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Master's Handbook

This Handbook provides information for master's students in the School of Special Education. The information provided in this handbook does not supplant that found in the UNC Bulletin. Therefore, in addition to this resource, we strongly encourage you to familiarize yourself with all information in the Bulletin that is relevant to you.

Master's Degree Programs

In our School, there are five Master's degree programs offered. Descriptions of these programs are in the UNC Bulletin which is available from the University Bookstore or Graduate School Office. The programs are:

  • Master of Arts in Special Education: Emphasis - Early Childhood Special Education
  • Master of Arts in Special Education: Emphasis – Generalist
  • Master of Arts in Special Education: Emphasis – Deaf/Hard of Hearing Specialist
  • Master of Arts in Special Education: Emphasis – Visual Impairment Specialist
  • Master of Arts in Special Education: Emphasis – Gifted and Talented Specialist

Program Accreditation

These programs are accredited by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE), as well as the Council on Education of the Deaf (CED), and the Association of Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER). Accredited programs must adhere to stringent professional training guidelines that are designed to provide consistency among training programs.

  • Admission Procedures

    In addition to meeting the admission requirements of the Graduate School, individuals interested in Special Education must possess a grade point average of 3.0 or above, provide a minimum of two letters of recommendation from previous employers or academic professors, provide a statement of philosophy and professional goals in relation to the needs in the field, and, if requested, arrange for a personal interview. Students with disabilities and students from minority groups are especially encouraged to apply.

  • Advisor

    When you are admitted to a program, you will be assigned an advisor by the Director of the School of Special Education. It is your responsibility when admitted to the program to read and follow the School of Special Education, Graduate School and University guidelines. Therefore, it is your responsibility, not your advisor's, to be sure all program requirements are met before applying for graduation. Program requirements include: meeting with your advisor to review your plan of study, to prepare a schedule, to plan for comprehensive examinations, and to complete the Application for Graduation form. You may change advisors at any time in the program by completing a Change of Advisor form available in the School of Special Education Office in McKee 29.

  • Plan of Study

    A Plan of Study form will be completed when you are admitted. Needed coursework will be determined based on your current transcripts and the requirements of your program. A minimum of 30 hours is required for a master's degree. Should you have changes or substitutions in your coursework, it is your responsibility to make sure any deviations are documented in your advisement file and to keep copies for your own records.

  • Teacher Licensure

    If you want teacher licensure in Colorado, you must complete four steps:

    1. Submit the Request for Institutional Recommendation found in the Graduate School application packet. Submit this form when you apply for admission. The School of Teacher Education (McKee Hall 216, Phone 970-351-2908) evaluates your transcripts to determine if additional courses beyond those in your Special Education Plan of Study are needed to meet the general requirements for teacher licensure in Colorado. The School of Teacher Education office will mail your evaluation to you. Questions about your transcript evaluation can be discussed with the School of Teacher Education office and/or your advisor.
    2. Complete the requirements of your degree and licensure program.
    3. Complete required Program for Licensing Assessments for Colorado Educators (PLACE) tests. Information about the PLACE procedures is available from UNC's School of Teacher Education office.
    4. Complete an application for licensure. Application forms are available from the School of Teacher Education office or the Colorado Department of Education website.
  • Transfer of Credit

    A maximum of 9 semester hours of unclassified graduate credit taken at the University of Northern Colorado and six semester credit hours (nine quarter hours) of graduate credit from another accredited graduate institution may transfer into your Plan of Study. The transfer credit must be compatible with your program and you must have received a grade of "A" or "B". Also, when you finish your degree, only coursework completed within the last five years (including transfer credits) can be counted toward degree requirements. Transfer credits will not be accepted for:

    • Coursework completed more than five calendar years before the completion of the current graduate degree program
    • Correspondence courses
    • Credits used to obtain a previous degree at any institution. To request transfer of credit into your current program, obtain a form titled Petition to Count Work in a Degree Program from the School of Special Education Office in McKee 29 (or online) and submit the petition with appropriate official transcripts to the Graduate School.
  • Course Load

    Nine semester hours of credit are considered the minimum credit load to be classified as a full-time student. The maximum load permitted for a graduate student enrolled in a regular semester is 17 hours. Maximum loads are also established for summer sessions. See your advisor or the summer session Schedule of Classes for details. To carry more than the maximum credits per term, you must file a Petition for Overload. Forms are available in the School of Special Education Office in McKee 29. Complete the form and obtain the signature of your advisor and the chairperson prior to registration.

