Deaf Education
Deaf Education

Online Special Education Master's Degree with a Specialization in Deaf Education,
Graduate Certificate in Sensory Disabilities, and/or
Graduate Endorsement in Teaching Students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

 

Deaf Education Graduate Program Overview

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Deaf Education Program prepares graduate students to meet the linguistic, cultural, social and cognitive needs of students who are deaf or hard of hearing ages birth to 21. Our program is based on current research that is focused on improving academic outcomes for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. It is open to full- or part-time students, is entirely online, and is flexible to meet the individual needs of our scholars. We currently offer three different options for graduate students who want to further their education in working with students who are deaf or hard of hearing:

Master's Degree: We offer a 36-credit Master's degree in Special Education with a Specialization in Educating Students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing that can be completed with or without pursuit of an endorsement in teaching students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Graduate Endorsement: We offer coursework leading to certification/licensure for Nebraska's Endorsement in Special Education – Deaf or Hard of Hearing (NDE Rule 24) for employment as a Teacher of the Deaf (TOD) serving deaf or hard of hearing students birth through age 21.

Graduate Certificate: We offer a (12-credit) Graduate Certificate in Sensory Disabilities. This certificate is designed for professionals interested in gaining a deeper understanding of how to effectively work with and support students with sensory disabilities (students who are deaf/hard of hearing and blind/visually impaired). This graduate certificate can be paired with additional requirements leading to the Deaf Education endorsement or Master's degree.

Apply online today

Application Deadlines:
Master's Degree - January 15, May 1
Graduate Certificate/Endorsement - January 15, May 1, October 15

Want More Information?

Please complete the Deaf Education Inquiry Survey.

Program Coordinator

Master's Degree

This option provides students with a Master's Degree (M.Ed.) in Special Education with a Specialization in Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Only students who hold a bachelor's degree may pursue this option. The Master's degree can be paired with coursework leading toward the endorsement in deaf education (see tables below).

Program Details

Program OptionsMinimum CreditsProgram Length
Master's Degree only 36* 2 years
Master's Degree + Deaf Ed Endorsement 49* 2-3 years

*Credits may vary depending on the number of equivalent deficiency and/or content courses a student enters the program with.

Required Coursework for Master's Degree OR Master's Degree + Endorsement

GENERAL SPECIAL EDUCATION DEFICIENCY (M.ED.) or CONTENT (END.) COURSEWORK
Course Name M.Ed. only Credits M.Ed. + End. Credits
SPED 201 - Characteristics of Exceptional Learners or Equivalent 3 3
SPED 212 - Assessment Techniques for Diverse Learners or Equivalent 3 3
SPED 414 - Instructional Methods for Students with Math Disabilities or Equivalent 3 3
SPED 454 - Behavior Management or Equivalent 3 3
DEAF EDUCATION CONTENT COURSEWORK
SPED 872 - Deaf or Hard of Hearing: Characteristics 3 3
SPED 873 - Deaf or Hard of Hearing: Content Methods 3 3
SPED 874 - Deaf or Hard of Hearing: Language Arts and Literacy 4 4
SLPA/SPED 877 - Sensory Disabilities: Itinerant Teaching 3 3
SLPA 876 - Normal Language Development 3 3
SLPA 850 - Audiology for Educators of the Deaf or Hard of Hearing 3 3
SPED 860 - Issues in Early Childhood Special Education 3 3
SLPA 884 - Speech and Language Development: Deaf/Hard of Hearing 3 3
SPED 896D - Directed Field Experience: Deaf/Hard of Hearing 3
SPED 897 - Student Teaching Practicum: Deaf/Hard of Hearing 3
Electives or Thesis 8 3
Research Methods 3 3
Total 36* 49*

*Credits may vary depending on the number of equivalent deficiency and/or content courses a student enters the program with. Deficiency courses are not counted toward the Master's degree.

Field Experiences and Student Teaching Requirements (for M.Ed. + Endorsement)

All students pursuing an endorsement in deaf education are required to complete a range of field experiences with students who are DHH across age levels and settings prior to beginning their student teaching. Student teaching may be completed on the job, but must include a range of DHH students at different age/grade levels, and be supervised by an 'on the ground' Teacher of the Deaf (Mentor Teacher).

