UMass Boston

Special Education Certificate

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Learn how to teach students with moderate disabilities in pre-K through grade 12.

UMass Boston's Special Education Certificate is designed for teachers seeking a secondary license, as well as those seeking initial licensure to work with special populations. We offer two concentrations:

  • Moderate Disabilities, pre-K-8
  • Moderate Disabilities, grades 5-12

The Certificate offer students a 27-credit sequence of coursework, including 75 hours of monitored pre-practicum field-based experience, and a minimum semester-long supervised practicum (including hours in an inclusive setting). For teachers who currently hold an initial licensure in early childhood, elementary education, and middle/secondary education, a portion of their practicum hours will be waived.

At the end of this one-year program, you’ll be awarded a Certificate in Special Education. The certificate will demonstrate your expertise in the field on your résumé, as well as in interviews and workplace evaluations. Upon completion of the Moderate Disabilities, pre-K-8 and Moderate Disabilities, grades 5-12 certificate programs, you will be dual licensed.

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How to Apply

In addition to the criteria below, applicants must meet general graduate admission requirements.

  • A statement of purpose explaining the applicant’s reasons for pursuing graduate study in the field of moderate disabilities. This statement should have two parts:
    • an initial section of up to 300 words describing your reasons for wishing to pursue graduate studies
    • a second section of approximately 1,200 words describing your specific interests, the kind of work you intend to perform, and your goals within the program to which you are applying
  • A distinguished undergraduate transcript, with a minimum grade point average of 3.0.
  • A score report of the Communications and Literacy Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL). Out-of-state applicants may submit scores from either the Miller Analogies Test or the Graduate Record Examination. Please note: While MTEL scores are required, the MAT and/or GRE is waived if the applicant already holds a graduate degree in a related field in the United States.
  • Three letters of recommendation submitted by individuals who are knowledgeable about teaching students with disabilities, who have worked closely with the applicant, and who have direct knowledge of the applicant’s teaching skills and academic performance.
  • A writing sample indicating the applicant’s ability to write in a clear, concise, and professional manner. This sample may be in the form of a recent term paper or research paper. The writing sample should NOT be an Individualized Education Program (IEP), an evaluation report, and a lesson/unit plan. The College of Education and Human Development has as its basic goal that the students who graduate are thoughtful and responsive educators, committed to change for social justice. NOTE: This writing sample is in addition to the statement of intent requirement for the Special Education Program.

Deadlines & Cost

Deadlines: July 1 for fall, November 1 for spring

Application Fee: The nonrefundable application fee is $75. UMass Boston alumni and current students that plan to complete degree requirements prior to graduate enrollment can submit the application without paying the application fee.

Program Cost Information: Bursar's website


Required Courses (15 Credits)

  • EDC G 650 - Rethinking Equity and Teaching for English Language Learners 3 Credit(s)
  • SPE G 607 - Behavioral and Classroom Management 3 Credit(s)
  • SPE G 621 - Introduction to Disabilities for Educational Professionals 3 Credit(s)
  • SPE G 624 - Standardized Assessments for Students with Moderate Disabilities, PreK-12 3 Credit(s)
  • SPE G 633 - Legal and Political Issues in Special Education 3 Credit(s)

Track Courses (6 Credits)

Complete two courses from one of the tracks below.

  • PreK to 8 Track
    • SPE G 625 - Reading and Writing Assessment and Instruction for Students with Moderate Disabilities, Pre K-8 3 Credit(s)
    • SPE G 626 - Math, Science, and Social Science Assessment and Instruction for Students with Moderate Disabilities 3 Credit(s)
  • 5 to 12 Track
    • SPE G 631 - Clinical Teaching: Secondary 3 Credit(s)
    • SPE G 632 - Alternative Strategies 3 Credit(s)

Practicum Course (6 Credits)

  • SPE G 698 - Moderate Practicum 3-6 Credit(s)

Graduation Criteria

Complete 27 credits from eight courses including five required courses, two track courses, and one practicum course.

Tracks: Students must select a track in PreK to 8 or 5 to 12.
Field experience: Complete 75 hours of monitored pre-practicum field-based experience, and a minimum semester-long supervised practicum (including hours in an inclusive setting).

Candidates for the Graduate Certificate Leading to Initial Licensure in Moderate Disabilities will experience a subset of the coursework for the MEd and can continue on to complete the additional four courses, leading to the MEd fulfilling the academic requirements for Professional Licensure in Moderate Disabilities.

Statute of limitations: Three years.


Graduate Program Director:

Kristin Murphy
(617) 287-4516
kristin.murphy [at]

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