The Alternative Route to Licensure program in Special Education (ESP-ARL) is designed to support teacher candidates in developing evidence-based content knowledge and pedagogy related to teaching students with disabilities. Through integrated coursework and field experiences, the mission of our program is to support your development in pedagogical content knowledge relative to effective teaching practices for students with disabilities. Basically, through classes on campus at UNLV and experiences in special education classrooms we are working to prepare you to be the best teacher you can be for students with disabilities!

The ESP-ARL prepares you to teach students with disabilities in public school environments, from K-12 grade. There are four licensure tracks to choose from the ESP-ARL program, including:

  • Generalist (e.g., Co-teach, Resource Room, self-contained for students with Learning Disabilities and Emotional/Behavioral Disorders)
  • Autism
  • Early Childhood Special Education
  • Intellectual Disabilities

Admission Deadline

Fall - July 1

Spring - November 1

Summer - April 1

Contact Info

Nancy Brown, EMS ARL Program Coordinator
Phone: 702-895-3205

Joseph Morgan, EMS Graduate Coordinator
Phone: 702-895-3205

Structure of the Program

Professional Development Semester

The ESP-ARL program is designed for completion in four-five semesters (approximately 15-18 months). In the first semester (professional development), students complete three classes (9 credit hours or 135 contact hours), the Praxis Core or the California Basic Educational Skills Test, and a one credit hour class which is a 45-hour practicum experience under the direction of a licensed special education teacher in the Clark County School District.

If students complete the coursework, testing, and practicum requirements in the first semester, then they are eligible for an ARL certificate that allows students to apply for a provisional license in the state of Nevada through the Nevada Department of Education. This license is valid for three years and allows for ESP-ARL completers to then apply for employment as a special education teacher in any public school in the state of Nevada.

Completion of Licensure Courses

Following the initial professional development semester, students will continue taking three courses per semester for the subsequent three-four semesters in order to complete the coursework criteria for a standard teaching license in the state of Nevada. The semester breakdown found on this webpage is a sample of what a plan of study may look like; students will be given their own individual course sequence upon admission to the program.

In their final semester of courses, ESP-ARL students will complete a comprehensive exam that covers material learned throughout their Master’s program.

Additional Licensure Requirements

Once ESP-ARL students complete all coursework requirements, they will also need to pass any additional state licensing exams and teach for two years satisfactorily in a special education placement before applying for their standard teaching license. ESP-ARL students are encouraged to see the Nevada Department of Education licensure requirements in special education for additional information.

Applications for admission to the ESP-ARL program are due by the following dates:

Fall – July 1
Spring – November 1
Summer – April 1

Interested applicants must complete both the Graduate College and the supplemental EMS application for full consideration. Candidates will be contacted to come to campus to participate in an interview following submission of their application.

Candidates must meet the following criteria to be eligible for the ESP-ARL program:

  1. Have a Bachelor’s degree in a field other than education with an overall undergraduate GPA of 2.75 or higher OR a 3.0 GPA or higher in your last 60 credits of study.
    1. If your GPA is below these criteria, it is recommended that you begin as a non-degree seeking student for your professional development semester and then apply to the Graduate College based on your grades in that first semester.
  2. Be accepted as either a Master of Education in Special Education student or a non-degree seeking graduate student through the UNLV Graduate College.
  3. Complete the supplemental ARL application.
  4. Take and pass the Praxis Core or the California Basic Educational Skills Test by the end of the semester for which you are admitted.
  5. Successfully participate in an on-campus interview with faculty in the Special Education program at UNLV.

Upon admission to the ESP-ARL program, all students will be assigned a graduate advisor who will guide them through the completion of their Master’s degree. It is expected that ESP-ARL students move through the program as a cohort and follow the program of study outlined for each cohort. This ensures that you will complete all licensure requirements in the timeframe outlined by the Nevada Department of Education. Students should check their admissions letter in the Grad Rebel Gateway for their advisor’s information, and should schedule a time to meet with their advisor in the first semester of coursework.