Education Programs for Teachers



Students seeking a degree in Special Education must adhere to the guidelines as outlined in the Graduate Bulletin and must have or be eligible for a Mississippi class A standard license, or its equivalent, in the area of study.

Students who are presently certified in Mississippi at the bachelor’s level in special education, not by alternative route or add-on licensure, must provide evidence that the following prerequisites have been successfully completed:   SPE 400 or equivalent coursework and professionally appropriate experience with gifted education.





Applicants interested in the master’s program in Special Education in the area of Gifted Education must meet the following criteria:

(a) an academic record reflecting a superior grade point average on previous graduate work. Recently, students regularly admitted to a master's program in Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education have obtained average GPAs of 3.25 (figured on a scale where A equals 4.0) on previous graduate course work;

(b) results from a national standardized achievement/aptitude test predictive of the ability to complete a graduate program successfully.  These include the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), the Miller Analogies Test (MAT) or the Praxis II.

(c) three letters of recommendation from professionals in the field of education who are qualified to assess the applicant's readiness for graduate study,letters should state why the writer thinks the student would be a successful teacher of the gifted. These letters should be sent to the department;

(d) a letter of intent - minimum of three pages (describe your reasons for pursuing a master's degree and your general philosophy of education with information on what you already know about gifted education)

(e) a professional resume;

(f) a copy of license.


We are excited about the changes we are making to allow working professionals to pursue advanced graduate degrees.

Students can choose one of two pathways –

1)      Part-time study leading to an Ed.S. degree in less than two years, then expedited admission into the PhD

Ed.S. includes:

  • Completion in five semesters beginning in the fall
  • 6 hours online each fall and spring, 9 hours online summer
  • Cohorts beginning Fall 2018 will complete Spring 2020
  • Successful EdS candidates are eligible for expedited admission to the PhD program (beginning summer 2019)

Ph.D. includes:

  • Four additional semesters of coursework (summer, fall, spring, summer)
  • Flexible residency requirements that do not require you to live in Hattiesburg
  • Combination of on-campus and online courses.
  • Mentored experiences with faculty in teaching, research, and service 

2)      Full-time study leading to the PhD

  • 12 hours fall and spring, 9 hours each summer
  • Completion of coursework possible in 2 years + dissertation research
  • Assistantships providing full-tuition benefits and a stipend

 Application requirements include:

1)      Completed application to the Southern Miss Graduate School:

2)      Transcripts from all colleges and universities attended. Master’s degree required

3)      Scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Please note there is no minimum cut score for the GRE, but higher scores yield higher ratings on the admission rubric

4)      A copy of a valid teaching license 

5)      A letter of intent stating your professional goals and how this degree would help you attain them

6)      A current curriculum vita (resume) showing:

  1. evidence of experience in educational settings (at least 3 years)
  2. evidence of professional activities (professional memberships, service activities, etc.)

7)      Three strong letters of recommendation

Application materials can be submitted here:

*Applications for priority admission are due April 15, 2018.  Applications will be accepted after this date, but space in the cohort is limited. 

 Information on funding your graduate education can be found here:

 Here is a suggested course sequence for someone wishing to focus on Gifted Education. 





SPE 560 - Characteristics and Education of Gifted Students
(8 week 1 session, online with synchronous meeting time)


SPE 661 - Methods and Materials in Teaching Gifted Students

(8 week 2 session, online with synchronous meeting time


SPE 691 - Research in Special Education

(online with synchronous meeting time)


SPE 803 - Program Evaluation and Grant Writing in Special Education (online with synchronous meeting time)



SPE 662 - Curricula Development in Gifted Education

(8 week 1 session, online with synchronous meeting time)


SPE 663 - Atypical Gifted Students

(8 week 2 session, online with synchronous meeting time


SPE 794 - Specialist Field Study

(online with synchronous meeting time)


SPE 600 - Single Subject Research in Educational Settings

(online with synchronous meeting time)



SPE 664 - Practicum with Gifted Students

(Hattiesburg, Karnes Center Summer Programs)


REF 602 - Introduction to Educational Statistics

(online or face-to-face)


SPE 792 (Special Problems: Conducting Reviews of the Literature)

(online with synchronous meeting time)

Certification in Gifted Education

Specific training for teachers is offered to those needing certification in the area of gifted education. The following five graduate courses are required for certification:

SPE 560 Characteristics of the Gifted and Talented

This course, offered in the fall semester, includes characteristics, educational options, assessment and referral procedures, and legal issues. Teacher attributes and competencies, family characteristics, and local, state, and national issues are also addressed.

SPE 661 Methods and Materials in Teaching the Gifted

This course, offered in the fall semester, includes instructional models, methodologies, and material appropriate for students. Learning styles, writing and evaluating instructional units, public relations strategies, and sources of funding are included.

SPE 662 Curricula Development for the Gifted

This course, offered in the spring semester, includes necessary steps for curriculum development and evaluation of gifted education. Differentiated models, advanced content areas, and process skills are also addressed.

SPE 663 Programming for the Atypical Gifted

This course, offered in the spring semester, encompasses the assessment and identification, characteristics, and delivery of services for diverse groups within gifted education including the culturally diverse, rural, disabled, female, low socioeconomic, underachievers, and highly gifted populations.

SPE 664 Practicum Gifted

This course, offered in the spring and summer semesters, is a supervised practicum with gifted students in a variety of instructional settings. The development of appropriate instruction, attention to individual differences, and evaluation of student progress are also included.

These courses are writing and research intensive according to the APA manual 6th edition. Graduate portfolios must be submitted for graduation on July 15 of the semester the student intends to graduate.



Hollie Gabler Filce, PhD

Professor & Coordinator for Special Education Programs

Director, REACH MS - The State Personnel Development Grant

JB George 140A

118 College Drive #5057

Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001




Undergraduate Students Interested in 207 Licensure:

Undergraduate students may enroll in 207 licensure courses provided that they adhere to the USM Policy regarding Undergraduates enrolling in Graduate level work.  The Policy reads:

Permission for Undergraduate Students to Register for Graduate Credit as a Non-Degree Student

Exceptionally well-qualified undergraduate students at The University of Southern Mississippi may be permitted to take coursework for graduate credit.  To be eligible for this opportunity, students should be within 6 hours of completion of their baccalaureate degree and have demonstrated exceptional academic potential (e.g., a GPA of 3.5 or higher in their major). Undergraduate students seeking to enroll in graduate coursework must be approved by their major department (e.g., department chair, academic advisor) and the department for which they are seeking to enroll in (if different from the major department), as well as the Dean of the Graduate School.  Application must include 1) a non-degree graduate application, 2) application fee and 3) a non-degree form for each graduate course they take.  If approved, the student may register for no more than 6 graduate credits in any one semester, not to exceed a total of 12 credits in the semester(s) in which they are enrolled in graduate coursework.  Undergraduate students may take a maximum of 12 graduate credits.  Departments may impose more stringent standards regarding the number and type of courses available to undergraduate students.  Students applying for regular graduate admission will not be given final approval until all requirements for the baccalaureate degree are satisfied.  Undergraduate students participating in this option and applying for admission to a graduate degree program at USM will be held to the same admission standards and deadlines as regular applicants.

An undergraduate student from another institution desiring to take graduate courses as listed above should file a graduate application, have a transcript sent to graduate school admissions, and receive permission from the department chair and dean of the Graduate School to take a graduate class.

For additional information, contact

Dr. Heather Houston
The Frances A. Karnes Center for Gifted Studies
J.B. George Building (JBG) 133
118 College Drive #5123
Hattiesburg, MS 39406
Phone: 601.266.5236
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