Student teacher reading with kids

Over the last decade, the demand for Early Childhood Special Education (birth - age 6) teachers increased by more than 100%. The number of graduates in ECSE preparation programs does not yet satisfy this need, which is projected to continue into the foreseeable future. Now is the perfect time to follow your passion for teaching children with special needs.

Why is our program right for you?

"As a student in the Early Childhood Special Education master’s degree program, I had the opportunity to work with both university and community professionals in holistic learning environments. My mentors challenged me to pursue my research interests, and now support me in my goals to become both a leader in the field of education, and advocate for children and families."  Winnie Looby

Teachers InspireWe offer licensure (cross-categorical) and non-licensure pathways leading to a Master's of Education (M.Ed.) degree in Special Education. Our faculty will work closely with you to design an individualized program plan aligned with your professional interests and career goals.

Our nationally-accredited graduate program is designed to meet the needs of both new professionals who are considering a career with young children with disabilities and their families, as well as in-place early cBhildhood professionals who are seeking an advanced degree.

Licensure or Endorsement Pathway

Successful candidates complete their program with a Master's Degree (M.Ed.) in Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE), leading to professional teaching licensure or added endorsement (birth through age six) in Vermont.

Non-Licensure Pathway

If you are not seeking an initial license or added endorsement, you can pursue an individually-designed program leading toward master's degree in special education suited to your career goals and personal interests. This option is meant for licensed teachers and special educators seeking to extend their skills and knowledge, or other professionals planning to work with students who have disabilities in roles other than as a special educator (e.g., recreation, community living, employment).

Core Competencies

Through your experience in our program, you will learn to:

  • Promote children’s learning and development within natural environments and/or inclusive settings;
  • Recognize and respect the diversity of family structures, preferences, and participation levels;
  • Offer instructional practices that are guided by and sensitive to the family and child, supported by meaningful assessment information, and linked to developmentally and/or individually appropriate curricula;
  • Foster collaborative relationships with family members, peers of the same discipline, and individuals across disciplines.
  • Access evidence-based practices and apply them to practice to support the optimal development of young children and their families.

Community-Based Learning

Our program provides authentic community-based learning. Families of children with disabilities and local professionals have a strong presence in our classes, and our students are welcomed into their field experiences by professionals dedicated to sharing their expertise with UVM scholars.

Field-based experiences are designed to enable candidates to put theory into practice within supportive, high-quality environments that value both diversity and inclusion. Student teaching internships in our Campus Children's School provide the opportunity to work with young children and families, fully supported by dedicated faculty and mentor teachers.

Cultural, Linguistic and Economic Diversity

You will participate in field experiences and projects designed to increase cultural competence. Our faculty are intentional about ensuring field experience in schools that serve Burlington’s diverse community. You will get hands-on experience serving families and children who are experiencing disability, English language learners, refugees, and/or living with poverty. Given the diverse community characteristics of Burlington, UVM is in the ideal setting for preparing teachers who are committed to inclusion and social justice.

Evidence-Based Practice

Scholars leave our program with the skills needed to access research-based evidence and to judge its value in order to serve children and families with diverse needs.

As a student, you will have the opportunity to engage in research projects with faculty on a range of topics, such as the inclusion of young children with disabilities in the least restrictive environment and special education services for children who are English language learners.

Our Faculty and Opportunities for Research

Our professors have extensive experience in special education, both in practice and in research. Faculty research contributes to the identification and use of evidence-based practices in special education and informs our curriculum and teaching methods. There are opportunities for motivated students to get involved with research projects.

Accommodating Your Schedule

To accommodating working professionals, our courses are generally offered in the evenings during the school year, allowing students to complete the program with greater ease.

National Accreditation

UVM's Special Education graduate program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP, formerly known as NCATE).


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How to Apply

Fall Deadline: February 15
Spring Deadline: November 1

Candidates must have:

  • a bachelor’s degree in a related field that includes at least 30 hours of course work in a specific content area
  • a GPA of at least a 3.0 in this course work.

Preference is given to candidates with two years of teaching and/or related experience in special education.

Attending Graduate College at UVM

For more information about attending Graduate College at UVM, including funding opportunities and academic policies, please see the Graduate College website.