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.

There is no federal financial aid available for the graduate certificate programs since they are non-degree programs. Applicants are, however, welcome to apply for Barkley Fellowships. 

Early Childhood Special Education Graduate Certificate (12 credits)

Dr. Christine Marvin, Dr. Johanna Taylor

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 Savaiano, Dr. Anne Thomas

This certificate provides additional education for professionals interested in students with sensory disabilities (hearing impairment and/or visual impairment). 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. 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 Impairments. Students interested in pursuing an endorsement in either Deaf Education or Visual Impairments will need to complete additional coursework, and should contact Dr. Savaiano or Dr. Thomas 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 Collaboration 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)

(We are currently not accepting applications to the Behavior Specialist graduate certificate.)

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.

NOTE: Students without any background in special education may be expected to take one or more deficiency courses. Not all such courses are offered online, and no deficiency course will count toward a master's degree or graduate certificate. In the event a deficiency course is not offered online, students must obtain permission from their advisor for an appropriate approved substitution.

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 endorsement.

–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

January 15 - review for Summer or Fall start
June 15 - review for Fall or Spring start
October 15 - review for Spring or Summer start

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.