Sign Language Proficiency Requirement (for M.Ed. + Endorsement)

All students pursuing an endorsement in deaf education must achieve a score of intermediate/proficient on sign language proficiency evaluation (e.g., SLPI, ASLPI, or another nationally/regionally approved sign language assessment) in order to begin their student teaching. Students must arrange to have their sign skills evaluated by the semester prior to when they are scheduled to begin their student teaching, and submit their evaluation scores/documentation to Dr. Thomas in order to receive approval for student teaching. Most students obtain proficiency by taking four college-level courses of ASL (locally or online). Information about the sign language proficiency evaluation can be found here. A list of resources for developing ASL skills can be found here.

Master's Degree Application Requirements

Visit the Office of Graduate Studies website and submit the following:

  • Online application ($50)
  • Transcripts
  • TOEFL scores (International students only) (Institution code = 6877)
  • Financial Resource Certification (International students only)
  • Resume/vita
  • Personal Statement of program purpose/goals
  • GRE scores (Must be taken at least 3 weeks before application deadline; Institution code = 6877) *GRE requirement temporarily waived for admissions through Summer and Fall 2021
  • Names and contact information for three references of your choosing (The system will automatically email the specified people and request that each upload the recommendation.)
  • Assistantship/Fellowship Application (optional; Assistantships only available to local residents)
  • Writing Sample (Optional)

Apply online today

Application Deadlines for Master's Program
January 15 and May 1

Want More Information?

Please complete the Deaf Education Inquiry Survey.

Program Coordinator

Graduate Endorsement (TOD)

Our graduate endorsement prepares students to become Teachers of the Deaf (TODs) serving children who are deaf or hard of hearing (DHH), ages birth through 21. Students who pursue this endorsement will be certified to teach, consult and provide itinerant services to children who are DHH in a wide range of settings, including home-based, center-based, inclusive, and schools for the deaf.

Please Note: Students interested in pursuing our graduate endorsement in teaching students who are DHH must hold a current and valid teaching certificate in their state in a specified content area (e.g., special education, elementary education, secondary English) or a speech-language pathology school clinical certificate.

Program Details

EndorsementMinimum CreditsProgram Length
Special Education: Deaf or Hard of Hearing B-12 43* 2-3 years

*Credits may vary depending on the number of equivalent deficiency and/or content courses a student enters the program with.

Required Coursework for Endorsement

General Special Education CourseworkCredit Hours
SPED 201 - Characteristics of Exceptional Learners or Equivalent 3
SPED 212 - Assessment Techniques for Diverse Learners or Equivalent 3
SPED 414 - Instructional Methods for Students with Math Disabilities or Equivalent 3
SPED 454 - Behavior Management or Equivalent 3
Deaf Education Content Coursework
SPED 872 - Deaf or Hard of Hearing: Characteristics 3
SPED 873 - Deaf or Hard of Hearing: Content Methods 3
SPED 874 - Deaf or Hard of Hearing: Language Arts and Literacy 4
SPED 875 - Itinerant Teaching: Sensory Disabilities 3
SLPA 876 - Normal Language Development 3
SLPA 850 - Audiology for Educators of the Deaf or Hard of Hearing 3
SPED 860 - Issues in Early Childhood Special Education 3
SLPA 884 - Speech and Language Development: Deaf/Hard of Hearing 3
SPED 896D - Directed Field Experience: Deaf/Hard of Hearing 3
SPED 897 - Student Teaching Practicum: Deaf/Hard of Hearing 3
Total 43*

*Credit hours may vary depending on the number of equivalent courses a student enters the program with.

Field Experiences and Student Teaching Requirements

All students pursuing an endorsement are required to complete a range of field experiences with students who are DHH across age levels and settings prior to beginning their student teaching. Student teaching may be completed on the job, but must include a range of DHH students at different age/grade levels, and be supervised by an 'on the ground' Teacher of the Deaf (Mentor Teacher).

Sign Language Proficiency Requirement

All students pursuing an endorsement in teaching students who are DHH must pass a sign language proficiency evaluation (e.g., SLPI, ASLPI, or another nationally/regionally approved sign language assessment) in order to begin their student teaching. Students must arrange to have their sign skills evaluated by the semester prior to when they are scheduled to begin their student teaching and submit their evaluation scores/documentation to Dr. Thomas in order to receive approval for student teaching. Most students obtain proficiency by taking four college-level courses of ASL (locally or online). Information about the sign language proficiency evaluation can be found here. A list of resources for developing ASL skills can be found here.

