Director of Special Education Certificate of Graduate Study

Now accepting applications for our fall 2023 cohort. Apply by May 1, 2023 for the 2023-2024 cohort.

The Department of Special and Early Education and the Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations offer a standards-based preparatory program leading to an endorsement on the Professional Educator License and a Certificate of Graduate Study in Director of Special Education.

The program is comprised of six three-semester-hour courses, with two semester hours of internship experience, for a total of 20 semester hours. Courses are offered in a hybrid format and there are typically four face-to-face sessions.

Please review the ISBE's PEL Administrative Endorsement information for Director of Special Education - Pre K - Grade 12 to understand state requirements and options.

Required Courses

  • LEEA 577 Administration and Supervision of Special Education
  • LEEA 726 Special Education: Leadership and the Law
  • SESE 575 Special Education Finance
  • SESE 760 The Special Education Director
  • SESE 765 Seminar: Professional Collaboration in Schools
  • SESE 747 Seminar in Special Education
  • SESE 786 Internship

Admission Requirements

You must have the following:

  • Master's degree or higher from a regionally accredited institution*.
  • Professional education license.
  • Two years of experience teaching special education full-time or serving as a school social worker, school psychologist, school counselor, school nurse or speech language pathologist on a valid professional educator license.
  • At least a 3.2 cumulative GPA in most recent degree program.
  • Status as a student-at-large or a graduate student pursuing a degree at NIU.

*If you do not have a master's degree you can tie this specialization to our Special Education M.S. degree and complete both at NIU.


To apply, please complete the Director of Special Education Information application packet (checklist, application, application essay, course checklist). Application packets are due May 1, 2023, for the 2023-2024 cohort.