Early Childhood Special Education

Early Childhood Special Education

Do you have a desire to serve young children with special needs and their families? Are you passionate about learning how to use evidence-based intervention methods to make a difference?

With a master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education from the Morgridge College of Education at University of Denver, you will be prepared to be a highly qualified, competent, collaborative, ethical and self-reflective Early Childhood Special Education Specialist.

Our master’s program will train you to be a scientist-practitioner who can solve problems and share decision-making with others to optimize social-emotional, cognitive, academic and behavioral outcomes for children from birth to age 8 with special needs and their families.

Through our program, you will learn how to serve young children with special needs and their families in a variety of settings including but not limited to public and private schools, BOCES, early learning centers  and community organizations who:

  • Value inclusive excellence and demonstrate a commitment to education as an essential part of every community
  • Are data-driven and reflective in their practice, and utilize evidence-based practices
  • Utilize a family-centered approach to intervention
  • Understand and use the latest research and technology to improve educational efforts on behalf of all learners
  • Utilize an ecological approach to intervention
Why  should you choose Morgridge?

MCE offers small classes and a personalized, hands-on approach. Your learning and practice experiences in our master’s program will be based on a strong understanding of the interrelationship between environmental, neurobiological and cultural influences on development. This approach is designed to prepare you to meet the needs of children and their families within the ever-changing global society.

Upon completion of your master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education, you will meet the coursework requirements for licensure by the Colorado Department of Education for practice as an Early Childhood Special Education teacher.

Because practice is an important part of learning, our program provides you with InContext experiences so you can apply what you are learning to real-world settings and issues:

  • Gain hands-on experience in implementing intervention plans for infants, toddlers and pre-school students who have special needs or developmental delays through The Donne and Sue Fisher Early Learning Center, a unique  inclusive early learning center serving the Denver community located in Morgridge College of Education.
  • Participate in research projects related to very young children with special needs
  • Begin your field experience from day one at several local public and private partnership schools and agencies

Master of Arts in Early Childhood Special Education

Graduation Requirements: The 54-quarter-credit hour Master of Arts in Early Childhood Special Education program requires that students complete 300 hours of practicum and successfully pass the PRAXIS or PLACE Elementary Exam . Upon completion of the program, graduates may apply for an Early Childhood Education Endorsement through the Colorado Department of Education (CDE).

Approximate Completion Time: Less than two years

Tuition Cost: $1,104 per quarter credit hour for the 2013-2014 academic year (scholarships available including the Donne and Sue Fisher Endowed Graduate Scholarship for graduate students in the Early Childhood Special Education master’s program at DU’s Morgridge College of Education)

Apply for ECSE MA

Admissions Contact:

Kristina Coccia

Program FAQ

How many students do you enroll each year?
  • We typically admit between 5 and 15 students each year.
Where do students in the program come from?
  • Students admitted to the program come from across the United States.

General FAQ

General Questions
When does the program start? Can I begin anytime?
  • Most programs begin each year in Fall Quarter which is typically the first or second week of September. Some programs, such as the Teacher Preparation Programs and the Some programs, such as the Teacher Preparation Programs and the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Programs, begin in the Summer Quarter (early June). On rare occasions, students can begin their studies in a different quarter, however, this is arranged on a case-by-case basis only. Students should contact the Morgridge Office of Admissions at edinfo@du.edu to explore this option.
What does full-time enrollment mean?
  • Full-time enrollment status in a graduate program is achieved by taking a minimum of 8 credit hours per quarter. However, specific funding may require a student to complete 9 credit hours per quarter.
Are classes offered online?
  • The majority of our classes are offered on campus, however, there are a few courses that are offered either in a blended format (online with some on-campus meeting times) or online. Blackboard is an online tool used by most faculty at DU to provide access to selected course materials, no matter the setting of the class meetings.
How many students are in a typical class?
  • Our average class size is generally between 20 and 25 students, but many classes will have 8 to 10 students.


Learning More About Programs and DU

Can I set up an appointment to visit the campus and discuss program options?
  • Yes. Although not mandatory, we encourage prospective students to see the campus, meet current students, and attend classes. This is probably your best means of getting a feel for our program. To set up a campus visit call the Morgridge College of Education Office of Admissions and Enrollment Services at (303) 871-2509 or (800) 835-1607, or email at edinfo@du.edu. It is preferable if you would arrange for visits through the Admissions Office and not through individual faculty.
Can I talk to a student from the program?
  • Yes. We encourage prospective students to communicate with current students in order to get the clearest possible picture of graduate life at the University of Denver. We have current Student Ambassadors on hand to meet with prospective students to share their experiences and speak to life in the Morgridge culture.  Contact the Morgridge College of Education Office of Admissions at edinfo@du.eduto be connected to a Student Ambassador or another current student in your program of interest.


