Deaf Education
Deaf Education

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

 

Deaf Education Graduate Program Overview

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Deaf Education Program prepares graduate students to meet the linguistic, cultural, educational, and social needs of children 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 students. 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 31-credit Master's degree in Special Education with a specialization in educating students who are deaf or hard of hearing that can be paired with (or without) a graduate 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 students who are deaf or hard of hearing, ages birth through 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 support students with sensory disabilities (i.e., 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 (Summer/Fall admission)
Graduate Certificate/Endorsement - January 15/May 1/October 15 (Summer/Fall/Spring admission)

For More Information

Please complete the Deaf Education Inquiry Survey.

Program Coordinator

Master's Degree

This option provides students with a Master's degree in Special Education (M.Ed.) 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 Graduate Endorsement tab).

Program Details

Program OptionMaximum CreditsProgram Length
Master's Degree 31* 2 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

GENERAL SPECIAL EDUCATION DEFICIENCY COURSEWORK
Course Name M.Ed. Credits
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 - Sensory Disabilities: Itinerant Teaching 3
SPED 876 - Normal Language Development 3
SLPA 850 - Audiology for Educators 3
SPED 860 - Issues in Early Childhood Special Education 3
SLPA 884 - Speech and Language Development: Deaf/Hard of Hearing 3
Elective 3
Research Methods Course 3

*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.

Master's Degree Application Requirements

  • Online application ($50) - The program selection for this degree is the Special Education (M.Ed.) – Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing*
  • Transcripts from all colleges/universities
  • TOEFL scores (International students only) (Institution code = 6877)
  • Financial Resource Certification (International students only)
  • Resume/vita
  • Personal Statement addressing the following: 1) Why do you want to pursue a Master's degree and what skillset do you want to acquire that you wouldn't otherwise have without this degree? 2) What challenges do you anticipate experiencing inn graduate school (e.g., balancing work and/or family, time management), and what strategies will you use to overcome the challenges? 3) How do you monitor learning and at what stage do you determine you need to alter your approach to studying, and what would those changes entail?
  • Names and contact information for three references of your choosing (The system will automatically email the specified people and request that each upload a letter of recommendation.)
  • Assistantship Application (Optional; To be considered for an assistantship, 1) check the appropriate boxes in the Funding section of the Additional Information page on application, and 2) complete the Graduate Assistantship Application)
  • Writing Sample (Optional)

*Students interested in pursuing BOTH the deaf education master's degree AND the graduate endorsement in teaching students who are DHH must submit separate applications to BOTH programs.

Apply online today

Application Deadlines for the Master's degree in Special Education (M.Ed.) – Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing:
January 15 and May 1

For More Information

Please complete the Deaf Education Inquiry Survey.

Program Coordinator

Graduate Endorsement

Our graduate endorsement prepares students to become certified 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

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

*Credits may vary depending on the number of equivalent 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
SPED 876 - Normal Language Development 3
SLPA 850 - Audiology for Educators 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 our graduate endorsement are required to complete a variety of field experiences with students who are DHH across a range of age levels and settings prior to beginning their student teaching. Student teaching must be completed with a minimum of three DHH students at difference age/grade levels and be supervised by an 'on the ground' Teacher of the Deaf. Both field experience and student teaching require direct access to students who are DHH.

Sign Language Proficiency Requirement

All students enrolled in the UNL Deaf Education Endorsement program must complete one of the following in order to be approved for student teaching: 1) Earn a grade of B or better in at least four college-level course* of ASL (or equivalent) AND show evidence of conversational use of ASL, OR 2) Earn a rating of "Intermediate" proficiency or higher on the sign language proficiency interview (SLPI) or another nationally/regionally approved sign language assessment. Students must email a copy of their ASL course transcripts and evidence of conversational ASL skills or SLPI evaluation results to Dr. Thomas the semester prior to student teaching in order to receive approval for student teaching. (*Must be taken within the past five years.) 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

  • Online application ($50) - The program selection for the endorsement is the Teaching Endorsement (Additional) – Special Education: Deaf or Hard of Hearing B-12
  • Transcripts from all colleges/universities
  • Resume/vita
  • Personal Statement that includes your rationale for pursuing this endorsement, your interest and specific experiences with individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, and reasons why you are interested in working with this population. There are no specific length requirements for the personal statement.
  • Copy of current teaching or professional license
  • 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.)
  • If you have ASL experience, prepare a document listing completed ASL coursework and upload it in the coursework slot under Program Requirements

Apply online today

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

For 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 - Visual Impairments: Characteristics 3
SPED 872 - Deaf or Hard of Hearing: Characteristics 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 3

Graduate Certificate Application Requirements

  • Online application ($50) - The program selection for this certificate is the Sensory Disabilities (Graduate Certificate – Online)
  • Transcripts from all colleges/universities
  • Resume/vita
  • Personal Statement that includes your rationale for pursuing this Graduate Certificate, your interest and specific experiences with individuals with sensory disabilities, and reasons why you are interested in working with this population. There are no specific length requirements for the personal statement.
  • 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.)

Apply online today

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

For 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.Associate 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. Please visit the following websites for more information about graduate tuition and fees:

Student Accounts – Graduate/Professional Tuition

Office of Graduate Studies – Tuition & Fees

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. 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) this grant 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. (*Dependent upon award renewal.)

Fellowships:
Departmental fellowships are available to graduate students each academic year. Applications for graduate fellowships are due mid-April. For specific information, dates and requirements, please visit the SPED Fellowship Application 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 Special Education Graduate Assistantship Application.

For More Information

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

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?
Students enrolled in the Master's program will earn a Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Special Education with a Specialization in the Education of the Deaf or Hard of Hearing. Students who are enrolled in the graduate endorsement program will need to apply to either the Nebraska Department of Education (or their own state's DOE) to receive their endorsement in teaching students who are 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 elementary, secondary or special education) and only want to pursue an endorsement in teaching students who are deaf or hard of hearing, only need to apply to the Teaching Endorsement (Additional) – Special Education: Deaf or Hard of Hearing program.

Do I need to be fluent in American Sign Language before I apply to UNL?
All students enrolled in UNL's Deaf Education Endorsement program must complete one of the following in order to be approved for student teaching: 1) Earn a grade of B or better in at least four college-level courses* of ASL (or equivalent) AND show evidence of conversational use of ASL, OR 2) Earn a rating of "Intermediate" proficiency or higher on the sign language proficiency interview (SLPI) or another nationally/regionally approved sign language assessment. Students must email a copy of their ASL course transcripts and evidence of conversational ASL skills OR SLPI evaluation results to Dr. Thomas the semester prior to student teaching in order to receive approval for student teaching. (*Must be taken within the past 5 years.) 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.