Feb 27, 2024  
2016-2017 Graduate Catalog 
2016-2017 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Special Education

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Graduate programs in Special Education prepare educators to meet national standards of excellence in communication skills, professional knowledge, and teaching competence. Programs of study are offered for both entry-level and experienced professionals and include certification and non-certification options. The M.Ed. program offers concentrations in High Incidence Disabilities, Low Incidence Disabilities, Early Intervention, and Individualized.


Certification Options

Teacher of Students with High Incidence Disabilities (M.Ed.)

This 36-credit hour program leads to state certification as Teacher of Students with Disabilities (K-8 or 7-12) (282). It is designed for students who have a background in elementary or secondary education or have experience working with students with disabilities, and who can document competency and prior coursework in child/adolescent development and adapting instruction for students with disabilities (SED 302/500 or the equivalent).  Applicants who have not met program prerequisites may be admitted for part-time study if they are currently employed in work with students with disabilities. Prerequisite coursework must be taken prior to enrolling in courses for the M.Ed.  Courses are delivered via distance education technology.


Educational Specialists for Students with Low Incidence Disabilities (M.Ed.)

M.Ed.: This 36-credit hour program leads to state certification as an Educational Specialist for Students with Severe Disabilities (286). It is designed for candidates who have an interest in working with students with autism spectrum disorders and other low incidence disabilities, and who have a background in elementary or secondary education; however, it may be appropriate for students with undergraduate majors in related fields such as child development, psychology, communication disorders, occupational and physical therapy, and nursing.  Courses are delivered via distance education technology.


Early Intervention Personnel (M.Ed.)

This 36-credit program provides a foundation in the field of early intervention/early childhood and preparation for leadership roles. The program leads to state certification as Teacher of Children with Disabilities (282, birth to school-age 5). The curriculum is designed to prepare students in the fundamentals of professional practice in early intervention for inclusive environments, provide students with advanced content in a variety of research areas (e.g., early childhood, early childhood special education, family relationships, collaborative consultation), and place students in practicum experiences with high needs children ages birth-5 and their families. Courses are delivered via distance education technology.

The concentration is appropriate for students with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or a related field who are currently working with, or have a desire to serve, high needs children with disabilities, ages birth to five, and their families.


Individually Designed 

M.Ed. or C.A.S.: Individually designed programs are for professionals who already hold certification in special education or are not interested in certification as a special education teacher. M.Ed. programs require a minimum of 36 credit hours of study. C.A.S. programs require a minimum of 30 credit for those with a master’s degree in Special Education; 39-45 hours for those with a master’s degree in a related field.


Potential candidates include:

  • Experienced special educators who want to pursue more specialized study of a particular disability or topic (e.g., autism spectrum disorders, positive behavior interventions and supports, learning disabilities), or to combine study in Special Education with study in another field (e.g., Educational Leadership, Instructional Technology, Literacy);
  • General education teachers who want to increase their expertise in working with students with disabilities in general education classrooms; and
  • Related services personnel who want to increase their understanding of educational policies and practices pertaining to students with disabilities (e.g., instructional strategies, educational assessments, special education law).

With a faculty advisor, students select courses around their unique needs and interests.  Courses are drawn from Special Education and other areas in the College of Education and Human Development, although at least 50 percent of the student’s credits for the degree must be in Special Education. 


Graduate Certificates

Positive Behavior Intervention and Support:  RTI for Behavior Certificate



Response to Intervention (RTI) is a model that focuses on research-based methods of prevention and intervention combined with data-based decision making to improve student behavioral and academic outcomes. The purpose of this certificate is to provide a sequence of courses that prepares school personnel to lead the development, implementation, evaluation, and sustainability of a three-tiered continuum of behavioral support and intervention in school settings.

This certificate program will provide a sequence of coursework based on a three-tier service delivery model consistent with requirements of federal and state law.  Students will have the knowledge and skills to provide support to students with intensive behavioral needs, provide leadership to their schools, serve as “coaches” in supporting school implementation in their schools.Visit the Education and Human Development website for additional information.


