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M.A.T. in Special Education, Learning and Behavior Disorders


M.A.E. in Teacher Leadership Special Education

Make an Impact - Become a Teacher!

The Master of Arts in Teaching in Special Education, Learning and Behavior Disorders, is 100% online, and leads to initial teacher certification. This format allows mid-career professionals the flexibility needed to return to school while balancing life's other responsibilities. Unlike other pathways of achieving teacher certification, the MAT program doesn't require you to return to undergraduate courses, but allows you to move forward with earning your master's degree and teacher certification at the same time.

The 36-hour program consists of coursework in induction to the profession of special education, the diagnosis and assessment of learning and behavioral disabilities, prescriptive teaching, managing behavior disorders and positive behavior supports, research in special education, and special education law.

If you currently have your teacher certification, and wish to start your master's program, you may be interested in WKU's 100% online Teacher Leader programs.

Applicants must meet the following requirements and submit a completed application packet to be considered for admission to the MAT.

Step 1: Apply to the Department of Teacher Education

Candidates must first apply to the School of Teacher Education for admission to the Master of Arts in Teaching, Special Education, Initial Certification. The departmental application can be downloaded here, and must include the following:

  • Departmental application with supporting materials listed below:
    • Three letters of recommendation that can speak to your potential as a successful graduate student and your disposition for teaching children with special needs.
    • Physical Exam
    • TB Screening
    • Signed commitment to uphold the Code of Ethics for Kentucky School Certified Personnel
    • Background check through Verified Credentials (click here to learn more)
  • Official test scores that meet the Kentucky state requirements for a passing score on one of the following:  
    • Pre‐Professional Skills Test (PPST August 31, 2014 or Prior)  OR the 
    • Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators (CASE September 1, 2014 or After)
      • The minimum Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators (CASE) scores of 156 in reading, 162 in writing and 150 in mathematics are required for admission. For information on registering for the PPST/CASE, visit www.ets.org. Applicants must have Educational Testing Services send their OFFICIAL copy of their score report sent directly to Western Kentucky University (if you took your exam outside the state of Kentucky you must also submit a copy to the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board.)
      • The minimum PPST (PRAXIS I) scores of 174 in writing, 174 in math and a 176 in reading are required for admission. For information on registering for the PPST/CASE, visit www.ets.org. Applicants must have Educational Testing Services send their OFFICIAL copy of their score report sent directly to Western Kentucky University (if you took your exam outside the state of Kentucky you must also submit a copy to the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board.): Learning and Behavior Disorders (P-12). Applicants who are alumni of WKU teacher preparation programs must have or be eligible for a teaching certificate and must submit a copy of the certificate or statement of eligibility with their application
  • Official transcripts that indicate completion of a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a minimum overall GPA of 2.75 GPA or a minimum of a 3.0 in last 30 hours (on a 4.0 Scale)

Please Note: All materials must be complete, and reviewed by the School of Teacher Education before applicants should proceed to step 2. You will receive an email from the School of Teacher Education informing you of when to apply to The Graduate School (Step 2).


Step 2: Graduate School Application

  • Complete an online Graduate School application
  • Submit an official copy of your transcript(s) to document completion of a bachelor's degree with a major, or equivalent, in an approved subject area and from an accredited institution. (For special education, we accept any undergraduate degree). Document a cumulative overall grade point average(GPA) of 2.75 or above (counting all course work, undergraduate or graduate) OR a GPA of 3.0 in the last 30 hours of coursework (counting all course work, undergraduate and graduate).

Admission Deadlines

Along with all graduate studies admission deadlines (see current graduate catalog), for priority consideration for admission, students should submit application materials to graduate studies by the following dates:

  • Summer Admission: March 1
  • Fall Admission: May 1
  • Spring Admission: November 1

Students submitting materials after the above deadline dates cannot be guaranteed that applications will be reviewed in time for admission for the upcoming term nor that course space will be available.

Core Requirements (24 Hours)

SPED 515 Education of Exceptional Children
LME 535 Survey of Educational Technology Practices
PSY 510  Advanced Educational Psychology
SPED 518 Seminar: Contemporary Challenges in Special Education
SPED 530 Advanced Assessment Techniques
LTCY 519 Foundations of Reading Instructions

SPED 534

Research in Exceptional Child Education
SPED 533 Seminar: Curriculum for Learning and Behavior Disorders Program Specific Electives (6 Hours)

Program Specific Electives (6 hours)

SPED 531

 Advanced Prescriptive Teaching

(Students must be admitted to the professional education unit before enrolling in SPED 531.)

