The Special Education programs for K-12 Special Education-General Curriculum, K-12 Adapted Curriculum and PK-12 Visual Impairments include coursework that meet VDOE requirements for licensure.
Refer to these licensure testing requirements to identify the test requirements for your program and to learn about approved substitute options, and then touch base with your advisor to confirm your plans.
The BSEd in Special Education, when done with a licensure concentration, provides a route to meet the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) requirements to earn a teaching license that corresponds to the concentration area. Once the BSEd with concentration has been awarded, the Mason licensure coordinator is available to assist students with submission of the VDOE teacher licensure packet.
Students who have completed the university state-approved program must meet all requirements for their licensure certificate, including internships and test requirements, prior to submitting for licensure. Once requirements for licensure have been met (e.g., grades posted for all classes, waivers submitted if applicable, tests completed, etc.), students may apply. Graduate students do not have to wait until conferral of their degree. Students seeking VDOE licensure may submit for licensure either by submitting all VDOE required documentation through Mason or by obtaining a college verification form from Mason and submitting through their school division.
Students are encouraged to check their records when they are approximately 6 weeks away from completion of their final coursework to avoid delays in processing licensure paperwork. Because your job or a job offer may depend on your ability to provide a signed college verification form for licensure, all paperwork (including internship waiver requests for graduate programs) should be submitted to the Special Education Advising Office at least six weeks prior to submission for licensure. This provides the necessary time for adjustments to be entered on your record before the licensure specialist completes your paperwork.
There are 3 options that the Mason licensure specialist can check on the college verification form:
- Option 1: Completed state approved program — This is the ideal route to licensure and the only route recommended by Mason. Program requirements are pre-approved by VDOE to cover licensure competencies. This option is available to students who complete either the undergraduate BSEd in Special Education with a licensure concentration or who complete a graduate licensure certificate. All program requirements including internships and program test requirements (e.g, VCLA) must be met.
- Option 2: "No – all but internships" — Graduate students with teaching experience in the public schools, for example in teaching general education or teaching as a provisionally licensed special education teacher, who complete all components of the licensure certificate program including program test requirements (e.g, VCLA) can receive a college verification form stating that while the program was not complete, all requirements for the licensure program other than internship were met. School divisions must verify teaching experience. Transcripts are then reviewed by VDOE to determine if the licensure requirements, including the requirement for supervised classroom experience, have been met. This option does NOT guarantee licensure and it is possible students will need coursework outside of their program to meet state licensure requirements. This route is not recommended by Mason.
- Option 3: No, has not completed a state approved program — Students who do not complete a licensure program at the university can submit transcripts to VDOE and request a review to determine which licensure competencies were met with the courses completed. This option does NOT guarantee licensure and it is likely students will need coursework outside of their program to meet state licensure requirements. Mason recommends all students pursuing licensure do so by completion of a pre-approved university program as noted in Option 1.
There is more than one route to obtain licensure in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Students can complete a state-approved university licensure program or they can apply for their licensure via the alternate route which means submitting coursework directly to VDOE licensure review. Discuss your choice with your advisor to ensure you fully understand the result of your decision. While many VDOE/HR and Mason requirements will overlap, there will be some differences. It is imperative that you consult with both your Mason advisor and HR specialist to ensure you meet all requirements for employment as well as all requirements for your graduate program.
IMPORTANT: The only agreement Mason has with VDOE to verify a student has met requirements for licensure is through the completion of the state approved program. GMU courses are not a one-to-one match with state requirements and the state may require you take additional courses if you have not completed the program in full. Students taking the alternate route to licensure are subject to any changes made by VDOE. Students pursuing an alternate route to licensure must work closely with the HR or VDOE licensure specialist in their school division to determine what requirements (e.g. additional coursework) you will need in order to obtain licensure. When you apply to graduate, you will graduate from the MEd program only and not the certificate.
Licensure requirements are state-specific. Begin by consulting with the Department of Education of the state. You may also want to review the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement Facilitating Mobility of Educational Personnel. If a form is required by the state indicating your completion of a licensure program, or status in a licensure program, submit the form to the CEHD Licensure Specialist. Mason can only provide you with a form stating that you completed a VDOE state-approved licensure certificate program if you were admitted to, and met all requirements of, a VDOE state-approved program, including test requirements and internship. Mason will not be able to provide such verification for students pursuing an alternate route to licensure.