Ed.)
Special Education Students working together on a project

Why get your Master of Education in special education?

With an M.Ed. in special education, you’ll gain the advanced knowledge, expertise and experience to create effective, inclusive teaching and learning environments for diverse learners. We seek to prepare teacher-leaders who are not only excellent practitioners, but skilled collaborators with colleagues and families within communities. Throughout the course of study, we emphasize the essential nature of advocating for and promoting equity among students identified with a disability. We teach our scholars to be strong team members by having high expectations while developing their professional dispositions through clinical experiences, in which they develop and promote a strength-based student learning model.

Why choose UNH for your M.Ed.?

Our graduate program is an advanced course of study for scholars seeking advanced studies in special education, including initial teaching licensure in general special education. Our scholars are practicing teachers, administrators and early childhood practitioners who wish to improve their professional competence and broaden their career opportunities in the area of special education. We emphasize extended clinical opportunities for scholars, whether they are seeking initial teacher certification, additional certification, administration experience or specialized competencies.

Potential career areas

  • Disability advocate
  • Learning specialist
  • School administrator
  • Special educator

Request Information

We use text messages to communicate important event and application information (msg and data rates may apply).

Curriculum & Requirements

The special education program prepares highly qualified educators who possess the knowledge, disposition, and skills necessary to take the lead in establishing effective teaching and learning environments for a diverse population of learners, who are capable of collaborating with classroom teachers as team leaders or consultants, and who utilize these skills within their school communities, and within the profession itself. The program meets current certification requirements in the state of New Hampshire in General Special Education.

Admission Criteria

In determining admission of students to teacher education graduate programs, several criteria are used:

  1. The undergraduate record. The undergraduate overall minimum grade point average for admission is 3.0.  The undergraduate grade point average of students admitted to the graduate programs in teacher education is approximately 3.55 (based on 2020 admissions).
  2. Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators (Core) exam scores are required. Applicants must obtain, at a minimum, a qualifying score (as set by the state of New Hampshire at the time of testing) on all three (Reading, Writing, and Mathematics) Core exams in order to be considered for admission. Current NH qualifying scores may be found at the ETS Praxis Website under the “Tests required for all licensure areas” page.
  3. Additional required application materials can be found at the Graduate School website under programs.

Degree Requirements

Prerequisites for General Special Education Certification

  1. All candidates are required to complete a course in mathematics teaching methods and a course in reading teaching methods.  At UNH, courses that meet the requirements are EDUC 806 Teaching & Learning Literacy in the Elementary Classroom . Courses that meet the mathematics requirement are MATH 601 Exploring Mathematics for Teachers I and MATH 703 Teaching of Mathematics in Grades K-5.  Equivalent courses taken at another college or university may be substituted.
  2. All students are required to complete EDUC 850 Introduction to Disability in Inclusive Schools and Communities, and EDUC 851A Inclusive Elementary Education: Literacies and Learning for Diverse Learners,or EDUC 851B Methods of Inclusive Secondary Education: Literacies, Learning, and Transitions. Equivalent courses taken at another college or university may be substituted.
  3. Credits for prerequisite courses will not count toward those needed for the M.Ed. degree.

Required Courses for All Students

The M.Ed. degree requires a minimum of 36 hours of graduate-­level credits. The exact number of credit hours will depend on the student's background, competencies, and professional goals, and will be determined by the advisor.

