Learning Disabilities (MA)

This degree is a master of arts in special education with an emphasis in learning disabilities.

This master’s degree with an emphasis in learning disabilities may be earned in conjunction with certification to teach in the state of Missouri. Although the state no longer offers certification in the area of learning disabilities, certification in cross-categorical special education can be obtained, along with this master’s degree, through supplemental course work.

Course work and practica in this degree program focus on the preparation of high-quality teachers for students with a range of learning and behavioral needs. Graduates may work in a variety of service delivery settings, including general education classes as well as resource and self-contained classes from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Degree Requirements

A minimum of 30 semester credit hours must be completed in fulfillment of degree requirements. Upon acceptance to the program, students interested in certification should contact the certification office for a transcript evaluation to determine what additional course work is required by the state for certification in cross-categorical disabilities.

Students are required to complete course work that addresses a broad range of content pertaining to special education in areas such as:

  • Language development;
  • Assessment;
  • Behavior management;
  • Collaboration and consultation;
  • Literacy instruction;
  • Mathematics instruction;
  • Research.

Students in the learning disabilities emphasis area who are not seeking certification will complete a four-credit-hour field-based practicum in learning disabilities working in conjunction with a faculty supervisor as well as a certified learning disabilities or cross-categorical teacher in the public schools.

Full degree requirements are listed in the master’s student handbook.



  • For fall semester: July 1
  • For winter semester: Nov. 1
  • For summer semester: April 1

Admission Requirements

Admission to this degree program is based on the following criteria:

  • A completed baccalaureate degree
  • At least a 3.0 GPA (on a 4.0 scale) in the last 60 hours of undergraduate course work
  • GRE scores after Aug. 1, 2011:
    • Combined verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning: 291 or better
    • Analytical writing: 3.5 or better
  • For students whose native language is not English, a score of 100 or better on the TOEFL or a grade band score of 7 or better on the IELTS taken within the past two years
    • The TOEFL or IELTS should be taken six to nine months before to the term the student wishes to start their program.
    • International students who have completed one year of college-level full-time study in a country where English is the native language may waive the TOEFL requirement if they meet all the conditions.
    • Get more information about testing from MU Testing Services.

How to Apply

1. Complete the Graduate Studies application.

  • If you’re a former MU degree-seeking student wishing to resume the same program/degree, use the Graduate Re-activation Form instead.
  • Current MU graduate students changing or adding degrees should use the Change of Degree, Program Adviser Form.
  • Post-baccalaureate (non-degree seeking) graduate students who have applied in the past three semesters should contact Graduate Studies to request their application be made available to us.

2. Submit the following along with your Graduate Studies application or mail to:

University of Missouri
Special Education Graduate Program
303 Townsend Hall
Columbia, MO  65211-2400

  • Personal Data Sheet
    • This includes important biographical information and professional experience.
  • A statement of purpose
    • About 500 words summarizing your professional goals, including career objectives, research interests, your motivation for graduate work and anything else you feel is important
  • Two letters of recommendation
    • These should attest to your professional competence, academic preparation and potential for graduate work.
    • Ideally, one letter should be from a college or university professor who can discuss your academic abilities, and one should be from an administrator or colleague who can describe your professional experience and potential.
    • Have letters sent to the Department of Special Education or submit them electronically through the Graduate Studies application.
  • Students interested in grant funding should submit a letter of intent. The letter can be brief and must clearly state that you would like grant funding.

3. Have official transcripts of all previous college work at institutions other than MU sent directly to:

Office of Graduate Studies
210 Jesse Hall
Columbia, MO 65211

4. Have GRE scores (required) and TOEFL or IELTS (if applicable) submitted to the Department of Special Education.

Please feel free to submit any other materials that you feel would give a clearer picture of your qualifications.

Students might be required to complete an interview with special education faculty.

Admission Decisions

Each applicant’s credentials are reviewed by a committee of faculty that is committed to using professional judgement to find applicants with great potential for success and contribution to the profession. Membership in underrepresented groups is a special consideration for the committee.