Educational Specialist



The University of Arizona offers Educational Specialist degrees in the College of Education. Educational Specialist degrees may be awarded to students who are admitted by the Graduate College upon the recommendation of the College of Education, and who satisfactorily complete program requirements specified by the departments in the College of Education offering this degree. These departments are: Educational Policy Studies and Practice; Teaching, Learning and Sociocultural Studies; and Disability and Psychoeducational Studies.

Graduate students are responsible for knowing graduate requirements of both the Graduate College and their academic departments.  Educational Specialist students must complete all required forms and adhere to specific term deadlines in order to earn their degree. Other important dates are identified in the University Academic Calendar.  This section outlines general graduation requirements for the different Educational Specialist degrees awarded by the University of Arizona; see individual department sections under Departments and Courses of Instruction for admission requirements and detailed information on requirements for each major. Requirements vary by program.

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All prospective students should check with the appropriate department in the College of Education for information regarding the specific admission requirements of programs leading to the Educational Specialist degree.

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Qualifying Examination

Each applicant to an Educational Specialist program must pass a qualifying examination during the first term of course work at The University of Arizona. An applicant's acceptability for work toward the degree will be evaluated on the basis of his or her performance on this examination.

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Credit Requirements

The total number of units required for an Educational Specialist degree varies by academic discipline, but all require a minimum of 60 units of graduate credit.  Many students will take more than the minimum number of credits, and all students must meet the minimum unit requirement for the specific Educational Specialist degree, which may be more than 60 units.

Except for a limited number of units that can be transferred from other approved institutions, the remaining unit requirements must be met by University of Arizona courses. At least one half of the required units must receive a grade of A, B or C. (i.e. no more than half the units can be graded S or P.)  Courses in which a D grade was earned cannot be counted toward a graduate degree.  Except as specified below, all units of coursework for the master's degree must be taken for graduate credit.

Non-degree, transfer, and 400-level coursework

No more than 12 units of coursework taken outside the degree program may be applied to Educational Specialist degree requirements. Under this limit, the courses which may be counted are:

  1. Courses taken in graduate non-degree seeking status at UA;
  2. 500-level courses taken for graduate credit at UA by qualified undergraduates and not counted toward a bachelor’s degree;
  3. 400-level UA courses not counted toward a bachelor’s degree; and
  4. Graduate courses transferred from other institutions.

The total units of courses in the above categories may not exceed 12, and there are specific limits on the courses in each category:

  • For students admitted prior to Fall 2014, no more than 6 units of University of Arizona undergraduate coursework at the 400 level can be accepted into a master's program, and only if they were not used toward the undergraduate degree. Students admitted Fall 2014 and later may not use any 400 level coursework.
  • No more than 12 units of coursework taken in graduate non-degree seeking status may be used toward a master's degree.
  • Transfer work may not exceed 20% of the required number of units for the master's degree being sought. (Example: For a degree that requires 30 units, no more than 6 units of transfer work may be used.)
  • Students who took 500-level courses for graduate credit as qualified undergraduates may use up to 12 units of that coursework toward the master’s requirements as long as those courses were not used toward a bachelor’s degree.  The only exception is that a student in an Accelerated Master’s Program (AMP) may count up to 12 units of 500-level coursework taken for AMP credit toward the bachelor’s and again toward the master’s degree.

Students who wish to transfer credit from another institution should submit a Transfer Credit form in GradPath before the end of their first year of study (or as soon as possible after completing outside coursework during their program) to have the Graduate College determine the eligibility of the course(s) for transfer.

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Time Limitation

All requirements for the specialist degree must be completed within 6 years. Time-to-degree begins with the earliest course to be applied toward the degree, including credits transferred from other institutions. Work more than 6 years old is not accepted toward degree requirements.

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Continuous Enrollment

A student admitted to an Educational Specialist program must register each Fall and Spring semester for a minimum of 3 units of graduate credit, from original matriculation until all degree requirements are met. If the degree program requirements are to be completed in the summer, the student must register for a minimum of 1 unit of graduate credit during that term. Master's and Educational Specialist candidates do not have to register for graduate units during summer sessions unless they plan to make use of University facilities or faculty time. If they do plan to use facilities or faculty time, they must enroll for a minimum of 1 unit of graduate credit.

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Advisory Committee

After successfully passing the qualifying examination, the head of the major department will appoint an advisory committee composed of three Graduate Faculty members. One committee member may be from another department, with the concurrence of the head of that department. The chairperson of the committee will be the student's Major Advisor. The committee is responsible for

  1. Evaluating the student's proposed Plan of Study;
  2. Making recommendations regarding the student's Plan of Study to the Dean of the Graduate College through the appropriate department head; and
  3. Being available to the student for advice regarding the program.

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Plan of Study

Each student is responsible for designing a Plan of Study to meet his or her needs as determined by previous academic work, experience, interests, and career objectives, with the guidance of the major advisor and the approval of the department head. The Plan of Study should be submitted to the Graduate College no later than the second term in residence. When approved, the Plan of Study lists the courses the student must complete to earn the Educational Specialist degree.

All specialist programs require a minimum of 60 units of graduate credit, though some require more. For information about courses that may be counted toward the degree (i.e. listed on the Plan of Study), see the Credit Requirements policy.  Credits taken for Audit are not acceptable for the Plan of Study.

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Final Comprehensive Examination

When the student has completed all course work or is in the final semester of course work, and has met the required standards of scholarship, he or she must pass a comprehensive written examination. An oral examination may also be required by the department. A candidate who fails a final oral examination may, upon the recommendation of his or her department, be granted a second examination after a lapse of a minimum of four months. The results of the second oral examination are final.

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Professional Experience

With the exception of students in the School Psychology program, candidates must provide evidence of a minimum of two years of successful teaching or education administration experience. Approval from the appropriate department must be obtained before the Specialist degree can be awarded.

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Completion of Requirements

When the student's department determines that the student has completed all degree requirements, the department's Graduate Coordinator will submit the Master's/Specialist Completion Confirmation form in GradPath on behalf of the student.  The submission of the Completion Confirmation form starts the final audit of the student's program by the Graduate College and ultimately leads to the award of the student's degree presuming there are no pending issues.

All grades for Incompletes and courses taken in the final term must be received before the degree is considered completed. For students in the School Psychology program, completing the SERP 693B internship course on or before June 1, will enable the degree to be awarded for Spring of that year. If the candidate completes the internship after June 1, the degree will be awarded for summer.

A student must have a cumulative GPA in all graduate coursework of at least 3.000 in order to graduate.

For dates by which requirements must be met to graduate in a particular term, please refer to our Important Deadlines.

There are candidacy Fees associated with the posting of your degree. Students who were charged the candidacy fees at the time their Plan of Study was approved will not be charged the candidacy fees a second time when that degree is posted.

The diploma is ordered and mailed once the degree has been awarded.  Changing the name on a student’s record and diploma may require that an official name change be filed with the Registrar's Office. Any outstanding financial debts with the University will prevent the student from ordering official transcripts or receiving their diploma.  Please contact the Bursar's office at 621-3232 for assistance with student accounts.

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