Graduate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders



In 2000, the Center for Disease Control estimated that 1 in 1000 children were diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). By 2014, those estimates had increased to 1 in 68. All preK-12 schools in Maine are required to provide educational services to students with an ASD in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). The primary purpose of this 3-course certificate sequence is to prepare experienced educators, administrators and related service providers to assume a leadership role in the development and implementation of educational programs for students with autism in school settings.

Certificate program objectives:

  • Candidates will develop theoretical knowledge and applied skills for understanding the needs of students with ASD and providing evidence-based practices according to individual needs.
  • Candidates will have the necessary theoretical and applied background to provide leadership to their schools and districts in developing a sound model of educational and social/behavioral support and intervention.
  • Candidates will be familiar with and able to access available resources to support their districts’ efforts in providing services for their students with ASD.

Candidates will have the knowledge and skills to serve as team leaders and coaches in supporting program implementation in their schools and districts.


Field Work, Research and Service

Field work and internships are an important component of all graduate programs in Special Education. Faculty and students are an integral part of the social and educational service community in Maine, and close relationships are maintained with public schools and community agencies. Students also have the opportunity to participate in faculty research and service projects.


Maine Autism Institute for Education and Research

On January 1, 2014 the Maine Autism Institute for Education and Research (MAIER) was launched as a partnership between the Maine Department of Education and the University of Maine, College of Education and Human Development (COEHD). Our mission is to build statewide capacity to improve outcomes for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) through leadership, training, professional development, collaboration, and research.

Maine Autism Institute for Education and Research

5766 Shibles Hall, 303

Orono, ME 04469

Phone: 207.581.2352

Fax: 207.581.9510



For more information, see http://umaine.edu/autisminstitute/




Areas of Program Involvement/Research

A. James Artesani, Ed.D., W. Virginia University

Associate Professor; Department chair and program coordinator

(207) 581-4061


Positive Behavior Intervention and Support

Autism Spectrum Disorders

Emotional and behavioral disabilities

Diane Jackson, Ed.D., University of Maine


(207) 581-2401


Adapting instruction for students with disabilities

Math methods in special education

Adolescents and adults with learning disabilities

Deborah L. Rooks-Ellis, Ph.D. University of Arizona.

Assistant Professor, Special Education

(207) 581-2352


Early intervention

Autism Spectrum Disorders

Low incidence disabilities

Implementation science and fidelity

Janet E. Spector, Ph.D., Stanford University

Associate Professor

(207) 581-2459



Reading intervention

Literacy instruction for students with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Courtney Pacholski, M.S., BCBA






For admission to a graduate program in Special Education, students must meet basic standards of the Graduate School and special eligibility requirements of the program.

Applicants may take either the GRE (no advanced test required) (http://www.ets.org/gre) or the Miller Analogies Test (http://www.pearsonassessments.com/postsecondaryeducation/graduate_admissions/mat.html).  For students with an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or above, this testing requirement is waived. 

Applicants seeking admission to programs that lead to certification must submit scores on Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators with their applications (https://www.ets.org/praxis/about/core/).  Candidates who are already certified in Maine and have taken Praxis previously may submit a copy of their certificates to document that they have met state standards on the test.

Applicants may be invited for a personal interview with the Special Education faculty. Students should request financial aid information from the University’s Student Financial Aid Office. Special Education scholarships are sometimes available for candidates with documented financial needs. To be eligible, applicants must have applied for financial aid through the University’s Office of Student Financial Aid.



Teacher certification is granted by the Maine Department of Education, not by the University of Maine. Students who successfully complete ALL the requirements of our NCATE-approved, professional preparation programs ( High Incidence Disabilities, Low Incidence Disabilities, Early Intervention ) including documentation of fingerprinting, background check, and passing scores on Praxis II in Special Education will be eligible for certification. Specific information regarding certification is available from the Maine Department of Education, Certification Services, State House Station 23, Augusta, ME 04333.


Contact information:

Dr. Deborah L. Rooks-Ellis, Program Coordinator (deborah.l.rooks@maine.edu; 207-581-2352).




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