M.A.T. in Special Education: Moderate and Severe Disabilities, P-12 (Alternative Certification)

Online Option

Before applying to the program, please contact Betty Hampton, Director of Graduate and Student Services, (502-852-0411 or betty.hampton@louisville.edu) to discuss the application process.

Who should apply?

  • Individuals interested in teaching students with moderate/ severe disabilities
  • Individuals with a bachelor's degree outside of the field of education
  • Individuals with strong academic credentials and experience working with children or adults with moderate and severe disabilities
  • Individuals who will simultaneously excel at meeting the complex demands of teaching and the rigorous standards of academic coursework.

Looking for a traditional degree?

Find out all the information you would need to obtain the traditional MAT in Moderate and Severe Disabilities (P-12).

Traditional MAT in MSD

Learn more about the CEHD's Tuition Reduction Initiative that can be applied towards the MAT in Special Education!


The special education licensure program provides a strong foundation in general education content, special education theory and methods, and teaching experience. Extensive classroom experience allows students to develop the skills, competencies, and confidence for successful teaching, including strategies for inclusion, behavior management, social skill instruction, and modifying instruction in the general curriculum. Students also benefit from the supervision and mentorship of experienced practitioners and field supervisors. The program's special education professors are experienced practitioners who are experts in their fields as researchers, teachers, and administrators.

Applicants to the program should have excellent academic credentials and successful experience working with children and/or adults with Moderate and Severe Disabilities (MSD). The Alternative Certification program requires that students who are admitted to this program become employed in an MSD classroom on a temporary provisional certificate. Classes start in the Summer each year, and admitted students must secure employment before the start of the Fall term. Those who are not employed, have the option to pursue the traditional version of this program, which requires field placements and student teaching. Completion of this degree/licensure program will only lead to certification as an MSD teacher (not an Elementary, Middle or Secondary content area teacher).

Licensure to teach students with moderate and severe disabilities prepares candidates to teach students with intellectual disabilities that impede academic achievement and adaptive behavior skills (e.g., communication, social behavior, and daily living activities). Elementary teachers work primarily with beginning or remedial skills in academic content (English language arts, math, science, and social studies) and adaptive behaviors. Middle Grades and Secondary teachers address these skills in addition to preparing students to transition to vocations or to post-secondary education. Students with moderate and severe disabilities may spend all or part of their time in traditional classroom settings, but may also receive special education instruction for part of the day in resource rooms, or in self-contained classrooms within the school. Students with moderate and severe disabilities may have intellectual disabilities, autism, multiple disabilities, or other health impairments.

Helpful Links

For details about curriculum information, visit the Graduate Catalog.

Summer Start Sequence of Courses [PDF]

Candidates to initial teacher certification programs are required to submit credentials supporting their academic ability, creativity and collaboration, communication and critical thinking skills, positive disposition, and commitment to the teaching profession. These credentials include transcripts, writing samples, and letters of recommendation which support the candidate's ability to succeed in a rigorous teacher education program. Competitive candidates will be invited to a formal, faculty interview.

Candidates for admission should review the following which outline the expectations of the teaching profession:

  1. Professional Code of Ethics for Kentucky School Personnel [PDF]
  2. CEHD Acceptable Use of Technology Agreement [PDF]
  3. Character and Fitness Questionnaire [PDF]
  4. Professional Dispositions Rubric [PDF]
  5. Diversity Rubric [PDF]
  6. Effective Written Communication Rubric [PDF]


Questions about the application should be directed to teacher@louisville.edu. Candidates will be notified via e-mail regarding the admission decision no later than six weeks after the application deadline. Applicants who are selected for admission will receive information about a mandatory orientation session.

This program is open to all eligible faculty, staff, and students regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age.

Application Deadlines: May 1 for Summer admission (June start) | October 15 for Spring admission (January start)

Please note: If the application deadline falls on a Saturday or Sunday, we will accept the admission portfolio on the Monday after the deadline by 5:00 p.m.

Admission Criteria

Candidates who meet the following criteria may be eligible to apply to the Master of Arts in Teaching program. Candidates considering application to the MAT program should contact the MAT admission counselor (teacher@louisville.edu) prior to applying for admission. Admission is competitive. Candidates who meet minimum academic requirements are not guaranteed admission to the program.

  1. Application to Graduate School/MAT Program. This should be completed three to four weeks prior to the application deadline.
  2. Bachelor's Degree from Accredited College or University with a Minimum 2.75 Grade Point Average (official transcripts required)
  3. Oral Communication Proficiency
  4. Written Communication Proficiency
  5. TOEFL
  6. Professional Writing Requirements
  7. Letters of Recommendation

Contact Us

Department of Special Education
Betty Hampton
Office: 502-852-0411
College of Education and Human Development
University of Louisville
Louisville, KY 40292

Program Faculty

Special Education Faculty

Career Pathways Certification

Students would primarily be certified to teach in a Moderate/Severe Disabilities (MSD)classroom in Kentucky.

The program leads to MSD certification only. Individuals completing this program would not be certified to teach in a typical classroom (Elementary, Middle or Secondary) unless they completed an additional certification program.

General Information

For general information on financial aid resources, please visit the University of Louisville's Student Financial Aid office. The College of Education and Human Development has it's own web page dedicated to financial aid that contains some extra information not listed here.

College of Education & Human Development (CEHD) Scholarship

The CEHD has a long history of offering scholarships to prospective and current students pursuing an education degree program. The CEHD provides over $225,000 annually and selects recipients three times per year. Scholarship selection is competitive and applies to tuition only. Apply online for a CEHD Scholarship before the deadline (April 15th, June 1st and/or October 15th). Applicants should expect notification in four to five weeks after the posted deadline.

Kentucky Traineeship Program

Traineeship Program funds are available to help defray part of the tuition costs for courses that lead to teacher certification in special education or early childhood education. The Kentucky Department of Education has allocated federal professional development funds to provide tuition assistance for special educators and preschool teachers in obtaining certification in the area in which they are teaching. With the increasing shortage of fully certified teachers seeking teaching positions in special education and early childhood education, a major focus of the Traineeship program is on teachers seeking alternative certification, emergency or probationary certification, and working toward full certification while enrolled in a Kentucky institution of higher education. Further information can be found at: http://kytraineeship.org/about/, including eligibility requirements, application deadlines, and more!

WHAS Crusade for Children Scholarship

Funding may also be available through the WHAS Crusade for Children Special Education Scholarship Award.


Through the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007, Congress created the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program that provides up to $4,000 per year to those who intend to teach in a public or private school that serves students from low-income families. Teachers must be certified in a high-need field. (Amount is pro-rated based on part-time or full-time status up to a maximum of $8,000 for graduate students.)

Applicants must complete the FAFSA (although financial need is not required) and be admitted to a teacher certification program. Applicants must score above the 75th percentile on a college admission test or maintain a cumulative gpa of 3.25 for eligibility.

Recipients must teach for a minimum of four years within eight calendar years of completing the teacher certification program. Those who fail to complete the service obligation must re-pay the loan, with interest charged form the first date of disbursement.