Graduate Certificates

Graduate Certificates Certificate

The following non-degree Graduate Certificates  are available via distance education through UNL. Contact the Certificate Advisor listed before applying.  Graduate certificates can be completed independently or as part of a Master's degree program.   These are not Teaching Endorsement/Certification Programs; however, graduate certificates can be used to partially fulfill requirements for  supplemental special education endorsements from the Nebraska Department of Education.  Students should speak with an advisor before applying.

Early Childhood Special Education Graduate Certificate (12 credits)
Dr. Christine Marvin

Early childhood/Early Intervention programs are increasing in number nationally for children at risk for developmental delay and those identified with delays and disabilities. Over the past 10 years, rapidly emerging research evidence about children's early development and learning has shown the effectiveness for achieving positive and functional outcomes for children when they are actively engaged and participating in everyday routines and activities as part of family and community life with parents, care-providers and typically developing peers and siblings. To the greatest extent possible, the early intervention/education experiences for young children with disabilities should be provided as early as possible, and in collaboration with family and staff who interact with the children in family homes, community preschools, child care centers and homes, Head Start programs and other inclusive learning environments for young children.

State and federal law (IDEA), as well as nationally recognized Recommended Practices (CEC/Division for Early Childhood), call for more programs to embrace this philosophy of early, inclusive, family-centered intervention. State and local administrators, supervisors, and practitioners previously trained in typical child development, early education and care programs, medical or multidisciplinary approaches to allied health and special education will want to upgrade their knowledge and skills with an efficient program of study that addresses the age range (birth to age 5), service locations (home-visiting, inclusive preschools/child care) and team models (transdisciplinary/primary service provider, family-partnerships) reflective of these practices for young children with delays/disabilities. In addition, this certificate can enhance the practitioner's professional marketability for new positions and address the shortage for highly-qualified personnel working with young children with disabilities and their families. A 12-credit program of study, offered via distance education in 12-24 months on a part-time basis, is an attractive approach to this desired professional development.

COURSES (12 credit hours from the following):
SPED 860 Issues in Early Childhood Special Education
SPED 861 Infants with Disabilities and Home Visiting
SPED 862 Preschool Children with Disabilities in a Classroom
SPED 863 Medically Fragile Infants
SPED 876 Language Development for Teachers
SPED 882 Specialized Instruction for Students with Severe and Multiple Disabilities
SPED 960 Family and School Collaboration in Special Education

Sensory Disabilities Graduate Certificate (12 credits)
Dr. Mackenzie Saviano, Anne Thomas

This certificate provides additional education for professionals interested in students with sensory disabilities (hearing impairment and/or visual impairment).  Through focused courework about unique programs and services, collabortion with families, and specialized instructional methods, participants will gain a deeper understanding of how to effectively work with and support students who have unique sensory learning needs.  Coursework is offered online during the academic year.  

There are primarily four audiences for this certificate:

  1. Prospective students who have already earned a master’s degree in special education or related educational field and are seeking to gain specialized expertise in sensory disabilities. These non-degree seeking students may use the credits for professional development or advancement in state-required teaching credentials.
  2. Prospective students who have already earned a master’s degree in related fields (e.g., Occupational Therapy, Speech-Language Pathology, School Psychology, General Education) and are seeking to gain professional development and specialized expertise in sensory disabilities.
  3. Prospective students who are enrolled in a masters degree program in special education at UNL (e.g., early childhood special education, special education 7-12) may want to gain specialized expertise in sensory disabilities.
  4. Prospective students who do not have and are not seeking a master’s degree, but who are working teachers seeking professional development opportunities for working with students with sensory disabilities.

In all cases, the Graduate Certificate will enhance students’ professional skills, improve their marketability for new positions and address the shortages of highly qualified personnel working with students with sensory disabilities.

The Graduate Certificate in Sensory 
Disabilities does not qualify the holder to apply for a Nebraska teaching endorsement in Deaf Education or Visual Impairment. Students interested in pursuing an endorsement in either Deaf Education or Visual Impairmenwill need to complete additional coursework, and should contact Dr. Eccarius or Dr. Savaiano for more information. 

SPED 846 Foundations for VI: Programs and Services for Individuals with VI
SPED 872 Psychology and Sociology of Deafness
SPED 960 Family and School Collabortaion in Special Education
SPED 852 Instructional Methods for Students with VI OR SPED 873 Teaching the Content Areas to the Hearing Impaired

Behavior Specialist Graduate Certificate (18 credits)
Dr. Reece Peterson, Dr. John Maag

Surveys of school personnel consistently indicate behavior management is the area with which they want more experience and training.  Further, increasing numbers of students today are presenting more severe challenging behaviors and mental health problems (e.g., depression, ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder) than in previous decades.  The Behavior Specialist graduate certificate option  provides focused, advanced coursework and training for personnel in the fields of special education, school counseling, psychology, and social work, and school administration to address behavioral challenges many students present in schools.  Recipients of the proposed certificate will be able to proactively and positively intervene at a high level with students who present challenging behaviors.  

The certificate is only offered to students who hold a bachelor’s degree in special education, current masters degree students in special education, or students who have already earned a masters degree in education or a related field (e.g., school psychology, counselor education, educational administration, social work); students will be required to complete an application to the Graduate Certificate program.

Students who obtain this graduate certificate may meet eligibility requirements for the Behavior Intervention Specialist supplemental endorsement from the Nebraska Department of Education.  Interested students should work closely with their advisor(s) regarding the NDE endorsment. 

SPED 809 Autism Spectrum Disorders: Effective Assessment & Intervention
SPED 824 Functional Behavior Assessment
SPED 843 Characteristics of LD and EBD
SPED 907B Seminar in Behavioral Needs
SPED 954 Behavioral Systems and Interventions for Schools
SPED 942 Strategic Interventions for Students with Behavioral Needs


Application to this program

Part 1:

Link to the Office of Graduate Studies Steps to Admission and submit the following:

  • Online application 
  • Transcripts 
  • TOEFL scores (International students only) (Institution code = 6877) 
  • Financial Resource Certification (International students only)

Part 2:
After submitting the online application in Part 1, you will receive an e-mail notification with your new NU ID and a temporary password with instructions on how to setup your permanent password for MyRED. Now link to GAMES using your NU ID as login and MyRED password to complete the Department application. You must enter or upload the following: 

  • Resume/vita
  • Statement of purpose/ goals 
  • Names and contact information for three references of your choosing. (GAMES will automatically email the specified people and request that each upload the recommendation to GAMES.)

Deadline for Applicants

Rolling admission.  Applicants may submit completed applications at any time.  Students may be admitted for any semester.

Contact Jill England at or 402-472-2141 for information regarding the application process. It is your responsibility to ensure that all materials are submitted and received by the deadline.