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Infancy & Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE)


ECSE Philosophy             ECSE Options             ECSE Curriculum


Related to Families:
The ECSE training program is based on the beliefs that families know their child best and families make a unique contribution to the family-professional partnership. Professionals work with families to access support, mobilize resources, and identify their existing strengths, concerns, and priorities toward meeting the developmental needs of the whole child. Through this collaborative process, the competence and confidence of both families and professionals are enhanced.

Related to Children:
The ECSE training program views children as active participants in their own learning. Play environments that support mutually pleasurable child-child and adult-child interactions are based on developmentally, culturally, and individually appropriate principles. Individual objectives are embedded within play and daily routines and are facilitated by observant, responsive adults.

Related to Teaming:
Children, families, and professionals benefit from the knowledge and expertise that each team member shares. Intervention is characterized by a spirit of collaboration in which teach members operate interchangeably in the intervention process, to the extent possible, while continuing to function as resources to one another in relation to their own disciplinary expertise.

Related to Student Learning and Supervision:
Students preparing for careers in early childhood special education will integrate coursework, practica experiences, personal skills, and resources to become competent professionals. To support student growth, the ECSE training program uses a clinical model of supervision designed to foster reflective practice and the students’ ability and motivation to direct their own continued professional development.


There are two options for a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education: Ed.M and M.S. 

Masters in Education (Ed.M.) Students may focus in either Infancy (Birth to Three Years Old) or Early Childhood Special Education (Three to Six Years Old), or both Infancy and Early Childhood Special Education (Birth to Six Years Old).

A master's degree with a focus in Infancy (Birth to Three Years Old) prepares students to work as early interventionists with infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families. Early interventionists work in a variety of settings, including agencies, hospitals, and families' homes. Entry into this program does not require a professional teaching license or a teaching certificate.

A master's degree with a focus in Early Childhood Special Education (Three to Six Years Old) prepares students to work with preschool-aged children with disabilities and their families. Early Childhood Special Educators work primarily in public school settings, although other options are available. Prerequisite: Illinois Professional Educator License with an Early Childhood Education (ECE) Endorsement. Note: This option contains the coursework and field work necessary to apply for an Illinois Primary Content Endorsement in English as a Second Language (ESL).

Advisors can assist students in planning a dual program of regular Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education in which students take Early Childhood Education coursework to obtain an Illinois Professional Educator License with an Early Childhood Education (ECE) Endorsement, while also completing master's coursework in Early Childhood Special Education. Note: Students must have passed the Illinois Test of Academic Proficiency in order to participate in this dual program.

Masters of Science (M.S.)
This option combines a thesis requirement with the master’s of education program requirements. This option is planned in collaboration with the student’s advisor.



Masters in Education (Ed.M.):

       Special Education
       Special Education and Curriculum and Instruction (combined)
       Special Education with ESL Endorsement

Masters of Science (M.S.)

       General Special Education - Non-licensure

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