  • Directed Studies

    A Directed Study is a course in which a student may receive university credit for undertaking an individualized investigation under the direct supervision of a UNC faculty member. The course number used is EDSE 622: Directed Studies. To undertake a directed study, obtain a form from the School of Special Education Office in McKee 29. Complete the form and obtain signature approvals before taking the forms to the registration center to register for the course. No faculty member will be authorized to supervise a directed study during a semester in which he or she is not actually employed on campus at UNC.

    A Directed Study investigation must be on a specific topic that is not duplicated by an existing course within the university's curriculum. The nature of the study must involve intensive use of relevant literature, materials, or techniques and the study report must reflect a synthesis of the information or techniques acquired. Credit for a directed study can vary from one to three credit hours. No more than two directed studies with a combined total of six credit hours may be taken in a semester. Two copies of a final report must be submitted to the supervising faculty member.

  • Change of Major/Emphasis Area

    To request a change of major to another program, obtain a Request for a Change of Major form from the School of Special Education Office or online. Complete the form and return it to the Graduate School with the appropriate approvals. If you request new time limits by checking that choice on the form, none of your previous work will be included in the new program. However, you may request a transfer of up to ten specific semester credit hours. If you request the continuation of the existing time limit by checking that choice on the form, all applicable previous work will be included in your new requirements. With the continuation of the existing time limit choice, you must plan to graduate within five years of the earliest work in the previous program.

  • Extended Studies Off-Campus Degree Program

    You may register for coursework through the continuing education degree program. For information on location and the phone numbers of continuing education degree program coordinators call 970-351-2691. You must be admitted to the continuing education degree program in order to be assured a slot in the off-campus courses. No more than 9 hours prior to official admission to a degree program can be counted toward that degree. If you are an on-campus student you may enroll in off-campus courses only if there is "space available." Additional information you may want to consider includes:

    • You will need to be registered as a full-time student to receive financial aid
    • On-campus and off-campus courses cannot be mixed to achieve full-time student status
    • You will receive separate fees statements for on- and off-campus class registrations
  • Restricted Enrollment

    Some courses in the School of Special Education are restricted in the number of persons who can be enrolled and/or the student must have met specific prerequisites to enroll in the course. Restricted enrollment courses are usually designated in the course schedule as "permission of instructor" to enroll. Contact the faculty member listed as instructor of the class and ask to be released into the course. If no instructor is listed, contact the School of Special Education Office in McKee 29, 970-351-2691 for the name of the appropriate faculty person. If the restricted class is a practicum, the application for the practicum must be completed, submitted and approved the semester before you can enroll.

  • Practicum/Internship

    Students in all emphasis areas of endorsement or licensure must complete a practicum. The number of credit hours of practicum will vary according to an individual's professional experience. Successful completion of the Professional Teacher Education Program (PTEP) is required prior to registering for practicum. The student must register for practicum credits during the semester in which the practicum is begun. Students must pass the PLACE exam in their licensure area prior to beginning a practicum. Practicum applications are due the semester prior to the practicum period. Check the main Schools of Special Education web page or your program advisor for deadline dates. Late applications will NOT be accepted.

