Special Education Learning Behavioral Specialist - Initial Certification

Degree Purpose

The purpose of the Special Education Learning Behavioral Specialist – I Master’s Degree Program for Initial Certification, which is designed to enable our candidates to earn their M.S.E.D Degree in Special Education and the Illinois State Board of Education Teaching Certification in Special Education, is designed to:

  1. Provide a high quality teacher preparation program that: integrates a strong theoretical foundation with current research findings; provides realistic, effective and humanistic pedagogical practices; and inspire students to acquire knowledge and skills and encourages their curiosity and creativity;
  2. Prepare educational personnel who are knowledgeable and competent practitioners, dedicated to serving the educational needs of students of widely varying abilities and backgrounds, and, responsible participants in the quest for improvement of the nation’s schools and the teaching profession; and
  3. Prepare highly qualified educators who are professionally and ethically equipped to provide students with disabilities with an education that is designed to enable them to maximize their potentials and assume dignified and productive roles in the society

Degree Requirements

The Special Education Learning Behavioral Specialist –I  Master’s Degree Program for Initial Certification requires: 33--36 credit hours of coursework in general education; 29 – 31 hours of coursework plus student teaching experience in professional education; and 34 hours of coursework in special education.


The Special Education Master’s Degree Program for Initial Certification prepares special educators for service in a variety of state and local educational agencies, and other organizations that work with individuals with disabilities at the national level.

Admission and Application Procedure

To be considered for admission to the Special Education Master’s Degree Program for Initial Certification, a student must:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university;
  • Submit two copies of his/her official transcripts;
  • Have a grade point average of 3.0 or better in the last 60 hours of  his/her bachelor’s degree coursework to be immediately eligible for an M.S.ED certificate program in Special Education;
  • Provide proof of a passing score on the Illinois Certification Test of Basic Skills/TAP test, taken any time since 1987;
  • Be admitted to the College of Education (a passing score on the Illinois Certification Test of Basic Skills is required for admission);
  • Provide two letters of reference (from a school principal) supporting the student’s ability to succeed in a graduate program
  • Submit a copy of his/her resume; and
  • Provide a one page essay explaining why he/she is interested in our program and what he/she expects to learn.

Applicants who completed their bachelor’s degree program five or more years ago and do not have the required 3.0 GPA in the last 60 hrs can qualify for a master’s plus certification program by taking 9 hrs of graduate-level program coursework (which must be completed within one year), and earning a grade of B or better in each of these courses.  Grades of B or above in graduate coursework completed prior to application to a CSU certification program can be used towards eligibility. Special education program applicants who do not qualify after taking 9 hrs of coursework will be counseled by the Office of Teacher Certification to choose another teacher preparation program to pursue at the certification-only level.

To apply for admission to the program, students should: contact the Office of Teacher Certification for more details at 773-995-2519. Interested applicants can also download the graduate application form and/or apply on-line here. Two official transcripts from all institutions previously attended are required.

Program Requirements

In order to complete the Master’s in Special Education program, students must:

  • Complete all courses with a 3.0 GPA
  • Complete 34 hours of coursework
  • If replacing a course with a comparable undergraduate course, a graduate level  elective must be taken to fulfill requirement
  • Pass the Basic Skills test –requirement for admission to the College of Education
  • Pass the ICTS Special Education General  Curriculum Certification Test – required by the time you complete ELED 5140, ELED 5150, ELED 5170, & READ 5280
  • Pass the APT (K-12) test  - requirement for SED 5488
  • Pass the LBS-I Content Area test —requirement for the Comprehensive Exam
  • Pass the Comprehensive Examination
  • LBS-1 test required prior to taking the Comprehensive Exam
  • Complete the Digital Educational Portfolio and upload it in livetext   
  • Apply for graduation - Complete application, all requirements and pay $25 graduation fee.

