Special Education, Graduate Certificate

Early Childhood Special Education

University of Nebraska - Lincoln

  • Fully Online
  • 12
  • $356.00
  • $652.00

Program Overview

The online Special Education with specialization in Early Childhood Special Education (ESCE), Graduate Certificate prepares students to support excellent outcomes for young children birth to age 5 with special needs and their families. 

Students choose the ESCE, graduate certificate because: 

  • The program offers a master's degree in ECSE that can be completed with or without the pursuit of the ECSE teaching endorsement. 
  • The program offers coursework leading to the completion of the requirements for initial teaching certification in Nebraska. 
  • The flexible online format allows busy professionals the opportunity to learn from dedicated faculty members.  
  • The collaborative learning experience allows students to gain insight from colleagues across the country. 

Whether the student is an entry-level or experienced educator in the field of early intervention, this program will increase their ability to provide services for young children with delays/disabilities and their families that are:

  • Family-centered
  • Comprehensive
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Community-based
  • Equitable
  • Developmentally appropriate

Career Outlook: Special education teachers engage with children and youth that have a wide variety of disabilities. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the need for special education teachers will grow by 8% from 2016-2026. Although most special education teachers work in public schools, some find jobs in the private sector taking care of special needs children in childcare services and other institutions.

More about the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders:  

The Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders (SECD) is dedicated to enhancing the lives of individuals with special needs, their families, schools, and communities. 

The vision is that every individual with special needs will:

  • Achieve maximum potential for learning.
  • Communicate autonomously.
  • Enjoy optimum health and well-being throughout the lifespan.

Students have the ability to choose to:   

  • Take one or a few classes of interest.
  • Pursue the teaching endorsement or graduate certificate.
  • Complete a graduate degree.

Admissions and Requirements

To be accepted to this program, you must have:

  1. A Bachelor's degree

    Must be from an accredited institution

  2. 2.5 GPA or above on a 4.0 scale

  3. Taken the TOEFL or IELTS

    (Only required if English is not your native language)

  4. A written personal statement

    Explain why you want to earn this graduate certificate, how it would enhance your professional goals and future work, and how the graduate certificate coursework complements your current or most recent college degree program.

  5. 3 letters of recommendation

  6. Official transcripts from all previous schools

NOTE: This program is authorized, exempt, or not subject to state regulatory compliance and may enroll students from all 50 states

To apply to this program:

  1. Complete and submit the online application for Graduate Studies
  2. Pay $50 application fees
  3. Apply and be admitted to the Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders

Courses You’ll Take

Core Courses

Course NumberCourse NameCredits
SPED 860Issues in Early Childhood Special Education3
Introduction to the history, philosophy, and research related to early intervention practices with children 0-5 years of age. Discussion of issues related to legal mandates, model programs, family involvement, integration, transitions, service delivery systems, teamwork and assessment for young children.
SPED 960Family and School Collaboration in Special Education3
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.

Tuition & Fees

Nebraska Residents

Per Credit Hour


3 Credit Hours


Out of State Residents

Per Credit Hour


3 Credit Hours

Mackenzie Savaiano, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Practice

Mackenzie Savaiano coordinates the graduate program in Visual Impairments and her courses focus on assessment, educational planning and instructional methods for teachers of students with visual impairments (TVIs). Savaiano's primary interest is braille literacy.

Application Deadlines

Rolling admissions. Application review will begin upon receipt of all required application materials.