Master's Programs


Endorsement, Director of Special Education

School of Education & Human Development


Degree: Endorsement

Classroom Type: Fully Online

University of Colorado Denver’s Director of Special Education endorsement program includes 150 clinical practice (internship) hours. It provides the coursework necessary for a practicing P-12 educator with a principal license and a master’s in Special Education or equivalent degree accepted by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) to receive the Director of Special Education endorsement from CDE.

Application​ deadlines

November 15

Program Details

Interest Categories: Higher Education Leadership

Campus: Online

What you’ll learn

Join other special education teachers, special services providers, and school leaders who specialize in special education in an engaging and flexible format of online modules designed to help you earn a Director of Special Education endorsement from the Colorado Department of Education (CDE).

This practice-oriented program includes a values-driven emphasis on the needs of students and families, embedded within a multi-tiered systems approach to visionary organizational leadership and support. Participants will acquire deep knowledge of the relevant leadership, instructional, legal, analytical/data, and interpersonal skill sets necessary for success in directing innovative and adaptive special education programs.

This graduate program addresses all eight (8) CDE standards for the Director of Special Education endorsement: foundations for leadership; special education and school systems; law and policy; instructional leadership; program planning and organization; human resource functions; parent family and community engagement; and budget and resources.


  • Learn with a relentless focus on equity and the intersectionality of the needs of students with special needs
  • Experience an orientation toward problems of practice and capacity-building
  • Value and actively support engagement with families, educators, school leaders, advocates, attorneys, other districts, and providers.
  • Participate in numerous active, hands-on learning experiences
  • Acknowledge and reflect on the relevant seasons, timing, and timelines for special education leaders and programs
  • Recognize that all school administrators need more exposure, growth, efficacy, and amplification when it comes to instruction and leadership for students with special needs, and
  • Support your professional and personal self-care.


Cohorts begin in January of 2024. All courses may be completed in 12 months.

Choose CU Denver’s School of Education & Human Development

You can trust CU Denver to provide an education that will prepare you for your career. We are committed to graduating the most qualified literacy professionals. Additionally, CU Denver’s School of Education and Human Development is counted among U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Graduate Schools,” making us one of the top education schools in the country.


  • SPED 6110 - Foundations of Special Education Leadership 3 credits
    This course also includes 25 clinical practice hours.
  • EDUC 6100 - Program Planning and Implementation in Special Education 3 credits
    This course also includes 75 clinical practice hours.
  • EDUC 6120 - Instructional Leadership and Community Engagement in Special Education 3 credits
    This course also includes 50 clinical practice hours.

Recommended Completion Time:One year or two semesters

Required Credits for Completion:9

Admission Requirements

This program is primarily intended for students who already have a master's degree in special education, or an equivalent degree as determined by CDE (e.g., master’s in School Psychology). A minimum of 2 years of experience with children with special needs is required. Exceptions may be granted given relevant experience and after a discussion with the applicant.

Applicants also should hold principal licensure, either from the University of Colorado Denver’s School of Education and Human Development or another program approved by CDE. See more information on our principal licensure programs.

Application Requirements

  • 3 recommendation letters, including at least one letter of recommendation from a current supervisor
  • Official Transcripts from all institutions attended
  • Proof of principal license is required
  • Resume/CV
  • Written Statement: Describe your interest in the program, your special strengths, and the goals you hope to achieve through your work in the program
  • $50.00 application fee
  • International Applicants only: Proof of English Language Proficiency (International applicants should review the following information regarding English language proficiency)
  • Admissions Interview: An interview may be required as part of the admissions process. If so, applicants will be contacted with more details.

Note: Incoming students who do not already have principal licensure may apply to pursue a 41-credit EdS degree that qualifies them for both principal licensure (32 credits) and the Director of Special Education (9 credits) endorsement. Contact Dr. Scott McLeod, Professor of Educational Leadership, if this option is of interest.

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