Mild-Moderate Disabilities (M.A. degree)

Program Information

The UA College of Education MA in Mild Moderate Special Education is a 38-unit MA degree that is designed to prepare you to teach students with mild to moderate disabilities. Our program is accredited by the Arizona Department of Education. Students who complete the program receive the MA degree. Students who successfully complete the MA and student teaching are eligible to apply for the Provisional Mild Moderate (K-12) Special Education Teaching Certificate in the state of Arizona. 

New One-Year Program Completion Options

In addition to the traditional two-year MA plan or part-time study, we now provide options for qualified applicants to complete the Mild-Moderate MA and earn teacher certification in one year. These options provide a faster path to graduation and can significantly reduce the cost of obtaining your MA and special education teacher certification.

UA Undergraduate + One Option

If you are a current UA College of Education undergraduate, you can earn your Mild-Moderate MA and teacher certification in one year. Students in this option apply to take select online Graduate coursework during the Fall and Spring semesters of their Senior year. Program requirements can then be completed through Graduate Summer online coursework and full-time Fall and Spring coursework. The program includes supervised teaching experiences during the Fall and Spring semesters.

One-Year Mild-Moderate MA Option

If you have a Bachelor’s degree from the UA or another accredited university, you can complete the Mild-Moderate MA and earn your special education teacher certification in one year. Students who pursue this option will complete a challenging Summer of online coursework (5 Summer courses). Program requirements are then completed during full-time online and on-campus Fall and Spring coursework. The program includes supervised teaching experiences during the Fall and Spring semesters.

Arizona Teaching Certification

The Graduate Program in Mild-Moderate Disabilities is designed to meet the requirements for Arizona teacher certification in the area of mild-moderate special education. In addition to receiving a Master’s Degree in Special Education, graduates are eligible for an “institutional recommendation” from the UA that facilitates the process of receiving an Arizona teaching certificate. For more information about completing the certification process, refer to the Certification FAQ.

Admission Requirements

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.
  • Official transcripts showing a grade point average of “B” or better (3.0 on a 4.0 scale).
  • A two-page personal statement describing your experience working with children or youth who have disabilities and how you expect the Mild-Moderate MA program to improve your impact with children or youth with disabilities.
  • Evidence of previous teaching experience. If you do not hold a teaching certificate, we require evidence of experience working with children or youth with disabilities.
  • Three professional letters of recommendation. We prefer letters from persons who can attest to your ability to do graduate level work and interact effectively with children and youth.
  • An interview with a faculty member. Your interview will provide you with valuable information about the program and give you an opportunity to ask questions about the program. Your interview may be conducted in person, by phone, or via teleconferencing.  

Application Deadlines

  • Traditional and Part-Time Mild-Moderate MA
    • Deadline for Fall Entry: March 15
    • Deadline for Spring Entry: September 15
  • One Year Mild-Mild Moderate MA Option
    • Deadline for Summer Entry: April 15
  • UA Undergraduate + One MA Option
    • Contact Dr. Toni Sparks or 520-626-0419 during your Junior or Senior year to arrange coursework. 


  • Core Coursework
    • SERP 500: Introduction to Special Education
    • SERP 502: Behavior Principles and Disability
    • SERP 503: Special Education Law and Policy
    • SERP 504: Cultural and Linguistic Diversity in Special Education
    • SERP 556: Research Methods in Education
  • Specialization Coursework
    • SERP 507a: Academic Assessment: Mild-Moderate Disabilities
    • SERP 511a: Basic Academic Skills for Mild-Moderate Disabilities
    • SERP 534: Language Development for the Exceptional Child
    • SERP 593: Internship (Supervised Teaching in Tucson Area School Districts)
    • SERP 597E: Consultation and Collaboration in Special Education
  • Certification Requirements
    • A course in Arizona and US Constitution (Previously taken as an undergraduate or taken as a graduate student at another institution; not available through UA graduate programs)
    • A course in Structured English Immersion (Previously taken as an undergraduate or taken as a graduate student; available through UA graduate programs)
    • Obtain an Arizona IVP Fingerprint Card. Prior to working with minors in schools for coursework and student teaching, students must obtain an IVP Fingerprint Card
    • Passing score on the appropriate Arizona Educator Proficiency Assessment. For this program, that test would be the Assessment of Professional Knowledge, Elementary. Graduate students are not required to pass the Subject Knowledge exam to apply for certification>

(*Note: You and your advisor will plan the order in which you take courses, any additional required or optional coursework, and the length of your program.)

