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Special Education, MA or M Ed or Graduate Endorsement in Deaf Education

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Great Teachers Are Needed Now

There is a shortage of trained personnel in this field of study, both in Nebraska and the nation. Add a highly marketable endorsement to your teaching certificate to work within this specialized student population.

Program Description

This is a fully online graduate program for special education PK-12 teachers in the area of deaf and hard of hearing education. 

The program aims to assure that education for students who are deaf or hard of hearing is:

  • designed specifically to meet the linguistic, cultural, social and cognitive needs of the individual student
  • based on recent, quality research
  • collaborative
  • oriented toward improved academic outcomes

As a student in the online Deaf Education program, you may choose to take individual courses of interest, complete the requirements for a teaching endorsement or obtain a master’s degree.

Special Accreditation

In addition to the Higher Learning Commission accreditation carried by all University of Nebraska campuses, this program is also accredited by:

  • Teacher Education Accreditation Council
  • Council on Education for the Deaf 
  • Nebraska Department of Education

Nebraska Department of Education logo, TEAC logo, NCATE logo

Delivery Format

Home Campus: University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Method of Delivery: 100% Online - what's this?Program can be completed fully at a distance. Courses are asynchronous, meaning students and instructor may access content at any time and do not have to be connected to the Internet at the same time. If your program includes an internship or practicum, experiences may be completed in the student's local area.

All online courses are accessed via the Internet and use a learning management system. Technology requirements may vary by program and course, but all campuses have basic recommended requirements. High-speed Internet is required.

Interaction with professors and other students may include:

  • E-mail
  • Online discussion boards
  • Phone or video conferencing
  • Other forms of electronic and print communication

Supplemental materials for some courses may include:

  • Printed material and scanned documents
  • Digital resources accessed through university libraries
  • Videos accessed via the Internet, CDs or DVDs
  • Other media

To be successful, students taking online classes should be reasonably comfortable using a computer and the Internet. Learn more about online student tips for success.

Academic Year 2015 - 2016

Tuition rates are effective for the academic year listed. Tuition is subject to change.

Nebraska Resident:

 TuitionDistance Ed. FeeTechnology FeeLibrary FeeTotal
Per credit hour$325.50$25.00$11.00$4.00$365.50
3 credit hour$976.50$75.00$33.00$12.00$1,096.50


 TuitionDistance Ed. FeeTechnology FeeLibrary FeeTotal
Per credit hour$609.00$25.00$11.00$4.00$649.00
3 credit hour$1,827.00$75.00$33.00$12.00$1,947.00

Note: In addition to the costs outlined above, students will be assessed a $20.00 registration fee each semester they enroll in courses.

Courses for the online Deaf Education endorsement program and the master's degree overlap almost completely, and most of our students take them concurrently. You will work with your adviser to be certain all requirements are met for your educational objectives.  Approved coursework required for the endorsement or master's degree may be transferred from cooperating campuses.


Students without special education teaching certification are required to take the following pre-requisites:

SPED 400/800  Characteristics of Exceptional Learners    3 
SPED 412/812  Assessment Techniques for Diverse Learners    3 
SPED 414/814  Instructional Methods for Students with Diverse Needs    3 
SPED 303/804*  Managing Challenging Behavior    3 
SPED 890  Workshop Seminar:  Normal Language Development for Teachers    3 
Total credit hours of pre-requisites:  15

*This course number is scheduled to change to 818 and be offered via distance education in the Spring 2012 semester.

Deaf Education Endorsement Program Requirements

  1. Current initial teaching certification in elementary education, middle grades or special education - mild/moderate disabilities. (If you do not have a special education teaching certificate, you will be required to take the pre-requisites outlined above.)
  2. American Sign Language proficiency - Successful completion of UNL's American Sign Language course sequence (SLPA101, 102, 201, 202) or completion of an American Sign Language program in your local area OR minimum score of 2.75 on the Sign Communication Proficiency Interview (SCPI).  NOTE:  UNL does not offer the American Sign Language courses via distance education. 
  3. If seeking an endorsement in the State of Nebraska and you did not earn your initial teaching credential in Nebraska, you must complete the Nebraska Human Relations Requirement.
  4. Required Speech and Hearing Content Course - Choose one of the following options:

