Programs Preparing Inclusion/Special Education Teachers

Do you want to make a difference in the lives of students with disabilities? Then consider becoming a teacher for inclusive classrooms.

Few careers give people the opportunity to impact individuals and their communities like teaching.  Can you think of a specific teacher who made a difference in your life?  Would you like to become that kind of teacher?   

Students with disabilities have unique needs and challenges, and deserve teachers who are prepared to help them thrive and grow socially, emotionally, and academically. Warner will prepare you to become an innovative inclusion teacher, committed and able to help students with disabilities succeed.  

Our teacher preparation programs offer the shortest path to New York initial and professional certification and a guaranteed 50% scholarship.
Guaranteed 50% tuition scholarshipLearn More About Our Scholarships

Program Quickview

All the master's degree programs described below prepare candidates for initial and professional teaching certification in Teaching Students with Disabilities for each of the age levels established by New York State and are offered at the graduate level only.

If you are interested in other programs related to serving students with disabilities, check our Related Programs.
Prerequisites (as required by NYS):
  • Only for teaching at the secondary level (grades 7-12): A minimum of 6 credits of coursework in each of the four core content areas (i.e., English, math, science & technology, and social studies).
  • Undergraduate degree in a liberal art (BA) or science (BS).
Key Program Features:
  • Meets all coursework and internship requirements for both initial and professional teaching certification: In addition, you will need to pass the required state exams, and complete the teaching requirements for professional certification.
  • Shortest program: Preservice teachers can complete even dual certification programs in 15 months of full-time study (if starting in summer); certified teachers seeking additional certification in Teaching Students with Disabilities may require less time.
  • Focus on disabilities: All options include five courses specific to teaching students with disabilities as well as internships conducted in inclusive settings (taken concurrently with methods courses).
  • Commitment to inclusive education: Preparing teachers to serve students with disabilities in inclusive settings.
  • Focus on teaching all students: Includes courses on diversity and English language learners; these required courses may be transferred in for certified teachers.
  • Option to add specializations: With only a few additional credits required, you can pursue additional state certifications or advanced certificates that can strengthen your effectiveness with diverse learners and make you more marketable; see Opportunities for additional specializations.

Warner Programs that prepare inclusion teachers

For Preservice Teachers with No Prior Teaching Certification
  • MS Early Childhood Dual Certification (Birth-Grade 2) (TA1) and (DA1): 57 credits (including field experiences and two student teaching experiences in inclusive settings); leading to New York State certification in both Early Childhood Education and Teaching Students with Disabilities in Early Childhood.

  • MS Elementary Dual Certification (Grades 1-6) (TA3) and (DA2): 57 credits (including field experiences and two student teaching experiences in inclusive settings); leading to New York State certification in both Childhood Education and Teaching Students with Disabilities in Childhood.

  • MS Secondary Specialist Dual Certification (Grades 7-12): 48-51 credits (including field experiences and two student teaching experiences in inclusive settings); leading to New York State certification in both Adolescence Education and Teaching Students with Disabilities in Adolescence as a specialist in the chosen subject areas. See your selected content area for primary program and add the disabilities specialization.

  • MS Secondary Generalist (Grades 7-12) (TD3): 48 credits (including field experiences and two student teaching experiences in inclusive settings); leading only to New York State certification in both Adolescent Education and Teaching Students with Disabilities in Adolescence as a Generalist.
teacher signing with deaf preschooler
Opportunities for additional specializations (with minimum additional credits required):
  • New York State Annotation to Teach Students with Severe and/or Multiple Disabilities: Prepares you to work with students with significant disabilities.
  • Advanced Certificate in Digitally-Rich Teaching: Prepares you to make the best use of digital technology in your teaching.
  • Advanced Certificate in Urban Teaching and Leadership: Prepares you to teach and lead in racially, ethnically, and socioeconomically diverse urban settings.
  • New York State Certification in TESOL: Prepares you to better serve English language learners in your classes and qualifies you to teach TESOL courses.

Licensure in other states. Review certification and licensure requirements for all Warner programs. 

