Generalist Graduate Program, Master of Arts

Dr Lewis Jackson

Dr. Lewis Jackson, Program Coordinator


Thanks to the efforts of many educators and parents, special education services have been a civil rights requirement for all students in all public schools since 1975. The University of Northern Colorado has proudly provided quality education and training in special education since 1954, and is continuing this tradition today through the many delivery options we offer to students across Colorado and the nation. This program is offered fully online, on-campus in Greeley and on the weekends at the Lowry Center in Denver.

The Masters of Arts program in Special Education Generalist is designed to prepare special educators to work with K-12 students across a range of abilities, from significant support needs to mild/moderate disabilities. This degree represents the largest Masters degree offered by the UNC School of Special Education. We train educators to work with 85% of the students requiring special education services. We prepare educators to successfully provide their expertise in general education and pull-out settings, facilities, hospitals, and even homebound instruction. At the end of the program, candidates may earn either a Master’s degree or non-degree licensure in Special Education Generalist.

We are especially proud of the employment rate of our graduates, which exceeds over 95%.

Program Focus

The MA Generalist program is proud to prepare leaders in teaching students across a broad range of disabilities, including students with learning and behavior disabilities, autism, cognitive and intellectual disabilities, and physical disabilities. We do not prepare teachers as vision or hearing specialists. We believe firmly in working from a strengths-based, culturally sensitive approach that collaborates with students, their families, other education experts, and community-based personnel. We provide cutting edge theory and evidence-based practices in our courses. You will also be working with excellent educators in schools through our field-based experiences in grades K-12.

The MA Generalist program adheres to four different sets of national and state standards and is accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). Sample course content includes foundations of special education, assessment, IEP development, working with students with behavioral challenges, literacy, math, secondary methods, methods for working with students with significant support needs, and practicum.

Additionally, due to small class sizes (maximum 20-25 students per course) faculty maintain a high level of personal interaction with the students.

Admission Requirements

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.
  • All official transcripts.
  • Passage of the Elementary Education PLACE or Elementary Education Praxis II, or have an approved elementary teaching license. You can gather information about the PLACE test by going to the PLACE website. You can access information about the Praxis II by going to the Praxis website.
  • A minimum of two letters of recommendation are required. Although there is no admission deadline, it is preferable for students begin the program in the fall semester.
  • A 1-2 page statement of educational goals and philosophy.

Length of program and program requirements; course structure and delivery

Individuals entering the program with an undergraduate degree in education should be able to complete the MA Generalist in two to three years. Those individuals who do not have an undergraduate degree in education will need to take some additional courses, which may extend the length of the program. An individualized “Plan of Study” is developed for each person based on his or her undergraduate and/or graduate coursework. Additionally, each student is paired with an advisor (a faculty member in Special Education Generalist) who can work with you to plan your studies to best fit with your busy life.

The Special Education Generalist program is offered on campus, online, and face-to-face at our Denver Lowry center. All Generalist on-campus courses are offered evenings and some weekends. All online courses are offered via the Internet and run the same time period as the on-campus classes. Our Denver Lowry courses are offered across four weekends per course and are a part of our Lowry cohort system. It is possible to take all on-campus courses, all online courses, or a blending of both types of delivery systems. Either way, know that you will be receiving a quality education from outstanding instructors in a prestigious program.


How you obtain a license to teach students with disabilities varies from state to state. Contact the Department of Education in your state to find out the specific steps needed to become endorsed in Generalist education. In Colorado, individuals must:

  • Complete our approved program in Special Education Generalist.
  • Obtain an institutional recommendation through our licensing office.
  • Pass the Program for Licensing Assessments for Colorado Educators – Generalist (PLACE) test. You can gather information about the PLACE test by going to the PLACE website

Program Requirements

Visit applications and forms for admissions and other information.

Here is an overview of courses from the UNC catalog that are specific to this exceptionality area:.

  • Please note the mandatory Introduction to Graduate Research (SRM 600) for masters students in special education.
  • Advanced and core courses that are specific to this program.
  • If you entered the program without a Colorado Teacher License, you may need one or more Prerequisite Licensure courses. These courses are not required if you are already a teacher in Colorado. View the Prerequisite Licensure Requirements for more details, or contact your program advisor.


There are a variety of tuition rates and program fees, dependent on Colorado residency status, graduate/undergraduate program focus, and part/full-time status. The tuition rates are subject to change each year by the UNC Board of Trustees, and up-to-date information on costs can be found at the UNC Bursar’s Office web page. Courses taken in conjunction with the Denver cohort cost approximately $100 more per credit hour.

There are a number of guaranteed loan programs and targeted student scholarships available to students at the graduate levels in the area of special education. The process of application can be found at the Office of Financial Aid web page. We encourage you to complete applications for both scholarship and financial aid opportunities so that they will be on file if needed.

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Our ABA Certificate is a BACB-approved® course sequence to fulfill the coursework requirements to take the examination for certification as Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA).®

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