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Online Master of Education in Special Education (MSD)

The online Master of Education in Special Education is designed for licensed teachers and other professionals interested in developing expertise in areas related specifically to Moderate and Severe Disabilities (MSD) special education.

Offered by the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Louisville, the special education master’s program provides a strong foundation in general education content and special education theory and methods. With coursework involving extensive classroom experience, you will develop the skills, competencies and confidence for successful teaching in this important area—including strategies for inclusion, behavior management, social skill instruction and modifying instruction within the general curriculum.


Complete this degree on your time through fully online classes.

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Take only 12 courses to earn your master’s degree in Special Education.

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Specialize your expertise through an MSD concentration.

Online learning video - Online Master of Education in Special Education (MSD)


Employment of special education teachers is projected to grow 8% from 2016 to 2026, as fast as the average for all occupations. Employment growth will be driven by continued demand for special education services. Many job opportunities will stem from the need to replace teachers who leave the occupation due to retirement or career change.

— BLS.gov, 2018
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How Much Will I Pay?

$764/credit hour (M.Ed. SPED courses)
$573/credit hour (MSD courses)
$250/credit hour (active-duty rate)

Tuition & Aid    

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


  • Prepare to work with students who have intellectual disabilities that impede academic achievement and adaptive behavior skills (e.g., communication, social behavior and daily living activities).
  • Earn the credentials needed to become certified to teach special education.
  • Take advantage of the flexibility and convenience of 100% online classes.
  • Complete your degree in as little as 2 years.

Who Qualifies?

The MSD concentration is designed only for licensed teachers looking to become certified to teach Special Education in the state of Kentucky, though potential exceptions are handled on a case-by-case basis. Teachers licensed outside of the state of Kentucky and interested in applying for this degree and concentration, must speak to our academic advisor (betty.hampton@louisville.edu) prior to applying to ensure their qualification and eligibility.

Course Delivery

Online courses are accessed via webcam in interactive, synchronous sessions (from 4:30 to 7 p.m. ET on specific weekdays).

Field Experience & Practicum

This program requires field experience and completion of practicum, as well as a Kentucky teaching licensure, which can lead to Rank II certification. Fieldwork requirements must be completed in the state of KY. Students will gain experience in a variety of settings, including teaching in their own classroom (as approved on an individual basis).


Students graduating from the MSD concentration will be qualified to gain licensure to become a special education teacher. You’ll be prepared to better understand the needs of students from elementary to high school.

  • Elementary teachers work primarily with beginning or remedial skills in academic content (English language arts, math, science and social studies), as well as adaptive behaviors.
  • Middle Grade and Secondary teachers address these skills in addition to preparing students to transition to vocations or to post-secondary education.

Want to add a certificate to your credentials?

Take courses in Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis and earn a stand-alone special education graduate certificate (18 credit hours) completely online.


Application Deadline Term Start Date
August 1 Fall August
December 1 Spring January
April 1 Summer May/June

Although applications are processed as they are received and admission is granted on a rolling basis throughout the year, we encourage you to start and submit your application as soon as possible, as gathering admission materials may take more time. Available spots for the online classes fill quickly, and applications received at least six weeks prior to the beginning of a term will be given priority consideration.

Steps to Apply

  1. Complete graduate application
  2. $65 non-refundable application fee
  3. Submit 2 letters of recommendation (please list email addresses for recommenders in the online application)
  4. Submit personal statement of 250-500 words, using the Personal Statement Cover Sheet [PDF]
  5. Submit GRE scores: verbal of 147 and quantitative of 142 for unconditional admission
  6. Sign Professional Code of Ethics and Technology Agreement [PDF] form

Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree earned from a regionally-accredited institution
  • Official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate work
  • Minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75
  • Prerequisite: EDSP 540 Introduction to Exceptional Children (or equivalent)
  • Proof of a valid teaching certificate or statement of eligibility

Send all materials to:
Graduate Admissions
University of Louisville
2211 S. Brook Street
Louisville, KY 40292

Credit Transfer

If you have received graduate credit from another institution, you may transfer up to 6 credits that directly replace approved courses in the program. Approval must be granted by the program director.

Out of State

Due to the strict requirements of a Kentucky teaching license, field experience and local in-person practicum, it is unlikely that teachers who live outside of Kentucky or outside of the United States will qualify to complete the licensure program. However, potential exceptions are handled on a case-by-case basis, and those who intend to complete this online program at UofL must contact our academic advisor at betty.hampton@louisville.edu prior to applying.

If you live outside of the United States, be sure to view special requirements for international students.

For more information on the admission and application process, please contact our Online Learning Enrollment Counselor at 800.871.8635 or by email at online@louisville.edu.

The M.Ed. in Special Education – MSD degree at University of Louisville is a 36 credit hour program that requires the following courses for graduation.

Course List Hours
Inquiry (9 hours)
EDSP 639 Research Analysis in Special Education 3 hours
EDSP 644* Applied Behavior Analysis 3 hours
EDSP 669 Single Subject Research Methods and Designs 3 hours
Advocacy (6 hours)
EDSP 627 Applications of Assistive Technology 3 hours
EDSP 652 Academic and Behavior Response to Intervention 3 hours
Action (3 hours)
EDSP 635 Moderate and Severe Disabilities Practicum 3 hours
MSD (18 hours)
EDSP 520 Assessment of Exceptional Learners 3 hours
EDSP 546* Behavior Analytic Approach to Communication 3 hours
EDSP 570 Autism: Introduction and Understanding 3 hours
EDSP 594* Foundational Concepts in Intellectual and Physical Disabilities 3 hours
EDSP 609* Moderate/Severe Disabilities Curriculum and Methods I 3 hours
EDSP 611* Moderate/Severe Disabilities Methods II 3 hours
Minimum Total Hours 36 hours

* Required for certification

Entry, midpoint and exit assessments are also required for graduation.

    Featured Faculty

    Ginevra Courtade
    Department Chair and Associate Professor
    Area: Moderate and Severe Disabilities

    Monica Delano
    Associate Professor,
    Area: Autism; Moderate/Severe Disabilities

    Tim Landrum
    Interim Associate Dean for Research and Innovation, and Professor
    Area: Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

    Terry Scott
    Professor, Distinguished Scholar, Director of CIBRS
    Area: Prevention Science; Effective Instruction

    EView the full list of Special Education faculty here.