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Special Education MSED|

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Why Choose EIU

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Research to Practice

Course activities, projects, and assessments of candidate performance are designed to nurture and assess candidates’ skills to relate research to their own practices. All graduate candidates complete an issues course and a research course and across graduate coursework are engaged in dialog with peers relating their current practice to research.

Faculties also relate research to practice through provision of examples from their own teaching experiences and other experiences with individuals with disabilities and their families. In the practicum required course and in summer course experiences candidates are supervised and evaluated by faculty with faculty providing guidance as to evidence- based, effective and best practices.

Nina Caputo

Nina Caputo with guidance of a graduate faculty mentor, Dr. Melissa Jones, completed a graduate project relating research to practice. In this video she shares her project in which she developed a resource file for classroom teachers to use to include and support individuals with autism into their classrooms.


Graduate faculties mentor candidates in writing and research that contribute to the Special Education knowledge and literature bases. Faculties and candidates share candidates’ research and products at college, university, and state events and conferences. Candidates put learning to practice in their home schools and school districts.

Graduate candidates who elect to write a thesis examine questions for which answers will enhance practices. The College of Education and Professional Studies 2012 Thesis Award was given to Stephanie Woodley for her thesis titled: Teachers’ Perceptions and Use of Functional Behavioral Assessments. Her thesis provided insights into practicing teachers’ perceptions of their own skills in designing and implementing functional behavioral assessments.

Nina Caputo who is featured in the video specific to her faculty mentored project relating research to practice is currently examining research questions related to pre-service teachers perceptions of their skills to teach individuals with disabilities.



Teaching Excellence

Faculties in the Department of Special Education model teaching excellence. Faculties in the Department of Special Education hold terminal degrees in Special Education or closely related academic areas. Faculties hold licensure in special education or related academic areas, such as reading, and have taught in school settings or provided services to individuals with disabilities and their families in agency and hospital settings five or more years.

Dr. Rebecca Cook

Dr. Cook models teaching excellence in the undergraduate and graduate courses she teaches. Dr. Cook received the Illinois Teacher Education Division of the Council For Exceptional Children “Distinguished Teacher Educator Award” in recognition of her teaching excellence.


Teaching excellence is the cornerstone of Eastern Illinois University and the Department of Special Education. Teaching is the primary area of evaluation of all faculties for retention, tenure, and promotions. In addition to teaching faculty are involved in professional research and service serving as role models of professional commitment and excellence. Faculties present research on refereed conference programs at the state and national level and serve on varied journal editorial boards. Faculties serve as officers and committee members at the local, state, and national levels of the profession. Faculties professionally volunteer in various roles and join in volunteer activities with students across the each academic year.

Faculties have been recognized for their excellence at the university, state and national levels. Dr. Rebecca Cook received the “Illinois Teacher Educator of the Year Award.” Dr. Bernadette Laumann received the “Illinois Early Childhood Division of the Council of Exceptional Children, Jeannette McCollom Award for Service in Early Childhood Special Education.” Drs. Cook, Hooser, and Shank have each received the College of Education and Professional Studies, “Ronald G. Gholson Faculty Service Award.” In addition, Dr. Kathlene Shank, Chairperson of the Department has received the Eastern, “Luis Clay Mendez University Distinguished Service Award;” The Council for Exceptional Children, Council of Administrators in Special Education, “Harrie C. Selznick Distinguished Service Award;” The Larry B. Vuillemot Leadership Award, Illinois Alliance of Administrators of Special Education;” and the Teacher Education Division of Council for Exceptional Children-Merrill Teaching Excellence in Higher Education Award.”




All candidates are required to be licensed in special education prior to completion of a Master’s Degree in Education with the Special Education major at Eastern. Individuals who are not certified in an area of special education (LBSI, hearing, or vision) interested in completing post-baccalaureate “Learning Behavior Specialist I” or “Early Childhood Special Education” licensure in special education should contact Angi Hallowell, amhallowell@eiu.edu; click here to initiate this process.

Learning to Teach by Teaching

Special Education master's degree candidate Kayla Napue discusses the program's strengths as well as the valuable mentoring opportunities she has experiences.


Individuals who are currently licensed by the State of Illinois as a Learning Behavior Specialist I (LBSI) may complete course work to earn the State of Illinois Learning Behavior Specialist II endorsement. LBSII coursework in “Curriculum Adaptation Specialist” and “Behavior Adaptation Specialist” are offered by the Department on a three year night and summer rotation. The Master’s degree and the LBSII endorsements may be earned concurrently. Upon passing the appropriate State of Illinois LBSII test the coursework in the discrete area results in endorsement for the given area of advanced practice. The LBSII programs are approved by the Illinois State Board of Education and have been recognized as exemplary.

The Department of Special Education in partnership with the Department of Educational Leadership has an approved program that results in a State of Illinois “Director of Special Education” endorsement. Admission to the Director approved program requires the candidate has earned a State of Illinois General Administrator endorsement.

Individuals interested in the Special Education Master’s degree, LBSII, and/or Director program should contact the Special Education Graduate Coordinator: Kathlene S. Shank.