Early Childhood Unified Program Curriculum & Admission Requirements



Students take a major concentration of courses entailing a minimum of 33 credit hours of coursework designed to develop the knowledge base necessary for effective research and scholarship development.


Upon completion of 30 graduate credit hours, the student’s culminating activity is either the presentation/defense of a project/portfolio or the completion of a thesis. Students also have the option to complete a comprehensive exam in place of a project/thesis.


The practicum provides a supervised teaching experience (i.e., student teaching) in a setting appropriate to the goals of the aspiring teacher. After taking initial courses, two practicum experiences are required, one of which may be completed in the student’s current work setting when appropriate.

Program Curriculum

The program’s curriculum blends knowledge and skills in early childhood education and early childhood special education thus preparing the early educator to appropriately address all learners' needs including those at-risk and those with identified disabilities. Designed to accommodate the schedules of our students, most courses are hybrid (both asynchronous on-line and face-to-face class sessions) and offered at both KU’s Lawrence and Edwards campuses. When occurring face-to-face, each class meets one evening a week. Students’ practicum experiences can be completed any semester including summers. Students will work closely with an advisor to determine a plan of study. The curriculum requirements outlined below are the minimum required for the degree. To be adequately prepared for an intended career, the student’s advisor may encourage additional coursework or opportunities which may include presenting and/or publishing scholarly papers.

Course Requirements


Please note, this is a potential plan of study. Please consult with your faculty advisor before enrolling.

Additional Requirements

  • Minimum program credit hours = 33

Graduate Admission

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) with at least a 2.5 grade point average on a 4.0 scale from a regionally accredited institution or a foreign university with substantially equivalent bachelor’s degree requirements. International applicants are strongly encouraged to complete the application process well in advance of the application deadlines in order to ensure adequate time for processing of visa-related paperwork.

Meeting minimum admission standards does not guarantee admission to the program. Other factors considered by the committee include: strength of the letter of application; strength of the letters of recommendation; quality of previous experience and background in special education or a closely related discipline; availability of an appropriate advisor in the applicant's identified area of emphasis; and the fit between the applicant's professional and graduate program goals and the purpose and mission of the KU.

Application Deadlines

Jan. 3
Spring semester application deadline
May 23
Summer semester application deadline
Aug. 8
Fall semester application deadline

Application Checklist

M.S.E. in Early Childhood Unified (Birth-K)

Applicants are required to submit the following materials and meet the following requirements before the application deadline:


  • Online application

    Complete through the KU Office of Graduate Admissions.

  • Letter of Introduction

    Specify why Early Childhood Unified is the area of emphasis within the Department of Special Education you have selected for concentration of study. Tell us your current licensure/endorsement status (e.g., type of undergraduate degree, area of licensure, and other licensure or endorsement information).

  • Transcripts

    For application purposes, you may attach scanned versions of official transcripts to your application for all degrees conferred. If you are admitted to a program and accept the admission offer, you will be required to submit an official, final transcript that shows your degree has been conferred. Click the link above for mailing details.

  • Resume or CV

    Professional resume describing past employment experiences, licensure(s) received, educational preparation, publications and presentations, professional association memberships, and other professional activities.

  • Letters of recommendation

    You will submit the names and email addresses when you apply online. The system will automatically email them requesting them to submit a letter of reference for you.

  • Proof of English proficiency

    Applicants who are non-native speakers of English must demonstrate English proficiency in the skill areas of reading, writing, and listening. Please read the full policy and acceptable proof of proficiency options by clicking the link above for details.

Program Faculty

Judith J. Carta
Judith J. Carta
Professor; Senior Scientist, Interim Director, Juniper Gardens Children's Project
Gregory A Cheatham
Gregory A. Cheatham
Associate Professor
Maria Hugh
Maria L. Hugh
Assistant Professor
Marie Kohart
Marie Kohart
Education Program Coordinator
Stephanie Parks
Stephanie Parks
Associate Teaching Professor
Alana Schnitz
Alana Schnitz
Assistant Professor, Special Education, Assistant Research Professor at Juniper Gardens Children's Project
Kathleen N Zimmerman
Kathleen N. Zimmerman
Assistant Professor