Special Education, Graduate Endorsement (Early Childhood Special Education)

Graduate Endorsement in Special Education with a Specialization in Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) (Birth to K)

University of Nebraska - Lincoln

  • Fully Online
  • 30
  • $357.00
  • $750.00

Program Overview

The online Special Education, Graduate Endorsement with specialization in Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) (Birth - K) program prepares students to support excellent outcomes for young children birth to age 5 with special needs and their families. 

Students choose this program because: 

  • The collaborative learning experience allows them to gain insight from colleagues across the country. 
  • The flexible online format allows busy professionals to learn from dedicated faculty members, in their time. 
  • Graduates of this program will be able to apply for teaching positions as preschool classroom teachers for children with and without disabilities or as a special educator in itinerant consultant or coach roles in homes, community childcare, preschool or public school settings. 

The Early Childhood Special Education (Birth-K) endorsement is available to two types of candidates: 

  • Candidates with a teaching certificate. The add-on endorsement is for the candidate with a valid teaching certificate in either Elementary (K-6), Early Childhood Education (Pre-3), Inclusive (Unified) Early Childhood Education (Birth to Grade 3) or Special Education (K-6).
  • Candidate without a current teaching certificate. Students without a current teaching certificate may combine these endorsement requirements with additional courses and field experiences to earn an Initial Teaching Certificate in Nebraska along with a master's degree. In this case, students must be admitted to the master's degree program in special education.

Note: The early childhood special education (ECSE) endorsement from the Nebraska Department of Education can be met through the ECSE graduate certificate or master's degree program. It is not a degree or graduate certificate option by itself.

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 about 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. Graduates of this program will be able to apply for teaching positions as a preschool classroom teacher for children with and without disabilities or as a special educator in itinerant consultant or coach roles in homes, community childcare, preschool or public school programs. 

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 license/certificate required

    Teaching certificate in K-6 Special Education. If you do not have a teaching certificate you will need an additional 21+ credit hours in College of Education and Human Sciences.

  2. Official transcripts from all previous schools

NOTE: If you reside in state(s) KY contact a program adviser before applying.

To apply to this program:

  1. Apply and be admitted to Graduate Studies at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln (select either "Degree: Special Education, Specialization Early Childhood Special Education' or 'Non-Degree, Graduate Certificate Objective in Early Childhood Special Education' and indicate in the comments section that you are interested in seeking the Early Childhood Special Education endorsement.
  2. Pay the non-refundable $50 application processing fee.
  3. Apply and be admitted to the department.

Courses You’ll Take

Course Information

If you already have a teaching certificate in Elementary Education or Early Childhood Education, you will need the following courses: SPED 800 Characteristics of Exceptional Children or equivalent (3 credit hours), SPED 412/812 Assessment Techniques for Diverse Learners or equivalent (3 credit hours) and SPED 454 Managing Challenging Behavior or equivalent (3 credit hours). If you do not have a teaching certificate, you will need an additional 21+ credit hours in College of Education and Human Sciences. In addition to the required courses listed here, students take six credit hours early childhood education/development electives.

Core Courses

Course NumberCourse NameCredits
SPED 862Preschool Children with Disabilities in the Classroom3
Prereqs: An assessment and behavior management course; and permission. SPED *862 requires an applied experience. Selection, design and implementation of developmentally appropriate, activity-based interventions for preschool-age children with disabilities. Ecological assessments. Instructional factors, such as classroom environments, activity planning, selection, use and modification of strategies, home-school communications, and consulting to staff in inclusive settings.
SPED 876Language Development for Teachers3
Introduction to the foundations of normal speech and language development and potential difficulties in both early stages and in the classroom. Analysis of child language samples. Strategies for explaining language development to parents and professional colleagues.
SPED 896QPracticum: Infants and Preschool Children with Disabilities3
SPED 863Medically Fragile Infants3
Unique needs, family-coping strategies, specialized medical staff, and various health-care settings of chronically ill infants and toddlers. Overview of etiology, characteristics, and developmental implications of selected medical conditions related to developmental disabilities.
SPED 861Infants with Disabilities and Home Visiting3
Prereq: SPED 960 and permission. SPED 861 requires a practicum in home visiting. Assessment and intervention strategies for developing appropriate early intervention programs for infants and toddlers with disabilities. Rationale and principles for conducting home-based, family-centered, and transdisciplinary services.
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.
TEAC 810Kindergarten Teaching3
Recent developments in education of children and their bearing on the selection and guidance of appropriate activities and materials for the kindergarten. Related functions of home, school, and other educational agencies.
SPED 882Specialized Instruction for Students with Severe and Multiple Disabilities3
Prereq: SPED *881 for the Severely/Multihandicapped endorsement program or SPED *862 for Preschool Handicapped endorsement program; and permission. Majors in severe disabilities must parallel with SPED 896P (1 cr). SPED *882 requires observations in schools and applied assignments. Selection, design, and implementation of best practice instruction for students with severe disabilities, multiple disabilities, or deaf-blindness.

Tuition & Fees

Nebraska Residents

Per Credit Hour


3 Credit Hours


Out of State Residents

Per Credit Hour


3 Credit Hours

About Faculty

University of Nebraska online courses are taught by expert faculty who embody the qualities resulting from research experience and professional/field experience. Students learn from faculty with a variety of backgrounds, many of whom are published researchers in their fields. NU faculty who teach online do so in a way that optimizes learning within the online modality and because technology enables students to access education they may otherwise may not be able to pursue.

Application Deadlines

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