UMaine, UMM announce special education collaboration

Starting this fall, undergraduate students majoring in education at the University of Maine and University of Maine at Machias will be able to count certain 400-level courses toward a master’s degree in special education.

The collaboration is part of a new 4+1 program that will allow UMaine and UMM students to earn both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in five years. In addition, UMaine undergrads majoring in elementary education will now be able to take special education courses remotely through the Machias campus for a specialization in special education.

“Schools across Maine are in great need of special education teachers. We see this as a way to meet that growing demand for skilled educators, and to serve the needs of Maine’s children and communities,” says Mary Mahoney-O’Neil, associate dean for academic services at the UMaine College of Education and Human Development.

The Maine Department of Education is required by federal law to submit teacher shortage areas to the U.S. Department of Education annually. Special education teacher (serving students with disabilities and/or students with severe impairments) is listed as an area of need for the 2019–20 school year.

The collaboration between UMaine and UMM was aided in part by the primary partnership between the two institutions. In July 2017, UMM became a regional campus of UMaine. The goal of the partnership is to boost enrollment, promote efficiencies, and advance academic and research opportunities.

The agreement gives UMaine undergraduates the option to take classes in a high-needs discipline through the online special education courses offered by UMM. Education majors at both campuses will be able to easily transition to the Master of Education (M.Ed.) program in special education, with a concentration in high-incidence disabilities, at UMaine. The M.Ed. program is entirely online and can lead to state certification as a teacher of students with disabilities (K–8 or 7–12).

“This collaboration will benefit students at both campuses,” says Heather Ball, UMM associate professor of special education. “Machias students benefit from the opportunity to further their career and educational goals by earning a master’s degree at UMaine, and UMaine students benefit by having access to our undergraduate special education courses.”

The two campuses are currently looking for partnerships in other education program areas.