For Initially Certified Special Education Teachers Seeking NYS Professional Certification
If you already have your initial teaching certification in Teaching Students with Disabilities in Early Childhood, Childhood, or Adolescence, and are seeking professional teaching certification in the same area, there are several Warner programs to help you achieve this goal. Most of these programs require only 30 credits of coursework and no internships. Check the requirements related to the option(s) that best apply to you from the program choices below:
teacher sitting on desk at front of classroom
For Certified Teachers Seeking Additional Certification in Teaching Students with Disabilities at the Same Age Level
teacher sitting on floor reading to elementary students
For Certified Special Education Teachers Interested in Obtaining NYS Annotation for Teaching Students with Severe and/or Multiple Disabilities

Our Approach

Creating effective inclusion teachers who can inspire and lead change

Warner’s programs preparing teachers to work with students with disabilities are characterized by a commitment to inclusion and differentiation to ensure that all students are served and enabled to achieve their potential.
three teenagers smiling with thumbs up
Learn More About Warner's Approach to Inclusive Education
At the Warner School, a core belief in all our teacher education programs is that all teachers should be prepared to recognize the diverse needs of their students and they should have strategies to differentiate instruction to meet those needs. We believe that all students bring rich and meaningful experiences to school and that those experiences are resources for effective teaching, engagement, and inclusion.

For our inclusion and special education teacher candidates, there is rigorous preparation as teachers will have the knowledge and skills to teach students who engage in learning in diverse ways in order to facilitate the learning, participation, and belonging of students with disabilities in general education contexts. Fundamental principles of our approach to inclusive practices and students with disability labels include:

  • Critical inquiry: A primary goal of all our inclusion/special education teacher preparation programs is to prepare teachers, through critically examining historical, cultural, legal, political, and theoretical foundations of schooling and constructs of disabilities, to develop a rich understanding of teaching practices that facilitate the involvement and progress of students with disabilities in general education, standards-based curriculum in general education contexts. Approaching our work from a Disability Studies in Education perspective, our program is firmly rooted in the notion that inclusive practice is a best practice in education.
  • Collaboration: We seek to prepare educators for collaborative efforts among schools, families, and communities to provide students and teachers with the necessary supports and services. They understand how to engage in models of collaborative teaming and relationships with their colleagues and to develop the communication skills to engage in effective partnerships with families.
  • Advocacy: We advocate for the full inclusion of all students, particularly students with disabilities, as part of our efforts to reform schools. We provide opportunities for teachers and teacher candidates to critically examine policies and practices that have fostered and maintained segregation through service delivery and placement options for students with disabilities, resulting in a dual system of education. Based on these opportunities, we then focus on promising practices in inclusive general education contexts.
  • Equity: Through coursework and experiences in the field, our graduates are able to choose and implement appropriate teaching and learning strategies for all students in the classroom. They are able to identify systemic structures that impede student learning and possess a repertoire of skills to break down those barriers. We focus on best practices for inclusive schooling that are research based. We prepare teachers to understand how people learn, and, through strength-based assessments, to determine how to differentiate, adapt, and individualize instruction through principles of Universal Design for Learning. Our program also focuses on positive behavior supports to address student and classroom management needs, assistive technology, and transition planning for secondary students.

A key highlight of our inclusion/special education teacher preparation programs leading to New York State certification is how our faculty integrate urban education into the whole curriculum. We make it a part of every course so that students are equipped and prepared to work in all schools—particularly in some of our most underserved school districts where there is a shortage of high-quality and innovative teachers.

The Warner Advantage

Preparing graduates to thrive as inclusion educators

Our inclusion teacher preparation programs will help you stand out from other teachers and prepare you to excel in your career.
  • Become an inclusion teacher who can create learning opportunities that are inviting and accessible for all students – engaging with cutting-edge research and educational innovations.
  • Be challenged to be an agent of change, who can effectively introduce new ideas and practices that will enhance students’ learning and address current inequities.
  • Leverage the reputation of a leading research university to strengthen recognition of your degree.
  • Network with the best and the brightest future colleagues.
  • Make yourself stand out when applying for teaching positions by pursuing additional specializations for a few additional credits.
  • Learn from an accessible, supportive faculty of researchers and accomplished practitioners who will prepare you to become adaptive experts in today’s K-12 schools.
  • Shorten your path to a doctoral degree by earning transferable credits. 
While rigorous, Warner’s teacher preparation programs are both flexible and affordable.
  • Benefit from a guaranteed 50% scholarship.
  • Take advantage of online learning options that help reduce trips to campus.
  • Be ready to teach the school year following enrollment, as the program can be completed in as little as 15 months, even by those new to the teaching profession.

All About experience

Your experience at Warner will be informed by the many research projects and community initiatives we are engaged in. In addition, you'll benefit from the experience of faculty that include nationally recognized researchers, award-winning authors and accomplished practitioners.

East High Partnershlp

Regional approach to address urban education inequality

Our students have the opportunity to observe and learn from the reforming of an urban high school. As the Educational Partnership Organization for East High School, we are overseeing a radical transformation affecting all aspects of the school – including support for students with disabilities and their transition after school age.

