Early Childhood Special Education

Educators specializing in Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) learn to assess and provide instruction for children ages birth through six with motor, sensory, health, communication, social-emotional or cognitive disabilities. We emphasize working as collaborative team members with families and other professionals so that children with disabilities can thrive in their natural environments.

Join us for an upcoming online information session to learn more about all the ways you can pursue Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE)!

Where you will learn


When to start

Courses offered year-round.

 License & MA

License: New Teachers: 46  |  Current Teachers: 32

MA:        New Teachers: 44-50  |  Current Teachers: 30-36


For the License:

SPED 750   Survey of Exceptionality
SPED 785   Behavior Management
SPED 714   Collaboration Skills for School Professionals
SPED 778   Fundamentals: Preschoolers
SPED 744   Working with Infants, Toddlers and Families
SPED 787   Assessment Strategies: Early Childhood Special Education
SPED 740   Methods: Early Childhood Special Education
SPED 751   Positioning, Handling and Augmentative Comm. Strategies
SPED 717   Elementary Academic Interventions
SPED 741   Practicum: Early Childhood Special Education (Ages 3-6)
SPED 735   Practicum: Early Intervention (Ages: Birth to 3)
SPED 737   ECSE Seminar

For the MA (add the following):

CIED 500   Principles of Educational Research
SPED 799   Special Education Final Project

New Teachers: Add Standards of Effective Practice Coursework

Full course catalog with descriptions


Find  current course offerings


  1. Candidates for this degree have:
    • A Bachelor's Degree from a regionally accredited institution
    • A cumulative minimum undergraduate G.P.A. of 3.0 (4.0 scale). If below 3.0, please reference our special admissions policy.
  2. Submit the following application materials:
    • Application form
    • Two positive letters of reference from non-related individuals
    • Official transcripts for all undergraduate and graduate work (unless that work was completed at the University of St. Thomas)
      • Submit transcripts to: Graduate Admissions, University of St. Thomas, Box 5, 1000 LaSalle Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55403
    • Personal statement.
  3. Submit the supplementary materials:
    • Initial Licensure: MTLE Basic Skills required by the end of an initial teacher licensure candidate's first semester of coursework.
    • Official test score
      • Each of our programs uses an assessment to assist in making admissions decisions. Specific requirements can be found here.
      • If you have questions regarding this requirement, please email us directly at celc@stthomas.edu.
    • International Applicants:
    1. Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) required for any candidate whose primary language is not English.
    2. Transcript Review: All international transcripts must be reviewed by an accredited evaluation service to determine U.S. equivalency of the degree awarded and the institution awarding the degree. Applications will not be reviewed for admissions until the official review is submitted.

Ongoing Professional Development

The Department of Special Education and Gifted Education offers a wide variety of professional development opportunities throughout the year. Whether networking with leaders in the field at the annual Education for Everyone Event series or simply catching up on the latest tools and techniques in gifted and talented education at the biennial Gifted Education Conference, the College of Education, Leadership & Counseling provides lifelong learning opportunities. Most events include a CEU component. In addition to annual events, the department offers specialized summer institutes in the areas of Autism Specrum Disorders and Learning Disabilities.


Mentored Clinical Practice

The dedicated faculty in the Special Education and Gifted Education programs will work with you to ensure that your clinical practice experience (student teaching) will meet your needs and facilitate your growth, both personally and professionally. Throughout your time student teaching, regularly scheduled seminars with faculty and peers offer the opportunity to form a strong professional network as you prepare to enter the field and have a positive impact on K-12 students.


Community Partnerships

The College of Education, Leadership & Counseling takes pride in engaging in innovative partnerships with a variety of organizations. Students in the College of Education, Leadership & Counseling will find many opportunities for professional growth as a result of working with these organizations. Partnership examples include the Northwest Suburban Integration District, Center for Academics and Sports, FAIR School and the Collaborative Urban Educators program.