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Project ACCESS (Masters LBS I)

Access to Integrated Employment for Students with Severe Disabilities

Master's Degree Program at the University of Illinois

Project ACCESS is a 2-year, full-time, on-campus program designed for graduate students wishing to obtain a master’s degree in special education or social work.  The special education program leads to teacher licensure as a Learning and Behavioral Specialist I (LBSI). The social work program leads to a professional educator license as a School Social Worker.

Graduate students who participate in ACCESS complete the core master’s degree program within their chosen discipline (special education or social work).  In addition, graduate students from both programs engage in a series of activities that emphasize a specialized, interdisciplinary focus to preparing students with severe disabilities to transition from school to competitive integrated employment.  Graduate students complete the following activities together:

  • Intensive Collaborative Seminars - Scholars will obtain specialized knowledge about secondary curriculum, transition, competitive integrated employment, and interagency collaboration through a series of intensive full-day seminars (one each semester).
  • Shared Coursework – Focused learning about supporting students with challenging behavior and severe disabilities will be acquired through a course taken by all scholars.
  • Shared Fieldwork Experiences – Experiences will include observations of work-based learning experiences and job sites, and interactions with families, teachers, job coaches, and rehabilitation professionals.
  • Practicum/Internship – All scholars will participate in at least one semester of fieldwork in a secondary school setting.
  • Chicago Externship – Scholars will participate in a 2-day externship in Chicago each year of the program to learn about preparing culturally diverse students with severe disabilities for employment in urban settings.
  • Traineeships – A series of professional service activities will support scholars to engage in research and teaching related to the grant’s competency areas.
  • Induction Program – An induction program will be instituted for program graduates that provides opportunities for ongoing networking, training, and mentoring.


This program is supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.  Project ACCESS provides program participants with a:

  • Tuition waiver for all semesters except the first summer semester
  • Fee waiver for most university fees
  • Paid 9-month traineeship in year one and 11-month traineeship in year two
  • Stipend for participation in the two-day Chicago Externship

Participants must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to qualify for funding and sign a service agreement indicating that they will work in their field for two years for every year of funding received.

Application Process

Applicants should submit an online application to the program of their choice (i.e., special education, social work) via the Graduate College website:

All applicants will be considered for funding.

For More Information Please Contact:

Stacy K. Dymond, Professor, Department of Special Education, at
Brenda Lindsey, Teaching Professor, School of Social Work, at

Women, minorities, and individuals with disabilities are particularly encouraged to apply. 
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer.

Apply Here

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