Application and Admissions

How important are my GRE scores for admission?
  • Not all programs require a GRE score. In most programs, GRE scores are not the deciding factor for admittance; they are only one of many criteria used for admissions evaluation.
What if I do not have GRE scores? Can I use another test I took?
  • When required for admissions consideration, the GRE is the only test accepted. Regardless of the requirement to submit GRE scores, all international applicants/non-native English speakers are required to submit an official, valid TOEFL score.
From whom should I get letters of recommendation?
  • It is best to obtain letters of recommendation from professors or professionals who know you well. For recent graduates, ask for recommendation letters from former professors that can speak to your academic abilities as well as your character. For individuals entering the program with years of work experience, letters of recommendation from professionals who have seen your ability to work with children, adolescents and/or families are recommended.Most importantly, choose individuals that are knowledgeable about your past experiences as well as your goals for the future, and who know you well enough to adequately discuss your accomplishments and potential.
Is an interview required for admission?
  • Yes, interviews are required as part of the admissions process. If you are selected for an interview, you will be notified of the interview dates and location details. If you are unable to come to your in-person interview, you may complete your interview via Skype or phone.  We strongly encourage you to attend the on-campus interview day as it will provide the best opportunity for you to learn about the program, see the campus, meet current students and experience the Morgridge culture for yourself.
What is required for application to Morgridge College of Education?
  • The application materials may include: a completed online application, a 2 to 3 page statement of goals, resume, official transcripts from every higher education institution attended, letters of recommendation (2 for MA, 2 or 3 for PhD, depending upon the program), a $65 application fee, and GRE scores for specific programs (which should be sent directly to the university).
When will I hear about the status of my application?
  • Applicants will receive an email that their application was received by the DU Graduate Studies Admissions Office and will be notified if there is any missing information. Students are encouraged to check on the status of their application materials by emailing gradinfo@du.edu. Once an application file is complete, the file is sent to the Morgridge College of Education Office of Admissions to be reviewed by program faculty. Typically, decisions about acceptance into a program are made two to three weeks following the on-campus interview day. To check on admission decisions, you may contact the Morgridge College of Education Admissions office at (303) 871-2509 or (800) 835-1607 or email at edinfo@du.edu.
Can I defer my admissions or change my entry term if necessary?
  • Some graduate programs allow deposited students to request a one-time change of admit term to indicate a start term one quarter early or a deferment to the date of his/her intended enrollment for up to one academic year. Contact the Morgridge Office of Admissions at edinfo@du.edu for more information about changing your admissions term.

Waivers and Transfer Credits

Can I transfer credit from an undergraduate class?
  • No, only graduate-level courses can be transferred and the course must have been taken within the last five years and from an accredited program. Transfer credits cannot have been used toward another degree. There is a limit to the number of graduate credits you can transfer into DU based on the degree you are applying to (see below). If it is appropriate to waive a course (e.g. similar course already taken, content knowledge demonstrated, or successful test-out for certain research courses) the course credit hours must still be utilized for another course. A waived course does not mean a reduction in credit hours required. If your undergraduate work is similar in content to a required graduate course, you may be able to waive a required course after a review of the content with your advisor. A waived course allows you to take another graduate course in place of the one we require if you have already taken a course with very similar content. Transfer courses are different than waived courses since they reduce the number of credits you take at DU.
What graduate coursework is accepted as transfer credit?
  • Transferring graduate coursework into DU is discussed on an individual basis with your advisor. If you wish to transfer in comparable graduate-level coursework, you will need to bring in the syllabus, text, other course materials, and you must have an official transcript on file from the institution. The transfer must be initiated through your advisor in the first quarter of your program. The graduate coursework you wish to transfer must be no more than five years old, cannot have been counted toward another degree, and must be transferred in your first quarter of enrollment at the University of Denver. A maximum of 10 quarter hour credits may be transferred into the MA and a maximum of 15 quarter hour credits may be transferred into the EdS, PhD and EdD programs. Graduate coursework that is transferred in will reduce the total number of DU credits you will need to graduate.
Will my graduate coursework for my previous graduate degree count?
  • Credits that have already been applied to a degree cannot be counted again toward another degree. If the credit was not used toward another degree, see above for information on transfer credits. For more information or to discuss your specific situation, contact the Morgridge Office of Admissions at edinfo@du.edu.


