Early Childhood Special Education

‌Educators specializing in Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) learn to assess and provide instruction for children ages birth through six with motor, sensory, health, communication, social-emotional or cognitive disabilities. We emphasize working as collaborative team members with families and other professionals so that children with disabilities can thrive in their natural environments.

Join us for an upcoming online information session to learn more about all the ways you can pursue Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE)!

Where you will learn


When to start

Courses offered year-round.

 License & M.A.

License:   New Teachers: 46  |  Current Teachers: 29

M.A.:        New Teachers: 43-49  |  Current Teachers: 30


For the License:

SPED 750   Fundamentals of Special Education: Exceptionality, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
SPED 785   Applied Behavior Analysis: Behavioral Interventions and Learning Environments 
SPED 714   Professional Practice: Collaboration, Co-teaching and Educational Technology  Skills for School Professionals
SPED 778   Fundamentals: Preschoolers
SPED 744   Fundamentals: Infants, Toddlers and Families
SPED 740   Methods: Early Childhood Special Education
SPED 717   Elementary Academic Interventions and Literacy
SPED 741   Clinical Practice: Early Childhood Special Education
SPED 645   Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Individualized Planning for Diverse Learners
SPED 716   Fundamentals: Students with Mild to Moderate Needs

For the M.A. (add the following):

CIED 500   Principles of Educational Research

New Teachers: Add Standards of Effective Practice Coursework

Full course catalog with descriptions


Find  current course offerings


  1. Candidates for this degree have:
    • A Bachelor's Degree from a regionally accredited institution
    • A cumulative minimum undergraduate G.P.A. of 3.0 (4.0 scale). If below 3.0, please reference our special admissions policy.
  2. Submit the following application materials:
    • Application form
    • Two positive letters of reference from non-related individuals
    • Official transcripts for all undergraduate and graduate work (unless that work was completed at the University of St. Thomas)
      • Submit transcripts to: Graduate Admissions, University of St. Thomas, Box 5, 1000 LaSalle Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55403
    • Personal statement.
  3. Submit the supplementary materials:
    • Initial Licensure: MTLE Basic Skills required by the end of an initial teacher licensure candidate's first semester of coursework.
    • Official test score
      • Each of our programs uses an assessment to assist in making admissions decisions. Specific requirements can be found here.
      • If you have questions regarding this requirement, please email us directly at education@stthomas.edu.
    • International Applicants:
    1. Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) required for any candidate whose primary language is not English.
    2. Transcript Review: All international transcripts must be reviewed by an accredited evaluation service to determine U.S. equivalency of the degree awarded and the institution awarding the degree. Applications will not be reviewed for admissions until the official review is submitted.

Ongoing Professional Development

The Department of Special Education and Gifted Education offers a wide variety of professional development opportunities throughout the year. Whether networking with leaders in the field at the annual Education for Everyone Event series or simply catching up on the latest tools and techniques in gifted and talented education at the biennial Gifted Education Conference, the School of Education provides lifelong learning opportunities. Most events include a CEU component. In addition to annual events, the department offers specialized summer institutes in the areas of Autism Specrum Disorders and Learning Disabilities.


Mentored Clinical Practice

The dedicated faculty in the Special Education and Gifted Education programs will work with you to ensure that your clinical practice experience (student teaching) will meet your needs and facilitate your growth, both personally and professionally. Throughout your time student teaching, regularly scheduled seminars with faculty and peers offer the opportunity to form a strong professional network as you prepare to enter the field and have a positive impact on K-12 students.


Community Partnerships

The School of Education takes pride in engaging in innovative partnerships with a variety of organizations. Students in the School of Education will find many opportunities for professional growth as a result of working with these organizations. Partnership examples include the Northwest Suburban Integration District, Center for Academics and Sports, FAIR School and the Collaborative Urban Educators program.