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Get your Masters in Special Education from Southern Miss!

Special Education MEd
Program Overview

You are a bold leader who is determined to lead the way in teaching, support, and advocation for exceptional individuals in our state. Your goal is to obtain your masters in special education, but you are not sure how to balance education along with your busy schedule. Through Online at Southern Miss, you can reach your goals without ever stepping into a traditional face-to-face classroom.

The University of Southern Mississippi’s fully online Masters of Education Degree in Special Education offers three concentration areas: Mild/Moderate Disabilities, Emotional/Behavior Disorders, and Severe/Low Incidence Disabilities. There is also a partially online option for emphasis in Gifted Education. This convenient and affordable online degree provides a quality graduate program for professionals to increase their professional skills, while learning to serve exceptional individuals. This is your life, plus college.

Need an undergraduate degree first? The University of Southern Mississippi offers a Special Education Online Degree (BS) as well as an Elementary Education Online Degree for Teacher Assistants (BS).  Alternately, Southern Miss also offers a Master’s in Educational Administration and Supervision Online Degree.


Your Future

Check out some of the jobs our graduates landed after earning this degree.

  • Special Education Teacher – Mild/Moderate Disabilities
  • Special Education Teacher – Emotional Disabilities
  • Special Education Teacher – Severe Disabilites
  • Special Education Teacher – Gifted Education
  • Behavior Specialist
  • Educational Interventionist
  • Teacher Support Team Specialist
  • Disability Specialist

Your future starts at Southern Miss!


Applications to the M.Ed. program in Special Education are evaluated on a variety of factors including academic record, scores on national standardized achievement/aptitude tests (Graduate Record Exam, Millers Analogies Test, or Praxis II), the applicant’s writing ability (as evidenced on a letter of intent, the writing scores of the standardized test, and/or an application essay), a record of professional aptitude and service (as evidenced through both the professional resume and letters of recommendation). Please see the USM Graduate Bulletin and application for more information.

Degree Requirements

M.Ed. Core

  • SPE 641 – Transition Programming: School to Adult Life 3 hrs.
  • SPE 709 – Assessment of Individuals with Exceptionalities 3 hrs.
  • SPE 770 – Legal Issues in Educating Exceptional Learners 3 hrs.
  • CIR 705 – Components of the Reading and Writing Process 3 hrs.


Choose one:

  • SPE 600 – Research Methods: Severe/Profound Dis Child/Adult 3 hrs.
  • SPE 691 – Research in Special Education 1-16 hrs.
  • REF 601 – Educational Research: Interpretation and Applications 3 hrs.


  • Select 15 hours

Practicum (3 hours):

  • SPE 634 – Practicum in Learning Disabilities 3-6 hrs.
  • SPE 644 – Practicum in Learning/Cognitive Disabilities 3-6 hrs.
  • SPE 654 – Practicum in Teaching Individuals with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders 3 hrs.
  • SPE 664 – Practicum with Gifted Students 3 hrs.
  • SPE 680 – Advanced Practicum in Special Education 3-9 hrs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Additional course fees may apply.  Fees range between $20 – $60.

We offer four concentration areas in the M.Ed. in Special Education: Mild/Moderate Disabilities, Emotional/Behavior Disorders, Severe/Low Incidence Disabilities, and Gifted Education.

Each of the emphasis areas are designed to lead to licensure through the Mississippi Department of Education.  While universities do not grant licensure, we work very closely with the MDE to ensure that you are eligible for licensure upon completion of our programs.  In some instances, you can attain licensure before completing the full degree course sequences.  You should speak to our Coordinator for Special Education (Dr. Hollie Filce, to discuss your specific situation.

While we encourage you to complete the full degree sequence, we are happy to assist candidates who only need licensure.  Please contact our Coordinator for Special Education (Dr. Hollie Filce, to discuss your specific situation.  Please remember that non-degree seeking students are not eligible for financial aid.

Step One:  Complete an application to graduate studies and submit all required documents.

  1. Original completed signed application form.  Applications are available at then click “Apply Here”.
  2. Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended (including community colleges).
  3. Official reports of test scores.  Acceptable scores for admission to the M.Ed. programs in the Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education are the GRE, the MAT, or the Praxis II (PLT and Specialty Area scores).  If your scores have not been sent to USM, please request these as soon as possible, as this can take some time:
    1. GRE: 1-888-GRE-SCORE or (select GRE under “Tests”, then click “Order Additional Score Reports”)
    2. MAT:, click “Request a Transcript” for the request forms.
    3. Praxis II: 1-800-772-9476 or (select the Praxis under “Tests”, click “Get Test Scores”)
  4. Three letters of recommendation & signed forms (forms found with the application).
  5. Application fee: All applicants must submit a $35 non-refundable fee for each program to which you apply. You may pay by credit card.
  6. Assistantship: Indicate interest in assistantships on the application & contact the Department.
  7. Other required information (see Step 2).

