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Special Education

Special education programs prepare people to teach students who have special needs that impact their ability to learn. Students learn to identify and teach students with emotional disturbances or developmental challenges. They also learn to work with students who have physical challenges such as blindness. Exceptional students fit into many different age groups and have a wide variety of special needs. There are students with physical disabilities such as deafness or blindness. There are also students with mental and emotional disabilities. Some students may have autism or have particular speech and language impairments. And then there are students with a combination of disabilities. People study these needs in order to better teach students with them.

As a student in special education programs, you learn about many aspects of the field. You learn about the different kind of barriers that exceptional students face when trying to learn. You study government laws and policies that affect these students. You learn to identify the special needs of students and then plan an individualized course of study for each one. If you care deeply for students as individuals, love to teach, and possess a lot of patience and perspective, special education may be the program for you. Although certification is required for public school teachers (K-12) in all 50 states, some states offer alternative teacher certification programs to attract otherwise qualified persons into the field. Aspiring teachers who need certification may also enter programs that grant a master’s degree in education, as well as certification.

General Information
College of Education
GPA Requirement 2.5
Department Website Special Education
Degree(s) Offered
  • Bachelor of Science in Education, Major in Special Education
  • Master of Education in Special Education
  • Educational Specialist in Special Education
Possible Employment Settings
  • Public and Private Schools
  • Colleges and Universities
  • Camps & Youth Services
  • Non-Profit Agencies
  • Nursery Schools
  • Preschools & Day Care Centers
  • Churches & Community Centers
  • State and Federal Government Agencies
Occupational Opportunities
  • Autism Specialist
  • Curriculum Specialist*
  • Developmental Coach
  • Educational Administrator*
  • Educational Researcher*
  • Educational Resource Coordinator
  • Educational Therapist
  • Grant Writer
  • Guidance Counselor*
  • High School Teacher
  • Instructor, College/University
  • Student Admissions Administrator*
  • Teacher, Handicapped Students

*Requires additional education/certification

  • Media Center Specialist
  • Middle School Teacher
  • Needs Assessment Counselor
  • Paraprofesional
  • Resource Teacher
  • School Psychologist*
  • Sign Language Interpretter
  • Social Services Worker
  • Special Education Administrator
  • Speech Pathologist*
  • Student Affairs Administrator*
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor

***For more detailed information regarding typical duties, salary, training, etc please look at the Occupational Outlook Handbook online at U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Professional and Student Organizations
Salary Information
Internet Resources

Last updated: 2/17/2020