Core Courses (12 credits)
EDUC 856Advocating for Diverse and Inclusive Family-School-Community Partnerships4
EDUC 882Introduction to Research Methods (or equivalent)4
EDUC 959Issues in Education (or equivalent)4
Elective Courses (12 credits)
Students will elect a minimum of 12 graduate credits in consultation with their academic advisor. Required courses for GSE certification, below, can be used as electives.
Concluding Experience
All students will have the option of one of two concluding experiences:
1. Inquiry research project with presentation.
2. A research thesis (EDUC #899) that meets the requirements of the Graduate School and the Education Department (6-10 credits). 1
Required courses for GSC certification
EDUC 839Equitable Assessment and Individualized Educational Planning: Building Access and Agency4
EDUC 840Advanced Methods for Inclusive Curricular Design and Teaching: Building Access and Agency, Part II4
EDUC 900CInternship and Seminar in Special Education3 or 6
EDUC 901CInternship and Seminar in Special Education3 or 6

The research thesis meets the requirements of the Graduate School and the Education Department.  Requirements for the thesis are explained in the Graduate School publication entitled Thesis and Dissertation Manual, which can be found at www.gradschool.unh.edu

Requirements for the project may be obtained from the adviser or on the program website.



Graduate credit is granted only for coursework completed with a grade of B- or higher. Any grade below B- will not count for graduate credit and will count toward the accumulation of nine (9) failing credits which may require the student to withdraw from the program.

This graduate program is approved to be taken on an accelerated basis in articulation with certain undergraduate degree programs.

General Accelerated Master's policy, note that some programs have additional requirements (e.g. higher grade expectations) compared to the policy.

Please see the Graduate School website and contact the department directly for more information.

The Special Education program at the University of New Hampshire seeks to prepare highly qualified educators who possess the knowledge, dispositions, and skills necessary to establish rich, inclusive, and effective teaching and learning environments for diverse populations of learners. 

  • Graduates will be knowledgeable in the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to all students.
  • Graduates will be committed to students and their learning.
  • Graduates will be responsible for managing and monitoring student learning.
  • Graduates will be effective organizers of the learning environment.
  • Our graduates will be thoughtful and reflective practitioners who learn from experience.
  • Our graduates will be committed to collaboration which facilitates student growth and learning.
  • Our graduates will be informed decision-makers and agents of change.
  • Our graduates will be active members of learning and professional communities.

Apply now


Applications must be completed by the following deadlines in order to be reviewed for admission:

  • Fall: April 15
  • Spring: November 1
  • Summer: April 15
  • Special: Students who plan to begin their internship Fall semester, must have a completed Graduate School application by March 1st and have taken all prerequisite coursework.

Application fee: $65

Campus: Durham

New England Regional: No

Accelerated Masters: Yes (for more details see the accelerated masters information page)

New Hampshire Residents

Students claiming in-state residency must also submit a Proof of Residence Form. This form is not required to complete your application, but you will need to submit it after you are offered admission or you will not be able to register for classes.


If you attended UNH or Granite State College (GSC) after September 1, 1991, and have indicated so on your online application, we will retrieve your transcript internally; this includes UNH-Durham, UNH-Manchester, UNH Non-Degree work and GSC. 

If you did not attend UNH, or attended prior to September 1, 1991, then you must upload a copy (PDF) of your transcript in the application form. International transcripts must be translated into English.

If admitted, you must then request an official transcript be sent directly to our office from the Registrar's Office of each college/university attended. We accept transcripts both electronically and in hard copy:

  • Electronic Transcripts: Please have your institution send the transcript directly to grad.school@unh.edu. Please note that we can only accept copies sent directly from the institution.
  • Paper Transcripts: Please send hard copies of transcripts to: UNH Graduate School, Thompson Hall- 105 Main Street, Durham, NH 03824. You may request transcripts be sent to us directly from the institution or you may send them yourself as long as they remain sealed in the original university envelope.

Transcripts from all previous post-secondary institutions must be submitted and applicants must disclose any previous academic or disciplinary sanctions that resulted in their temporary or permanent separation from a previous post-secondary institution. If it is found that previous academic or disciplinary separations were not disclosed, applicants may face denial and admitted students may face dismissal from their academic program.

Letters of recommendation: 3 required

Recommendation letters submitted by relatives or friends, as well as letters older than one year, will not be accepted. At least one letter should be from a university/college level instructor.

