Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

The Deaf Education Program is a graduate level program that leads to a Master of Arts in Special Education. Below are responses to questions that we most frequently receive. Please use the contact information at the end of this document to get in touch with us if you have additional questions.

WHY CHOOSE UNC’S DEAF EDUCATION PROGRAM?

The Deaf Education teacher preparation program at the University of Northern Colorado is a comprehensive, experientially based graduate level training program. We have been preparing teachers of students who are deaf or hard of hearing for the past 51 years. By choosing a career as an educator of students who are deaf or hard of hearing you prepare yourself for the satisfaction of teaching students to communicate and read; helping families learn to interact with their child; teaching students to speak and/or use sign language; developing and delivering lessons in content subjects; working with general education teachers to include students with a hearing loss in their classes; and the long-term satisfaction of knowing that you made a difference in the lives of students with a hearing loss and their families. Fully accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, UNC boasts a long history of excellence in teacher preparation. In 2001, the deaf education program along with the other low-incidence programs (Blindness and Severe Disabilities) received the “Program of Excellence” award from the Colorado Commission on Higher Education. The “Program of Excellence” award is Colorado’s higher education’s highest honor. It is awarded to academic programs that have demonstrated a long-term commitment to excellence and have achieved outstanding performance records.

WHAT IS THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE PROGRAM?

We are dedicated to developing teachers who are knowledgeable and skilled at meeting the communication, academic, social, and emotional needs of students who are deaf or hard of hearing and able to work collaboratively with school professionals, families and community agencies. Our program includes extensive field-based experiences working with students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Active learning, reflection, and on-going personal and professional development are the cornerstones of our program philosophy. We believe that the population of children and youth who are deaf or hard of hearing is very diverse. Consequently, we support the development of all modes of communication – speech, American Sign Language (ASL), and sign systems and a belief that an appropriate education can be provided in a variety of educational settings.

ARE THERE JOBS FOR TEACHERS OF STUDENTS WHO ARE DEAF OR HARD OF HEARING?

According to the latest issue of The Job Search Handbook for Educators (2010), there is a “considerable shortage” at the national level as well as most regions of the United States for teachers of students who are deaf or hard of hearing. “Considerable shortage” is their ranking of highest need. In addition, the faculty in the Deaf education teacher training program regularly receive communications (i.e., email, phone, flyer) informing us of job openings throughout the United States. Check the Deaf Education webpage (www.deafed.net) to see about current job openings in the field.

WHAT TYPE OF POSITION WILL I BE PREPARED FOR?

If you plan to apply for a license in the state of Colorado, the license will permit you to work with students who are deaf or hard of hearing ages 0-21. Therefore, when you graduate you are able to teach children and youth in preschool, elementary, or secondary programs. Some of those positions may include a self-contained classroom in a residential school or general education setting, team-teaching with a general education teacher, a resource room, an itinerant teacher who travels to several different schools or as a parent-infant facilitator or home interventionist working in the family’s home. If you do not plan to apply for a teacher license in the state of Colorado, you will need to check with the Department of Education in the state you live to find out about licensure requirements and the specific procedures for applying for a license. Unfortunately, at this time, teacher licenses are not transferable from one state to another.

WHY CHOOSE DISTANCE EDUCATION?

The Deaf Education master’s degree is offered via Internet distance education. Distance education provides a means to increase the number of appropriately trained personnel working with students who are deaf or hard of hearing, families and other professionals. Distance education provides access to educational training without needing to travel to class, leave one’s family, relinquish vacation, or resign professional commitments.

Please note that sign language courses are not available online at UNC. Also, if you do not already have a teaching license (e.g., elementary education, general special education) you will need to take some additional courses. These courses are offered once a year online at UNC, are offered more frequently on campus, and may be taken at another university and transferred.

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE ME TO COMPLETE MY STUDIES?

Individuals entering the program with an undergraduate degree in education should be able to complete their program in two years. Individuals who do not have an undergraduate degree in education will need to take some additional courses, which will extend the length of the program. Individuals who have a Bachelors degree and teaching license in Special Education may be able to complete the program in three semesters.

WHAT ARE THE MINIMUN ENTRANCE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEAF EDUCATION PROGRAM?

  1. A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.
  2. Grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 in the last 60 semester hours of academic work.
  3. Pass the Elementary Content PLACE or Elementary Content Praxis II, or have an approved elementary teaching license.

HOW DO I APPLY?

Admission is a two-step process. First, you must apply to the UNC Graduate School and International Admissions. Completed applications are evaluated and then forwarded to the School of Special Education faculty for review and recommendation. Contact the Graduate School and International Admissions office (970 351-2831) or go to http://www.unco.edu/grad/forms/student.html for an application.

Submit the following materials along with the application fee. Failure to submit all required materials will delay the processing of your application.

  1. A completed UNC Graduate School application form
  2. Two official transcripts from every accredited college or university attended since high school.
  3. Two letters of reference from supervisors, university faculty, or colleagues.
  4. Statement of educational philosophy and goals.
  5. TOEFL scores for international applicants.
  6. A copy of your teacher license or verification of passing the Elementary Content PLACE or PRAXIS II test.

The form used for a letter of recommendation must include a letter either printed on the back of the form or attached. The letter must have an original signature. E-mailed letters with no original signature will not be accepted. Letters of recommendation should come from academic professors, employers, or from someone who is familiar with your work and professional career.

In addition to the applications and letters of recommendation, the School of Special Education requires a written Statement of Educational Philosophy and Goals. This need not be lengthy. A statement regarding your teaching philosophy and why you want the degree is sufficient; usually 1or 2 word-processed pages.