Graduate Endorsement Application Requirements

Visit the Office of Graduate Studies website and submit the following:

  • Online application ($50)
  • Transcripts
  • TOEFL scores (International students only) (Institution code = 6877)
  • Financial Resource Certification (International students only)
  • Resume/vita
  • Personal Statement of program purpose/goals
  • Names and contact information for three references of your choosing (The system will automatically email the specified people and request that each upload the recommendation.)
  • Assistantship/Fellowship Application (optional; Assistantships only available to local residents)
  • Writing Sample (Optional)

Apply online today

Application Deadlines for the Teaching Endorsement (Additional) – Special Education: Deaf or Hard of Hearing
January 15, May 1, October 15

Want More Information?

Please complete the Deaf Education Inquiry Survey.

Program Coordinator

Graduate Certificate in Sensory Disabilities

This certificate provides additional educational training related to students with low-incidence sensory disabilities (i.e., blindness or deafness). Through focused coursework about unique programs and services, collaboration 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.

Please Note: The Graduate Certificate in Sensory Disabilities is not an endorsement and does not qualify the holder to teach students who are deaf/hard of hearing or blind/visually impaired. Students interested in pursuing an endorsement in either Deaf Education or Visual Impairments will need to complete additional coursework, and should contact Dr. Thomas or Dr. Savaiano for more information.

Program Details

Program OptionMinimum CreditsProgram Length
Graduate Certificate in Sensory Disabilities 12 1-2 years*

*Depends on the specific courses chosen and the semester they are offered.

Required Courses

Course Number & NameCredit Hours
SPED 846 - Characteristics: Visual Impairments 3
SPED 872 - Characteristics: Deaf/Hard of Hearing 3
SPED 860, 861 or 960 - Early Childhood Special Education class 3
SPED 873 or 852 - Deaf or Hard of Hearing: Content Methods OR Instructional Methods for Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments 4 or 3

Graduate Certificate Application Requirements

Visit the Office of Graduate Studies website and submit the following:

  • Online application ($50)
  • Transcripts
  • TOEFL scores (International students only) (Institution code = 6877)
  • Financial Resource Certification (International students only)
  • Resume/vita
  • Personal Statement of program purpose/goals
  • Names and contact information for three references of your choosing (The system will automatically email the specified people and request that each upload the recommendation.)
  • Assistantship/Fellowship Application (optional; Assistantships only available to local residents)
  • Writing Sample (Optional)

Apply online today

Application Deadlines for Graduate Certificate Program in Sensory Disabilities
January 15, May 1, October 15

Want More Information?

Please complete the Deaf Education Inquiry Survey or contact one of the program coordinators below.

Anne ThomasAnne Thomas, Ph.D.Assistant Professor of Practice
Coordinator, Deaf Education Program

349 Barkley Memorial Center (BKC)
athomas16@unl.edu
Full Anne Thomas bio

Mackenzie SavaianoMackenzie Savaiano, Ph.D.Assistant Professor of Practice
Coordinator, Visual Impairments Program

202A Barkley Memorial Center (BKC)
msavaiano2@unl.edu
Full Mackenzie Savaiano bio

Tuition Costs

UNL tuition and fees vary by program and residency. Below is an estimate of what it would cost per 3-credit course for the Deaf Education program at UNL for the 2020-21 academic school year.

Snapshot of Graduate Tuition per course:

In-state graduate tuition ($357/cred. X 3 cr. = $1,071.00/course) $1,071.00
Fees $187.00
UNL distance education fee ($35/cr. X 3 cr. = $105.00/course) $105.00
Technology fee ($11.00/cr. X 3 cr. = $33.00/course) $33.00
Library fee ($6.25/cr. X 3 cr. = $18.75/course) $18.75
Registration fee ($20 one-time fee) $20.00
Departmental course fee ($10/course) $10.00
3-credit in-state course total $1,257.75

 

Out-of-state graduate tuition ($676/cred. X 3 cr. = $2,028.00/course) $2,028.00
Fees $187.00
UNL distance education fee ($35/cr. X 3 cr. = $105.00/course) $105.00
Technology fee ($11.00/cr. X 3 cr. = $33.00/course) $33.00
Library fee ($6.25/cr. X 3 cr. = $18.75/course) $18.75
Registration fee ($20 one-time fee) $20.00
Departmental course fee ($10/course) $10.00
3-credit out-of-state course total $2,214.75

 

For More Information

For more information about tuition and fees, visit the following links:
Office of Graduate Studies Tuition & Fees
Student Accounts - Graduate Tuition

Questions?