Center for Disability and Education

Center for Disability and Education

Benefit from faculty who are involved in ambitious initiatives undertaken by Warner’s Center for Disability and Education. Led by program director Martha Mock, the center provides expertise, guidance, and connections to individuals and institutions navigating the world of disability.

Education Meets Big Data

Nationally recognized expert

Warner faculty member Samantha Daley recently received one of the coveted Faculty Early Career Awards from the National Science Foundation to pursue research in how to broaden the participation of students with disabilities in STEM coursework and careers.

Career Opportunities

Advancing education and your career to the next level

Graduates from any Warner inclusion teacher preparation program will have the credentials needed to teach students with disabilities at the chosen age level in New York State public schools and other states that recognize our state's teaching certification.
educator and student engaged in lively converation


Accessible, supportive faculty researchers and accomplished practitioners

Kristen Love thumbnail imageKristen Love, PhD
Inclusion Teacher Preparation Program Director and Advisor 
LeChase Hall 456
(585) 273-5443


Making your graduate education affordable

The Warner School of Education at the University of Rochester is pleased to offer a number of scholarships to eligible students who enroll in teacher preparation programs. These scholarships are made possible by federal grants as well as the generous support of donors, who are committed to the success of future teachers.

Byron Williams Teaching Scholarships – Guaranteed 50% tuition savings
All new students starting their master’s programs in teacher education leading to New York State teaching certification are guaranteed a minimum 50 percent tuition scholarship, provided they commit to teach in a United States school for a minimum of two years after graduation.

campus shot with Meliora and Rush Rhees Library

Try Us Out

Take a course or check out instructional programs before you apply

We invite you to visit one of our innovative instructional programs, including:
  • Horizons Summer Enrichment Program: A six-week, full-day summer program for K-8 students from the city of Rochester that takes place on the University of Rochester campus, and provides its students with meaningful learning opportunities in an informal context.
  • East High: This Rochester City School District secondary school is undergoing major transformation under the oversight of the University of Rochester as an educational partnership organization.
Take a course: You can also experience Warner before applying to one of our programs. There are many courses available for a highly discounted price, and some courses count toward your degree requirements.

Contact admissions to arrange for a visit or learn more about opportunities for students to take courses before applying.
three young adults in a classroom and smiling


Meliora means 'Ever Better.' To our graduates, it means making a world of difference.

  • Beatriz M. Folch-Torres, MD, Rochester, NY

    “It was more than I expected. Not only what I learned in the program, which I’ve been able to put into practice every day since, but also the connections I was able to make and the relationships I was able to form."

    Beatriz M. Folch-Torres, MD, Rochester, NY

  • Jody Goodman, Program Director, UMass Amherst

    “As educators, it’s our job to make sure we’re giving students the knowledge to be successful when they move on in their life….Warner was the best grad school experience I’ve ever had because it prepared me extremely well to jump into my career, and I will forever be grateful for that.”

    Jody Goodman, Program Director, UMass Amherst

  • Dawn Santiago-Marullo, Superintendent, Victor, NY

    "The most important thing I received there was the opportunity to be immersed in the study of education and leadership with very talented people, that think-tank mentality of being surrounded by the best of the best. The intellectual stimulation from both the staff and fellow classmates really did allow me to think about things differently."

    Dawn Santiago-Marullo, Superintendent, Victor, NY

  • Shannon Walton, Sports Performance Counselor, Rochester, NY

    “I had a very unique situation. I wasn’t going down the typical path of a Warner student, and the school was just so flexible and supportive.”

    Shannon Walton, Sports Performance Counselor, Rochester, NY

  • Jeremy Friedman, Research Associate, Harlem Children

    “When it came time to interview for jobs, it was very easy for me to talk about anything in the field, and that set me apart,” he says. “You name it, and I had at least one experience in it—largely due to Warner.”

    Jeremy Friedman, Research Associate, Harlem Children's Zone, New York, NY

  • Laura Van Laeken, Teacher, Midlakes, NY

    "The growth I’ve realized in myself is something I will be forever grateful for. I’ve learned to question, analyze, think and create in ways I never considered. I’ve changed as an educator and as a person."

    Laura Van Laeken, Teacher, Midlakes, NY

Contact Admissions

The admissions team looks forward to assisting you as you explore graduate education at the Warner School. Please feel free to use the form below to contact us with any questions. You can also email us at or call (585) 275-3950.

Application Deadlines

The next application deadline is March 01, 2023. View all  Admissions Deadlines.

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