Test Scores: Praxis Required

Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators (Core) exam scores are required of all applicants to Master’s level (M.Ed. and M.A.T. ) programs leading to initial certification in Teacher Education, Special Education, and Early Childhood Education. Applicants must obtain, at a minimum, a qualifying score (as set by the state of New Hampshire at the time of testing) on all three (Reading, Writing, and Mathematics) Core exams in order to be considered for admission. Current NH qualifying scores may be found at the ETS Praxis Website under the “Tests required for all licensure areas” page. To have scores sent to our office please use our recipient code which is 3922.

For general information about test scores required for admission into our programs please visit our Test Scores webpage.

Personal Statement/Essay Questions

In no more than two pages, describe the reasons you wish to pursue the degree program you have chosen, including relevant personal qualities and life experiences that have shaped your beliefs about learning, development and teaching, counseling, or administration (depending on the program to which you are applying).

Statements must be included with your submitted application.

State and Federal Background Check

A background check is a requirement before an application can be reviewed by the Education department. Here is the document and instructions Department of Education Background Check and Criminal History Release form.

Additional Department Requirements

Additional Admissions requirements: An interview is required and one of the reference letters MUST be an academic reference

Important Notes

All applicants are encouraged to contact programs directly to discuss program-specific application questions.

International Applicants

Prospective international students are required to submit TOEFL, IELTS, or equivalent examination scores. English Language Exams may be waived if English is your first language. If you wish to request a waiver, then please visit our Test Scores webpage for more information.

Explore Program Details

The philosophy which underlies the Special Education Program's curriculum and the activities of the program's faculty includes the following elements:

  1. All students with disabilities have the right to the same life-enhancing opportunities and experiences as non-disabled students.
  2. Educational services should be provided in settings which are culturally normative and in ways which minimize prejudice, stereotyping, stigmatization, and discrimination.
  3. Education focuses not only on culturally-valued individual competencies, but also on attitudes, images, and barriers which may prevent students with disabilities from achieving full educational, social, vocational, political, and economic integration.


The Special Education program at the University of New Hampshire seeks to prepare highly qualified educators who possess the knowledge, dispositions, and skills necessary to take the lead in establishing effective teaching and learning environments for a diverse population of learners, who are capable of collaborating with classroom teachers as team teachers or consultants, and who utilize these skills within their school communities, and within the profession itself. "Leader" to us means someone who is knowledgeable in subject matter and educational theory and research, who can make well reasoned judgments in complex situations with competing viewpoints, who is exemplary in his or her own practice and who both takes initiative for planned change, and collaborates effectively with others in the improvement of education.

After admission to the program, a student will be assigned an advisor with whom the student will meet to plan the details of his or her program. The plan is developed in consideration of the requirements of the degree, the student's previous training and experience, and the student's career goals.

All graduate work for the Master's degree must be completed in four (4) years or less from the date of matriculation in the program. Each student will be encouraged to complete a minimum of eight (8) graduate credits each academic year.

A maximum of 12 credits earned in UNH graduate courses campus may be applied to a student's degree program if taken prior to or in process when the official letter of admission is written. A student may petition for the transfer of a maximum 2 courses, up to eight (8) graduate credits, earned at another accredited graduate school provided that these credits are of a grade of at least B. These credits may be applied toward the degree only if recommended by the advisor and approved by the Graduate School. The student should consult the Graduate Catalog for other specific information on academic regulations and degree requirements.

Students can download a copy of the M.Ed. in Special Education (Ages 5-21): Teacher Certification Requirements Checklist to assist with planning coursework. As degree completion requirements are subject to change, students should always work with their advisor to ensure that they are viewing the most up-to-date worksheet. 

