Advanced Certificate in Special Education

The Advanced Certificate in Special Education from Relay will empower you to teach all children and open new and exciting career paths.

Student in classroom watching her teacher.

Program Overview

The Advanced Certificate in Special Education program is a one-year intensive for experienced general educators who already hold a certification in general education and want to advance their skills to support all children. The program will equip you with the essential knowledge, skills and mindsets for effectively serving a wide range of learners and for building inclusive, equitable and culturally and linguistically responsive classrooms.

Within this program, you will build a deeper understanding of the cognitive, physical and social-emotional development of exceptional learners. You will explore how to assess and plan for instruction that leverages student strengths and assets. You will also learn how to deliver effective literacy intervention, with a focus on reading and writing, and how to teach mathematics with a focus on learner variability. Finally, you will learn how to advocate on behalf of your students to ensure that they receive the services and support they deserve.


Upon completion of the program, you will have broadened your perspective on your role as an educator, and you will be qualified to either expand your impact in the general education classroom or pursue the range of roles available to certified special educators.

Application Timeline

The deadline for submitting a completed application is June 26th, 2023. Coursework starts on July 24th, 2023. Learn more about applying on the Application Process page.

Program Experience

The Advanced Certificate in Special Education program focuses on key aspects of the role of a special educator.

You will learn how to:

  • Build inclusive, equitable and culturally and linguistically responsive classrooms 
  • Understand the cognitive, physical and social emotional development of exceptional learners to better understand their linguistic strengths and cultural assets
  • Implement research-based strategies for addressing common academic challenges in reading, writing, and math
  • Advocate for students in the classroom and in meetings with a variety of stakeholders, including administrators, families, students and community organizations

All teachers will complete a similar scope of instruction, with opportunities for grade-specific differentiation built into the courses.

Intervention Intensive

The core job of a special educator is to design and implement instruction that supports the growth and development of exceptional learners. In the Advanced Certificate in Special Education program, you will have the opportunity to fulfill that purpose through regular interventions with students. You will work intensively with a small group of students and 1:1 with an individual student throughout the course of the year.

As part of this work, you will prepare an in-depth assessment report, design data-driven specialized instruction, and track student progress toward individualized goals. This individualized intervention is a core experience of the Advanced Certificate in Special Education program and will be a key lever in building mastery with the curriculum.

Scope & Sequence

The Advanced Certificate in Special Education is designed to support the demanding schedule of a full time educator and part-time student. All coursework is conducted virtually - sometimes synchronously (i.e. students and faculty meet together), sometimes asynchronously (i.e. students complete coursework on their own and submit it to the instructor).

Here is a sample of what you'll experience. Exact coursework subject to change:

Summer 

2023 Dates: July 24th to August 8th, 2023

Synchronous daytime courses plus asynchronous coursework

  • Introduction to Special Education
  • Teaching the Whole Learner
  • Exceptional Learners Profiles
  • Critical Frameworks for Culturally Responsive and Inclusive Education
  • Methods for Social-Emotional Intervention
  • Other "Flex" courses, depending on location

Fall

2023 Dates: Exact dates TBD

Synchronous night time courses on Tues and Thurs evenings + some Saturdays

  • Assessment & Instructional Planning I
  • Methods in Foundational Literacy Intervention
  • Special Education Clinical Practice I
  • Other "Flex" courses, depending on location

Spring

2023 Dates: Exact dates TBD

Synchronous night time courses on Tues and Thurs evenings + some Saturdays

  • Assessment & Instructional Planning II
  • Methods in Foundational Math Intervention
  • Special Education Clinical Practice II
  • Graduate Capstone
  • Other "Flex" courses, depending on location

Flex course options vary by term. Depending on certification/licensure requirements in your state, specific flex courses may be required.

Locations

Relay offers the Advanced Certificate in Special Education in these locations:

What teaching position must I have to enroll in this program?

Each applicant must meet the following requirements:

  • Hold a teaching position that allows the teacher to complete performance-based assessments (e.g., assessments based on classroom planning, teaching videos, data analysis and reflection)
  • Have the ability to conduct direct instruction to a minimum of six students who are officially classified as having disabilities. This may be within your main classroom of instruction or within intervention groups, tutoring, after school support, etc.
  • Have the capacity to tutor a small group of students for the whole school year, at least one of whom is officially classified as having a disability or involved in the referral process.

Examples of roles that meet the above criteria:

  • Full-time third-grade general education teacher who has at least six students with individualized education programs (IEPs) on their class roster, or
  • Full-time instructional coach who teaches a small tutoring group of at least six students with IEPs twice per week, or
  • Full-time learning specialist who serves at least six students with IEPs

If I complete the Advanced Certificate in Special Education will I be certified to teach special education in my state?

The Advanced Certificate in Special Education is a higher education award that is granted by Relay Graduate School of Education upon successful completion of program requirements. In some states, students in the Advanced Certificate in Special Education program may also enroll in a state-approved educator preparation program to pursue a teaching endorsement in special education. Search for your state on the Licensure Disclosures page to learn more about whether the Advanced Certificate in Special Education meets educational requirements for licensure in your state.

Does enrolling in this program qualify me to provide special education services to students?

Enrolling in the program does not automatically qualify you to provide special education services. Most states require teacher certification/licensure in special education for teachers providing special education services. Search for your state on the Licensure Disclosures page to learn more about whether the Advanced Certificate in Special Education meets educational requirements for licensure in your state.

If I am not in a full-time teaching role, how frequently do I need to teach students with IEPs?

In order to have sufficient opportunities to apply what you are learning in the program, you should teach at least one class of students per day. To complete programmatic requirements your class does not need to include a specific number of students with IEPs, however you need to have access to at least six students with IEPs across the grade level that you teach. We encourage Relay students to seek out additional opportunities to work with exceptional learners such as intervention groups, tutoring, afterschool support, etc. Additionally, if you are pursuing a special education teaching endorsement in your state, you may need to meet additional requirements for qualifying clinical experience. You can learn more about the specific requirements for your certification/licensure in your state by reading the applicable Transition Points guide.

I have a conflict with the summer dates. Can I still do the program?

The summer coursework sets the foundation for the entire year. If you miss the synchronous summer sessions, it is likely that you will struggle to demonstrate proficiency with the coursework and miss out on the rigor and nuance of the curriculum. Reach out to support@relay.edu.

Locations

Explore the locations throughout the US where we offer our programs.

Get Started!

Explore the Relay application process or complete our interest form for more information.