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Special Education


Special Education

Wist 120
1776 University Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96822

Tel: (808) 956-7956
Fax: (808) 956-4345


*Graduate Faculty

*A.A. Jenkins, PhD (Chair)—mild/moderate disabilities, content strategies, inclusive education, collaboration
M.A. Barnes, PhD—general special education, mild/moderate disabilities
*R.S. Black, EdD—mental retardation, transition, students at-risk, research design
*J. Coryell, PhD—education of deaf students, bilingual-bicultural education for deaf students, recruitment of deaf and minority teachers, deaf-hearing relationships, mentoring of special education teachers
*P.J. Edelen-Smith, EdD—mild/moderate disabilities, language/cognitive strategies, assessment, collaboration
L. Le, MEd—general special education, mild/moderate disabilities
*L.P. Mcormick, PhD—early education, communication disorders, behavioral disorders, severe disabilities
*D. McDougall, PhD—general special education, mild/moderate disabilities, behavior disorders
W.D. Narkon, MEd—mild/moderate disabilities, learning disabilities, reading strategies
*M.J. Noonan, PhD—moderate and severe disabilities, early intervention
*C.M. Ornelles. PhD—mild/moderate disabilities, students at risk, integration of services, collaboration
L.M. Oshita, MEd—learning disabilities, reading instruction, social skills
R. Reed, ABD—teacher preparation, teacher retention and mentoring, literacy, mild/moderate disabilities
*P.H. Sheehey, PhD—families, mild/moderate disabilities, language arts, severe disabilities
*T.W. Sileo, EdD—mild/moderate disabilities, multicultural education, family involvement, educational collaboration
*J.R. Skouge, EdD—media, assistive technology, family partnerships, cros-cultural education
*G.J. Smith, EdD—interdisciplinary team development, transition/career vocational special education, systems change
*J.K. Smith, PhD—collaboration, novice special education teachers, teacher preparation, disability experience/culture, mild/moderate and severe disabilities, issues of diversity
*R.A. Stodden, PhD—mental retardation, career/vocational special needs, adolescent/adult services

Degrees and Certificates Offered: Basic teacher licensure in general education and special education, MEd in special education, BEd dual teacher preparation in elementary/special education, post-baccalaureate preparation in special education

The Academic Program

Special education (SPED) is a component of general education. Its basic purpose is to assist individuals who do not benefit from traditional educational programs. Special educators teach and help others teach persons who have special learning needs. They individualize and adapt instruction to help individuals with special needs become independent and contributing members of society.

Faculty in the Department of Special Education prepare students at the undergraduate and graduate levels to work in both school and non-school settings. Professional roles include teacher, resource manager, consultant, infant specialist and transition specialist. The program is field-based.


The special education program is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and by the Council of Exceptional Children (CEC).


Advising of students in the undergraduate and post-baccalaureate programs is the responsibility of the Office of Student Academic Services, College of Education.

Upon acceptance to special education graduate programs, students are assigned to a faculty adviser. Advisers review program requirements and progress, plan program course work, complete departmental preregistration forms for the next semester, and sign course registration materials. Program advisers may waive course work (based on courses taken previously) on an individual basis. Advisers have the responsibility of reviewing and individualizing students’ programs to complement their needs. Advisers ensure that students have appropriate knowledge and applied skills to perform as competent special educators. Given this responsibility, advisers may require additional course work and/or practicum experience for certain students. Changes made in students’ programs must be approved by their advisers.

Student Organizations

Student Council for Exceptional Children (SCEC)

The Student Council for Exceptional Children is an active organization open to anyone interested in special education. Chapter 78 at UH Manoa has received recognition by the International SCEC. SCEC members participate in professional development activities and sponsor special community projects. SCEC is an affiliate of the Council for Exceptional Children. For more information, call (808) 956-7956.

Undergraduate Study


The College of Education offers a program option within the BEd in the elementary program that culminates in basic teacher licensure in general elementary and special education. The optional program consists of 33 credit hours in special education, including nine hours of supervised field experience, and one semester student teaching (as required for the BEd programs) in an educational setting with students identified as having disabilities.

Graduate Study

Post Baccalaureate Programs

The College of Education offers a Post-baccalaureate Certificate in Special Education for individuals who hold a bachelor’s degree in any field and desire licensure to teach special education. The program consists of 33 semester credit hours in special education, including 12 credit hours of supervised field experience. Program sheets listing the specific course requirements for the post-baccalaureate programs are available in the College of Education’s Office of Student Academic Services.

Admission Requirements

Admission is through the Office of Student Academic Services. Classified status in the College of Education is necessary for registration in the Post-baccalaureate Program. Program sheets listing the specific requirements are available in the Office of Student Academic Services. Students must fulfill all program requirements in effect for the semester in which they are admitted into the college.

Master’s Degree

The MEd program in special education offers two program options: (1) special education teacher training with a specialization in mild/moderate disabilities (mental retardation, specific learning disabilities or deaf education, emotional/behavior disorders), severe/multiple disabilities or deaf education, and (2) interdisciplinary studies for candidates wishing to work in non-classroom-based services for persons with disabilities. Both options are field based, consisting of at least 43 credit hours in a planned and approved program of study.

Admission Requirements

In addition to the application form and official transcripts required by the Graduate Division, materials must also be sent directly to the department. These include (a) scores on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) General Test only, (b) three letters of recommendation attesting to academic and professional strengths, and (c) unofficial transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate course work. An interview by the department’s selection committee may be required. For deaf education applicants, an ASLPI (American Sign Language Proficiency Interview) score of 2.5 or above is required for admission.


The MEd in special education consists of a minimum of 43 credits, including 9-12 credits of required professional courses, 12 credits of field experiences taken over three semesters, and 18 credits in the mild/moderate or severe program track, 21 credits in the deaf education program track.

The MEd in interdisciplinary studies/special education consists of a minimum of 43 credits, including 12 credits of required professional courses, 6-12 credits of field projects, and 18 credits in selected specialty areas. The specialty credits may be within special education or related areas (e.g., general education, psychology, social work, public health).

Both Plan A and Plan B are offered. Six credit hours of SPED 700 are required for Plan A, and additional work in statistical analysis and research design may be necessary. Plan B requires a master’s paper/project or a written comprehensive examination and a minimum of 1 credit of SPED 699.

Graduates of the teacher education option are eligible to be recommended for teacher licensure and receive the Hawai‘i Professional Teacher Certification in Special Education or in Deaf Education. They are qualified to work with students who have mild/moderate or severe disabilities or those who are deaf or hard of hearing, in a direct teaching, self-contained, or resource setting, at preschool, elementary, or secondary levels, or to act as special education resource managers and as collaborative consultants to general educators. Graduates of the interdisciplinary studies option do not qualify for teacher licensure but may seek positions in related fields and services.

Doctoral Degree

The PhD program with a specialization in exceptionalities prepares professionals to work as leaders in the education and support of individuals who have unique needs, often due to disabilities. The field is broad, addressing life-span concerns and involving such services as advocacy, family support, community services, vocational training and support, and special education. Graduates of the program are expected to assume leadership roles addressing local, regional, national, and international issues related to research and higher education and/or program development and evaluation. The program varies in the number of credit hours required, depending upon the candidate’s qualifications, and includes course work required by the college, the specialization area, and a cognate field. In addition students may be required to complete course work in an emphasis area. At least one field internship and the dissertation are also required. See the previous section on Graduate Programs in the College of Education.

SPED Courses