Master of Education in Special Education; Leadership & Research Emphasis

Typical Length 2 years

Delivery Online



The MEd SPED: Interdisciplinary program 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 interdisciplinary specialization is designed primarily for graduate candidates who wish to have an advanced degree in special education/disabilities services in order to pursue special education leadership and/or research. Completion of core courses and the designated elective courses allow 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 background and professional aspirations.

Who should consider this program
  • Current special education teachers
  • Current general education teachers wishing to gain knowledge in inclusive practices or as an add-a-field in special education
  • Early intervention educators
  • Literacy coaches
  • District resource teachers
  • Individuals working in nonprofit and for-profit agencies serving individuals with disabilities
Common Careers
  • Special education teacher
  • Special education resource teacher
  • Special education autism specialist or autism consulting teacher
  • Employment in nonprofit and for-profit agencies serving individuals with disabilities
Admission Requirements

Eligibility Criteria

  • Bachelor’s degree: must be from a 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 orientation at UH Mānoa prior to the start of the program. A travel stipend is provided to neighbor island candidates to attend. Candidates outside of Hawaii will receive distance option for attending the orientation.

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 for those who wish to pursue online courses from their home country. We apologize for the inconvenience.

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

To begin an application, please refer to the “Apply Now” 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 *face-to-face new candidate orientation at the beginning of the program.  Some financial support is provided to assist with these travel costs for candidates living on islands outside of Oahu.

*Candidates residing outside of Hawaii will be offered an alternative format for participation in the face-to-face orientation.

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 to 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 an application

FEDERAL TEACHER LOAN FORGIVENESS: SPED teachers at Title I schools can qualify for up to $17,500.00 in loan forgiveness after five years of service. ( Students must have qualified and received financial aid/student loans to receive loan forgiveness. Complete your free financial aid application to see if you qualify.


  • Faith C. Ai Memorial Scholarship:
    • Receive up to $5,000
    • Eligibility: Certified educators who are pursuing graduate degrees in any subject, as long as they intend to teach

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).

The MEd SPED program does NOT lead to initial teacher licensure.

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 Janet Kim

Janet Kim

Special Education Recruitment Specialist