Become a Licensed Special Education Teacher

Now Accepting Applications

Typical Length 2 years

Delivery Hybrid






Stipends Available

The Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Special Education is a statewide, two-year, field-based program designed for those pursuing careers in teaching who have already earned a bachelor or master degree (in any field).

This program has two specialization options and three licensure level options:

Two specialization options:
  1. The mild/moderate disabilities specialization prepares candidates to work with the largest population of students with disabilities. These students 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 disabilities/autism specialization 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) and may be taught in a fully self-contained classroom setting. In addition, this specialization includes 12 credits of overlapping ABA coursework for those interested in pursuing the MEd in Special Education with the BCBA-Track afterwards.
Three licensure level options:
  1. Early Childhood (PreK – Grade 3)
  2. Elementary (Grade K – Grade 6)
  3. Secondary (Middle and High School)

Please read the Gainful Employment disclosure for your career field.

Who should consider this program?

People who:

  • Live or want to live on any island in Hawaii, and
  • Already have a bachelor’s or master’s degree, and
  • Are interested in becoming a licensed special education teacher, and/or
  • Are licensed in another area and would like to add special education to their current license, and/or
  • Are interested in later continuing on for a master degree, and/or
  • Are interested in pursuing certification towards becoming BCBA certified after becoming a certified teacher
Common Careers

Upon completion of this program, 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.

  • Early Childhood Special Education Teacher
  • Elementary Special Education Teacher
  • Secondary Special Education Teacher
Admission Requirements
  • Bachelor’s degree: Applicants must have graduated from a UHM recognized, accredited, four-year institution of higher education
  • 2.75 GPA or higher
Application Requirements
  • Official Transcripts
  • Resumé
  • Statement of objectives
  • Three (3) references: Provide name, email, and phone number
  • Video recorded responses: Applicants will need to answer a series of short video-recorded responses that can be completed on their own time within the application to this program
  • Passing scores on the Praxis Core: Writing exam

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 Admission Only February 1 March 1


Late applications are not accepted. To automatically receive updates, notifications, and reminders regarding admissions, please complete the “Request More Info” form.

Delivery & Format
STATEWIDE PROGRAM (online/hybrid)

Part-time, cohorted, and field-based program. Primarily online synchronous courses held in the early evenings on weekdays, 4:30pm-7:00pm HST, and limited face-to-face meetings each semester. Neighbor island candidates travel to Oahu on select weekends; some financial support is provided to assist with travel. Field placements* are assigned by the field coordinator for candidates to teach in a special education classroom with a licensed special education teacher.

*Candidates who are/will be employed as an emergency hire special education teacher or classroom educational assistant must first obtain departmental approval to use their position for field requirements.

Online courses:  Instructors and candidates engage in learning together in a virtual classroom setting (Zoom).  Classes are typically held two nights per week on weekdays from 4:30pm-7:00pm.

Face-to-Face:  Class sessions are held together on the UH-Mānoa campus for two (2) Saturdays each semester.  Neighbor island candidates travel to Oahu; some financial support is provided to assist with travel.

Tuition & Funding

Approximately $471 per credit x 33 credits = $15,500 (RESIDENT)


DOE STIPENDS (33 credits, resident or nonresident tuition): Available to fund in-state or out-of-state candidates who agree to teach as a special education teacher in a Hawaii DOE school for a minimum of 3 years after program completion. Upon yearly renewal of funds, this funding opportunity will automatically be offered to all admitted program candidates. The stipend is given each semester directly to the student while enrolled.

Financial Aid (FAFSA):  Is available for this program. Submit your free application by Feb. 1 to see if you qualify for student loans: https://fafsa/ed/gov/

Federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness:  May be accessible after completing 5 years of teaching as a special education teacher in a Title I school.  Candidates can qualify for up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness.

See the following sites for additional funding information:

Pre-requisite Coursework
Prerequisites* (1-4 credits)
  1. Candidates will need to demonstrate basic introductory knowledge within their chosen program specialization via one of the following options:
    • Starting Fall 2020 Admissions, applicants with prior experience/knowledge may opt to take and pass a competency-based exam to waive the 3 credit ($1,413) prerequisite course requirement, or
    • Candidates will need to enroll and pass one of the following courses based on their chosen specialization, which is offered the summer prior to beginning the program:
      • SPED 304 (mild/moderate, 3 credits)
      • SPED 412 (severe/autism, 3 credits)
  2. All admitted candidates will need to enroll in SPED 501, which is a 1 credit ($471) program orientation. Information on how to register is provided after being accepted into the program.

*The DOE stipend and other funding do not apply to prerequisite requirements. Therefore, candidates must pay for these 1-4 credits using their own funds. Please plan and save accordingly.


This program is completed part-time over two years.

Program Coursework (33 credits)

The program is cohorted and provided in a specific sequence. For each of the first three semesters, candidates will be enrolled in two (2) online evening courses on given weekdays. In addition, there will be one course in the summer between the first and second year of the program (online, no face-to-face). All courses are 3 credits each. The final semester will be full-time student teaching in a local school with no additional coursework.

Specialization Coursework
  • SPED 611: Methods and Strategies
  • SPED 603: Principles of Behavior
  • SPED 613: Advanced Assessment & Curriculum Development
  • SPED 621: Language Arts Strategies
  • SPED 620: Strategies Across Content Areas
  • SPED 601: Technology for Diverse Learners
Specialization Coursework
  • SPED 462: Assessment, Planning, & Instruction
  • SPED 603: Principles of Behavior
  • SPED 614: Assessment & Instruction
  • SPED 618: Adaptations & Special Procedures
  • SPED 630: Positive Behavior Support
  • SPED 632: Language/Communication Intervention

In addition, all candidates will also take one summer course between year 1 and year 2. Cohorts will be mixed together and separated by licensure level instead:

  • Early Childhood/Elementary Licensure
    • SPED 635 Procedures for Early Childhood Special Education
  • Secondary Licensure
    • SPED 652: Transition/Supported Employment


Field Requirements
Field Placement Requirements

Candidates are required to be in classroom settings each semester of the program. Fieldwork is completed part-time during the day in a local school.

  • For the first three semesters, candidates will spend 10+ hours in a classroom each week
    • SPED 526 a/b & SPED 528a: Field Experience
  • For the final semester, candidates will be in a classroom full-time, Monday-Friday
    • SPED 528b: *Student Teaching

*Candidates must take and pass the Praxis content knowledge exam in Special Education prior to starting student teaching. Details on registering for the appropriate exam will be provided by the program advisor in the second year of the program.

Types of Field Placements

Traditional placements are unpaid placements and are assigned by the field coordinator for candidates to observe and practice in a classroom with a licensed special education teacher.

In-place placements are for those already working in school settings and employed by the DOE.  This field-based program is designed to accommodate those who may already be working in school settings across all islands of Hawaii, typically as an emergency-hire teacher or a classroom educational assistant. Positions working one-on-one with a student can not be approved to count towards field experiences. All candidates who are considering using their position to fulfill field requirements must first obtain departmental approval.

Advising & Faculty

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