Teaching & Learning

Two Special Ed Grad Programs Highly Ranked by "U.S. News and World Report"

U.S. News and World Report magazine has once again named two graduate programs in Utah State University’s Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services among the top tier of programs in the nation.

In the 2013 edition of “America’s Best Graduate Schools,” two programs in the Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation were ranked in the top 20 programs nationally. The department’s rehabilitation counseling program ranked ninth in the nation, and the special education graduate program was ranked at No. 15 among all special education programs.

“We are the only top 20 ranked specialty graduate program in Utah,” said Ben Lignugaris-Kraft, head of USU’s Special Education and Rehabilitation department. “We have a strong reputation among school districts that hire our graduates and our master’s and doctoral graduates are increasingly sought out by programs that serve individuals with disabilities in other areas of the country. All of these things serve to strengthen our program’s reputation.”

The special education master’s program prepares graduates to work with children, youth and adults with disabilities. The program is designed to develop and improve teaching skills in the classroom as well as to develop the skills of those who work with individuals with disabilities in community-based settings.

The rehabilitation counseling program trains graduates to provide services to adults with a broad range of disabilities to help them obtain gainful employment.

“The top ten ranking for the rehabilitation counseling program feels like a validation of the hard work we do and reflects the quality of our program,” said Jared Schultz, associate professor of special education and rehabilitation. “At the same time, there is always room for growth and we will continue to expand our research and teaching methods to include the very latest methods available.”

USU’s Special Education and Rehabilitation department is unique in that it combines the two disciplines, something that isn’t normally done, according to Schultz. Researchers in the department are working with older youth receiving special education instruction and transitioning them to rehab counseling so they can become successful and independent as they enter adulthood.

“We are blurring the lines in two fields that go together very well,” Schultz said. “We are developing the models and research that will build a bridge between the two fields so the process becomes more effective.”

Students enrolled in both programs have the opportunity to work in a variety of areas, including USU’s Center for Persons with Disabilities, USU’s ASSERT Preschool and the USU housed National Clearinghouse of Rehabilitation Training Materials.

“All of the many resources available to master’s and doctoral students enrolled in our programs, along with our increasing national notoriety, have allowed us to recruit the best and brightest students from around the country,” said Lignugaris-Kraft. “In the past year our disability disciplines doctoral program had the largest pool of applicants ever.”

Utah State University’s Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services has improved five spots over last year, coming in at No. 24 on U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings of the graduate education programs in the nation. This marks the 13th consecutive year the college has made it on the list, and as in last year’s rankings, is the only education program in Utah this year to secure a place in the top 50.

For more information about USU’s graduate programs in Special Education and Rehabilitation, visit the website (http://sped.usu.edu/master/).

Contacts: Ben Lignugaris-Kraft, 435-797-2382, ben.lig@usu.edu; Jared Schultz, 435-797-3478, jared.schultz@usu.edu

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