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Practitioner, Master of Science, Special Education

Special Education teachers are in high demand.

The Practitioner (Job-Embedded) Initial Licensure Program with a Specialization in Special Education allows a partnering school system to employ an individual as “instructor of record” in an area of high need prior to completion of coursework in teacher education provided the candidate has been admitted to a job-embedded practitioner (JEP) program.

Upon meeting several criteria and being recommended by an approved educator preparation program, the Tennessee Department of Education’s Office of Educator Licensing will issue the JEP License that allows the teacher three years to complete all requirements for educator licensure. The teacher then completes a graduate-level teacher licensure program while carrying out the duties and responsibilities of a first-year teacher with ongoing mentorship from the school system and JEP program faculty.

*Beginning Fall 2020, the Job-embedded Practitioner Program will be offered solely through distance education.

How to Apply
Visit the Job-Embedded Practitioner Licensure page to learn about the steps to apply for the Practitioner: Initial Licensure Program with a Specialization in Special Education. In summary, the steps are:

  • Complete the UTK JEP Application.
  • Submit a Post-Baccalaureate Review Request to have transcripts reviewed by a licensure specialist to determine eligibility for the program.
  • Upon confirmation of eligibility and selection from employing school district, the Office of Advising and Student Services will contact the candidate with directions to complete the program application, background check, and interview with the JEP Board of Admission.
  • Contact Lisa Emery (, Associate Director of the Office of Advising and Student Services and teacher education licensure specialist, for a transcript review and confirmation of eligibility for admission upon employment.
  • Apply to the University of Tennessee Graduate Admissions.
  • After meeting with Lisa Emery and applying to UT, meet with the Special Education JEP Program Coordinator, Dr. Cate Smith (

Criteria for Admission
To be eligible for the JEP program, applicants must:

  • Have a minimum of a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college/university, with a cumulative GPA of 2.75 or higher on a 4-point scale, or have a minimum 3.0 GPA in the last 60 credit hours of a completed baccalaureate degree.
  • Supply verification of passing scores on required Praxis II exams for the endorsement area.
  • Meet all school district eligibility requirements for a job-embedded practitioner teaching position at a collaborating school district.
  • Be selected by the school district as the preferred candidate for the open position.

To view the course of study
Please follow this link to the UT Catalog.

  1. Select the appropriate catalog from the dropdown menu on the right.
  2. Select the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences.
  3. Scroll to TPTE and select “Display Programs for this Department.”
  4.  Click on the appropriate program to see the credit requirements and admission procedures for each program.

For detailed information about our Special Education programs, please refer our Special Education Program Guide (link to pdf of 2019 guide)

Cate C. Smith, PhD
Clinical Assistant Professor