The Graduate School and International Admissions office will hold the application until all original transcripts have been received, whether the on-line application or the printed application is used. The Graduate School and International Admissions office will not forward the application to the School of Special Education until all items have been received. The speed of processing the application depends on how long it takes for the Graduate School and International Admissions office to receive the materials.

DO I HAVE TO TAKE THE GRADUATE RECORD EXAM (GRE)?

No, the GREs are not required unless you have less than a 3.0 GPA in the last 60 hours of coursework. If you do have to complete the GRE, you are required to earn a combined score of 900 and a score of 3.5 on the Writing Sample. You can get information on the GRE by going to http://www.gre.org/cbttest.html

WHEN SHOULD I APPLY?

Applications are reviewed on an ongoing basis. It generally takes 4 weeks for the application process to be completed. We encourage you to apply several months prior to your anticipated start date to ensure acceptance prior to the subsequent semester’s registration deadlines.

CAN I STILL TAKE COURSES EVEN IF I HAVE NOT BEEN ADMITTED?

Yes, you may take up to 9 total credit hours of work before and concurrent with the semester you are applying. You can apply as a non-degree student for these courses. If you take courses prior to completing your application it is best to take the first three 500 level courses: EDSE 510, 511, and 512 and complete prerequisite courses. You will need to be admitted before you can take any of the 600 level courses.

MY UNDERGRADUATE DEGREE IS NOT IN EDUCATION. CAN I STILL PURSUE AN M.A. DEGREE IN DEAF EDUCATION?

Yes, most accredited undergraduate degrees will qualify you to pursue a Deaf Education master’s degree as long as you meet the minimum entrance requirements of the Graduate School and International Admissions office.

However, if you do not possess a current teaching license you will have to take either the PLACE or PRAXIS II exam in Elementary Content before your application will be reviewed. When you receive your official scores, please either mail a photocopy or fax a copy to the School of Special Education at 970-351-1061.If you already have official scores from the Elementary Content exam when you prepare your application, please include a photocopy of your official test score page with the application materials.

Information about the Colorado PLACE exam may be found at: http://www.place.nesinc.com/

Information about the PRAXIS II Elementary Education Exam may be found at: http://www.ets.org/portal/site/ets/menuitem.435c0b5cc7bd0ae7015d9510c3921509/?vgnextoid=48c05ee3d74f4010VgnVCM10000022f95190RCRD

When you apply you will have to submit the Educator License form. You can acquire that form by going to http://www.unco.edu/grad/forms/student.html After you are admitted you will be required to complete additional or prerequisite courses.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO TAKE COURSES?

Estimated cost for courses at UNC can be found at http://www.unco.edu/costs/

The Deaf Education program is approved by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). WICHE’s 14-state region includes Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Under this approval, students from the other 13 states can attend UNC at the Colorado resident graduate tuition rate rather than the non-resident rate http://wrgp.wiche.edu/

WHAT TYPES OF FINANCIAL AID ARE AVAILABLE?

You may qualify for a variety of scholarships, fellowships, and assistantships. The Office of Student Financial Resources administers grants, loans, employment opportunities, scholarships and veteran’s benefits. Some are competitive, while others are need based. To be considered on a priority basis for need-based financial aid, submit a completed application form by the preferred filing date of March 1. Apply for UNC scholarships by completing a UNC Scholarship Form. Forms are available online at http://www.unco.edu/ofa/scholarships/index.asp or call the Student Financial Resources Office at (970) 351-2502.

Additionally, federal loan forgiveness programs are available for students in special education, including deaf education.

AM I LICENSED IN DEAF EDUCATION WHEN I FINISH THE MASTER’S DEGREE?

No. The degree is only one part of the licensure process in Colorado. In all, you must meet three criteria:

  • Complete an approved program in the emphasis area.
  • Obtain an institutional recommendation.
  • Pass the Program for Licensing Assessments for Colorado Educators – Deaf/Hard of Hearing (PLACE) test. You can gather information about the PLACE test online by going to http://www.place.nesinc.com/

If you have questions regarding the Professional Teacher Education Program (PTEP) courses or teacher licensure, please address them to Vicky Stromberger (Vicky.Stromberger@unco.edu)

If you reside in a state other than Colorado, you will need to contact the Department of Education in your state to establish the exact requirements for obtaining a license for teaching students who are deaf or hard of hearing in that state.

CAN COURSES FROM ANOTHER UNIVERSITY COUNT TOWARD MY DEGREE?

You may transfer up to 6 semester hours from another university. Courses must be graduate credit (with a letter grade) from an accredited university, not have been part of the courses of an awarded degree, and be within five years of your graduation date.

WILL PREVIOUSLY TAKEN UNC COURSES APPLY TOWARD MY DEGREE?

Ten semester hours of UNC graduate credit can apply to your Master of Arts degree if the courses taken are in your degree area and were not courses counted in the award of another degree. If you took courses in your degree area prior to admission to the Graduate School and International Admissions, anything over 10 hours cannot be included as hours toward your degree program.

HOW CAN I START PREPARING FOR MY CAREER IN DEAF EDUCATION?

If you are planning to become a teacher of students who are deaf or hard of hearing you can begin by taking sign language courses, reading books about deaf individuals and deaf culture, volunteering in a program for students who are deaf or hard of hearing, finding summer employment at a camp that enrolls students who are deaf or hard of hearing and trying to get involved in a local or regional organization that involves individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.

WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?

Contact either: Dr. John Luckner (970) 351-1672 or Dr. Sandy Bowen (970) 351-2102