Intellectual & Sensory Developmental Disabilities, Graduate Certificate

Developmental Disabilities Online Certificate for teacher

Program Description

Cousework in this online graduate certificate in intellectual and sensory developmental disabilities focuses on:

  • Visual impairments and blindness
  • Deafness and hearing loss
  • Autism
  • Severe disabilities
  • Families of students with disabilities

Students will gain a deeper understanding of how to effectively work with students who have a variety of  unique educational needs.

This is a 15 credit hour graduate certificate, and is not a teaching endorsement or teaching certificate.

This online graduate certificate program is designed to offer an efficient program of study which can be completed in 12-24 months.

Expert Faculty

The online Intellectual and Sensory Developmental Disabilities (ISDD) certificate program faculty are dedicated to research and teaching that advances the quality of intervention practices.

These practices are designed for children and youth with unique and multiple disabilities, their families and the collaborative work relationships needed to implement them successfully.  

Special Accreditation

In addition to the Higher Learning Commission accreditation carried by all University of Nebraska campuses, this program is also accredited by:

  • Nebraska Department of Education
  • Teacher Education Accreditation Council

Nebraska Department of Education logo, TEAC logo




Delivery Format

Home Campus: University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Method of Delivery: 100% Online - what's this?Program can be completed fully at a distance. Courses are asynchronous, meaning students and instructor may access content at any time and do not have to be connected to the Internet at the same time. If your program includes an internship or practicum, experiences may be completed in the student's local area.

All online courses are accessed via the Internet and use a learning management system. Technology requirements may vary by program and course, but all campuses have basic recommended requirements. High-speed Internet is required.

Interaction with professors and other students may include:

  • E-mail
  • Online discussion boards
  • Phone or video conferencing
  • Other forms of electronic and print communication

Supplemental materials for some courses may include:

  • Printed material and scanned documents
  • Digital resources accessed through university libraries
  • Videos accessed via the Internet, CDs or DVDs
  • Other media

To be successful, students taking online classes should be reasonably comfortable using a computer and the Internet. Learn more about online student tips for success.

Who Should Consider This Program?

Practitioners in special education, early childhood education, speech-language pathology, educational psychology, school administration or other related majors may apply for this non-degree, online graduate certificate in intellectual, sensory and developmental disabilities (ISDD).

This program does not lead to state teaching certification.

Academic Year 2014 - 2015

Tuition rates are effective for the academic year listed. Tuition is subject to change.

Nebraska Resident:

 TuitionDistance Ed. FeeTechnology FeeLibrary FeeTotal
Per credit hour$325.50$25.00$7.35$4.00$361.85
3 credit hour$976.50$75.00$22.05$12.00$1,085.55


 TuitionDistance Ed. FeeTechnology FeeLibrary FeeTotal
Per credit hour$609.00$25.00$7.35$4.00$645.35
3 credit hour$1,827.00$75.00$22.05$12.00$1,936.05

Note: In addition to the costs outlined above, students will be assessed a $20.00 registration fee each semester they enroll in courses.

This is a 15 credit hour online graduate program. It is not a teaching endorsement or teaching certificate.

This graduate certificate is designed to offer an efficient program of study that can be completed online in 12-24 months, depending on the number of courses taken each semester.

Required Courses  SPED 846, 872, 880, and 960 15 credit hours
Electives SPED 809, 836, 863, or 882  3 credit hours
Course Name
Course #
Core Courses

Foundations of Visual Impairments

SPED 846
Prereq: Admission to visually impaired program; hold or concurrently earn subject/field endorsement Current educational programs and services for children with visual impairments, as well as children with multiple disabilities. History of educational services, developmental characteristics, psycho-social aspects, history of legislation, and grade I Braille.

Psychology and Sociology of Deafness

SPED 872
Brief overview of education of the hearing impaired including history of, professional roles in, and educational programming within this field. Overview of social/psychological theories as related to the hearing impaired. Patterns of social/emotional development, psychological characteristics, issues of the family stress and social adaptation and discussion of counseling techniques.

