Early childhood special education

University of Missouri-Columbia
Graduate certificate
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Graduate certificate 

You know that a positive experience throughout early education helps children with learning differences flourish. That’s why you are drawn to this 100% online graduate certificate in early childhood special education from the University of Missouri (Mizzou). As one of several top-ranked online graduate programs from Mizzou’s College of Education & Human Development, this program is ideal for early childhood educators already working in diverse classrooms.

You’ll gain essential skills and strategies for differentiating instruction in four courses focused on early intervention and assessment. While this graduate program is not designed for those seeking teacher certification, the credits you earn can count toward a future master’s degree. You’ll be able to apply your new knowledge while you work, and, upon completion of your certificate, you’ll be even more equipped to help every child learn to thrive. For more information about teaching certification, contact the department of education in your state. 

Top-ranked programs in two categories

Mizzou’s online graduate education programs ranked among the nation’s finest in two U.S. News & World Report Best Online Programs 2023 categories.

Best Online Programs U.S. News and World Report Grad Education 2023 Badge.
Best Online Programs U.S. News and World Report Veterans Grad Education 2023 Badge.

Quick facts

Official name

Graduate certificate in early childhood special education


University of Missouri-Columbia

Program type

Graduate certificate

Academic home

College of Education & Human Development | Department of Special Education

Delivery mode

100% online


Higher Learning Commission

Credit hours


Estimated cost


*This cost is for illustrative purposes only. Your hours and costs will differ, depending on your transfer hours, your course choices and your academic progress. See more about tuition and financial aid.

1-on-1 early childhood teaching

Career prospects

Job titles include:

  • Early childhood special education teacher
  • Developmental specialist
  • Special education specialist
  • Preschool teacher

Program structure

Delivery of this program is 100% online: no campus visits are required.

Courses are cohort-based. Most students study part time, taking one to two classes per semester, and complete the course work in just one year.

Course work includes

  • Introduction and methods of early intervention
  • Assessment in early childhood special education 
  • Introduction and methods of early childhood special education
  • Young children with autism


100% online

Calendar system


Typical program length

1 year

Typical course load

1-2 classes per semester

Further your education

Students may apply the 12 credit hours earned for this graduate certificate to a master of education in early childhood special education and a master of education in early childhood special education and autism. For more information, visit the Department of Special Education website.


The University of Missouri-Columbia is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States

Faculty spotlight

Jena Randolph, assistant professor special education

Jena Randolph is an assistant professor at the University of Missouri in the Department of Special Education and the director of online graduate programs. Before this, she served as the director of training and education at the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopment. She has over 25 years of experience working with individuals with autism throughout the lifespan across home, clinical and school settings. Her experience focuses on neurodiversity, collaborative and coordinated care, emergent communication development and supporting the implementation of evidence-based practices in schools.

Jena Randolph, PhD
Assistant Professor and Director of Online Graduate Programs, Department of Special Education
Rebecca McCatheren

Rebecca McCatheren was a practitioner for 20 years, working with children in diverse settings including residential treatment and respite care programs. Dr. McCatheren taught children with disabilities and those with multiple risk factors in diverse inner-city settings. Her desire to prepare educators for similar work led her to seek her doctorate in special education at Vanderbilt University. Her research interests include early language and communication and social and emotional development in young children. She has received five Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) personnel preparation grants since joining Mizzou in 1999.


Rebecca McCatheren
Professor Emerita

Learn more about this program

This program is administered by the Department of Special Education