Graduate Studies

Special Education

"With having a full-time job and being a mother of two, I was very worried about the time commitment of going back to school. The workload wasn't nearly as bad as I anticipated. The professors at WIU were amazing and understanding if things came up. I wish I would have gone back to school sooner!" - Kristi Geisler, 2020 graduate of the Special Education program

"I was extremely hesitant to begin my masters in special education.  After teaching special education for 19 years I needed to expand my knowledge in the field. Western Illinois online provided just what I needed to fit my busy schedule.The professors are extremely knowledgeable in the area of special education and assisted my in learning new techniques and skills." - Gena Hasten, 2020 graduate of the Special Education program


  • Track I
  • Track II

Program Overview

The Special Education graduate program provides opportunities for two groups of candidates: Track I: those with general education certification who wish to also earn special education certification and Track II: those with special education certification who wish to increase their skills through advanced study. The program integrates the needs of Illinois and Iowa certification requirements, however it serves all teachers. Your state and local requirements can be forwarded and reviewed by our adviser to validate compliance. Degree candidates must complete an action research project that demonstrates their ability to impact their classroom or their school.

Why Choose Special Education at WIU?

The Special Education program makes every attempt to accommodate licensed teachers in both Iowa and Illinois who wish to re-focus their teaching goals and earn certification in special education. In addition, the department provides advanced study for those who already possess special education certification and experience. The program provides candidates opportunities to learn how to design and implement action research in their own classes. Through this structured experience, candidates develop the skills needed to effectively use evidence-based practices in their own classrooms and ultimately enhance student learning. Western Illinois University is an accredited institution. The graduate level Special Education program is 100% online.

Our Faculty

Faculty members have a strong interest in helping teachers enhance their effectiveness and their ability to promote student learning. All faculty have practical experience with special populations. Professors in the department have a doctorate in their field. Faculty are actively involved in a variety of professional organizations; provide continuing education workshops for teachers; and publish books and articles in state, national, and international journals.

Possible Careers

The School of Education provides comprehensive graduate programs for candidates desiring professional careers in special education. Candidates completing this master’s degree usually assume positions as classroom, consultant, or inclusion teachers of children and adolescents with varying disabilities in schools, clinics, and residential facilities.

Extracurricular Opportunities

Candidates are encouraged to become involved in local, state, and national professional organizations.

Other Information

For additional information about the School of Education programs, please visit

Quick View

Degrees Available:

  • M.S.Ed.


  • Online

Required GPA:

  • Cumulative: 2.75 or
  • Last 2 years: 3.0

Admission Requirements:

  • Transcripts
  • Teaching License

Interesting Facts: Fall 2022

  • Currently enrolled: 34
  • International: 0
  • Minority: 8
  • Students with Assistantships: 0

Program Contact Information:

Dr. Kristin Wiseley
309-762-3999, ext. 62316