Transfer Students

In compliance with Graduate College requirements, no more than 6 credits may be transferred from another accredited institution. The credits must have been awarded as graduate units and must represent a grade of A or B. Transfer credits will not be considered in the computing of your grade point average. Students should apply for acceptance of transfer credits before the end of their first year of study at the University of Arizona. For more information, please visit the Graduate College page on transfer credits.

More Information

For more information about the Mild-Moderate MA Program, you can contact Dr. Toni Sparks by email or by phone 520-626-0419.

You can also find more information about all Special Education MA programs in the Student Guide to the MA Program in Special Education.


Frequently Asked Questions

Who Are Students with Mild-Moderate Disabilities?
What Do Teachers of Students with Mild-Moderate Disabilities Do?
What is the Cost of the Program?
Is Financial Aid Available?
Is This a Fully Online Program?
Is There a Thesis or Comprehensive Exam Requirement?
Are There Additional Requirements to Receive Arizona Teaching Certification?
Will My Teaching Certificate Be Accepted in Other States?

Who Are Students with Mild-Moderate Disabilities?

Students with mild-moderate disabilities make up the majority of students who receive special education services in the United States. This includes students with learning disabilities, mild intellectual disabilities, emotional disturbance, and ADHD.

What Do Teachers of Students with Mild-Moderate Disabilities Do?

Special education teachers of students with mild-moderate disabilities meet the needs of their students by engaging in a wide variety of responsibilities. Special education teachers:

  • Provide academic instruction
  • Conduct educational assessments
  • Developing educational plans
  • Create behavior intervention plans
  • Consult with general education teachers
  • Coordinate educational meetings
  • Manage educational records
  • Meet with parents

What Is the Cost?

The cost of completing the program will vary depending on several factors, such as your residency status (in-state or out-of-state) and the length of your program of study. Current tuition rates can be found at the UA Tuition and Fees Calculator. Completing the degree in the Traditional 2-year format will cost approximately $24,000 for a resident and $60,000 for a non-resident. However, our new One-Year MA Options can reduce the cost of the degree by at least 20% or more!

Is Financial Aid Available?

There are a number of opportunities available to assist prospective applicants in funding their education. These include scholarships, grants, and loan forgiveness programs. Visit the UA College of Education Financial Aid page for specific information.

Is This a Fully Online Program?

The Mild-Moderate Disabilities Program is NOT a fully-online program. The Mild-Moderate MA includes online coursework, but also requires attendance of on-campus (evening) courses during Fall and Spring semesters. Our department does offer a fully online special education MA program for individuals who are NOT seeking teacher certification.

Is There a Thesis or Comprehensive Exam Requirement?

To earn the MA degree, students pass a written comprehensive exam during the final semester of their program. Coursework during the program prepares students for this exam. There is not a thesis requirement.

Are There Other Requirements to Receive Arizona Teacher Certification?

All students who intend to apply for an Arizona teaching certificate must satisfy the following requirements in addition to completing the MA course of study.

  • Complete a course in the Arizona and US Constitutions
  • Take the appropriate Arizona Educator Proficiency Exam

Will My Teaching Certificate Be Accepted in Other States?

Teachers who apply for certification in another state will most likely find the process easier if they are already certified. If you plan to teach in another state after graduating from our program, we recommend you learn as early as possible about the teacher certification requirements of that state.