Master’s in Special Education Degree Programs in Hawaii

Hawaii was the 50th state admitted to the United States and is the only one made up entirely of islands. With a spectacular tropical climate, beautiful ocean scenery, miles of beaches and surf, plus active volcanoes, Hawaii is a destination location for tourists, scientists and nature lovers.

With a desire to share its rich native culture with future generations, the Hawaiian education system has a lot to offer students at all levels. Numerous specialized master’s degree programs are available through public and private universities and colleges – including a research university with two extensive campuses and online distance learning opportunities.

Note: Those interested in distance learning programs should consult our recommendations for Online Master’s in Special Education.

Sponsored Content

University of Hawaii at Manoa, HI

College of Education

The College of Education at the University of Hawaii at Manoa is a land-grant institution located on the island of Oahu. The College provides master’s-level and certificate programs in educational research, curriculum development and teacher preparation. All are offered in flexible formats including conventional campus, evening classes and online distance learning. The College of Education has become a leader in distance learning to meet the challenges of a unique island geography.

As an institution committed to maintaining the Hawaiian traditions and developing solutions for current educational problems, the College of Education offers a wide variety of programs for professional teachers, administrators and researchers. Master of Arts, Master of Education degrees and Post-Baccalaureate certificates are available in early childhood, elementary, middle school, secondary and special education, Hawaiian education and educational administration.

Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Special Education – Mild/Moderate Disabilities

The Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Special Education with a concentration in Mild/Moderate Disabilities is designed to train teachers in the best practice methods for children with learning disabilities, Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, mental retardation or emotional disturbance. Learn outcomes include techniques for managing high-incidence disabled children in the areas of behavior, language arts, assessment methods, curriculum development and inclusion strategies.

The program requires 31 credit hours of coursework and 10 credits of traditional or “in place” field work. A hybrid course structure is utilized with a combination of online, weekend, video/web conferencing, and face-to-face classes. This certificate program is supported by the Hawaii Department of Education and graduates qualify for licensure recommendation with special education endorsement.

Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Special Education – Severe/Autism
(PCert-SPED) (P-3, K-6 or 7-12)

The Special Education with concentration in Severe/Autism program prepares students to be special education teachers for children and youth with low-incidence disabilities. Skills for teaching children with severe mental retardation, autism spectrum disorder or multiple impairments are expected. Characteristics and principles for instruction techniques are developed in the following areas: Behavior management, assessment, lesson planning, language/communication, intervention and collaboration.

A Post-Baccalaureate certificate is issued upon completion of the program. Online or conventional classroom coursework plus field experiences (one year of internship or one semester of student teaching) are required for license recommendation. Qualified applicants may obtain tuition stipends with a three-year special education teaching commitment in Hawaii.

Master of Education in Special Education Interdisciplinary – Deaf Education (M.Ed.) (K-12)

The Special Education Interdisciplinary M.Ed. degree program is available in three areas of concentration. The Deaf Education specialty focuses skills on teaching deaf and hard of hearing children and youth (grades K-12) in inclusive classroom environments. Graduate students are already licensed in special education and are seeking a master’s degree for specialization or career advancement. The Interdisciplinary degree program does not lead to a teaching license.

The program requires a minimum of 30 credit hours of online, web-based or face-to-face instruction on your island after work hours. A research practicum in special education is also necessary for completion of the program.

Learning outcomes in special education for deaf and hard of hearing children and youth include:

-Language development.
-Audiology and speech.
-Curriculum development.
-Home-based services for family interaction.
-Collaboration techniques for inclusive settings.
-Transition strategies.
-Children’s literature translated into American Sign Language.

Master of Education in Special Education Interdisciplinary – Mild/Moderate Disabilities (M.Ed.) (K-12)

The second concentration for the Master of Education in Special Education Interdisciplinary is focused on Mild/Moderate Disabilities for children and youth (grades K-12.) This graduate program is also delivered through a hybrid system including online, web-based and face-to-face core competencies and field experiences.

Master’s students are trained in best practice lesson planning for working with mild to moderate disabled children and adolescents. Mild to moderate disabilities include behavior problems, learning disabilities and high-functioning autism. Strategies are developed for teaching language skills, academics and social skills to students with exceptionalities. Practicum experience with the supervision of a special education teacher is required.

A Master of Education degree is earned, however, a teaching license is not issued upon completion of the Interdisciplinary program.

Master of Education in Special Education Interdisciplinary – Severe to Profound Disabilities (M.Ed.) (K-12)

The third and final specialty in the Special Education Interdisciplinary program is for Severe to Profound Disabilities. A Master of Education degree is earned upon completion of this series and is for current educators who would like additional knowledge on methods for teaching children and youth (grades K-12) with severe to profound disabilities.

A knowledge base of special procedures are included in this master’s curriculum and include: Intervention procedures for students with severe motor, communication and/or behavior disabilities. Principles for assessment, curriculum development, instruction, goal setting and collaboration are developed for individuals with severe autism, mental retardation or other exceptionality.

All coursework and field experience are delivered through the same hybrid system (online, web-based and face-to-face) as the other two Interdisciplinary programs and does not provide a teaching license upon completion.


National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
Hawaii Teacher Standards Board (HTSB)
Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)

Contact Information

Wist Hall, Room 120
1776 University Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96822
(808) 956-7956

Sponsored Content

University of Phoenix, HI

College of Education

The College of Education at the University of Phoenix uses an innovative approach to learning by utilizing state-of-the-art technologies. By promoting a philosophy that there shouldn’t be a “one size fits all” approach to education, future teachers and current educators can better understand the needs of a diverse population.

Master of Arts in Education are available through the College of Education in both online and campus curricula. Specialty programs are: Administration and Supervision, Adult Education and Training, Curriculum and Instruction, Elementary Teacher Education, Secondary Teacher Education, Special Education and Teacher Leadership.

Master of Arts in Education/Special Education (MAEd/SPE) (P-12)

The Master of Arts in Education/Special Education program at the University of Phoenix is intended for candidates who are interested in working with special needs children and adolescents (grades P-12) but have no prior teaching experience. This nationally accredited master’s degree program blends theory, coursework, field experience and student teaching while providing a deeper understanding of exceptionalities.

Anticipated learning outcomes of this graduate-level series include: Foundations, methodologies, diagnosis and assessment of mild disabilities, reading and language arts education, inclusion plans and collaboration techniques for the special education professional. A minimum of 100 hours of field experience is required in preparation for a student teaching rotation. An electronic portfolio documents progress in a cross-categorical setting. An application for licensure with a special education endorsement can be submitted upon completion of the program.


National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)

Contact Information

745 Fort Street
Suite 2000
Honolulu, HI 96813-3800
(808) 536-2686