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Online Master of Arts in Teaching in Special Education

The online Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in Special Education: Moderate and Severe Disabilities (MSD) leads to Alternative Certification and is ideal for those who do not have an academic background in education, but would like to get certified to teach students with MSD.

Offered by the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Louisville, this Special Education-focused MAT equips graduate students with relevant knowledge that they can immediately apply in the classroom. Teachers pursuing an MSD Alternative Certification are required to be employed on a provisional teaching certification and teaching students with MSD.

As a student in the online MAT program at UofL, you can cultivate the skills needed to teach students who have intellectual disabilities that impede their academic achievement and affect behavior. By learning how to properly adapt instructional methods and curriculum, you can make education accessible to those with special needs.


Complete your degree on your own time through fully online coursework and learning tools.

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Take 12 specialized courses in Special Education MSD leading to an Alternative Certification.

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The College of Education and Human Development is giving back to teachers with a 25% tuition reduction.

Online learning video - Moderate and Severe Disabilities P-12 (Alternative Certification)

Teachers give their best to their students
and UofL is giving their best to teachers!

Starting in Summer 2019, the College of Education and Human Development will offer a 25% Tuition Reduction for Teachers enrolling in approved teacher education programs—online and on-campus.

Read more in a Q&A with Betty Hampton, Director of Graduate Services for the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) at UofL.

How Much Will I Pay?

$573 per credit hour
$250 per credit hour active-duty rate

Tuition & Aid    

Tuition rate does not include costs associated with a specific course or program, such as textbooks.


  • Immerse yourself in the field through comprehensive classroom experiences.
  • Learn from knowledgeable, experienced practitioners, researchers and teachers.
  • Take advantage of flexible learning and personal attention, customized to your goals.
  • Start the Alternative Certification program in the Summer Term (those who wish to start in the Fall will enroll in the Traditional option first until they obtain employment).


This program leads to MSD certification only. Individuals completing this program would not be certified to teach general education (Elementary, Middle or Secondary) unless they completed an additional certification program. Graduates of this program will primarily be certified to teach students with moderate and severe disabilities in Kentucky.

Preferred Application Deadline Term Start Date
July 1 Fall* August
December 1 Spring January
May 10 Summer June

Note: We admit students on a rolling basis. The preferred deadlines help you complete the application process on time, be notified of acceptance and enroll before the term begins. We review applications as they become complete, and admit students for a specific term up to the day classes start. We recommend you work on and submit your complete application well in advance of the preferred deadline, as obtaining transcripts and other materials may take more time.

Steps to Apply

  1. Complete Graduate Application
  2. Submit application fee of $65 (non-refundable)
  3. Submit official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate work completed at regionally-accredited institutions
    • C grade or better in ENGL 102 (or equivalent)
    • C grade or better in oral communication course

Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree from a regionally-accredited institution
  • Minimum GPA of 2.75 on a 4-point scale
  • Minimum GRE or PRAXIS Test Scores as required by the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board
    • Note: when submitting test scores through ETS, use the general University of Louisville code, 1838
  • Current Teacher Education Resume - use of the resume template is required
  • 3 letters of recommendation from individuals who can speak to your academic and/or professional capabilities
  • Signed code of ethics/technology statement uploaded to your online application – use the Professional Code of Ethics and CEHD Technology Agreement form [PDF]
  • Interview with a satisfactory outcome
  • Personal essays uploaded with your application – each essay should be double-spaced (Times New Roman 12 point font) and no more than 3 pages
    • Essay #1
      • In what ways has your cultural heritage and background influenced the way you learn, and impacted your interactions with others who come from a different cultural background? Describe an example of an injustice or inequity that you witnessed, experienced, or became aware of, and your response at that time. Then, explain how you would respond if it occurred again. Finally, explain how you would support respect for diversity in your future classroom, and how you would demonstrate a commitment to social justice and equity.
    • Essay #2
      • In thinking about the characteristics of an effective teacher, name one characteristic as your greatest strength and explain why this characteristic is important to effective teaching. Name one or two characteristic(s) you need to develop to become an effective teacher, and your plan for improvement.
      • Please note that we already assume you “love kids” and “have patience.” Your answers should be based on careful reflection and may include such dispositional qualities as: initiative, flexibility, intellectual curiosity, creativity, preparation/organization, responsibility, reflection, collaboration, dedication, and/or dependability.

Out-of-State Applicants

Out-of-state certified teachers should be advised that we cannot guarantee that our program will meet licensure, salary, advancement or other requirements in their state. As part of the admission process, we will require a written statement confirming their interest in the program for personal development and that they understand the program is designed to meet Kentucky certification requirements only. For more information, please contact our academic advisor at betty.hampton@louisville.edu.

Enrollment Requirements

Upon admission to the program, students will work directly and collaboratively with their assigned advisor to complete any additional requirements before enrolling.

For questions about application and enrollment to the online MAT Special Ed – MSD program, please email online@louisville.edu or call 800.871.8635.

Start Your Application

The MAT in Special Education MSD is a 36 credit hour program. Our curriculum is designed to help you develop your knowledge of student characteristics and teaching pedagogy.

Course Title Hours
Student Characteristics
EDSP 540 Introduction to Exceptional Children 3
EDSP 594 Foundational Concepts in Intellectual and Physical Disability 3
EDSP 518 Teaching Reading Special Education P-12 3
EDSP 520 Assessment of Students with Moderate/Severe Disabilities 3
EDSP 546 Behavior Analytic Approach to Communication 3
EDSP 570 Autism: Introduction and Understanding 3
EDSP 609 Moderate/Severe Disabilities Curriculum and Methods I 3
EDSP 611 Moderate/Severe Disabilities Curriculum and Methods II 3
EDSP 614 Transition Programs and Services for Children and Youth with Disabilities 3
EDSP 635 Moderate and Severe Disabilities Practicum 3
EDSP 644 Applied Behavior Analysis 3
EDSP 647 Teaching Mathematics to Students with Disabilities 3
Minimum Total Credits Required 36

Course Descriptions