SLPA 250 - Descriptive Phonetics and Normal Speech Development
SLPA 271 - Introduction to Audiology
SLPA 472 - Introduction to Aural Rehabilitation
(Total of 9 credit hours)
*These courses are not currently available via distance education

 OR SLPA850 - Audiology for Educators of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
(3 credit hours)

   5.   And the following required courses

Required Courses: 
SPED 872  Psychology and Sociology of Deafness    3 
SPED 873  Teaching Content Areas to the Hearing Impaired    3 
SPED 874 Language Arts and Literacy for the Hearing Impaired    3 
SLPA 884  Speech and Language Development of the Hearing Impaired    3 
SLPA 956  Language Study of Teachers of Deaf and Hard of Hearing    3 
SPED 875  Itinerant Teaching Methods for Students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing    3 
SPED 896D  Directed Field Experience:  Deaf and Hard of Hearing    3 
SPED 897D  Student Teaching:  Deaf and Hard of Hearing    3 
SPED 960 Family and School Collaboration in Special Education   3
Total credit hours required for the endorsement 30


Master's Degree Requirements

The master's degree program must total at least 36 graduate credit hours and consists of:

  • The deaf education endorsement program course requirements outlined above
  • A research methods course
  • A thesis or research other than thesis course
  • The master's degree comprehensive exam

In most cases, this combination of courses satisfies the 36-hour requirement. In some cases, students take an elective in another area to meet the 36 credit hour requirement.

For course descriptions, please click on the course titles below.

Course Name
Course #
Core Courses

Characteristics of Exceptional Persons

SPED 800
Etiology, growth and development, and characteristics of persons who differ from the norm.

Assessment Techniques for Diverse Learners

SPED 812

Prereq: SPED 201 and 303

The role of general education teachers in the primary purposes of assessment of learners with diverse needs. Knowledge and experience with interpreting norm-referenced test information as related to planning educational programs. Use of assessment information for instructional planning and evaluation. Testing accommodations and classroom grading.

Instructional Methods for Students with Diverse...

SPED 814

Instructional Methods for Students with Diverse Needs

Prereq: SPED 201 and 303. Instructional methods and accommodations for special education and general education teachers necessary to work successfully with students with disabilities or who are at-risk for academic failure. Curriculum modification, classroom management, strategy instruction, and instructional modifications for content areas.

Managing Challenging Behavior

SPED 804

Prereq: SPED 800, *802, *803; or permission. Functional approaches that can be used by teachers and mental health practitioners for assessing, preventing, and managing children’s challenging behavior. Basics of applied behavior analysis, functional analyses of behavior, individual- and group-oriented interventions, self-management training, and strategies for promoting generalization.

Workshop Seminars in Education

SPED 890

The purpose of the Workshop Seminars (890, 893, 990 or 993) is to give students in the departments of education an opportunity to work singly or in groups on practical educational problems which are of special focused interest but which are not included in other professional education courses. Workshops are offered on a variety of topics by College faculty and selected educational consultants. As a rule, the individual or group is expected to produce some kind of a product as a part of the workshop experience. The amount of credit in a Workshop Seminar at either the 800 or 900 level may not exceed 12 semester hours in meeting requirements for the masters degree. Upon approval, a maximum of 12 additional semester hours may be included in the program for the doctoral degree.

Audiology for Educators of the Deaf and Hard of...

SLPA 850

Audiology for Educators of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

(3 cr) Anatomy and physiology of hearing, components of adequate evaluation for placement and educational planning; diagnosis using audiogram, functional and communication assessment; stimulation and utilization of residual hearing; and management of assistive/augmentative devices.

Psychology and Sociology of Deafness

SPED 872
Brief overview of education of the hearing impaired including history of, professional roles in, and educational programming within this field. Overview of social/psychological theories as related to the hearing impaired. Patterns of social/emotional development, psychological characteristics, issues of the family stress and social adaptation and discussion of counseling techniques.

Teaching the Content Areas to the Hearing...

