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Special Education

Special Education

Wist 120
1776 University Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-7956
Fax: (808) 956-4345
Web: coe.hawaii.edu/academics/special-education


*Graduate Faculty

*A. A. Jenkins, PhD (Chair)—mild/moderate disabilities, content strategies, inclusive education, collaboration
C. Aiona, MEd—mentoring special education teachers, general special education, curriculum and instruction
M. E. Bargerhuff, PhD—mild/moderate disabilities, moderate/severe disabilities, inclusive environments
*R. S. Black, EdD—mental retardation, transition, students at-risk, research design
*B. G. Cook, PhD—mild/moderate disabilities, inclusion, evidence-based practices, higher education and students with disabilities
*L. H. Cook, PhD—mild/moderate disabilities, inclusive education, collaboration
S. Cook, MEd—general special education, inclusion, co-teaching
*P. J. Edelen-Smith, EdD—mild/moderate disabilities, language/cognitive strategies, assessment, collaboration
C. Farley, MEd—mentoring special education teachers, general special education
S. Klein, MEd—mentoring special education teachers, general special education
S. M. Koegel, MEd—general special education
J. Mahiko, MEd—transition, vocational education and workforce development, and higher education
*D. McDougall, PhD—general special education, mild/moderate disabilities, behavior disorders
*W. D. Narkon, PhD—mild/moderate disabilities, learning disabilities, reading strategies
*M. J. Noonan, PhD—moderate and severe disabilities, autism, early intervention
L. C. Novosel, PhD—mild/moderate disabilities, adolescent literacy, youth offenders with disabilities, culture and linguistic diversity, response to intervention
*C. M. Ornelles. PhD—mild/moderate disabilities, students at risk, teacher education
L. M. Oshita, MEd—learning disabilities, reading instruction, social skills
D. Paresa, PhD—mild/moderate disabilities, learning disabilities, general special education
*K. Rao, PhD—media, distance learning, assistive technology, culturally and linguistically diverse students
*R. J. Reed, PhD—teacher training, cultural diversity, language arts, recruitment and retention of special education teachers
A. E. Ruhaak, MA—mentoring special education teachers, general special education
C. Schmidt, PhD—autism spectrum disorders, applied behavior analysis
M. Schmidt, PhD—education technology, technology for students with autism
M. D. Sheehey, MEd—mentoring special education teachers, general special education; severe/autism special education
P. E. Sheehey, MEd—mild/moderate disabilities, teacher preparation, multicultural education, autism
*P. H. Sheehey, PhD—families, moderate and severe disabilities, early intervention, autism
J. Siegel, MEd—general special education
*J. R. Skouge, EdD—media, assistive technology, family partnerships, cross-cultural education
*G. J. Smith, EdD—interdisciplinary team development, transition/career vocational special education, systems change
A. Soma, MEd, MSW—mentoring special education teachers, general special education
*R. A. Stodden, PhD—mental retardation, career/vocational special needs, adolescent/adult services
*J. C. Wells, PhD—autism spectrum disorders, communication disorders, early childhood special education, mild/moderate disabilities
M. Wilson, MPA—program management and student advising

Degrees and Certificates Offered: Initial 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. On campus and statewide programs are offered.


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


Advising of students in the BEd and PBSPED programs is the responsibility of the Office of Student Academic Services, College of Education. Students should meet regularly with their OSAS academic advisor.

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

Student Organizations

Student Council for Exceptional Children (SCEC)

The Student Council for Exceptional Children (SCEC) 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 dual teacher licensure in general elementary and special education. The optional program consists of 27 credit hours in special education, including 17 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.

For information on a Bachelor Degree Program Sheet, go to www.manoa.hawaii.edu/ovcaa/programsheets/.

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 31 semester credit hours including 10 credit hours of supervised field experience. The PB-SPED program offers two special education teacher training options: (1) specialization in mild/moderate disabilities (mental retardation, learning disabilities, emotional/behavior disorders); or (2) severe/multiple disabilities and autism. 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.

All applicants to the post-baccalaureate certificate in special education program will be evaluated competitively and considered for admission on the basis of a profile composed of the following criteria:

  1. Applicants must have a baccalaureate degree from an accredited and UH Manoa recognized four-year institution of higher education.
  2. Applicants must achieve minimal State passing scores in the reading, writing, and mathematics subtests on the PRAXIS.
  3. A minimum post secondary cumulative GPA of 2.75.
  4. Applicants must demonstrate oral and nonverbal communicative competence through the successful completion of an interview. Applicants must also demonstrate attitudes toward education, learners and themselves as prospective teachers that are compatible with the standards and curriculum of the program.
  5. Prerequisite coursework may be required prior to beginning program coursework.

Admission requirements are subject to change. Call the Office of Student Academic Services for updated information.

Graduate Study

Master’s Degree

The MEd program in special education offers interdisciplinary studies for candidates who wish to engage in a graduate course of study to meet individualized educational objectives in the field of special education. The MEd interdisciplinary program is a non-licensure 30 credit program and is available statewide.

Admission Requirements

In addition to the application form, GRE scores and official transcripts required by the Graduate Division, materials must also be sent directly to the department. These include (a) three letters of recommendation attesting to academic and professional strengths, (b) unofficial transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate course work, and (c) the statement of objectives. Candidates must take, or test out of, an educational technology 1-credit course prior to beginning program coursework. An interview by the department's selection committee is required.


The MEd in interdisciplinary studies/special education consists of a minimum of 30 credits, including 12 credits of required professional courses, and 12-15 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 thesis and Plan B project 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 and a minimum of 3 credits of SPED 695.

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 section on graduate programs in the College of Education.

SPED Courses