Graduate Special Education Licensure

Teacher talking with a group of students in a classroom

FAST FACTS: Graduate Special Education Licensure with Optional M.S. in Teaching

  • 100% online format with limited residency**
  • Earn your K-12 Academic and Behavioral Strategist (ABS) license in less than two years 
  • Designed in a format that accommodates your life
  • Earn a master's degree while working toward your Minnesota teaching license
  • Total Licensure Credits:
    • 32 credits for those holding a current Minnesota teaching license
    • Plus 7 additional credits for the M.S. in Teaching with an emphasis in special education

Tuition: $420/credit*


* Tuition rates are for the 2018-19 academic year. Additional fees and costs for course materials may apply. Total program cost and completion time varies depending on transfer credits and individual program plans. Tuition rates are subject to change.

Program overview

The Academic and Behavioral Strategist (ABS) license prepares teachers to serve the needs of students with mild to moderate disabilities in Learning Disabilities (LD), Emotional or Behavioral Disorders (EBD), Developmental Disabilities (DD), and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The ABS offering at St. Scholastica is a second license, added to either an elementary or secondary teaching licensure. The role of the Academic Behavioral Strategist is to serve students with mild to moderate disabilities; collaborate and consult with families, classroom, and special education teachers and other service providers to design and implement individualized education program plans.

The Graduate Special Education Licensure Program program at The College of St. Scholastica is an online program designed for practicing teachers looking to transition to the field of special education, though is open to those in other fields and other states that would benefit from the curriculum. This pathway allows working teachers to earn their Minnesota Academic and Behavioral Strategist (K-12) license while also pursuing a Master of Science degree. This teacher certification program starts once each year in the fall. However, prospective students are encouraged to apply early. 

Our graduate licensure program was created in collaboration with the K-12 community. Coursework is grounded in research and best practices and instills teachers with the knowledge, skills and dispositions needed to promote learning for students with exceptionalities. The program will build reflective practitioners who work to facilitate inclusion as a way to meet the needs of academically and behaviorally diverse learners in order to provide them the educational experiences in which they are encouraged, valued, and respected. In addition to fostering students' efficacy, addressing the attitudes and biases of others toward individuals with exceptionalities is equally important. The varied courses, school based projects and assessments, and field experiences enable the mastery of these core skills for teaching special education, and those specific to an Academic and Behavioral Strategist.

Work toward your master's while earning your teaching license

Our program is designed to meet the requirements of a Master of Science while you are working toward your Minnesota Academic and Behavioral Strategist teaching license. This means you'll be able to enhance your work in the teaching profession with a master's degree, giving you more earning potential, better credentials and a full understanding of how to be an effective special education teacher. If you're not interested in earning a Master of Science degree and just want your Academic and Behavioral Strategist teaching license, we can accommodate your needs as well. To learn more, fill out the form today. Or if you're ready, start the application

Cohort model

Online learning isn't independent learning at St. Scholastica. We've applied a cohort model to our Special Education Licensure program, which means you'll move through the program with the same group of colleagues. We've also implemented a host of technologies to help bridge the gap between the computer and the classroom.  

Program advisor

An online adviser is assigned to you at the beginning of the program and stays with you until you graduate. Your online adviser is available to answer questions and offer support.

Other student resources

  • Zoom is a fully functional virtual classroom that allows you to participate in live discussions with other students, attend online lectures, and much more.
  • A 24-hour help desk means that you'll never struggle alone with an uncooperative computer.
  • Instant messaging and discussion boards enable virtual class discussions.
  • Other support services, including Hoonuit and SMARTHINKING, help you master important software and provide online tutoring support to make sure you have help when you need it.

Federal loan forgiveness programs for teachers

The U.S. Department of Education offers loan forgiveness programs for teachers. The program requires teachers to work in school districts that serve low-income students for five consecutive academic years and offers up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness for Federal Stafford loans. Learn more about federal student loan forgiveness programs.

Career opportunities

Special education isn't just a rewarding occupation; it's also in-demand. There is a nationwide shortage of special education teachers. The Executive Summary of the 2017 Report of Teacher Supply and Demand indicates "The number and percentage of students that qualify for special education services ... has increased in the last several years" and "Hiring officials predict that in the next five years the most difficult staff to hire will be special education teachers," demonstrating the need for licensed professionals in the field.

Out of state considerations and those not currently licensed 

Teachers from other states are also welcome to join the program. Our faculty will work with you to determine your program plan. However, you will need to work with your own state licensing board to determine the requirements of your state. For more information, review the application process.


**Limited Residency: Students will meet in person on two separate occasions over the course of the program for a full day. The first session will occur prior to the first semester of the program and will focus on orienting students to The College of St. Scholastica and the Special Education Licensure program.  The second session will occur during Term 3 of the program (summer) and will be aligned with the 21st Century Teaching and Learning Conference. This session will provide a Professional Practices Seminar.


For additional information on this certificate program in an easy-to-read format, please read our Graduate in Special Education Licensure Gainful Employment Disclosure notice.

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Jordanne Even Jordanne Even
Admissions Counselor
(877) 353-0820
jeven@css.edu