All students will be required to spend at least two semesters in a supervised internship setting. This experience is individualized and determined by the student's needs. For students with minimal experience and no certification, the first part of the internship allows movement from exploratory experiences and observations to responsibility for preparing and implementing a program for one learner, to small group instruction, to responsibility for the total educational program for a full class of learners. Those students having certification and more experience, in conjunction with their advisor and internship coordinator, may determine other activities to expand their experiences or to develop other competencies.

Interns are expected to indentify their own internship sites. Some students will choose an internship in which they are not paid. Other students may work as aides or paraprofessionals. In these cases, it must be clearly delineated that their role as an intern goes beyond the typical expectations for an aide/paraprofessional. Positions as one-to-one para-professionals are not acceptable as internship placements. Still other interns may choose to complete their internship in their own classroom.

Internship sites must be approved by the internship coordinator. All interns are expected to spend a significant proportion of each day in an inclusive setting. Interns will be expected to participate in all phases of the special education process from observations of children who may be referred, to making classroom modifications, to implementing a child's IEP.

Interns will work under the direct supervision of a school staff member designated as a cooperating teacher. These are experienced teachers who serve as role models providing daily support and guidance. Other students who may have some experience and prior certification choose to complete their internship in their own classroom. These interns must identify someone in the school with whom to develop a peer support and modeling relationship. In addition to the support, guidance and daily interactions with the cooperating teacher or peer, a university intern supervisor will provide supervision and feedback. It is expected that the intern, the cooperating teacher or peer, and the university supervisor will meet periodically to discuss the experience and professional growth of the intern. This is also a time to develop expanded goals and new experiences.

The university supervisors and the group of special education interns will participate in weekly seminars. These seminars allow interns to share experiences, analyze and integrate the practical experiences in their classrooms with their coursework, and lead and respond to the group process, as a critical component of working successfully with children. During these seminars, students will demonstrate new instructional techniques, share strategies for managing classroom behaviors, and use problem solving and critical thinking skills to deal with issues. Seminars will also allow students to obtain assistance in writing IEPs, conducting and interpreting assessments, and working effectively with children, parents, and other professionals. In addition to their experience teaching as interns, all students will be expected to observe or participate in other special education programs. A variety of programs, as well as age groups, is suggested. It is also expected that the intern will become a member of a professional organization and attend conferences/workshops.

Interns will also be expected to participate in a variety of interactions with parents. These experiences may include observation of and participation in the IEP meetings, individual parent conferences, or home visits. Interns will be expected to demonstrate the ability to develop positive parent-professional relationships.

The Special Education Internship Checklist will be used to document activities and skills during the Internship experience. Interns will also be expected, with the support of their supervisor, to develop a set of goals to individualize and structure the internship experience.

Internship Application

All students who are seeking to complete an internship in special education through UNH must file an "intent to intern" form for special education. This form must be filed by October 1 of the year prior to the internship. Students must file this form even if they have not been admitted to the program, but are in the process of applying. Due to limited internship spaces in the program, internship placements will be approved on a first filed, first placed basis.

Concluding Research Project for M.Ed. in Special Education

The research project is one option that may be pursued for meeting the requirements of the degree. In lieu of a project, the student may instead choose to complete a Thesis, conducted according to guidelines from the Graduate School. International students will typically choose to complete a thesis.

The project is defined below, followed by guidelines for proposal development, and the step-by-step procedures for completing the project.

I. Definition: A project is a thoughtful, carefully justified, structured analysis and intervention to a problem or cluster of concerns that arise in, or are directly related to, your teaching experience. For example, the Project may involve an analysis and intervention concerning aspects of curriculum design, implementation, and evaluation, behavioral planning, or it may focus on a study of larger policy issues within the school or region.

II. Proposal Development: All projects are to be planned in advance and in consultation with the advisor. Proposals developed during EDUC 981 and any preliminary data collected can only be used for the project if it is developed and collected in cooperation with the project committee as described in section III below. The process of completing a Project usually takes a minimum of one full academic year. The student is responsible for beginning and maintaining contact with the Project Advisor in a timely manner so that the Project can be completed in the time-line envisioned by the student.