Internships and Assistantships

Does every student get a paid internship?
  • No, not all internships are paid.  Program faculty will work with you to set up an internship in the community or school of your choice. Some internships are paid and some are not.  All internship sites must meet all program standards and must be approved officially by the Program Chair or designee.
Can I take an internship out of state?
  • Yes. It is possible to complete your internship in another state for most programs; however it does require extra work and planning to ensure that the internship site and supervisor meet our internship requirements. To determine if this is an option for your program, contact the Morgridge Office of Admissions at edinfo@du.edu.
Does the program arrange for the internship placements?
  • Program faculty help mentor and facilitate the internship placement process, but students generally must apply and be selectedby the organization as interns. Students are required to actively pursue particular internships they desire and complete the interviewing process. All internships must be approved by the program director or designee prior to the beginning of the internship year.
What funding or assistantships are there for graduate students?
  • A variety of types of aid are available for graduate students. A select number of stipends are available for incoming students who are paired with a faculty mentor to conduct research in their area of interest. Advanced students often have the opportunity to obtain stipends for similar work. There are a limited number of Graduate Teaching Assistantships and Graduate Research Assistantships also available to advanced students in the program that provide some tuition reimbursement as well as monthly stipends.


Tuition and Financial Aid

What is the cost of tuition?
Will I need to pay out-of-state tuition, or how do I get in-state tuition?
  • The University of Denver is a private institution, thus tuition is the same for both in-state and out-of-state students. For an estimate of yearly costs, visit the Office of Financial Aid.
Are scholarships available?
Is financial aid available?
  • In order to apply for financial aid at the University of Denver, and be considered for federal grants and scholarships, you must have a current Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form on file. Federal financial aid is available to qualified students. For information on financial aid, visit the Office of Financial Aid.Student employment may also be available for graduate students. Financial Aid requires students to be enrolled in a minimum of 4 quarter credit hours in a term.


Insurance, Immunizations and Housing

What kinds of insurance coverage do graduate students receive?
  • Graduate students have the option of obtaining their own private health insurance or using the health insurance provided by the University of Denver. For specific information regarding the coverage under the University of Denver’s plan, visit the Health and Counseling Center.
What immunizations are required for students?
  • All students must show proof of MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) immunization. (CO Revised Statuses 25-4-901 to 909) Students will NOT be able to register for classes without providing this information. Exemptions for medical, religious or personal reasons may be submitted. See the Health and Counseling Center website for more information on immunizations and a link to the Certificate of Immunization form.
What is the cost of housing?
  • Graduate students have the choice to live on or off the University of Denver campus. Information regarding on-campus housing can be found at Housing and Residential Educationand includes information about building options, dining plans, parking and other related information. Off-campus housing information includes links to nearby apartment complexes as well as information about how to find roommates, transportation, childcare, banks and other information regarding living in the area.
Miller, Gloria E, PhD : Professor

Miller, Gloria E, PhD


303-871-3340, KRH 254

Dr. Miller received her PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  After graduation, she took a position in the Department of Psychology at the University of South Carolina where she taught undergraduate and graduate students for 11 years, practiced as a school psychologist, served as the undergraduate program director, and co-directed the Child and Family Studies Center, a NIMH research project investigating family-based treatment to prevent aggressive and challenging behaviors in young children. Dr. Miller’s publications include articles, chapters, and books on home and school prevention and intervention strategies to enhance early literacy, self-regulation and social emotional development. Her personal interests include reading, hiking, skiing, tennis, gardening, traveling, and "playing" with her husband of over 35 years and her daughter.


Riley, Karen S, PhD : Interim Dean and Associate Professor

Riley, Karen S, PhD

Interim Dean and Associate Professor

303-871-3665, KRH 326

Dr. Riley received her PhD from the University of Denver.  She worked as a special education preschool teacher and administrator for many years. Dr. Riley currently works with several organizations that serve children with neurodevelopmental disorders and their families.  Her research interests are early childhood intervention and assessment, neurodevelopmental disorders (specifically Fragile X Syndrome and XXYY Disorder), and effective identification and intervention for children and families with other low incidence disabilities. Dr. Riley is married and has two teen-aged children. When she's not working, she enjoys traveling, hiking, running, and reading.


Early Childhood Special Education Important Dates:
  • Application Deadline: We will continue to accept and review well-qualified applicants for the Fall 2014 class until the remaining space has been filled.
  • Meet Us @ Morgridge Visit Day: Thanks for your interest in the Early Childhood Special Education program. Please visit us again for upcoming dates and times!

Please RSVP at least one week prior by sending an email to edinfo@du.edu or at 303-871-2509. Once you have indicated you will attend, you will receive a confirmation and more information about the event. If you are unable to attend this event, contact the Morgridge Office of Admissions at edinfo@du.edu to schedule a visit or learn more about the program.

Graduates of this program will be prepared to serve as Early Childhood Special Education Specialists in a variety of settings. The program is designed to meet the Colorado Department of Education’s requirements for Early Childhood Special Education Specialist licensure.

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