PB Certificate in Special Education

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This is a cohorted, non-degree program that prepares individuals with a Bachelor's degree (in any field) to become licensed as a teacher in special education. The program has two options:

  1. The Mild/Moderate program prepares candidates to work with the largest population of students with disabilities. These students typically have learning disabilities, ADHD, or other high incidence disabilities. They typically follow an academic curriculum in the general education setting or special education resource setting.
  2. The Severe/Autism program prepares candidates to work with individuals with disabilities who need support learning functional academic and life skills (communication, social competence, and adaptive behavior). This emphasis focuses on improving the quality of life for students who may require more comprehensive support.  This includes students with low-incidence disabilities (e.g. intellectual disability, Autism Spectrum Disorder, multiple impairments).

Class Type, License, & Certification Information

Statewide Program (online/hybrid):  Cohorted program, primarily online courses with limited face-to-face meetings each semester. Neighbor island candidates travel to O’ahu on select weekends; some financial support is provided to assist with travel. Upon completion of this certificate, qualified candidates will be recommended for initial teacher licensure in special education (PK-3, K-6, or 6-12) with a Mild/Moderate or Severe/Autism specialization.

Program Information

*Stipends may be available to candidates who teach SPED in a Hawai’i DOE school for a minimum of 3 years. Federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness – SPED teachers at Title I schools can qualify for up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness. Contact spedinfo@hawaii.edu for specifics.


Bachelor’s Degree from a UHM recognized institution (any field)

*Application Requirements

  • Entry Tests: None (PRAXIS Core no longer required)
  • Grade Point Average: a minimum of 2.75
  • Applications: UHM Undergraduate System Application Form + College of Education

*Applicants must also complete a successful interview with SPED faculty before being accepted.


Prerequisite Courses

Prerequisite courses are offered the summer prior to the start of the program. Take ONE of the following, according to chosen program emphasis:

  • SPED 304: Foundations of Inclusive Schooling (Mild/Moderate program only)
  • SPED 412: Individuals with Severe Disabilities (Severe/Autism program only)

The SPED 501  (1) credit prerequisite SPED Orientation weekend is required. Information to register for orientation is provided upon admission.

Core Courses Mild/Moderate Program

  • SPED 611: Methods and Strategies
  • SPED 603: Principles of Behavior
  • SPED 601: Technology for Diverse Learners: Access, Accommodations, and Universal Design
  • SPED 613: Advanced Assessment and Curriculum Developm
  • SPED 620: Strategies Across Content Area
  • SPED 621: Language Arts Strategies—Students with Mild/Moderate Disabilities
  • SPED 635: Procedures for Early Childhood Special Education  OR SPED 652: Transition/Supported Employment

Core Courses Severe/Autism Program

  • SPED 462: Assessment, Planning, and Instruction—Severe/Autism
  • SPED 603: Principles of Behavior
  • SPED 614: Assessment and Instruction—Severe/Autism
  • SPED 630: Positive Behavioral Support—Severe/Autism
  • SPED 632: Language /Communication Intervention—Communication Disorders Severe/Autism
  • SPED 618: Adaptations and Special Procedures—Severe/Autism
  • SPED 635: Procedures for Early Childhood Special Education OR SPED 652: Transition/Supported Employment

Field Work

  • SPED 526 a/b Field Experience in Special Education (2 credits each)
  • SPED 528a/b Field Experience/Student Teaching Internship (2 credits, 6 credits)
    • 2 credits = 110 hours of field work each semester
    • 6 credits = 280 hours of field work for Student Teaching Internship (full time, Monday-Friday)

Field work placements* are assigned by the field placement coordinator to teach in a special education classroom with a licensed special education teacher. Praxis Subject Assessment (SPED) must be passed prior to student teaching semester.

*Candidates who are/will be employed as a special education teacher, and are considering using their position to fulfill field requirements, must obtain departmental approval.


Graduates can become special education teachers of children with disabilities according to their licensed level and program emphasis (Mild/Moderate or Severe/Autism).

Advise Me!


PB SPED: Mild or Moderate Disabilities                              PB SPED: Severe Disabilities or Autism 



Students listening intently in class

Quick Facts

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