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Campus News / News

New Online Rockford University Graduate Program Expands Access to Special Education Teacher Training

06/02/2021 2:16 pm

ROCKFORD, Ill. (June 2, 2021) – Rockford University, the region’s leading private four-year educational institution, is expanding online access to its special education graduate program to help address the critical need for special education teachers.

Starting this fall, the university’s special education endorsement and master’s degree in special education will be offered fully online. It’s one of only three such online programs to be offered by Illinois-based institutions.

“Expanding our special education training online makes the entire process more flexible for students who might not be able to attend classes in person every week, and it really opens the door to more people wanting to pursue a passion for special education,” said Dr. Gina Braun, Rockford University’s director of special education. “We’re making the training more convenient while still maintaining the personal connection to our highly engaged faculty who understand the unique challenges faced by Illinois teachers.”

Here’s how it works:

  • Special education teaching positions require a special education endorsement, and this portion of the program has been restructured so it can be completed in year one. This will help fill the pipeline of teachers faster.
  • Students will then finish out their degree in year two in part by completing research and a thesis project in special education, with a goal to submit the work for presentation, publication, or both.

The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the need for more special education expertise. Illinois has nearly 4,500 open teaching positions, according to the Illinois State Board of Education, and more than 600 of those openings are for special education teachers.

In addition to shifting the program online, Rockford University’s team is also working with local school districts and private schools to establish partnerships that will allow employees to complete endorsements and teaching degrees. A partnership with the Belvidere School District, for example, will result in nine additional special education-endorsed teachers by spring 2023.

Visit or call 815-226-4040 for more information. Opportunities for financial aid are available.



Rockford University is a private four-year, co-educational institution founded in 1847 offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in traditional liberal arts and professional fields. The University offers more than 80 majors, minors, and concentrations, including the bachelor’s degree completion program for a B.S. in Management Studies. Through its Graduate Studies department, degrees are extended to include the Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT), and Master of Education in Urban Education, (M.Ed.). Rockford University is home to one of only 11 Phi Beta Kappa (PBK) chapters in Illinois, the most prestigious honor society in the United States. Named by The Princeton Review as a Best Midwestern College and is a U.S. News & World Report Best Midwest Regional University, Rockford University currently serves approximately 1,250 full-and part-time students.