Orientation and Mobility Specialist – Certificate and MEd

Become a highly trained expert who teaches safe travel skills to the blind and visually impaired.

Our Orientation and Mobility Specialist program (O&M)  focuses on advanced mobility training for individuals of all ages and abilities. The program prepares you to earn your certification as a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS, which is a gateway to a diverse range of employment opportunities.

We offer the O&M Graduate Certificate (26 credits), with the option to add on a Master’s Degree in Education for an additional six credits (32 credits total).

The program is offered in a hybrid format, with most courses online and a limited number of workshops in person. Students also complete a clinical experience of at least 350 hours.

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Program Facts

Degree Type

Certificate
Master of Education

Credits

26 credits - Certificate
32 credits - Master's + Certificate together

Format

Hybrid

Time Commitment

Part-time
(1-2 classes per semester)

Duration

1-2 years
(Variation depends on if students have completed prerequisites)

Enrollment Term

Fall or Spring

Application Deadline

June 1 - Early Admission
August 1 - Applications considered until this date

Admissions Requirements

No GRE Exam Required

Program Overview

AER approved program image of their seal of approvalFor more than 60 years, the University of Pittsburgh School of Education has offered vision studies programs to prepare highly specialized teachers. We are one of the longest-running and most widely respected programs in personnel preparation in the United States. Thousands of highly specialized teachers who served the needs of children who are blind or visually impaired got their start at Pitt.

Two Credentials

Students will earn a graduate certificate as a certified orientation and mobility specialist (26 credits) and have the option to take two additional courses to earn a master’s degree in education (32 credits).

Many of our students also choose to combine their O&M training with our Teacher of the Visually Impaired program.

Hybrid Format

Our orientation and mobility specialist program is primarily online with some required face-to-face sessions. The in-person sessions consist of hands-on workshops.

Professional Certification

This program provides students with the professional competencies and experiential learning to become eligible for certification by the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP), the national certifying body in orientation and mobility studies.

With this certification, the graduate is qualified to provide educational and rehabilitation O&M services needed by children and adults who are blind or visually impaired in public schools, rehabilitation agencies, and Veteran’s Administration hospitals.

Requirements

  1. Courses are primarily online, but students must complete an in-person techniques course for 7 weeks during one summer
  2. Internship of 350 hours (approximately 12-14) weeks, which is needed for certification
  3. Completion of all required courses

Curriculum

O&M Certificate (26 credits)

This 26-credit program provides the Orientation and Mobility Specialist for Individuals with Visual Impairment or Blindness graduate certificate from the University of Pittsburgh School of Education.

Graduates are eligible for national certification as an Orientation and Mobility Specialist by the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP).

All students will complete a certificate because its curriculum leads to state certification.

  • Introduction to the Eye and Low Vision (3 credits)
  • Education of Children with Visual Impairments, Part 1 (3 credits)
  • Foundations of Orientation and Mobility (3 credits)
  • Techniques of Orientation and Mobility 1 (3 credits)
  • Techniques of Orientation and Mobility 2 (3 credits)
  • Program Development in Orientation and Mobility (3 credits)
  • Orientation and Mobility for Diverse Populations (3 credits)
  • Level 3 Internship Practicum in Orientation and Mobility (5 credits)

View full curriculum and class descriptions

O&M Certificate and MEd (32 credits)

This 32-credit program provides students with two advanced credentials: the Orientation and Mobility Specialist for Individuals with Visual Impairment or Blindness graduate certificate and a Master of Education degree.

The certificate is 26 credits to complete and the master’s degree is an additional 6 credits. The master’s program consists of a  six-credit sequence of research courses that allow students to study their own practice as educators and advance their knowledge in the field of visual impairment and blindness studies.

Graduates are eligible for national certification as an Orientation and Mobility Specialist by the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP).

Completing the MEd portion of the program is optional. 

Master of Education Curriculum (6 credits)

It is an additional six credits of the following courses to earn the master’s degree.

  • Introduction to Research Methodology (3 credits)
  • Research Seminar or Research Seminar in Special Education (3 credits)

Certificate Curriculum – 26 credits

Students will complete the following courses to earn their certificate and to be eligible for certification. 

  • Introduction to the Eye and Low Vision (3 credits)
  • Education of Children with Visual Impairments, Part 1 (3 credits)
  • Foundations of O&M (3 credits)
  • Techniques of O&M 1 (3 credits)
  • Techniques of O&M 2 (3 credits)
  • Program Development in O&M (3 credits)
  • O&M for Diverse Populations (3 credits)
  • Level 3 Internship Practicum in O&M (5 credits)

Prerequisites

The prerequisite requirements may be taken at the graduate or undergraduate level. Students may also take the courses as co-requisites.

Prerequisite

  • Foundations of Special Education (3 credits)

Upcoming Info Sessions

General Info Session (Virtual)

March 4, 2024 | Noon-1 PM

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General Info Session (Virtual)

March 18, 2024 | Noon-1 PM

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General Info Session (Virtual)

April 1, 2024 | Noon-1 PM

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Career Pathways

The program addresses a critical shortage area in education. Research indicates a current need for approximately 28,000 professionals who can work with children who are blind or visually impaired.

Our graduates are employed across:

  • Early intervention programs assisting families of young children who have visual disabilities
  • Public or private schools as COMS teaching children to be independent and successful
  • Itinerant COMS employed by school systems or intermediate units to travel between schools to provide instruction to children who are visually impaired
  • Independent contractors providing services to school systems
  • Center-based programs at specialized schools
  • Rehabilitation agencies for adults who are blind
  • COMS with the Veterans Administration or with Older Blind programs