Understand the needs of young children

Project BeLL–Online, a grant-funded 30-credit-hour master’s degree program, prepares early childhood special educators to work with young children with disabilities, including those with autism, and their families.

Course work covers social and emotional development, preventing and responding to challenging behavior, and supporting language development and emergent literacy.

Grant-funded program

This program is supported through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. If you are accepted into and enroll in this program, the grant will cover:

  • Missouri resident graduate tuition (6 credit hours per semester for five consecutive semesters)
  • A stipend of $1,000 per semester for five consecutive semesters
  • Travel funds to attend the Missouri Division of Early Childhood Conference

Costs NOT directly covered by the grant include application fees, College of Education graduate course fees, information technology fees, textbooks and course materials. See more about tuition and fees.

Important This program requires that all course work be taken during five consecutive semesters with no stopping out, and that two years of post-graduation service be completed within seven years of graduation. If you are unable to satisfactorily complete the 30 hours of course work or the two years of post-graduation service in the time prescribed, the U.S. Department of Education requires that you repay any funds received through the grant.

The U.S. Department of Education requires that each student complete the entrance form before beginning the program and the exit form at the end of the program. This includes the student’s social security number, current contact information for the student, and a secondary contact person who can reach the student at any time. Both forms are uploaded to the federal service obligation website.

Program structure

The BeLL–Online master’s in education program is 100 percent online: no campus visits are required.

Forty-five students, divided into three cohorts, will be accepted into the BeLL–Online grant-funded program.

As a member of a cohort of 15 students, you enroll in five consecutive semesters, taking two 3-credit-hour online courses each semester, for a total of 30 credit hours.

Cohort 1

Apply by: Closed

Begin course work January 2017


  • Spring 2017
  • Summer 2017
  • Fall 2017
  • Spring 2018
  • Summer 2018

Cohort 2

Apply by May 1, 2018

Begin course work August 2018


  • Fall 2018
  • Spring 2019
  • Summer 2019
  • Fall 2019
  • Spring 2020

Cohort 3

Apply by Dec. 1, 2019

Begin course work June 2020


  • Summer 2020
  • Fall 2020
  • Spring 2021
  • Summer 2021
  • Fall 2021

During your final semester, you will take a comprehensive exam covering all the course work in the program. For this take-home test, you will have two weeks to write papers in response to four questions. You must successfully pass all four questions in order to pass the comprehensive exam.

Post-graduation service obligation

Once you’ve completed the BeLL-Online master’s program, the U.S. Department of Education grant stipulates that you work with students with disabilities for two (2) years. You will have seven years after graduation to complete the two-year obligation.

Note This master’s program does NOT provide you with special education teacher certification.


Courses for this program:

  • 100 percent online: no campus visits required
  • 3 credit hours each
  • Semester-based
  • Include 20 hours of direct contact with young children and/or families, including settings with high rates of diversity
SPC ED 4300/7300 Introduction to Special Education

This prerequisite course does not count as part of the master's program. If you have teaching certification or have taken this course through a previous program, you have met the requirement.

Course sequence – Cohort 1*

Semester 1 (Spring 2017)
SPC_ED 8495 Introduction and Methods of Early Childhood Special Education
LTC 8614 Language and Early Literacy Development
Semester 2 (Summer 2017)
SPC_ED 8605 Young Children With Autism
SPC_ED 8350 Research With Exceptional Children
Semester 3 (Fall 2017)
SPC_ED 8485 Introduction and Methods of Early Intervention
SPC_ED 8440 Advanced Behavior Management: Applied Behavior Analysis
Semester 4 (Spring 2018)
SPC_ED 8387 Seminar in Special Education (Universal Design for Learning)
LTC 8600 Home-School Partnerships: Working With Families
Semester 5 (Summer 2018)
SPC_ED 8490 Assessment in Early Childhood Special Education
SPC_ED 8085 Problems in Special Education

*Cohorts 2 and 3 will take the same 10 courses in a different order over five consecutive semesters.

How to apply

  1. Fulfill the admission requirements

    • Completed baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution.
    • A minimum GPA of 3.0 in the last 60 hours of undergraduate education.
    • Taken the GRE within five years of applying to the program.
      • A minimum combined verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning score of 291
      • A minimum analytical writing score of 3.5
    • If English is not your native language, please submit a TOEFL score of at least 100 (internet-based test) or an IELTS score of at least 7.
  2. Mark your calendar

  3. Application dates

    Apply by Classes begin
    Cohort 1 Closed. January 2017.
    Cohort 2 May 1, 2018. August 2018.
    Cohort 3 Dec. 1, 2019. June 2020.
  4. Gather your papers

  5. Applying will be easier and faster if you gather these required documents beforehand:

    • Transcripts of all previous college or university education. Upload unofficial transcripts in your online application. If you are accepted, you will be asked to provide official transcripts.
    • GRE scores.
    • TOEFL or IELTS score reports for applicants whose native language is not English.
    • Statement of purpose summarizing your professional goals and experience, including career objectives and your motivation for graduate work (approx. 500 words).
    • Two letters of recommendation, one from an academic source and one from a professional source. These should attest to your professional competence, academic preparation and potential for graduate work.
    • Personal Data Sheet, including special instructions for BeLL–Online students:
      • Question 5. Special Education M Ed Degree Program: Online Programs — Early Childhood Special Education
      • Question 6. Who did you speak to: Rebecca McCathren (after you have spoken with her)
      • Question 6. When and how: List when you spoke with her.
      • Question 12. Have you been awarded a scholarship: Yes
      • Question 12. What kind of scholarship: BeLL-Online grant
  6. Complete the online application

  7. Carefully follow the instructions on the application site.

    • Upload the above documents in the online application.
    • Degree/Delivery: Masters – Distance (Online/RemoteSite/etc.)
    • Academic Program: Special Education/Early Childhood Spec Ed-Distance (MEd)
    • Intended Entry: Fall 2018
    • Attendance Status: Part-time
    • TOEFL or IELTS scores: Institution code 6875

    Apply here

Ask us about this program

For information about academic issues or course content, please contact

This program is administered by the Department of Special Education .