Special Education

Welcome to UAB where students become skilled, reflective educators through graduate degree programs in Collaborative Teacher (CT) K-6, 6-12, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE), and Visual Impairment (VI). These innovative programs offer degrees and/or certification at three levels—alternative masters, traditional masters, and specialist.  Descriptions of special education concentrations can be found in the tabs below.

If you wish to pursue a graduate degree in collaborative teacher special education and also earn initial or advanced teacher certification, you have come to the right place! We look forward to hearing from you and to helping you reach your goal.

Kay Emfinger, Ph.D.,
Program Director and Associate Professor
Department of Curriculum & Instruction
emfinger@uab.edu  (205)934-7003 

Autism Spectrum Disorder


The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is pleased to announce the first Ed.S. Degree Program in Collaborative Special Education with a concentration in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in the state of Alabama!

The recent prevalence studies suggest that 1:55 to 88 children 8 years of age are diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorders. Prominent researchers agree that the ASDs are no longer low-incidence disabilities and the epidemic has been declared a national health crisis. Special education preparation practice focusing in autism spectrum disorders is critical in affecting these numbers now and in the future for the success of all students

Early Childhood Special Education


The graduate program in Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) at UAB  prepares professionals to meet the needs of young children, birth through age eight, with known or suspected disabilities and their families. This innovative program is based on a transdisciplinary model as early childhood special educators are prepared alongside students representing other disciplines including physical and occupational therapy. The program competencies emphasize collaborative and team-based processes and evidence-based intervention strategies that support young children with delays or disabilities within natural and inclusive settings. This Traditional or Alternative Masters Program prepares graduates for careers in early childhood special education by integrating coursework, practica experiences, personal skills, and resources that enable them to become competent professionals. To support student growth, the ECSE training program uses a clinical model of supervision designed to foster reflective practice and the students’ ability and motivation to direct their own continued professional development. To ensure that those students already employed may participate, ECSE courses are offered in the late afternoon/early evenings, weekends, and summer terms. Some courses are offered on-line or through blended formats as well.

Collaborative Teacher


UAB's collaborative teacher program embodies a three-fold purpose. Its first purpose is to prepare special educators in meeting the evolving needs of learners in grades K-6 and 6-12, within today’s rapidly changing society. Its second purpose is to deliver cutting-edge instruction through a standards-based, inquiry-focused approach. This approach prepares prospective and experienced educators to use state-of-the-art instructional strategies in their own classrooms. Its third purpose is to ensure that a quality program is available to pre-service and in-service teachers who may be unable to attend class during traditional class hours. This program is unique in how it combines a variety of delivery formats such as face –to- face, blended, and online.

Visual Impairments


In response to the state-wide shortage of teachers trained to work with visually impaired students, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) offers a certification for Teachers of the Visually Impaired (TVI). This program is specifically designed to prepare Alabama scholars for a career of teaching students who are blind or visually impaired. In addition, candidates in other states, may enroll in the TVI program to earn certification in Alabama and then work with their home state to transfer that certification.