SPED 630 Special Education Law and Finance

Internship (6 hours)

SPED 590

 Advanced Internship in Exceptional Education

  • Students must have a passing score on the appropriate Praxis II test required by the state for certification prior to enrolling in this course.
  • This course should be taken as the final capstone course in the program.
  • Students currently teaching in a classroom and serving students with LBD (P-12) may use their current teaching position to meet this requirement with advisor approval.
  • Students not currently teaching IN A CLASSROOM SERVING STUDENTS WITH LBD (P-12) must complete an internship experience through SPED 590 within the WKU service region. This internship experience must be equivalent to state requirements for student teaching in a classroom serving students with Learning and Behavior Disorders (P-12).

Planning Your Program of Study

Please note the following as you plan your program of study:

  • Students must complete a minimum of 36 credit hours, which are listed above.
  • Students who have not had an introductory‐level special education course within the past ten years must complete SPED 516: The Exceptional Child Perspectives and Issues, prior to enrollment or during the first semester. This will increase the total number of hours required for the degree to 39 credit hours. 
  • Students must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA

When returning to school, funding your education is one of the top considerations. There are several options to consider that will save you money (and some that will also save time)!

Grants & Loans

Financial Aid Eligibility Requirements and the Application Process

Federal Financial Aid includes grants, loans and scholarships. Qualifying is easy, and is not dependent on your credit score. General eligibility requirements can be reviewed on the Federal Student Aid website at studentaid.ed.gov/eligibility/basic-criteria. Here are a few basics to keep in mind:

  • Eligibility is determined through an application process. So, your first step is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid at fafsa.ed.gov. Even if you doubt your eligibility, apply. Approximately 90% of those who apply qualify for some form of aid. A step-by-step guide through the application process can be found at  wku.edu/financialaid/applying/how-to-apply.php.
  • Online courses are treated the same as face-to-face courses. Once your application is approved, you may elect to take web, on demand or face-to-face courses.  Distance courses through On Demand require same semester completion and an On Demand Agreement.
  • You must be classified as a degree-seeking student to qualify. Degree seeking normally refers to an  associate, baccalaureate or master degree. However, some stand-alone certificates are also eligible.
  • Certificate Program Eligibility:  As a general rule, if you are seeking an undergraduate certificate (certificate only; no degree), the program must require at least 16 credit hours, 15 weeks of instruction and be clearly tied to a profession. If you are seeking a graduate certificate (certificate only; no degree), the program must require at least 8 credit hours, 10 weeks of instruction and be clearly tied to a profession. For additional information on certificate eligibility, please email fa.help@wku.edu.
  • Certificates may also be earned in conjunction with degrees at the associate, baccalaureate and master levels. Degree seeking students at the associate, bachelor and master levels will be awarded financial aid based on the primary degree listed.
  • You must be registered at least half-time to receive aid (6 credit hours for undergrad students; 4.5 credit hours for grad students).
  • You must meet federal and state regulations regarding Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) to remain eligible. The complete SAP Policy is available at wku.edu/financialaid/sap.php.
  • The WKU School Code for the FAFSA application is 002002.

Veterans and Active Duty Military

WKU is a military friendly school. Veterans and active military are required to file additional forms for military tuition assistance. The Office of Veterans Affairs unit that helps ensure all appropriate information is on file. For additional information visit wku.edu/veteran or email va.questions@wku.edu


Senior Citizen Scholarships

Kentucky residents who are 65 years of age or older on or before the day the semester begins are granted Senior Citizen Scholarships for any undergraduate or graduate college class in which they enroll for credit or to audit in accordance with KRS 164.284. For additional information, contact the Billings and Receivables Office at (270) 745-6381 or billings.receiveables@wku.edu.

Department Contact

Program Contact: Dr. Gail Kirby 
Web: wku.edu/ste/sped/graduate.php
Email: gail.kirby@wku.edu
Phone: (270) 745-3746


WKU Online

Email: learn.online@wku.edu
Phone: (270) 745-5173
Toll-Free: (888) 4WKUWEB / (888) 495-8932
Website: wku.edu/online 


The Graduate School

Email: graduate.school@wku.edu
Phone: (270) 745-2446
Website: wku.edu/graduate 

For more information about this program, fill out the form below.



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 Last Modified 1/10/20