Advocate and Innovate for Students and Families

Founded in 1954, UNC’s School of Special Education is committed to excellence in basic and advanced teacher preparation in special education.

Our expert, experienced faculty work to develop educators who advocate for children and youth with exceptionalities and their families and adhere to the following beliefs and values:

  • Children and youth with exceptionalities are part of a larger community of diverse learners;
  • Children and youth with exceptionalities can learn when provided with effective and/or differentiated instruction, the adaptation of the learning environment, and culturally responsive pedagogy and curriculum;
  • Children and youth with exceptionalities excel when they are held to high standards and expectations;
  • The larger mission of education is best served when special educators collaborate with families, general educators, and related services professionals.
  • Children and youth with exceptionalities develop lifelong attitudes and behaviors when responsibility, self-determination, and ownership of their education are expected.

News and Announcements

Scholarship Opportunity

If you live in a rural or mountainous region in Colorado, you may be eligible to have over 85 percent of your tuition and fees paid
for through a U.S. Department of Education grant. You can earn your MA through the fully online program or the hybrid program
(Saturday classes and online). Rural and mountainous regions are in great need of well-qualified EC/ECSE professionals,
so the grant is paid back by just working in one of these high need areas.

Email Rashida Banerjee to inquire about Training Rural Early Educators [Project TREE]

Congratulations to UNC Special Education Alum, Josh Burns, who won K99 Teacher of the week!

Learn more on K99.com

Virtual Reality

Discover how the School of Special Education uses virtual reality to prepare its students for success inside the classroom in a KUNC Radio Feature.

Student utilizes virtual reality tool

Discover GOAL

The UNC GOAL program and its students were recently featured on Denver 7!

Watch UNC Goal - Part 1
Watch UNC Goal - Part 2

GOAL (Go Out And Learn) is a fully inclusive certificate program for students with mild intellectual and/or developmental disabilities and gives its students the opportunity to become apart of UNC's classroom and campus community.

Learn more about GOAL

 GOAL students studying

Graduate Experiences

Julie Noffsinger

Julie Noffsinger

“I was given the opportunity through Adams County School District 50 to attend the University of Northern Colorado Center for Urban Education. I was 8 1/2 months pregnant with my second child and had been working as a paraprofessional with elementary age students with auditory development delays. The opportunity to work as a para while going to school was a perfect fit for me. Being in the classroom was a great way for me to practice what I was learning in the classroom and to help me decide where I wanted to teach. The professors I had at the CUE were all fabulous. Very knowledgeable, and open to thinking outside the box when necessary. I am still in contact with many of them today and can still bounce ideas off of them when I get stuck on something. When I started the program I knew I wanted to teach in the Special Education field, but starting out I was elementary all the way. After my third year in the program I found myself at Westminster High School and loved it. I learned that I was meant to teach at the secondary level. I believe that the way the CUE is set up, giving students the opportunity to work in a classroom while studying aides in developing some of the best teachers we have today. I am just finishing my first year as a Special Education teacher at Westminster High School and am thankful for the my three years at the Center for Urban Education.”

Rachel Beckstrand

Rachel Beckstrand

“I have had an amazing experience at UNC. The online program that UNC provides made it possible for me to stay in Utah while getting the needed education required to be and Orientation and Mobility Specialist. Staying in Utah was important to me because I help take care of my mother who has Alzheimer"s. UNC really is the reason I now have my dream job.”

Heather Abraham

Heather Abraham

“I had a fantastic educational experience at UNC. The deaf education program prepared me to work with students from birth-21 years, and I secured jobs in both the early intervention and school settings prior to receiving my diploma. The professors not only provided me with cutting edge information regarding the field of deaf education, they got to know me as a learner and provided me with opportunities to grow individually. Looking back, I would make the same choice to attend UNC again.”

Denise C. Onofrey M.A.

Denise C. Onofrey M.A.

“The School of Special Education was an essential milestone in my development as an educator and human service provider. In addition to a supportive educational environment, I have also felt supported by the program while in the field since I graduated in 2005.”

Rebecca Sidders

Rebecca Sidders
2008 UNC Graduate
Teacher of the Deaf, Kalamazoo , MI

“I am proud to have completed my Master of Arts in Special Education at the University of Northern Colorado. Knowledgeable instructors and applicable courses have prepared me to be a local leader in the field of deaf education. The incredible support of faculty and fellow students has not ended with graduation but continues through a valuable network of professionals dedicated to educating, mentoring and supporting our students and their families.”

Moira C. Rennoldson

Moira C. Rennoldson
Masters in Special Education: Visual Impairment, 2010
Endorsement: Orientation and Mobility, 2011

“Each day of my young career as a teacher of the visually impaired and Orientation and Mobility Specialist presents a challenge that corroborates the relevance of the instruction provided at the University of Northern Colorado. The online program removed physical barriers, opening this great opportunity to me. I was surprised by the feeling of community that was fostered among my classmates, my professors, and me. I can also attest that the rigor of the program definitely was not diminished by the online format. I highly recommend this program to the serious student who is interested in entering a rewarding profession teaching students who are visually impaired.”

Gloria Valenciano-Salazar

Gloria Valenciano-Salazar

“When I was ready to obtain a Master's Degree to further my education I knew the Gifted Education Master's Program at UNC was exactly what I needed. I felt like I was a good teacher, but I lacked the skills and knowledge to support and challenge high ability and gifted students. The Gifted Education Master's Program at UNC helped me to understand this population of students and prepared me to work with them at a much deeper level. The program allowed me to continue my full time position as an elementary classroom teacher while taking classes a couple of nights a week. My confidence and knowledge as an educator have increased greatly and helped me transition to my current position as a GT Facilitator. I feel like I can now support and challenge high ability and gifted students, and speak more passionately with parents and educators about best practices for gifted learners. The program was incredibly life-changing for me and for my future in Gifted Education.”

Carrie Reece

Carrie Reece

“I enjoyed growing and stretching myself while in the Graduate Program at UNC. As an online student, I felt that I learned just as much (or even more), than when I worked on my undergraduate studies in a traditional campus setting.”

Maha Alsuliman

Maha Alsuliman

“As an international Ph.D. student, attending UNC opened my eyes not only in the academic life, but also new global perspectives. It has been a unique experience for me to receive my education from elite and knowledgeable professors who challenged me continually and pushed my critical thinking skills. To all international students: there is no better experience than attending UNC!”

Michele McCarthy

Michele McCarthy

“UNC's School of Special Education (Deaf and Hard of Hearing Master's Program) is by far one of the most superb educational programs. It was very instrumental in my life and many benefits I derived from this program illustrates the exceptional education that is offered at UNC. I would highly recommend UNC's School of Special Education, and particularly its instructors, Sandy Bowen and John Luckner.”