Adding Special Education to an existing Hawaii State Teaching License

Typical Length Varies

Delivery Hybrid


Add a Field


Stipends Available

Program Updates (Feb. 2023)

  1. This program will be admitting new candidates each Spring semester in alignment with the Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Special Education program. Applications will open in May for the Spring 2024 semester start.
  2. The Special Education Add-a-Teaching-Field program is now considered a Post Baccalaureate Certificate program. More details on how to apply will be shared once we open up enrollment.
  3. Admitted candidates no longer have to fund their first semester of the program up front as they wait for stipends to be processed. All admitted candidates are now provided the opportunity to accept and apply their tuition stipends in their first semester.

The Department of Special Education is offering a series of 18-credits (6 courses) of coursework in special education, with courses designed to support classroom practitioners. The add-a-field coursework option is for those who already have a Hawaii state teaching license in another field. This program counts as a State Approved Teacher Education Program (SATEP) in meeting the Add-a-Field Content Knowledge Option by The Hawaii Teacher Standards Board (HTSB). Funding is available through our partnership with the HIDOE to cover all 18 credits of tuition costs in return for a service agreement to teach special education in HIDOE public schools.

The add-a-teaching-field coursework uses the same courses as our Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Special Education, however, add-a-teaching-field candidates do not need to complete the field and student teaching requirements.

Candidates may choose one of the following specialization options in special education:

  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 have extensive support needs. These students often 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 (FSC) or community-based instruction (CBI) classroom setting.
Who should consider this program?
  • Hawaii licensed general education teachers who are looking to add special education to their teaching license
Career and Licensure Information


Once candidates complete the coursework, their names will be submitted to the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board to add-a-teaching-field to their current license. This program is approved to add special education to a current teaching license at the level the teacher is already licensed in.

If candidates are interested in also adding a new level (e.g. PreK-3, K-6, or 6-12) to their license, candidates should enroll in the Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Special Education instead, which will include field supervision and student teaching that will allow for also adding a different licensure level.


Current licensed classroom teachers may be able to apply coursework credits towards reclassification through the Hawaii Department of Education. Please refer to the Hawaii DOE Reclassification Guidelines for more information.

Admission Requirements

There are no prerequisite requirements/coursework needed to enroll in this program. However, SPED 304 (Mild/Moderate Track) or SPED 412 (Severe Disabilities/Autism Track) is highly recommended and is offered in summer or fall semesters. Funding is not available for these recommended prerequisite coursework options.


  • Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • 2.5 GPA or higher
  • Current Hawaii State Teachers License*
  • Access to students with disabilities for applied projects

*Cannot be concurrently fulfilling other stipend commitments to the state of Hawai‘i.

Application Requirements

  • Complete a free Mākālei application to the College of Education, which includes submission of the following:
    • Confirmation of applying to Outreach College so you can enroll in coursework
    • Copy of current HTSB license
    • Copy of transcripts (unofficial accepted)

Note: The Special Education Add-a-Teaching-Field program is in the process of being declared an official Post Baccalaureate Certificate program. Once final approvals are received, all add-a-field candidates would also need to submit an official UHM system application, which includes a $70 application fee and submission of official transcripts. Upon graduation, candidates would then earn a Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Special Education for this series of coursework. More information will be shared with all admitted candidates and applicants once approvals are finalized.

For more detailed instructions and on how to apply and enrollment dates, please visit the How to Apply website.

Delivery & Format

STATEWIDE PROGRAM (online hybrid)

Online synchronous courses, held in the early evenings on weekdays via Zoom, 4:30pm-7:00pm HST. In addition, there will be two face-to-face Saturdays each semester on the UH-Mānoa campus. Neighbor island candidates travel to O‘ahu and some financial support is provided to assist with travel. There are no fieldwork supervision requirements, although applied projects will be embedded into coursework.

Note: Candidates who are hired into a special education position prior to completion of the add-a-field may have access to our Mentoring Unique Special Educators (MUSE) program.

Mild to Moderate Disability Track Coursework

The following six courses are available for an add-a-field of special education, with a specialization in mild to moderate disabilities. Each course is 3 credits. The following course sequence can be completed in 12-months to 24-months, depending on semester start date and candidate preference, please refer to sample course schedule shown below to see options for available timelines and course sequences.

  • SPED 603: Principles of Behavior
  • SPED 611: Methods and Strategies – Mild/Moderate
  • SPED 613: Advanced Assessment/Curriculum Development – Mild/Moderate
  • SPED 621: Language Arts Strategies: Students with Mild/Moderate
  • SPED 601: Technology for Diverse Learners
  • SPED 620: Strategies Across Content Areas

In addition to coursework, all UHM candidates are expected to meet college-wide professional dispositions. Failure to do so may result in dismissal from program.

Course Schedule, based on Spring Semester Start (Courses begin in January)

Last Updated: January 2023

Spring Summer Fall Spring
Spring Admit (12-month option) 603
621 601
Spring Admit (18-month option) 603
621 601
Severe Disability and Autism Coursework

The following six courses are available for an add-a-field of special education, with a specialization in severe disabilities and autism. Each course is 3 credits.

  • SPED 462: Assessment, Planning, Instruction – Severe/Autism
  • SPED 603: Principles of Behavior
  • SPED 614: Assessment and Instruction – Severe/Autism
  • SPED 618: Adaptations and Special Procedures – Severe/Autism
  • SPED 630: Positive Behavior Support
  • SPED 632: Language/Communication Intervention in Special Education

Course Schedule, based on Spring Semester Start (Courses begin in January)

Last Updated: January 2023

*Only an 18-month course sequence option is available, given the prerequisite needs and availability of certain courses.

Spring Summer Fall Spring
Spring Admit (18-month option) 462
618 614
Tuition & Funding

Program Cost

Approximately $471 per credit x 18 credits = $8,478 (RESIDENT)


DOE STIPENDS (18 credits, $8,478):

The Department of Special Education has a partnership with the Hawaii Department of Education (HIDOE) to provide tuition stipends to individuals interested in becoming a special education teacher in the state.

Stipend Eligibility

Available to fund current Hawai‘i licensed teachers from other fields who agree to teach as a special education teacher in a Hawaii DOE school for a minimum of 1 year after program completion.

  • Upon yearly renewal of funds, application and paperwork to accept stipend is provided after enrollment. The stipend is then given each semester directly to the student while enrolled, therefore stipends are considered taxable.
  • Candidates must be Hawai‘i residents and can not already be licensed in special education to qualify for funding.
  • All courses must be passed with a B- or higher. Stipend does not cover costs if needing to re-take coursework. Candidates must complete the coursework within three years. 

Service Payback Requirements:

The Department of Special Education does not secure special education placements for graduates. Please consult with the HIDOE Office of Talent Management (OTM) and/or current administrator for employment options to fulfill service obligations. 

  • Current teachers: Could apply to SPED position during TATP for the following school year
  • Principals could move the teachers to a SPED position within the school in any semester

Financial Aid & Scholarships

Currently, financial aid (FAFSA) and other scholarships are not available for this program since it does not lead to a degree. If funding coursework on their own, students will need to find alternative options for financial assistance. However, if official approval is received to approve this program as an official Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Special Education, then financial aid and scholarships may be available.

Program Info & Inquiries

Please complete the “Request More Info” form and our recruitment specialist will be happy to answer additional questions, as well as provide program or funding updates.

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Janet Kim

Special Education Recruitment Specialist

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