Adding Special Education to an existing Hawaii State Teaching License

Typical Length 18 months

Delivery Hybrid


Add a Field


Stipends Available

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 Option A: State Approved Teacher Education Program (SATEP) in meeting the Add-a-Field Content Knowledge for Special Education 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 teach and support students with high-incidence disabilities (e.g., learning disabilities, ADHD).
  2. The severe disabilities/autism specialization prepares candidates to teach and support individuals with low-incidence disabilities who have extensive support needs (e.g. intellectual disability, Autism Spectrum Disorder, multiple disabilities).
Who should consider this program?
  • Hawaii licensed general education teachers who are looking to add special education to their teaching license
Career & 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, please refer to the experience options shown in the HTSB Add-a-Field guidelines. As one option, candidates could 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.

Please read the Gainful Employment disclosure for your career field.

Eligibility & Prerequisite Requirements

Program Eligibility

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

Note: *Candidates cannot be concurrently fulfilling other stipend commitments to the state of Hawai‘i while enrolled in this program.

Prerequisite Requirements

  • None

There are no prerequisite requirements/coursework needed to enroll in this program.

Note: 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 prerequisite coursework options.

Program Overview

Program Overview

  • 18-month, Part-time program
  • Statewide format (available on all islands)
  • Cohorted
  • 18 credits

This program is completed part-time over 18 months and can be completed from any island in the state. The program is cohorted and provided in a specific sequence by chosen track specialization: (a) mild/moderate disabilities, or (b) severe disabilities/autism. Please refer to the course sequences for each track specialization for more information on track-specific details.

Coursework (Online Classes + a few Face-to-Face Saturdays each semester)

Instructors and candidates engage in learning together in a virtual classroom setting (Zoom). Classes are typically held two nights per week on weekdays from 4:30 pm – 7:00 pm. A maximum of two courses are taken each semester and over the summer. Twice each semester, class sessions are held together as a cohort on the UH-Mānoa campus on select Saturdays. Neighbor island candidates would travel to Oahu and some financial support is provided to assist with travel costs.

Fieldwork & Student Teaching

Add-a-Field candidates do not have to complete fieldwork and student teaching requirements. However, candidates do need to have access to students with disabilities for applied projects.

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.

Professional Dispositions

Lastly, all UHM candidates are expected to meet college-wide professional dispositions. Failure to do so may result in dismissal from the 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.

  • SPED 485: Classroom Organization and Management
  • SPED 611: Methods and Strategies – Mild/Moderate
  • SPED 621: Language Arts Strategies: Students with Mild/Moderate
  • SPED 601: Technology for Diverse Learners
  • SPED 613: Advanced Assessment/Curriculum Development – Mild/Moderate
  • SPED 620: Strategies Across Content Areas

Course Schedule (Courses begin in January)

Spring Summer Fall Spring
Spring Admit (18-months) 485
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 485: Classroom Organization and Management
  • SPED 453: Physical and Medical Needs
  • SPED 460: Introduction to Assessment and Instruction
  • SPED 332: Children with Communication Needs
  • SPED 489: Intensive Behavior Intervention

Course Schedule (Courses begin in January)

Spring Summer Fall Spring
Spring Admit (18 months) 462
453 460
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. Examples of timeline for service payback once coursework is completed would include:

  • Current teachers would 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

Please refer to our College of Education funding website to determine if any scholarships or aid is available.

Application Deadlines & Requirements

To automatically receive updates and notifications once our next enrollment period opens, please complete the “Request More Info” form to be added to our contact list.

Application Deadlines

Starting Semester Early Admission Deadline Final Admission Deadline
Spring Admission Only September October 1

The application window for this program goes from May 1 to October 1 each year. All admitted applicants would begin the program in January of the following Spring semester. Notification of admissions decisions will depend on whether you submit your application by the early admission or final admission deadline.

Early Admission Deadline Benefits

The first round of admission reviews will begin in July for all applicants who submit all their application materials by July 1st. Early admission applicants are more likely to learn of their admissions decision in the beginning of the upcoming school year. As an added benefit, early admission applications who are admitted to the program and who are employed as special education teachers may have early access to our MUSE mentors, who can provide support for beginning and navigating the special education teaching position during the fall semester while waiting to begin the official program coursework in January.

Application Requirements

Please refer to the “How to Apply” page for more detailed information on each of these requirements and for information on when you can begin submitting your application materials.

  • UHM Transfer Application (free application for Hawaii residents)
    • Send Official Transcripts for non-UH institutions, if applicable
  • College of Education Mākālei Application
    • Upload copy of current HTSB license
    • Upload copy of unofficial transcripts

How to Apply

Program Info & Inquiries

Please complete the “Request More Info” form to be notified of program and admission updates, as well as connect with our faculty to learn more about the program or ask questions.

Program Advisor


Photo of Shawna Ortogero

Shawna Ortogero

Assistant Professor

Request More Info