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General Information


Undergraduate Programs

Graduate Programs

Hawai‘i Teacher Licensure Programs

Research Units

Center on Disability Studies

Curriculum Research and Development Group

Student Organizations

Honors and Scholarships

Curriculum Studies

Educational Administration

Educational Foundations

Educational Psychology

Institute for Teacher Education

Kinesiology and Rehabilitation Science

Learning Design and Technology

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

*M. J. Noonan, PhD (Chair)—moderate and severe disabilities, autism, early intervention
C. Aiona, MEd—mentoring special education teachers, general special education, curriculum and instruction
C. Awana, MEd—inclusion, collaboration, teacher mentoring and coaching
M. E. Bargerhuff, PhD—inclusive learning environments, mild/moderate/severe disabilities, co-teaching
*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. Cook, PhD—mild/moderate disabilities, inclusive education, collaboration
*S. Cook, PhD—general special education, inclusion, co-teaching
C. Farley, MEd—mentoring special education teachers, general special education
N. Haggerty, MEd—mild to moderate disabilities, differentiated instruction and curriculum design, special education teacher mentorship
R. Heine, MEd—secondary mild/moderate disabilities, special education mentoring
*A. A. Jenkins, PhD—mild/moderate disabilities, content strategies, inclusive education, collaboration
B. Kajiyama, MEd—assistive technology, universal design for learning, augmentative and alternative communication (AAC)
J. Kim, MEd—mild/moderate disabilities, autism, professional learning communities, mentoring
S. Klein, MEd—mentoring special education teachers, general special education
J. Madigan, EdD—mild to moderate disabilities, assessment, inclusive education, transition
*D. McDougall, PhD—general special education, mild/moderate disabilities, behavior disorders
*J. Ninci, PhD—BCBA-D-developmental and intellectual disabilities, applied behavior analysis, early childhood education
*M. Ok, PhD—assistive and instructional technology, universal design for learning, learning disabilities
*C. M. Ornelles, PhD—mild/moderate disabilities, students at risk, teacher education
*L. M. Oshita, PhD—learning disabilities, reading instruction, social skills
*K. Rao, PhD—media, distance learning, assistive technology, culturally and linguistically diverse students
*L. C. Reed, PhD—emotional and behavioral disorders, evidence-based practices, research to practice, academic and behavioral interventions and outcomes
*R. J. Reed, PhD—teacher training, cultural diversity, language arts, recruitment and retention of special education teachers
H. Rogers-Rodrigues, MEd—teacher preparation and licensure, distance learning, academic and behavioral interventions, consultation and collaboration
A. E. Ruhaak, MA—mentoring special education teachers, general special education
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
A. Soma, MEd, MSW—mentoring special education teachers, general special education
M. Warych, EdD—learning disabilities, severe disabilities, inclusive education, gifted and talented education
*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 special education: BEd in elementary/special education, BEd in early childhood/special education, post-baccalaureate in special education. Non-licensure: MEd in special education, PhD in education, specialization in exceptionalities

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. 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 (OSAS), College of Education. Students should meet regularly with their OSAS academic advisor.

Upon acceptance into a special education program, students are assigned to a special education faculty coordinator. Coordinators review program requirements and progress, plan program course work, complete departmental preregistration forms for the next semester, and sign course registration materials. Coordinators may accept previous course work on an individual basis. Coordinators have the responsibility of reviewing and individualizing students’ programs to complement their needs. 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 coordinators.

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 BEd elementary/special education program that culminates in teacher licensure in both elementary and special education. The BEd Exceptional Students and Elementary Education (ESEE) program consists of fully integrated course work in elementary and special education, co-taught by teams of faculty from both departments. Candidates complete supervised field experiences in classroom settings with students with and without disabilities. One semester of full-time student teaching is required.

In addition to the elementary focus, the College of Education also offers a BEd Blended Early Childhood/Early Childhood Special Education program that leads to PK-3 licensure in both early childhood and special education. It is a statewide hybrid program with synchronous on-line class meetings at 4:00 p.m. or later, and some weekend face-to-face class sessions at UH Mânoa (financial support is provided for neighbor island students who need to travel to Oahu for the face-to-face weekends). Supervised field experiences and a one-semester student teaching are required.

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 33 semester credit hours including 12 credit hours of supervised field experience. Candidates must take a 1-credit seminar prior to beginning program course work, scheduled for candidates upon admission into the program. 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 and in the Department of Special Education. 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. A minimum post secondary cumulative GPA of 2.75.
  3. 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.
  4. Prerequisite course work may be required prior to beginning program course work.

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

Graduate Study

Master’s Degree

The MEd in special education program is available statewide and offers interdisciplinary studies for candidates who wish to engage in a graduate course of study in the field of special education. The MEd interdisciplinary non-licensure program consists of 30 semester credit hours in special education and related fields. In addition, candidates must participate in a special education orientation prior to beginning the program.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must submit to Graduate Education the completed Graduate Application, and official transcripts. Additional materials also must be sent to the Department of Special Education. 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. 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 18 credits in selected specialty areas (e.g., BCBA, literacy specialist). The specialty credits may be within special education or related areas (e.g., general education, psychology, social work, public health).

MEd candidates who desire to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) may choose this as their area of emphasis in the MEd in Special Education program. Candidates would take 6 prescribed courses in the BCBA sequence as their elective specialty area and complete the 4 required professional courses. The 6 course sequence is approved by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, Inc.® (BACB) as meeting the course work requirements for eligibility to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) Examination®. Applicants will have to meet additional requirements as outlined by the (BACB) to qualify.

MEd candidates may choose a specialization in literacy as their area of emphasis. This program is a prescribed elective course sequence comprised of six literacy courses (18 credits), three courses from the Special Education Department and three courses from Curriculum Studies covering the International Dyslexia Association and International Reading Association standards, respectively. Graduate students with at least three years of teaching experience may apply. This course sequence may be taken outside of a graduate degree program, as a post-baccalaureate unclassified student, or as the elective course sequence within the Master of Education degree in the Special Education or Curriculum Studies. Courses within this program may also be taken as electives by any graduate student with an interest in language and literacies.

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 may require 3 credits of SPED 695.

Graduates of the interdisciplinary studies program do not qualify for teacher licensure but may seek positions in related fields and services.

Master of Education in Teaching Dual Secondary/SPED

The MEdT dual licensure program in Secondary & Special Education is a statewide, two-year, field-based program designed for those pursuing careers in teaching who have earned baccalaureate degrees in fields other than education. This program allows candidates to received two teaching licenses: one in a secondary content area (e.g. Math, Science, English, Social Studies, or Hawaiian Language) and one in special education (Mild/Moderate disabilities), while also obtaining a Master's degree.

Admissions Requirements

See the Institute for Teacher Education, Master of Education in Teaching section for application and admission requirements.

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 on the candidate's qualifications, and includes courses required by the college, courses in the specialization, courses that provide an emphasis/breadth, a field project/internship or an apprenticeship in college teaching, and the dissertation. See the section on graduate programs in the College of Education.

SPED Courses

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