For questions about tuition, please contact Jill England, Graduate Coordinator, at jill.england@unl.edu or 402-472-2141.

Financial Support

Grant Funding:
Grant funding may be available to students depending on projects the program is involved in. Funding may depend on degree program or state of residency. Below is the list of funding opportunities currently available to students interested in the Deaf Education graduate program.

  • Mid-Plains Professional Upgrade Partnership - Interdisciplinary Preparation in Deaf Education and Speech Pathology (MPUP-IP): A federally funded project designed to address the critical shortage of highly qualified Teachers of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing (TODs) and Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) by providing high-quality, interdisciplinary training to individuals who are interested in pursuing a master's degree in one of these programs. Please visit the MPUP-IP website for additional information regarding this funding opportunity.
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln – Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) Deaf Education Personnel Preparation Project: Annual grant available to Nebraska residents only. Funding provides 18 credits of tuition assistance for first year in program. (students are responsible for all additional fees and books.) If renewed, (we typically don't find out about until the following June) it could cover another 18 credits for the second year of the program. Funding is limited. Please contact Dr. Thomas for additional information about this funding opportunity.

Fellowships:
Departmental fellowships are available to graduate students each academic year. Applications for graduate fellowships are due mid-April. For specific dates and requirements, please visit the Graduate Fellowships page.

Graduate Assistantships
Graduate Assistantships (GAs) are available to local graduate students each semester. GAs are awarded on a competitive basis and are dependent upon budget allocations each year. GAs are only available for graduate students in a degree-granting program who reside in Lincoln and are able to work on campus. For more information, please see the UNL Assistantships webpage.

For More Information

For information about other forms of financial support available to students, visit the following links:
Office of Graduate Studies Funding webpage
SECD Funding webpage

Questions?

For questions about fellowships and/or GAs, contact Jill England, Graduate Coordinator, at jill.england@unl.edu or 402-472-2141.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some common questions students ask regarding the Deaf Education program:

What degree will I have when I complete my course of study?
Individuals wishing to be certified to teach students who are deaf or hard of hearing and who concurrently want to earn a master's degree in the area of Deaf Education can complete coursework to receive a Master of Education in Special Education with a Specialization in the Education of the Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

What if I already have a master's degree in education?
Individuals who already hold a master's degree in an education-related field (i.e., are certified to teach either elementary, secondary or special education) and want to pursue an endorsement in teaching students who are deaf or hard of hearing, may apply for the Graduate Certificate in Sensory Disabilities. If accepted, the individual can then continue on and complete the endorsement coursework without completing a second master's degree.

Do I need to be fluent in American Sign Language before I apply to UNL?
An intermediate level of American Sign Language (ASL) proficiency is required in order for endorsement students to begin their student teaching. This is not a course requirement, but a proficiency requirement. Students must arrange to have their sign skills evaluated the semester prior to when they are scheduled to begin their student teaching and submit their evaluation results to Dr. Thomas in order to receive approval for student teaching. Most students obtain proficiency by taking four college-level courses of ASL (locally or online). Information about the sign language proficiency evaluation can be found here. A list of resources for developing ASL skills can be found here. UNL does offer an on-campus series of 16 undergraduate credits in ASL in the summer, as well as during the fall and spring semesters.

I live in rural Nebraska or in another state. I am already teaching full-time. How do I manage to complete my required fieldwork and student-teaching practicum?
Most students completing the UNL teacher preparation program in Deaf Education are non-traditional, working full-time, have families, and have limited access to children and youth who are deaf or hard of hearing. UNL students have a number of options for completing fieldwork locally, such as using adjunct supervisors and summer enrichment program opportunities in local school districts, depending on individual circumstances. It is recommended that you have a discussion with Dr. Thomas about required field experience and student teaching prior to applying to the endorsement program to ensure you have the means to carry out the requirements.

Can I complete the courses at my own pace?
No. The courses required for the master's and/or endorsement in Deaf Education have (occasional) required online meetings, weekly discussions, assigned activity/assignment deadlines, and examinations. There is flexibility built into our online courses, however, to allow students to balance their studies and their lives. Faculty also encourage students to engage with each other and with instructors in order to form a learning community.