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: 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. Confer or correspond with one of the special education faculty members in the proposed area of concentration prior to submitting an application. If you do not know who to speak to, contact Delinda van Garderen at
  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 three 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.