Special Education

Frequently Asked Questions


What are the emphasis areas in the M.Ed. in Special Education?

We offer four emphasis areas in the M.Ed. in Special Education: Mild/Moderate Disabilities, Emotional/Behavior Disorders, Severe/Low Incidence Disabilities, and Gifted Education. 

Am I eligible for licensure in these areas as well?

Each of the emphasis areas are designed to lead to licensure through the Mississippi Department of Education.  While universities do not grant licensure, we work very closely with the MDE to ensure that you are eligible for licensure upon completion of our programs.  In some instances, you can attain licensure before completing the full degree course sequences.  You should speak to our Coordinator for Special Education (Dr. Hollie Filce, Hollie.Filce@usm.edu) to discuss your specific situation.

I only need licensure, not a degree.  Can I still take courses?

While we encourage you to complete the full degree sequence, we are happy to assist candidates who only need licensure.  Please contact our Coordinator for Special Education (Dr. Hollie Filce, Hollie.Filce@usm.edu) to discuss your specific situation.  Please remember that non-degree seeking students are not eligible for financial aid.


How do I apply to Masters in Education (M.Ed.) in Special Education Program?

Step One:  Complete an application to graduate studies and submit all required documents.

  1. Original completed signed application form.  Applications are available at www.usm.edu/graduatestudies then click “Apply Here”.
  2. Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended (including community colleges).
  3. Official reports of test scores.  Acceptable scores for admission to the M.Ed. programs in the Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education are the GRE, the MAT, or the Praxis II (PLT and Specialty Area scores).  If your scores have not been sent to USM, please request these as soon as possible, as this can take some time:
    1. GRE: 1-888-GRE-SCORE or www.ets.org (select GRE under “Tests”, then click “Order Additional Score Reports”)
    2. MAT: www.milleranalogies.com, click “Request a Transcript” for the request forms.
    3. Praxis II: 1-800-772-9476 or www.ets.org (select the Praxis under “Tests”, click “Get Test Scores”)
  4. Three letters of recommendation & signed forms (forms found with the application).
  5. Application fee: All applicants must submit a $35 non-refundable fee for each program to which you apply. You may pay by credit card.
  6. Assistantship: Indicate interest in assistantships on the application & contact the Department.
  7. Other required information (see Step 2).

Step 2: Submit the following documents to the Department of Curriculum, Instruction, & Special Education.  You may submit via email, fax (601-266-4548), postal mail (Department of Curriculum, Instruction & Special Education; 118 College Drive, #5057; Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001; ATTN: Graduate Program Application) or hand delivery (Speech, Reading, & Special Education Building (SRS) room 143):

  1. A brief letter of intent (approximately 2 pages) stating your professional experience and goals, your reasons for pursuing this degree, and how attainment of this degree would help meet those goals.
  2. A copy of your professional vita (resume).
  3. A copy of all current teaching licenses.
  4. Three strong letters of recommendation (as described in Step One). 
  5. An analytic writing sample (Required for candidates using the Praxis II as their entrance exam requirement.  Those submitting GRE or MAT scores are not required to provide a writing sample).  This writing sample is designed to provide the University with an example of candidates’ incoming writing skills.  Please include your full name at the top of your essay.

DIRECTIONS:  Present your perspective on the statement below, using relevant reasons and/or examples to support your views.  You do not need to include references or citations, as your essay is purely your current perspective. You must write 750-1000 words (which is about 3-4 pages double spaced), and your perspective should be written in Standard English.
"The study of an academic discipline alters the way we perceive the world. After studying the discipline, we see the same world as before, but with different eyes."

Step 3:  Apply for Financial Aid and Scholarships

  1. Complete the Federal Financial Aid Application.  Please note that applications are applicable to an academic year (which begins in the fall semester).  Priority dates for applications are March 15 (prior to the fall semester).  Therefore, if you are entering during the spring or summer semester, you will need to contact Financial Aid and ask how to apply for the current academic year.  Personnel in the academic departments cannot assist you with this. Please contact Southern Miss Financial Aid Office at 601.266.4774 or via e-mail at financial.aid@usm.edu
  2. Please note that master’s level candidates in certain fields may be eligible for the TEACH grant.  There is no application for this grant, rather it will be listed on your award letter from the Federal Financial Aid Application.  If you are interested in the TEACH grant, and this award isn’t listed on your award letter, please contact financial aid.  Please review all information on the TEACH grant at http://www.usm.edu/financialaid/TEACHGrant_info.php.
  3. Departmental scholarships may be available for qualifying students. Applications are typically due in early April. For more information go to www.usm.edu/cise/scholarships.
  4. Scholarships in gifted education are available for graduate students enrolled in full-time study during the summer semesters. These $500 scholarships are funded by the Frances A. Karnes Endowed Scholarship and the Christopher J. Karnes Gifted Education Memorial Fund. To apply, please call 601.266.5236 or e-mail gifted.studies@usm.edu.

Step 4: If an applicant has a disability that qualifies under the ADA and requires accommodations, he/she should contact the Office for Disability Accommodations (preferably as soon as accepted for admission) for information regarding Southern Miss. policies and procedures: voice (601) 266-5024; Tel (601) 266-6837; fax (601) 266-6035.

What if I’ve missed the application deadline?

It is strongly recommended that candidates complete the application process as early as possible.  In order to be assured that there is adequate time for all documents to be reviewed by the admissions committee, it is requested that all required documents be submitted no later than three weeks prior to the beginning of the beginning of the semester you wish to begin coursework.  If documents are submitted after this time, candidates may choose to enroll in courses with non-degree seeking admission status.  Please note that non-degree students are not eligible for financial aid.

To take courses as a non-degree student, you must (1) complete an application to the Graduate School and (2) complete the non-degree enrollment form.  Both can be found at this link:  http://www.usm.edu/graduateschool/admissions.php

I have other questions.  Whom can I contact?

For the most up-to-date information on our degree programs, courses offered, etc. please contact our Coordinator for Special Education (Dr. Hollie Filce, Hollie.Filce@usm.edu).

What if I have a bachelor’s degree, but need a teaching license?
A: The Teach Mississippi Institute is an alternate route licensure program approved by the Mississippi Department of Education.  This program does not lead to a degree, but candidates may apply the 6 of the 12 hours required in the TMI to a M.Ed. in Special Education if admitted to the M.Ed. program.
The TMI requires 3 courses (9 hours) during the summer semester followed by a 1-year supervised internship (3 credit hours). 
Pre-requisites to summer coursework:

  1. Successful completion of a bachelor’s degree in a non-education area.
  2. Non-degree admission to the USM Graduate School (application and non-degree enrollment form at http://www.usm.edu/graduateschool/admissions)
  3. TMI application/enrollment documents (available by contacting the Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education).

Summer Coursework required (9 credit hours):
                  SPE 709, SPE 632, and CIS 603
Pre-requisites to 1-year supervised internship (3 credit hours):

  1. Successful completion of SPE 709, SPE 632, and CIS 603
  2. Successful completion of Praxis I and Praxis II (in your content area).
  3. Submission of Teaching Position Information Form (available by contacting the Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education).  Please note that it is the student’s responsibility to secure a teaching position in their content area (Special Education grades 7-12).  The program nor the university assist with this process.

What if I don’t have a bachelor’s degree?
A: Visit our Elementary Education program sites to learn more information on how to obtain a bachelor’s degree.
TA program micro site
SPED TA program micro site

Untitled Document