Educating Students with Intellectual and...

SPED 880

Educating Students with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

SPED 480/880 requires observation in schools and applied assignments. Concepts related to history, definitions, identification, etiology, and assessment of students with intellectual impairments and developmental disabilities. Attitudes, assumptions, and stereotypes concerning persons with intellectual impairments and other developmental disabilities. Instructional methods, adaptations and teaming, to provide individualized interventions and to include students in least restrictive environments and/or general education settings.

Family and School Collaboration

SPED 960

Prereq: Professional experience or completion of one practicum and/or field experience with young children (birth to age 5) or other individuals ages 5 to 21 years who have disabilities. Functions and interactions of both family and education systems. Impact of having a child with a disability on the normal and stressed family system. Promote family-professional partnerships in assessment and intervention for the child and/or student with an IFSP/IEP. Communication skills are reviewed and practiced for effective teaming among educators and for interviewing, consulting, collaborating and coaching with family members and other community team members.

Elective Courses

Autism Spectrum Disorders

SPED 809

Prereq: SPED 400/800 or equivalent

SPED 809 requires observation in schools and applied assignments.

Designed for educators of children and youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) in school settings. Assessment strategies to identify characteristics of ASDs focused on individual needs and strengths-based outcomes. Knowledge and skills regarding evidence-based practices and individualized educational programs.

Career Education for the Special Needs Student

SPED 836
3 cr

Prereq: SPED 434 or permission

Philosophical and practical base of career education as it relates to special needs students. Career education units developed for infusion into subject matter areas.

Medically Fragile Infants

SPED 863
Unique needs, family-coping strategies, specialized medical staff, and various health-care settings of chronically ill infants and toddlers. Overview of etiology, characteristics, and developmental implications of selected medical conditions related to developmental disabilities.

Specialized Instruction for Students with Severe...

SPED 882

Specialized Instruction for Students with Severe and Multiple Disabilities

Lec 3. Prereq: SPED *881 for the Severely/Multihandicapped endorsement program or SPED *862 for Preschool Handicapped endorsement program; and permission. Majors in severe disabilities must parallel with SPED 896P (1 cr). SPED *882 requires observations in schools and applied assignments. Selection, design, and implementation of best practice instruction for students with severe disabilities, multiple disabilities, or deaf-blindness.

University of Nebraska online programs have the same quality instructional faculty as on campus; individuals from a variety of backgrounds, who embody the combined qualities resulting from research experience and professional/field experience.

The online intellectual and sensory developmental disabilities certificate is taught by an interdisciplinary group of graduate faculty.

Faculty have expertise in the areas of:

  • Visual impairments and blindness
  • Early childhood development and disabilities
  • Deafness and hearing loss
  • Autism
  • Severe disabilities

Through consultation and collaboration, our online graduate certificate faculty provide direction and management for this innovative, cross-disciplinary online graduate program in intellectual and sensory developmental disabilities.

Intellectual & Sensory Developmental Disabilities Faculty

Malinda Eccarius, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Practice

Christine A. Marvin, Ph.D., Associate Professor

Ellin Siegel, Ph.D., Associate Professor

Tessa McCarthy, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Practice/Director of the Visual Impairments Program

Guidelines for Admittance

To participate in this program, the student must:

  • Complete at least one undergraduate or graduate course in special education with a grade of B or better
  • Have an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher (undergraduate or nine credits of graduate)
  • Have previous experience with children with disabilities (preferred)


Application Checklist

Admission to this online graduate program is a two-step process. You will apply to both UNL Graduate Studies and the academic department of Special Education and Communication Disorders.

  • Apply to UNL Graduate Studies
  • Application Deadlines

    Applications for this program are accepted on a continual basis but reviewed for admission each spring. It is suggested that you apply by April 1st if you wish to begin in the subsequent fall term.


    Online Worldwide Educational Representative

    Program Contact
    Cheryl Griffith
    Phone: 402.472.5515

    Program Contact 
    Jill England
    Phone: 402.472.2141

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