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Cato College of Education

Cato College of Education at UNC Charlotte

Where Educators Learn To Make A Difference

The Cato College of Education strives to lead the state’s teachers, school leaders, superintendents, clinical mental health counselors and policymakers to advance educational equity, excellence and engagement for all students. Nationally accredited and approved by the North Carolina Department of Public Education, our programs offer teaching licensure, cutting-edge instruction methods and hands-on learning experiences for those with a passion to teach in Charlotte, North Carolina schools and beyond.


The Department of Counseling programs are for students who are passionate about improving access to high-quality mental healthcare in North Carolina schools and diverse communities. Whether you’re looking for school counseling programs in North Carolina or more specific areas of care – like working with those who struggle with addiction – you’ll find the right program, concentration or certification to match your eagerness to inspire social change.

Career Fields:

  • Clinical Mental Health Counselor
  • School Counselor
  • Addiction and Substance Abuse Counselor
  • Social Work
  • Gerontology Counselor

Educational Leadership

The Department of Educational Leadership programs and certifications prepare highly effective and ethical educational leaders who positively impact and advocate for children, youth, families, communities and schools in North Carolina’s urban and diverse settings. With graduate programs in higher education, education research, school administration and an M.Ed in Learning, Design and Technology that offers a Concentration in Online Learning and Teaching, educators can hone skills specific to the education leadership role they’d like to pursue.

Career Fields:

  • School Administration
  • Higher Education Administration
  • Curriculum Design & Integration of Online Learning
  • Education & Education Policy Research
  • Education Technology & Online Learning

K-12 Education

Elementary educators play a critical role in setting children on the path to success, which is why our programs are dedicated to preparing the top teachers in Charlotte, North Carolina Schools. Concentrate on the subject of your choice – arts education, teaching English as a second language, teaching a foreign language and more, as well as obtaining teaching licensure certification in North Carolina.

Career Fields:

  • Foreign Language Instruction
  • Arts Instruction
  • English, Social Studies, Math, or Science Teacher
  • Teaching English as a Second Language
  • Curriculum Design
  • Child Advocacy

Reading & Elementary Education

Fourth-graders with proficient or higher reading skills in North Carolina have dropped to 36 percent in 2019 from 39 percent in 2017, according to the National Assessment of Education Process. Strong literacy skills are essential building blocks for students to succeed in school, and in all aspects of their lives. Our programs in reading education prepare educators with evidence-based and targeted approaches to improving literacy instruction programs and practices among all learners.

Career Fields:

  • Elementary Reading Specialist
  • K-5 Teacher
  • Elementary School Teacher
  • Curriculum Design
  • Literacy Mentorship
  • Literacy Specialist

Special Education & Child Development

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment of special education teachers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026. Students with disabilities often require more time, more understanding and differentiated instruction that is tailored to their distinctive learning abilities. Our Special Education & Child Development programs prepare educators with the knowledge, skills, and sensitivity to meet these advanced needs. Our Special Education graduate program is ranked 15th overall in its field.

Career Fields:

  • Early Intervention Specialist
  • Special Needs Educator
  • Children’s Program Director
  • Community Service Program Director
  • Child Advocacy & Disabilities Services Consultant

Leading Innovation In Urban Education

UNC Charlotte is a leader in the field of Urban Education. Formed in 2011, Cato College of Education’s Urban Education Collaborative is the host of the International Conference on Urban Education, the only gathering with an international focus on improving urban schools. The Urban Education Collaborative was established to provide strategic outreach to schools and other organizations to facilitate high-level learning and improve the environment for the nation's urban students. UNC Charlotte’s M.Ed. in Urban Education is the nation’s first online master degree program in urban education in the nation.


UNC Charlotte is among the largest producers of teachers in the state of North Carolina. Graduates thrive in all varieties of school and community environments, and have been recognized with district and statewide honors, including the last two Teacher of the Year awards at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.



Cato College of Education is home to over 118 full-time faculty members, many of whom have published cutting-edge research related to autism, students with disabilities, struggling readers, why students succeed and fail in college, the teacher shortage, culturally relevant instruction, helping youth with severe disabilities transition into the workplace and more, with studies appearing in leading research journals in the field including Research in Higher Education, Journal of Educational Psychology and Teachers College Press.


Research & Hands-On Learning

The Cato College of Education hosts research and education institutes, including the Center for Adolescent Literacies, the Center for Educational Measurement and Evaluation and the Multicultural Play Therapy Center, as well its state-initiated lab school. Niner University Elementary was created by UNC Charlotte’s education experts to provide enhanced educational programming to students in low-performing schools in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community, while giving Cato College of Education students an opportunity to put their learning to practice.

50+ Teacher of the Year awards earned since 2015
Ranked #7 In The Nation
Ranked #7 In The Nation
Special education online graduate programs were ranked 7th in the nation.
—2020-2021 U.S. News & World Report for Best Online Programs.
1st In The Nation
1st In The Nation
M.Ed. in Urban Education is the nation’s first online master’s degree program in urban education in the nation.
12+ Public School Districts
12+ Public School Districts
UNC Charlotte is in close proximity to over 12 public school districts and dozens of private schools, almost all of which have hired our graduates.

Alumni Across the Carolinas

UNC Charlotte alumni live, work, teach and support communities throughout the state.

North Carolina
  • Asheville, NC
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Concord, NC
  • Durham, NC
  • Fayetteville, NC
  • Greensboro, NC
  • Greenville, NC
  • Jacksonville, NC
  • Raleigh, NC
  • Rocky Mount, NC
  • Wilmington, NC
  • Winston-Salem, NC

Are You Ready To Learn More?

Whether you have a specific interest in special needs education, or would just like to explore the path to becoming an educator, take the first important step and contact the Cato College of Education to learn more about top education programs in North Carolina.