Special Education and Communication Disorders

Graduate Degree Program Summary

Graduate programs offered

Earn a Graduate Degree

  • MA or MEd in Special Education with optional specialization:
    • Early Childhood Special Education
    • Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
    • Teaching of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Severe Disabilities
    • Visual Impairments
  • MS in Speech-Language Pathology & Audiology
  • PhD in Educational Studies with a specialization in Special Education
  • PhD in Human Sciences with a specialization in Communication Disorders
  • AuD in Audiology and Hearing Science
Areas of Study

These informal areas of focus may help to shape your course of study but they will not appear on transcripts.

Special Education Areas of Study
  • Autism
  • Behavior Disorders
  • Deaf and Hard of Hearing Education
  • Early Childhood Special Education
  • Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Mild/Moderate Disabilities
  • Severe Disabilities
  • Special Education Transition
  • Visual Impairments
Communication Disorders Areas of Study
  • Aphasia and Acquired Cognitive Disorders
  • Audiology
  • Augmentative/Alternative Communication
  • Fluency Disorders
  • Hearing Science
  • Motor Speech Disorders
  • Language and Phonological Disorders
  • Speech Science
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Vestibular and Balance Disorders

Earn a Graduate Certificate

Certificates have their own deadlines and checklists; select one for details.

Online and Distance Opportunities

Offered online:
M.A. and M.Ed. in Special Education with these specializations only:
  • Deaf and Hard of Hearing Education (Pre-12)
  • Early Childhood Special Education (Birth to age 5)
  • Visual Impariments (Pre-12) (summer on-site participation will be required at various locations)

Other programs:
Some online coursework may be available for your program; contact dept. for details.

Contacts for Special Education and Communication Disorders

Ask a question

Other Ways to Connect

On the Web
Special Education and Communication Disorders

Graduate Chair
Professor Karen Hux

Graduate Secretary
Ms. Jill England

Campus Address
318 Barkley Center
Lincoln NE 68583-0738

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Application checklist and deadlines

1. Required by Graduate Studies

Submit these items as part of the standard steps to admission.

2. Required by Special Education and Communication Disorders

After you apply, allow one business day for us to set up your access to GAMES, where you'll complete these requirements.

  • Entrance exam(s): GRE
  • Minimum English proficiency: Paper TOEFL 550, Internet TOEFL 80, IELTS 6.5
  • Statement of Personal/Professional Goals
  • Resume
  • Three recommendation letters
  • Statement of Writing or Research (Ph.D. only)
  • Mentor/Advisor agreement (Ph.D. Only)

When sending GRE or TOEFL scores, UNL's institution code is 6877 and a department code is not needed.

Application Deadlines for Special Education and Communication Disorders
  • M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology: January 15 for Fall.
  • Au.D. in Audiology: January 15 for Fall.
  • M.A. and M.Ed. in Special Education: January 15 for Fall.
  • Ph.D. in Educational Studies with a specialization in Special Education: January 15 for For Financial Consideration. Otherwise rolling admission.
  • Ph.D. in Human Sciences with a specialization in Communication Disorders: January 15 for For Financial Consideration. Otherwise rolling admission.

Application/admission is for entry in a specific term and year. UNL's academic year is divided into 3 terms: Fall (August-December), Spring (January-May), and Summer (multiple sessions May-August). Some UNL programs accept new students only in certain terms and/or years; if your desired entry term isn't mentioned here, you may want to consult the department for clarification.


The Barkley Center, home to the Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders, provides a stimulating environment for educational, clinical, and research activities. Learning to assist individuals with special education needs or those with communication disorders of speech, language, balance, or hearing is central to programs in the department.

Programs of study are offered leading to the Master of Education and Master of Arts degrees in special education, the Master of Science in speech-language pathology (thesis and nonthesis options), the Doctor of Audiology in audiology, the Ph.D. in special education, and the Ph.D. in Human Sciences with a specialization in communication disorders.

The interdepartmental Ph.D. programs in educational studies or human sciences allow for specializations in special education or communication disorders, consistent with the student's interests and employment goals. The professional doctoral degree, the Au.D., typically does not require a research project or dissertation of the magnitude necessary for the Ph.D.

Students can take many classes in special education online, however, speech language pathology and audiology are only available as on-campus options.

Cost of attendance

Cost differs from one student to another. For details see Tuition, Fees, and Funding or try our Cost Estimator.

Courses and More

Admitted students will choose courses from the Course Catalog, typically in: During the first half of their coursework, students will work with an advisor to create a plan of study — one of the essential Steps to Degree Completion.

Faculty and research

Where available, faculty names link to bios or homepages and conversation icons () link to directory listings with address, phone, and email.

Steven Barlow

Communication Neuroscience

Stephen Boney

Aural Rehabilitation; Pediatric Audiology; Amplification

Tom Carrell

Speech Perception

Cynthia Cress

Infant Vocal Development

Angela Dietsch

Swallowing; Motor Speech; Voice

Emily Dorsey

Early Childhood Special Education & Autism

Kristin Duppong Hurley

Special Education Behavior Disorders

Judy Harvey

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI); Aphasia; Neuroscience

Michael Hebert

Writing & Literacy

Karen Hux

Acquired Brain Injury; Aphasia; Dementia; Right Hemisphere Disfunction

Sherri Jones

Audiology; Auditory and Vestibular Physiology; Vestibular AssessmentDepartment Chair

Timothy Jones

Physiology; Pharmacology and Development of Hearing and Balance of Organs

Sue Kemp

School Management; Alternative Teaching Methods

Matthew Lambert

Quantitative Research Methods

John Maag

Functional Assessment; Depression; Attention Deficit Disorders

Christine Marvin

Communication Development of Children; Early Literacy Intervention Programs

Ron Nelson

Learning Technologies, English Language Literacy, Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, and Risk Factors for Behavior and Learning Problems

Reece Peterson

School Violence and Discipline; Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

Dixie Sanger

Communication Skills of Female Juvenile Delinquents; Adolescent Language

Mackenzie Savaiano

Visual Impairments & Blindness

Alexandra Torkelson-Trout

Students With and At-Risk of Disabilities; Out-of-Home Care; Transitions

This summary page is maintained by Graduate Studies.
For additional details check out the dept./program website: Special Education and Communication Disorders.

Departments: Have an update for this summary? Contact Stacy Dam.