Portfolio Requirements

Program Completion requires performance portfolio that includes artifacts aligned with State Standards. Candidates are required to keep the projects completed in the courses listed below for their portfolio:

  • Reflection Report and Language Comparison Paper completed in *SED 5304;
  • Reflection Report and Research-Based Term Paper completed in *SED 5476;
  • Reflection Report and Research Based-Term Paper and Mini-Lecture completed in *SED 5477;
  • Case Study and Adapted Lesson Plan completed in *SED 5481;
  • I.E.P and Differentiated Lesson Plan Project completed in *SED 5482;
  • Functional Behavioral Assessment and Behavioral Intervention Plan completed in *SED 5484;
  • Assessment Case Study and Educational/Remedial Plan completed in *SED 5487;
  • Philosophy of Education, Professional Development plan, and Legal Case Briefs completed in *SED 5494;
  • Major Research Project/Master’s Thesis completed in *SED 5492; and
  • Internship and Student Teaching Performance and Professional Educational Portfolio completed in *SED 5488 and *SED 5475.

Note: *Indicates courses where key assessments are completed

Courses Required
General Education Requirements 33-36 hours
Composition 3 hours
Composition II (3)
Oral Communication 3 hours
Speech (3)
Mathematics 3 hours
College Level Mathematics (3)
Natural Science 6 hours (at least one laboratory course)
Biological Science (3)
Physical Science (3)
Humanities 9 hours in at least two areas
The Arts (3)  
Literature (3)  
Philosophy (3)  
Foreign Language (3)  
Social Sciences 9 hours
U.S. History or American National Government
Child Psychology  
Social Science Elective (3 hrs)
Political Science
Social Science
Multicultural/Global perspectives 3 hours
Elective (if not satisfied in courses listed above)
Professional Education (29-31 cr. hrs /55 -110 field hours)
ELCF 1520/5650 (2f10/3) Introduction to Teaching/Urban Education
ED 5312/T&ED 5346 (3) Education Computing/Presentations
ELCF 2000/5000 (3f10/3) History/Philosophy of Education
Psych 2020/5830 (3f10/3f10) Educational Psychology
SED 5301 (3f15) Characteristics of Exceptional Children
ELED 3010/5520 (4/3) OR ELCF 5500* (2f25) Fundamentals/Curriculum in Elementary Education Principles/Practices in Secondary Education
Courses Below Require Admission to the College of Education
ELED 5140* (3f15) Teaching Science in Elementary School
ELED 5150* (3f15) Teaching Social Studies in Elementary School
ELED 5170* (3f10) Teaching Math in Elementary School
READ 5280* (4f10) Teaching Read/LA in Elementary School
Courses Below Require Completion of All the Master’s Coursework
SED 5475 (Variable 6 - 12 hrs) Cross Categorical Student Teaching
Program Coursework: Prerequisites
SED 5301/4301 Characteristics of Exceptional Children (3 hrs/*15 hrs of field observation)
Special Education Course Requirements (34 hrs/f100 hrs)
SED 5304/4304 Speech Language and the Classroom Teacher (3 hrs)
SED 5476/476 Characteristics of Learners with Behavioral, Learning and Cognitive Disabilities (4hrs f/15)
ED 5960 Fundamentals of Educational Research (3 hrs)
SED 5477/477 Characteristics and Instructional Adaptations for Learners with Physical and Health Impairments (3 hrs f/15)
*SED 5481/481 Adaptive Skills for Learners with Special Needs (3 hrs)
*SED 5482/482 Curricular Adaptations for Learners with Special Needs(3 hrs)
*SED 5484/484 Classroom Management of Learners with Special Needs (3 hrs)
*SED 5487/487 Assessment, Measurement, & Evaluation of Learners with Special Needs (3hrs)
*SED 5488/488 Student Internship (3 hrs f/70 hrs internship experience)
*SED 5494/5478 & 5489 Special Education Law, Collaborative, and Professional

Conduct (3 hrs)
*SED 5492/492 Master’s thesis/Project in Special Education (3 hrs)

Note: *Courses require admission to the program and College of Education.

A minimum GPA of 3.0 must be maintained in special education with no grades below a “C”.

Contact:Dr. Florah Luseno, Department Chairperson (773) 995-2086