    To complete the practicum application process:

    • Visit website for general information, forms, and etc.
    • Meet with your advisor to determine the number of semester hours and the type of practicum required.
    • Obtain an appropriate application form from the School of Special Education office.
    • Complete the application with all requested information and give it to your advisor for further processing.
    • If you are applying for practicum, do not contact the district/agency personnel until you are notified to do so by the practicum coordinator.
    • Students with substantial experience within the program area in which they are seeking licensure may be eligible for a practicum waiver. See your advisor for details.
  • Comprehensive Examinations

     In order to take a written comprehensive examination you must obtain and complete the Written Comprehensive Exam Request form and submit it to your advisor. Your advisor will sign the form and submit it to the Special Education office. This process must be completed no later than two weeks before the scheduled exam. You should talk with your advisor to acquire information about the examination format, procedures, date, time and place.

  • Temporary Teacher Eligibility (TTE) Policy

     The State of Colorado issues a Temporary Teacher Eligibility (TTE) certificate if an individual who does not have teacher licensure in the area of specialization is hired by a district or agency. The district must initiate the TTE process. A request for an initial TTE for students who are officially admitted to a program will be signed by your advisor or the School of Special Education Director. It is your responsibility to then enroll in courses in the program area that is specified on the TTE form. An initial TTE form may be signed upon admission to a program. Further TTEs will be signed based on satisfactory progress, defined as successful completion of a minimum of 9 credit hours per year.

  • Graduation

     One semester prior to the anticipated semester of graduation, you should file an Application for Graduation (available in the School of Special Education Office in McKee 29 or online). This form must be submitted to the Graduate School at least 45 calendar days before the end of the semester preceding the semester in which you plan to graduate. If you miss the filing date, you will pay a late fee. After filing the application for graduation, you will receive notification of approval or conditions that need to be met by the Graduate School. Attendance at a graduation ceremony and rental of a cap and gown are optional. Your name will be listed in the commencement program whether or not you attend the commencement ceremony.

  • Career and Placement Services

    The UNC Center for Career Readiness Center is available for all students and alumni. The center provides information about careers, employment opportunities, firms and agencies; opportunities to meet with prospective employers; assistance in assessing your career decisions; and follow-up services. You can improve your employment potential by acquainting yourself early with the wide array of services and special opportunities available to you through the center. The Center for Career Readiness Center is located in The University Center. For information on the purchase of the job hotline, appointments for preparation of your resume, development of interviewing skills, enhancement of your job search, date for career fairs or on-campus recruiting, and testing services call 970-351-2127

  • Program Termination

    According to University regulations, a student's program of study may be terminated under the following conditions:

    • Students are allowed 12 months from the date of being admitted to begin taking classes before their program is terminated by the Graduate School.
    • Students are allowed five years from the date they start their first class to fully complete their program. Programs that exceed this limit are terminated by the Graduate School. Extensions may be granted by the Graduate School upon application.
    • Programs may be terminated by request of the program faculty when evidence of unethical or unprofessional behavior on the part of a student has been established.
    • When the grade point average (G.P.A.) drops below 3.0, the student is warned and given a specific time limit for raising the G.P.A.. If this is not done, the program will be terminated by the Graduate School.
    • Students are given two chances to pass the comprehensive examination; if they fail their first and second attempt their program will be terminated by the Graduate School. If students have been terminated from their program, an appeal may be made following the procedures outlined in the Student's Rights and Responsibilities statement, which is available in the Dean of Students Office (Carter Hall 3005).
    • Student Honor Code
  • Endorsement Only Plan of Study

     If you hold a Master's degree, you may apply for an endorsement only program. The Plan of Study will be developed to meet the requirements of study in the emphasis area. You must also pass the written comprehensive examination.

  • Academic Appeals

    Students may appeal any academic decision that they consider arbitrary or capricious, or contrary to University policy. The procedures of the Academic Appeals Board are published in the Student's Rights and Responsibilities statement, which is available in the Dean of Students Office (Carter Hall 3005) or visit the Academic Appeal Procedure page.

The University of Northern Colorado does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, national origin, sex, age, individual disability or veteran status in the recruitment and admission of students, the recruitment and employment of faculty and staff, and the operation of any of its programs and activities, as specified by federal laws and regulations.