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Initial Special Services License (in-state)

Preparing to Apply

This checklist is for ...

Audiologists, nurses, occupational therapists, orientation and mobility specialists, physical therapists, school counselors, school psychologists, social workers and speech-language pathologists who were prepared at a Colorado institution of higher education and who wish to obtain their first Colorado special services license to serve in a public school setting.

  • Confirm that you have met the requirements for your specialty.

Not in the right place? Review the other checklists.

Plan Ahead

Application Fee:


License Expires:

3 years from date of issue

Gather the Necessary Information/Documentation

You will need the following* to submit a complete application for a SPECIAL SERVICES license:

  • A valid form of government-issued identification. 
  • A copy of an official transcript for every college/university attended. [Unofficial transcripts are never accepted. Do not include them in your application.]
    • Of these transcripts, at least one must be an official, degree-conferred transcript from a regionally accredited college or university that demonstrates a bachelor's or higher degree. (Registered nurses may hold an associate's degree in nursing.)
    • Transcripts from institutions outside the US must be in English or include an authentic English translation and have been evaluated by a NACES member organization for course-by-course equivalency.
  • An approved program verification form (APV) completed by the registrar or certification officer of the college/university where you completed your specialty-specific preparation program.
  • A score report for any Colorado State Board of Education-approved exam or other required exam passed (not applicable for nurses).
  • A copy of your state license or national certification (required for O&M Specialist, OT, PT and RN; optional for others (but will serve in lieu of the required exam))
    • Important Note: Registered nurses must maintain an active DORA license to practice nursing in Colorado in addition to the CDE-issued special services license/school nurse. Those holding multi-state licenses issued by another state must apply for a Colorado DORA-issued RN license within 60 days, as per the Nurse License Compact.
  • All prior work experience.
  • Documentation for any self-disclosures related to the following:
    • Prior criminal history
    • Disciplinary actions
    • Issues related to licensure or employment

Then ...

  • Log in to COOL to create your licensure account (if you have not already done so.)
  • Submit fingerprints to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
    • Ensure you have a current background check on file. You have 30 days from the time CDE receives your background check to apply for a license.
    • If you have submitted fingerprints for CDE credentialing in the past, but allowed all credentials to lapse or did not submit within the 30-day window, you must submit a new set of fingerprints to CBI for licensure purposes.
    • The status of your background checks will be noticed in your COOL account and within your application(s).


Have everything ready to go?

Once you have gathered all required documentation, have submitted fingerprints to CBI for CDE licensure purposes and have reviewed the licensure process, log in to COOL to complete and submit a SPECIAL SERVICES application.


Final Reminders

At the risk of repeating ourselves, we again reiterate these important reminders:

  • You have 30 days from the time CDE receives your background checks to submit an application or you will need to submit a new set of fingerprints for licensure purposes at the time of application.
  • By submitting an application, you are verifying that you have submitted fingerprints for CDE licensure purposes, provided all requested documentation and answered all questions truthfully.
  • Within 45 days of receipt (usually far sooner!), CDE will evaluate the application.
    • Upon determination of qualification, CDE will notify the applicant and the corresponding certificate will be available for view or print in the individual's COOL account.
  • If for some reason CDE is not able to access all documentation in the application, the application will be deemed "incomplete" and CDE will notify the applicant via email and specify the information needed to complete it. This includes notification that we have yet to receive your background checks!
    • An applicant has 60 days from the date of this notification to cure the deficiency (i.e., provide the necessary information or submit background checks) or submit to the department a written request for reconsideration stating the basis for the request. Additional time is not granted to those who receive this notification due to background checks. Any additional deficiency noticed also will need to be cured within the original 60-day period.
      • Requests for reconsideration do not apply to background checks.
      • CDE will provide a written response within 30 days of any request for reconsideration.
    • An applicant who fails to cure the deficiency or request reconsideration within these 60 days will be deemed as having withdrawn the application, and such withdrawal shall not be subject to appeal or review.
  • State statute prohibits the refunding of any application evaluation fee.
  • Once you have submitted an application, check your COOL account regularly for notifications on its status and/or to print a copy of your certificate.





For questions, submit a Licensing Support Request form or call 720-739-3304 (7:30 am to 12:30 pm, Monday through Friday).