III. Procedure:

A. Prerequisites. Before beginning the project, the student must have completed all prerequisite courses and have either completed or be currently enrolled in at least the first semester of the internship. The student must have either previously completed or be currently enrolled in EDUC 981 prior to the development of the project proposal.

B. Faculty advisor and project committee. The student will consult with a member of the special education faculty qualified to sponsor the Project and secure preliminary consent of that faculty member to serve as the Project Advisor. The student will then, in agreement with the Project Advisor, secure the preliminary consent of one additional faculty member, to serve on the student’s Project Committee. This information will then be entered in the student’s graduate file within the department.

C. Initial Project proposal approval. The student is required to prepare a short (2 –3 page) proposal for approval by the Project Committee before work on the Project is begun. This proposal should include a brief description of the need, purpose, and solutions, including methods proposed to gather data supporting a solution. In limited circumstances, preexisting data may be admissible with project committee approval.

D. Proposal development. The student will work with the Project Advisor, and the other committee member as needed, to develop the design of the project, to develop formal and informal evaluation procedures and to determine the relevant literature that will be reviewed to justify the project. The student in conjunction with the committee will refine the written design for IRB submission. (Information and forms for this are available at the following UNH website http://www.unh.edu/osr/compliance/compliance_info_sheet.html.) Continuing contact with the committee is expected on a regular basis to review ongoing progress with the Project. This is especially important during the writing of the Project’s final report to avoid major revisions at that time.

E. Project report. All completed project reports must contain the following sections:

Introduction: The introduction should establish the importance and review of the relevant literature of the concerns or questions the project will address. It should contain a review of the relevant related literature. A good introduction is usually written in such a way as to build a convincing case for the need for a particular project.

Method: The project report should describe the participants, project activities, materials, and procedures, in enough detail so that the project could be replicated by others, if need be. Details of the evaluation procedure must also be explained.

Results, Discussion, and Implications: The project report must describe the outcome of the project and its evaluation. The results must be discussed, including descriptions of appropriate analyses made using the data. Relevant implications for further research and practice must be drawn from these data, and described in the report.

A project report must be submitted as a well-developed piece of writing using current APA format. Most students will write several drafts of the report with input and revisions from the Project Committee. Suggestions may be offered for revision of content, clarity, organization, and writing mechanics at each draft until the report is acceptable. Project reports are not acceptable until they are of ‘A’ quality.

F. Final Project Approval. A final meeting of the Project Committee and the student will be held at which time questions will be resolved, final revisions will be suggested, and recommendations will be made. Upon completion of recommended editing, final approval will be granted. Approval of the Project will be granted in writing by a unanimous favorable decision of the Project Committee. Final approval must be granted by the date for master’s thesis approval set by the graduate school. The student is responsible for consulting the Graduate School Calendar on the UNH website to identify the exact date as these dates vary each semester.

Optional Certification

An optional additional certification is available to those enrolled in the M.Ed. in special education program and to professionals with General Special Education certification.

Special Education Administration Certification

Core Courses
In addition to the coursework necessary for the M.Ed. and certification in General Special Education, those wishing to obtain additional certification in Special Education Administration should take the following courses:

Subject Course Number Title Credits
EDUC 951 Laws and Regulations in Special Education
EDUC 956 Learning to Listen: Positive Behavioral Supports 4
EDUC 961 Public School Administration 4
EDUC 962 Educational Finance and Business Management 4
EDUC 964 Human Resources in Education 4
EDUC 974 Administrative Internship 6

Students who already possess a Master's degree in Education or a related field may choose to complete the Alternative One Certification-Only option in any of the areas above as well as in General Special Education.

More to Explore

Take the Next Step

student in doorway of UNH campus building
Learn How to Apply
thompson hall in summer
Schedule a Visit
student at Career Event
Talk With Us