MEd in Special Education - Early Childhood Unified

The Master of Education in Special Education - Early Childhood Unified emphasis at Wichita State University is a 31-credit-hour program that prepares teachers certified in K-6 general education for teaching all students ages Birth–3rd grade.  The program is designed to develop reflective practitioners who possess both a theoretical understanding and practical skills related to (a) the field of early childhood education, (b) the field of special education for students with both high and low incidence needs Birth–3rd grade, (c) effective communication and collaboration with families and other professionals, and (d) research-validated practices.

Program Overview

The Early Childhood Unified (ECU) program is designed to prepare teachers of young children (birth through grade 3). The ECU program develops reflective practitioners who possess theoretical and practical developmental, educational, communicative, collaborative and family- and child-centered skills. The ECU program's advisory committee provides continual guidance to the program to assure that all candidates graduate with the belief that:

  • all young children, birth through grade 3 (i.e., children with and without exceptionalities, at every socioeconomic level, from all cultures) are competent, creative and curious learners;
  • working with, understanding, and respecting families is a critical component of working with young children;
  • development and education are focused for each individual child in terms of the child's relation with the family, other children, teachers, the school community and society at large;
  • children must learn through both constructing their own knowledge and by direct instruction;
  • the unique needs of all young children must be met; and
  • programs and services provided are based on law, and scientifically- and evidence-based practices.

The degree program begins with a prerequisite foundational course and proceeds through methods/assessment courses in three different age levels.  These courses are accompanied by three different practicum experiences. The remainder of the program consists of courses on family collaboration, research and finally a culminating capstone or thesis project.

Endorsement only option:

  • Candidates may elect to complete only the first 24-credit-hours in the program to receive an endorsement in Early Childhood Unified. These candidates are considered nondegree seeking graduate students.
  • Apply for provisional endorsement after completion of only 9 credit hours of coursework and the first practicum experience.


The special education degree with an emphasis in early childhood unified is available for individuals who are certified to teach young children (birth to age 8). Admission requirements include:

  1. GPA of 3.000 or higher; or GPA of at least 2.750 and official GRE scores of at least 152 in Verbal and 153 in Quantitative.
  2. Full admission to WSU Graduate School.
  3. Current teaching certificate/license (or eligible for a certificate/license).

Applications are evaluated when received for the MEd in special education. Only a limited number of students are accepted into this program each year.

Program Requirements

The Master of Education in Special Education — Early Childhood Unified track may be earned under a thesis or nonthesis option.  The program requires 31 credit hours of coursework, including a research component, practical experience, and the culminating activity (i.e., thesis or nonthesis).

Required Courses
CI 603Foundations of Early Childhood Unified2
CI 614ECU Assessment and Methods: Infants, Toddlers and Families3
CI 617ECU Assessment & Methods: Preschool3
CI 703Assessments and Methods: K-33
CI 796Family and Professional Collaboration3
Select 10 credit hours from the following10
Practicum/Field Experience in ECU: K-3
Practicum/Field Experience in ECU: Infant/Toddler
Practicum/Field Experience in ECU: Preschool
Research Component
CESP 704Introduction to Educational Statistics3
or CI 717 Qualitative Inquiry in Education
or CLES 801 Introduction to Educational Research
Culminating experience - select one of the following combinations4
Evidence Based Inquiry: Capstone Project Proposal
and Evidence-Based Inquiry: Capstone Project
Master’s Thesis
and Master’s Thesis
Total Credit Hours31

Candidates may elect to complete only the first 24-credit-hours in the program to receive an endorsement in Early Childhood Unified. These candidates are considered nondegree-seeking graduate students.

Applied Learning

Students are required to complete an applied learning or research experience to graduate from programs in curriculum and instruction. The requirements can be met by completing either a master’s thesis or capstone research project in which the emphasis is on applying professional practices to research and is directly linked to applied learning. In addition, students who graduate from the graduate program in special education must experience at least 135 credit hours of field experience/internship in special education classrooms.