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MAT in Special Education (Birth Through Kindergarten/Preschool Special Education)

The MAT in Special Education leads to initial certification for students who hold undergraduate degrees in other fields and who do not hold a teaching certification. Students must develop both initial and advanced skills prior to certification.The program of study includes co-requisites coursework and practicum experiences. All master’s degree students in special education also complete applied research as a requirement for their degree.

Prepare to work with children birth through age 5 both with and without disabilities. The birth through kindergarten/preschool special education emphasis promotes developmentally appropriate inclusive and collaborative teaching practices. Our graduates specialize in providing engaging instruction and support to young children and their families. The special education program recommends to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission that a graduate be awarded a clear renewable teaching certificate in birth through kindergarten and preschool special education.

Training in this program prepares pre-service teachers to teach in inclusive early learning, preschool, prekindergarten, and kindergarten programs, along with early intervention (0-3) and preschool intervention (3-5) programs.


  1. Fill a critical shortage area in Georgia
  2. Program flexibility for part-time or full-time students
  3. Early childhood learning and care is a critical and burgeoning field
  4. Funding opportunities available
  5. Opportunity to study abroad in Ireland
  6. Earn certificate upgrade in special education and an elementary education field
  7. Diverse career opportunities available in home, center, and public school settings
  8. Opportunities to have an effect on the development of young learners and their families


The minimum 36 hours of coursework includes required courses and applied research individualized to the student’s career objectives. This allows students to gain advanced knowledge and skills in various special education topic areas and across the lifespan.

Master’s students are required to complete an “applied project” rather than a typical thesis. These projects consist of extensive research and writing a proposal while enrolled in an independent study course the semester prior to the project’s anticipated start.

Once the proposal is approved by the student’s advisor, it is implemented the following semester. The project is completed “in the field” with real students and actual strategies gleaned from the research. Completed works are presented to a graduate committee, and must be approved by a clear majority before the student is allowed to graduate.

For birth through kindergarten students, coursework includes:

  • Infant/toddler development and teaching methods
  • Preschool curriculum development
  • Observation and assessment techniques
  • Communication and language development
  • Teaching methods for children with developmental delays
  • Applied behavior analysis

Download Program of Study

Download Program Handbook

Additional information and disclosures regarding state licensure for professional practice in this field can be found at the UGA Licensure Disclosure Portal .

How to Apply

Part 1: Apply to the University of Georgia

The Graduate School handles admission for all graduate programs at the University of Georgia, including those in the College of Education. The Graduate School website contains important details about the application process, orientation, and many other useful links to guide you through the process of attending UGA at the graduate level.

Start A Graduate School Application

Part 2: Apply to the MAT in Special Education (Birth Through Kindergarten/Preschool Special Education)

Students who meet all of the following requirements are eligible to apply:

  • Professional preparation: Earned, or will have earned, a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution before the date of enrollment at the University of Georgia.
  • GPA: Minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.7 for all courses taken.
  • TOEFL: Foreign applicants will also need to score a minimum of 20 points each on the Speaking and Writing sections of the TOEFL with an overall minimum score of 80. Test scores must be within 5 years from the date of application.

The state requires that all candidates have a minimum 2.5 GPA on undergraduate or previous graduate work. Go to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission website for details.

In the Graduate School application, students should upload the following items:

  1. Statement of purpose:
    Please submit a two page, single-spaced statement of purpose, outlining your teaching philosophy, experience, and career goals, as well as answering the following questions:
    • What types of disabilities do you have experience with and envision yourself working with?
    • In what setting would you like to work (e.g., school, clinic, home-based)?
    • What is your primary age/grade of interest?
  2. Resume/CV
  3. 3 Letters of Recommendation

Applicants will be admitted based on the faculty’s evaluation of undergraduate GPA, GRE/MAT (and TOEFL where relevant) scores, quality of the essay, letters of recommendation, and resume. The GRE is not required for acceptance into this program.

Deadline To Apply

  • April 1 (summer and fall)
  • Assistantship-seeking applicants: January 1

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Additional Resources

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The College’s programs are taught by dedicated faculty who are experts in a range of areas and are passionate about helping students succeed both in their programs and professionally.

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Most graduate students at UGA are not assigned to a faculty advisor until after admittance. A close working relationship with your advisor is paramount to progressing through your program of study.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Almost all in-state students begin their studies at UGA paying limited tuition or fees. Please note that these amounts are subject to change and are meant to give prospective students an idea of the costs associated with a degree at the University of Georgia College of Education.

Students may qualify for a variety of assistantships, scholarships, and other financial awards to help offset the cost of tuition, housing, and other expenses.

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