Special Education (K-12): General Curriculum, Graduate Certificate

Special Education (K-12): General Curriculum, Graduate Certificate
21 Credit Hours
Admits: Fall, Spring & Summer
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Program Tabs


Unlock your potential in the field of special education with the UNC Charlotte Graduate Certificate in Special Education (K-12), focusing on the General Curriculum. This comprehensive program is tailored for aspiring educators who are eager to make a significant impact in the lives of students with mild intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, and emotional/behavioral disorders. Below, we outline the key features, benefits, and opportunities this graduate certificate offers, ensuring you have all the information at your fingertips.

Key Highlights of the Program

  • Accredited Curriculum: Earn a 21-credit-hour graduate-level certificate that satisfies the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction's requirements for the Standard Professional I initial teaching license.
  • Specialized Focus: Designed specifically for individuals aiming to support students with mild intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, and emotional/behavioral disorders.
  • Flexibility for Professionals: The program is delivered 100% online with essential Zoom meetings, making it ideal for working professionals seeking to advance their education without compromising their job responsibilities.

Advantages of the UNC Charlotte Graduate Certificate in Special Education (K-12): General Curriculum

Comprehensive Learning Experience

  • Master of Arts in Teaching Pathway: Graduates have the opportunity to further their education by pursuing a Master of Arts in Teaching, leading to the North Carolina Standard Professional 2 (SP2) Educator’s License in Special Education.
  • Phase II Development: Enhance your teaching skills and apply theoretical knowledge in practical classroom scenarios. Gain expertise in research, advanced classroom management, and consultation and collaboration strategies.
  • Capstone Project: Complete an individual master's project, demonstrating your ability to address complex challenges in special education.

Designed for Your Success

  • 100% Online Format: Enjoy the flexibility of an online learning environment, allowing you to balance your professional responsibilities with your educational aspirations.
  • Interactive Coursework: Engage in required Zoom meetings for most courses, ensuring a dynamic and interactive learning experience.
  • Career Advancement: This certificate opens doors to rewarding careers in special education, equipping you with the skills necessary to excel in various educational settings.

Who Should Enroll?

This program is ideal for:

  • Educators seeking to specialize in special education.
  • Working professionals looking to transition into a rewarding career in education.
  • Individuals passionate about making a difference in the lives of students with special needs.

Request More Information

Connect with an Enrollment Specialist today to learn more! Complete the For More Information box on this page or contact us using the links below.


Application Deadline: 

  • August 1 (fall)
  • December 1 (spring)
  • May 1 (summer first half term)
  • June 15 (summer second half term)

Admissions & Requirements: 

  • Complete the Graduate School Admission Application.
  • A bachelor’s degree from a university accredited by a US Department of Education-recognized institutional accreditor.
  • A cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.7 (If you do not have at least a 2.7 GPA, please see our GPA Forgiveness process).
  • Copies of unofficial transcripts from all academic coursework beyond high school.
  • A statement of purpose.
  • Two online professional recommendations coming from individuals in a supervisory capacity (i.e. principal or manager) and/or academic reference (i.e. professor).
  • A clear criminal background check, which will be requested after application submission. The cost of this will start at $18 and could take 2-4 weeks to be processed. Please note your application cannot move forward until this step is complete.
  • The online Graduate Certificate Program requires classroom observation, clinical, and internship hours to be completed in the state of North Carolina. See the "Courses" tab for a description of the internship.

Required Courses for General (21 credit hours)

  • SPED 5173: Diagnostic Assessment (3)
  • SPED 5300: Lifespan Development for Exceptional Individuals (3)
  • SPED 5370: Culturally Responsive Positive Behavior Support (3)
  • SPED 5372: Planning Mathematics Instruction for Students with Exceptional Needs (3)
  • SPED 5375: Foundations of Literacy for Students with Diverse Learning Needs (3)
  • SPED 5400: Practicum: Integrated Instructional Applications in Special Education (3)
  • SPED 6475: Internship/Seminar: Special Education K-12 - General Curriculum (3 to 6)

Note about course delivery: Courses are delivered online both synchronously and asynchronously.

Internship Information

A year-long internship (YLI) is required for Graduate Certificate students. The YLI consists of a semester of clinical experiences in the fall semester followed by a full-time experience in the spring semester. The graduate-level internship is the culminating experience of the Graduate Certificate program, and offers students the opportunity to demonstrate their readiness for the North Carolina Initial Professional License (IPL) in Special Education. Students are assigned to an appropriate classroom for a full-time semester-long experience under the supervision of the Clinical Educator and University Supervisor.

This internship can be done in a student’s place of employment if the setting is determined to be appropriate. The University can also find placement for the student if needed. During the application period (late January to early February before the YLI starts in the fall), residency teachers and teacher assistants will work with the Office of School and Community Partnerships to determine the appropriateness of their classroom for the internship experience and licensure requirements. Students will be invited to begin the application process by the Program Director via advising communications in January before the YLI begins in the fall.

Note about the Graduate Certificate in Teaching

UNC Charlotte's Graduate Certificate in Teaching offers an efficient pathway to initial teacher licensure for candidates who have already earned a bachelor's degree and meets the  Educator Preparation Program (EPP) enrollment requirement for candidates seeking Residency Licensure. Course instruction is delivered 100% online using Canvas and, in most concentrations, is paired with clinical labs that meet on UNC Charlotte's campus or at school sites in the Charlotte area. Lab courses have an 'L' designation on the plans of study available on the program site.


*Rates are subject to change*


  • $288.82 per credit hour

Outside of NC Non-Resident:

  • $536.98 per credit hour

Non Resident:

  • $1,098.21 per credit hour

Find more information regarding tuition and fees here ».