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Special Education Program

Welcome to Special Education

The field of special education has undergone dramatic shifts since passage of the first federal law mandating public education for students with disabilities in 1975. Special education today centers on the belief that children of all learning abilities, including those with physical, cognitive, sensory, and emotional differences, are most successful when they learn together, have equal access to the general education curriculum, and have the supports they need to lead fulfilling lives. Today’s special educators must be able to implement academic and behavioral evidence based practices (EBPs); employ culturally responsive practices; embed technology to enhance the effectiveness of their instruction; know and follow federal, state, and local special education policies; and work collaboratively with families and interdisciplinary teams.

The COEHS Special Education Program is at the forefront of this new approach to educating students with disabilities. Our forward thinking educators and researchers champion these new, more effective democratic school communities. We have the resources to conduct innovative research that helps shape special education practice and policy. We offer a wide range of special education courses that prepare educators, researchers, and other practitioners to work effectively in this new model of special education.

Dr. Susan Copeland,

S. Copeland
Professor Emerita

Our Vision

The vision of the Special Education Program is to facilitate the development of supportive, effective, and culturally responsive environments for individuals with special needs and their families.

Our Mission

The mission of the Special Education Program at the University of New Mexico is to improve educational opportunities and services for the following individuals and their families.

  • Persons with exceptionalities
  • Students at risk of school failure
  • Others facing significant life challenges

The mission of our program is accomplished by the study and practice of teaching, research, and service in a variety of multicultural environments.

  • We recruit and prepare competent and caring professionals and other personnel who serve individuals with exceptionalities and their families. Implicit in these activities is the belief that learning is a lifelong process.
  • We conduct inquiry and disseminate research and information related to issues affecting individuals with exceptionalities and their families.
  • We provide professional services to individuals with exceptionalities and their families, as well as to other stake holders who play a key role in their lives.

In carrying out our mission we remain consistent with the College of Education in valuing excellence in all we do; diversity of people and perspective; relationships of service, accountability, collaboration, and advocacy; discussion and dissemination of ideas; and innovation in teaching, technology, and leadership.

Degree and Certificate Programs





Concentration I — Intellectual Disability and Severe Disabilities: Studies in Educational Equity for Diverse Exceptional Learners

Concentration II — Learning and Behavioral Exceptionalities: Studies in Instruction, Curriculum, Collaboration and Transition of Diverse Learners

Certificate Programs