MU’s cross-categorical disabilities program is tailored to graduate students who are receiving initial and secondary certification in cross-categorical special education. Upon completion of the degree, graduates are certified to teach students with mild disabilities (i.e., learning disabilities, emotional/behavior disorders, intellectual disabilities) and are certified to teach all grades K-12.

Degree Requirements

In addition to enrolling in courses to fulfill general certification requirements, students are required to take graduate course work (30 hours) in the area of cross-categorical disabilities. The course work represents a broad scope of content, including:

  • Language development;
  • Assessment;
  • Advanced behavior management;
  • Collaboration and consultation;
  • Literacy instruction;
  • Mathematics instruction;
  • Research;
  • Trends and issues in special education.

Students also take a three-hour Characteristics of Students with Cross-categorical Disabilities course and a four-hour Strategies for Students with Cross-categorical Disabilities course. To enhance the generalization of critical skills and knowledge to the classroom setting, students are also required to take two practica concurrent with the characteristics and methods courses that include field experiences and applications of key concepts. Students are required to have their practica represent the range of grade levels for which they will be responsible. More specifically, if their first practicum was in an elementary setting, then their second will be in a middle school, junior high or high school setting or vice versa. Full degree requirements are listed in the master’s student handbook.



  • For fall semester: May 1
  • For winter semester: Oct. 1
  • For summer semester: March 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
  • If English is not your native language, please submit a TOEFL score of at least 100 (internet-based test), an IELTS score of at least 7, a Pearson Test of English (PTE) score of at least 66 or a Cambridge C1 Advanced score of at least 190.
    • The exam 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 this requirement if they meet all the conditions set by the Graduate School.
    • Get more information about testing from MU Testing Services.

How to Apply

Complete the following steps before your application deadline.

  1. Complete the Graduate Studies application online.
    • 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. Complete the Personal Data Sheet.
    • The Personal Data Sheet includes pertinent biographical information and professional experience.
  3. Write a statement of purpose, usually around 500 words, in which you summarize your professional goals, including career objectives, research interests, your motivation for advanced graduate work and other pertinent information.
  4. Submit at least two letters of recommendation.
    • The letters should attest to your professional competence, academic preparation and potential for graduate work.
    • Ideally, two letters should be from college or university professors who can discuss your academic abilities, and one should be from an administrator or colleague who can describe authoritatively your professional experience and potential.
    • Letters are submitted through the online application system.
  5. English Proficiency test scores from the past two years (only required for students whose native language is not English.)
  6. Upon department acceptance, have official transcripts from all previous college work at institutions other than MU sent directly to: Office of Graduate Studies, 210 Jesse Hall, Columbia, MO 65211.

Conditional acceptance

Conditional acceptance into the program is not provided for those students who wish to pursue English language training in the U.S. prior to starting their graduate studies. Applications submitted will be reviewed for admission into the program as per the criteria noted below.

An interview may be required by the admissions committee. Please feel free to submit any other materials that you feel would give a clearer picture of your qualifications. If you have questions contact the Department of Special Education at

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. The department cannot assure admission to all applicants who meet minimum admission requirements.