SPED 873

Teaching the Content Areas to the Hearing Impaired

SPED 873 is for all students in the hearing impaired program.Methods for teaching content areas (science, math, and social studies) to hearing impaired students from preschool throughgrade12. Adapting curricula and materials from these areas for the hearing impaired students.

Language Arts and Literacy for the Hearing...

SPED 874

Language Arts and Literacy for the Hearing Impaired

Assessment instruments, curricula and instructional methods for developing language and literacy in classrooms for hearing impaired children, preschool through grade 12. Methods for coordinating speech and/or language and/or auditory training program in the classroom with that in the speech and/or language therapy program.

Itinerant Teaching Methods for Students who are...

SPED 875

Itinerant Teaching Methods for Students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Methods for providing services for students with hearing loss, using itinerant and consultative models. Professional and parent in-service development, team-based problem solving, curriculum based pull-out services. Ecological assessment and management of deafness related technology in inclusive settings. Supervision of interpreters and paraprofessionals.

Speech & Language Development of the DHH

SLPA 884
(3 cr) Theories of speech and language development as they apply to hearing impaired children. Evaluation and intervention of speech and language with emphasis on maintenance of communicative skills.

Language Study: Teachers of the DHH

SLPA 956
(DHH) Lec 3. (3 cr) Theoretical and practical aspects of American Sign Language (ASL) structure. Issues relevant to the use of sign language in education, written English as a second language, classroom discourse, and educational interpreting. Sociolinguistic aspects of sign language among deaf and hearing individuals.

Directed Field Experience Deaf and Hard of...

1-6 cr, max 12

Directed Field Experience Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Prereq: Permission


Student Teaching: Exceptional Learners - Deaf...

1-9 cr, max 15

Student Teaching: Exceptional Learners - Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Prereq: Permission

Laboratory and teaching experience in the area(s) of specialization.


Family and School Collaboration

SPED 960

Prereq: Professional experience or completion of one practicum and/or field experience with young children (birth to age 5) or other individuals ages 5 to 21 years who have disabilities. Functions and interactions of both family and education systems. Impact of having a child with a disability on the normal and stressed family system. Promote family-professional partnerships in assessment and intervention for the child and/or student with an IFSP/IEP. Communication skills are reviewed and practiced for effective teaming among educators and for interviewing, consulting, collaborating and coaching with family members and other community team members.

Beginning American Sign Language I

SLPA 101
Beginning course in American Sign Language (ASL). Development of vocabulary and grammatical structures of ASL. Receptive and expressive skill development. Easy ASL video literature.

Beginning American Sign Language II

SLPA 102
Prereq: SLPA 101. Beginning course in American Sign Language (ASL). Development of vocabulary and grammatical structures of ASL. Receptive and expressive skill development. Easy ASL video literature.

Second Year American Sign Language I

SLPA 201
Prereq: SLPA 101 and 102. Conversational American Sign Language (ASL). Idiomatic uses of ASL. Use of ASL for creative expression. Extensive viewing, translation and discussion of videotaped ASL conversations and literature.

Second Year American Sign Language II

SLPA 202
Prereq: SLPA 201. Conversational American Sign Language (ASL). Idiomatic uses of ASL. Use of ASL for creative expression. Extensive viewing, translation and discussion of videotaped ASL conversations and literature.

Malinda Eccarius, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Practice

J. Ron Nelson, Ph.D., Professor

Suzanne Kemp, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Practice

John W. Maag, Ph.D., Professor

Christine A. Marvin, Ph.D., Associate Professor

Stephen J. Boney, Ph.D., Interim Director & Chair; Associate Professor of Practice

Guidelines for Admittance

Admission to a graduate program is a two-step process. You will apply to both Graduate Studies and the academic department. For admission requirements and deadlines specific to this program, please visit the Graduate Studies website. 

If you have additional questions regarding the admissions process for the Deaf Education Program, please contact Jill England at 402.472.2141.

Application Deadlines

Applications for this program are accepted on a rolling, or continual basis. Please visit the Department of Special Education & Communication Disorders website for more detailed information about this program. 


Online Worldwide Educational Representative

Admissions Contact
Phone: 402.472.2875

Program Contact
Jill England
Phone: 402.472.2141


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