Master of Education in Special Education; Leadership & Research Emphasis

Typical Length 2 years

Delivery Online

Nationally Accredited

The MEd SPED: is a 31-credit online program designed for professionals who wish to increase their knowledge and skills in providing services to individuals with disabilities and specializes in leadership and research.

The leadership and research specialization is designed primarily for graduate candidates who wish to have an advanced degree in special education/disabilities services and become leaders in their schools or other education-related employment settings. Completion of core courses and the specialized track courses allows candidates to examine key topics and issues in special education through the lens of an educational leader while also developing skills for evaluating and disseminating special education research. This program also allows candidates to work with their faculty advisors to individualize and accommodate candidates’ experiences, educational backgrounds, and professional aspirations.

Who should consider this program
  • Special education teachers
  • Special education teacher mentors
  • General education teachers wishing to gain knowledge in inclusive practices or as an add-a-field in special education
  • Special Education Department Heads or Grade-Level Chairs
  • Student Service Coordinators (SSC)
  • District Education Specialists (DES)
  • District or Complex Area Resource Teachers
  • Individuals working in nonprofit and for-profit agencies serving individuals with disabilities

Note: The MEd SPED program does NOT lead to initial teacher licensure. If you are licensed in a different field, then this program may qualify as an add-a-field- through HTSB. However, if you are not currently a licensed teacher in any field and are interested in pursuing a program to become a licensed special education teacher, please visit:

Common Careers
  • Special education teacher
  • Special education teacher mentor
  • General education inclusion teacher
  • Administrator
  • Special Education Department Head or Grade-Level Chair
  • Student Service Coordinator (SSC)
  • District Education Specialist (DES)
  • District or Complex Area Resource Teacher
  • Individual working in nonprofit and for-profit agencies serving individuals with disabilities
Admission Requirements

Eligibility Criteria

  • Bachelor’s degree: must be from a UHM recognized, accredited, four-year institution of higher education
  • GPA: 3.0 or higher
  • A laptop is required upon admission

All candidates must attend an online orientation prior to the start of the program.

Application Requirements

  • Official transcripts from each post-secondary institution attended
  • Video Recorded Responses and Essay
  • Statement of Objectives
  • Resumé
  • Three (3) Letters of Recommendation

International students are unable to pursue our online or hybrid programs due to visa requirements, including those who wish to pursue online courses from their home country. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Application Deadlines
Starting Semester Priority Deadline Final Deadline
Summer February 1 March 1

Not accepting applications for 2024. Complete the “Request More Info” form to be notified of next admissions period and receive program updates.

For more details related to the application process, please refer to the “How to Apply” page.

How to Apply
Delivery & Format

ONLINE PROGRAM (online, synchronous)

All courses in the MEd SPED program are offered online and include synchronous online class sessions in the early evenings, typically 4:30pm-7:00pm HST.

There is a mandatory online candidate orientation at the beginning of the program. Each candidate will be assigned a faculty advisor who will individualize and accommodate candidates’ experiences, educational background and professional aspirations to select one additional elective that aligns with each candidate’s interests. Delivery of elective/emphasis courses may be available in other formats and will vary according to the department in which they are housed.

Tuition & Funding

MEd in Special Education (31 credits):

MERIT-BASED STIPENDS*: Possible departmental stipends, based on available funds. Receive up to $8,000 total, based on merit as evaluated by transcripts, GPA, letters of recommendation, and full-time enrollment. Application is provided upon acceptance into program.

*Due to the current pandemic and UH budget concerns, merit-based funds are not currently available. UH Mānoa CARES funding may be available (up to $2,000) for classified degree-seeking students who are in need of financial assistance due to impacts from the coronavirus. Refer to FAQs and eligibility requirements or submit a CARES funding application

FINANCIAL AID: All applicants are encouraged to complete the FAFSA for financial aid eligibility and should refer to UH Mānoa’s financial aid website. The MEd in Special Education program is a part-time program, with candidates enrolling in two courses per semester (6 credits). For financial aid purposes, this would be classified as a part-time graduate student. If you want to be a full-time student, you would need to enroll in 8 credits or more each Fall and Spring semester. Inform the advisor of your need to be enrolled as a full-time student as you collaboratively plan your course of study with them.  Your advisor will determine which courses are appropriate to be added to your program to bring you to full-time status. Pursuing full-time status would extend your program to being more than 31 credits.

The following additional loan forgiveness options are available to candidates who qualify for and receive financial aid:

SCHOLARSHIPS: To view a listing of all UH Scholarships available, please visit

Specific scholarships to education and/or special education include:

  • Faith C. Ai Memorial Scholarship: Certified educators who are pursuing graduate degrees in any subject may receive up to $5,000, as long as they intend to teach after graduation.
  • College of Education Scholarships: Visit our College of Education funding website to see a listing of available funding opportunities specific to those pursuing degrees and programs in education.

The MEd in Special Education is a 31-credit graduate program comprised of four required courses (12 credits), six elective courses (18 credits), and a capstone Plan B project (1 credit).

MEd SPED Core Coursework (13 credits), for all specializations:

  • SPED 602: Special Education Law and Compliance (3)
  • SPED 641b: Seminar on Issues in Special Education (3)
  • SPED 642: Seminar on Applied Research in Special Education (3)
  • SPED 695*: Plan B Project (1)
  • SPED 699: Directed Research (Presentation of Plan A/B) (3)

*Candidates can choose to replace the Plan B Project (1) with a Plan A Thesis (6), extending their total program credits to 36.

Interdisciplinary, Leadership & Research Coursework (18 credits)

Five courses (3 credits each) are suggested/recommended and candidates will work with their advisor to select one additional elective* (3 credits) that align to each candidate’s interests.

  • SPED 641d: Seminar in Issues in Special Education (Foundations)
  • SPED 641f: Seminar in Issues in Special Education (Cultural & Linguistic Diversity)
  • SPED 641g: Seminar in Issues in Special Education (Evidence-based Practices)
  • SPED 643: Seminar in Special Education Leadership
  • SPED 688: Research Practicum in Special Education
  • Elective*

*Candidates who graduated from the UHM College of Education Post-Baccalaureate Certificate program in Special Education, may be eligible to double count one course (3 credits) to replace this elective. The candidate must be admitted to the MEd SPED program within 5 years of their Post-Bac program completion and the coursework must align with the candidate’s MEd program of study (as determined by the candidate’s advisor and graduate chair).

Advising & Faculty

Our faculty and staff will provide you with guidance and resources to support your success from beginning to end. Upon acceptance you will receive a dedicated faculty advisor to partner with you on your journey.

Program Info & Inquiries

Please complete the “Request More Info” form and our recruitment specialist will be happy to answer additional questions, provide program or funding updates, and assist with the application process once admissions open.

Photo of Steven Klein

Steven Klein

Junior Specialist