Step 2: Submit the following documents to the Department of Curriculum, Instruction, & Special Education.  You may submit via email, fax (601-266-4548), postal mail (Department of Curriculum, Instruction & Special Education; 118 College Drive, #5057; Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001; ATTN: Graduate Program Application) or hand delivery (Speech, Reading, & Special Education Building (SRS) room 143):

  1. A brief letter of intent (approximately 2 pages) stating your professional experience and goals, your reasons for pursuing this degree, and how attainment of this degree would help meet those goals.
  2. A copy of your professional vita (resume).
  3. A copy of all current teaching licenses.
  4. Three strong letters of recommendation (as described in Step One).
  5. An analytic writing sample (Required for candidates using the Praxis II as their entrance exam requirement.  Those submitting GRE or MAT scores are not required to provide a writing sample).  This writing sample is designed to provide the University with an example of candidates’ incoming writing skills.  Please include your full name at the top of your essay.

DIRECTIONS:  Present your perspective on the statement below, using relevant reasons and/or examples to support your views.  You do not need to include references or citations, as your essay is purely your current perspective. You must write 750-1000 words (which is about 3-4 pages double spaced), and your perspective should be written in Standard English.
“The study of an academic discipline alters the way we perceive the world. After studying the discipline, we see the same world as before, but with different eyes.”

Step 3:  Apply for Financial Aid and Scholarships

  1. Complete the Federal Financial Aid Application.  Please note that applications are applicable to an academic year (which begins in the fall semester).  Priority dates for applications are March 15 (prior to the fall semester).  Therefore, if you are entering during the spring or summer semester, you will need to contact Financial Aid and ask how to apply for the current academic year.  Personnel in the academic departments cannot assist you with this. Please contact Southern Miss Financial Aid Office at 601.266.4774 or via e-mail at
  2. Please note that master’s level candidates in certain fields may be eligible for the TEACH grant.  There is no application for this grant, rather it will be listed on your award letter from the Federal Financial Aid Application.  If you are interested in the TEACH grant, and this award isn’t listed on your award letter, please contact financial aid.  Please review all information on the TEACH grant at
  3. Departmental scholarships may be available for qualifying students. Applications are typically due in early April. For more information go to
  4. Scholarships in gifted education are available for graduate students enrolled in full-time study during the summer semesters. These $500 scholarships are funded by the Frances A. Karnes Endowed Scholarship and the Christopher J. Karnes Gifted Education Memorial Fund. To apply, please call 601.266.5236 or e-mail

Step 4: If an applicant has a disability that qualifies under the ADA and requires accommodations, he/she should contact the Office for Disability Accommodations (preferably as soon as accepted for admission) for information regarding Southern Miss. policies and procedures: voice (601) 266-5024; Tel (601) 266-6837; fax (601) 266-6035.

I have other questions. Whom can I contact?

For the most up-to-date information on our degree programs, courses offered, etc. please contact our Coordinator for Special Education (Dr. Hollie Filce,

What if I have a bachelor’s degree, but need a teaching license?

The Teach Mississippi Institute is an alternate route licensure program approved by the Mississippi Department of Education.  This program does not lead to a degree, but candidates may apply the 6 of the 12 hours required in the TMI to a M.Ed. in Special Education if admitted to the M.Ed. program.
The TMI requires 3 courses (9 hours) during the summer semester followed by a 1-year supervised internship (3 credit hours).
Pre-requisites to summer coursework:

  1. Successful completion of a bachelor’s degree in a non-education area.
  2. Non-degree admission to the USM Graduate School (application and non-degree enrollment form at:
  3. TMI application/enrollment documents (available by contacting the Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education).

Summer Coursework required (9 credit hours):
SPE 709, SPE 632, and CIS 603
Pre-requisites to 1-year supervised internship (3 credit hours):

  1. Successful completion of SPE 709, SPE 632, and CIS 603
  2. Successful completion of Praxis I and Praxis II (in your content area).
  3. Submission of Teaching Position Information Form (available by contacting the Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education).  Please note that it is the student’s responsibility to secure a teaching position in their content area (Special Education grades 7-12).  The program nor the university assist with this process.

What if I don’t have a bachelor’s degree?

Visit our Elementary Education program sites to learn more information on how to obtain a bachelor’s degree.


**link to UG TA program here**

**link to UG SPED TA program here**

What are the costs for the Masters in Special Education?

For pricing information, click here.  For financial aid information, click here.  For detailed tuition information, click here.


What other online degrees are offered by Online at Southern Miss?

Please visit our programs page here:

Will other classes besides the ones listed in degree requirements count towards my Masters in Special Education?

Other classes that aren’t listed may count towards your degree once your transcript has been evaluated and posted.


Can this Masters in Special Education be completed fully online?

Yes, the program is available totally online.  Students are not required to visit campus for an in-class lecture; however, an online lecture may be required by your instructor.

Do online students pay out-of-state tuition?

No, online students pay resident tuition. For information about pricing, click here.

Are you a military veteran or service member?

If yes, visit for more information on how Southern Miss can serve you and your needs.   We will help you with funding and scholarship information, admissions, and course enrollment.