Special Education

professor and student taking a walk


Bachelor of Arts
Major
School of Education
Three- or Four-Year Degree

Overview

Westminster College's Special Education program prepares you to work with students with high-incidence disabilities (e.g., learning disabilities, behavioral and emotional disorders, speech-language disorders, etc.). Through the program, you will learn practices that nurture and develop equity and inclusion for all students, allowing you to act as both an instructor and an instrument for social change. This program allows you to earn a Special Education degree and a teaching license with an endorsement in K–12 mild/moderate disabilities.

Who It's For

Teacher candidates in the Special Education program have a strong desire to make a difference in the lives of students and serve as advocates for equity and inclusion. Westminster prepares you to work with students with a wide range of academic, behavioral, and social/emotional abilities, who need effective instruction that requires a deep and comprehensive understanding of their abilities. When you graduate, you will be able to develop highly responsive, explicit, systematic instructional and behavioral interventions that both support your student's success and respond to their diverse and complex needs.

Key Benefits

  • In-person instruction is paired with practice in actual school settings, allowing you to learn in a hands-on, collaborative environment.
  • Instruction covers the Council for Exceptional Children's high-leverage practices, which can be used to leverage student learning across different content areas, grade levels, and student abilities and disabilities, addressing the most critical practices that every K–12 special education teacher should master.
  • Key skills covered in instruction include:
    • Collaboration
    • Evidence-based reading and mathematics instruction
    • Progress monitoring
    • Standards-based Individualized Education Program (IEP) development
    • Functional behavioral assessment
    • Explicit instruction
    • Assistive and instructional technologies
  • You receive extensive clinical practice with students and receive coaching and feedback from your mentor teachers and college supervisors to prepare you for success in your first year of teaching.
  • Opportunities are offered to help you build relationships with local agencies, organizations, advocacy groups, and service providers within the disability community to make lasting connections.
  • Special education teachers are prepared to work with students in an inclusive and a resource classroom environment.
Rylee, Special Education student

"My favorite thing about the education programs at Westminster College is the supportive faculty. Being able to connect with my faculty in small classes is such an incredible way to learn how to become a successful teacher."

Rylee, ’21
Students sitting outside
Students with laptops

About the Program

At Westminster, you get the advantage of earning your degree and teaching license while learning the Council for Exceptional Children’s 22 high-leverage practices. These practices are research-based and known to foster student engagement and learning.

What You'll Learn

  • Develop the foundational skills that lead to great teaching, such as advocacy and inclusion.
  • Develop a knowledge of evidence-based strategies for teaching, assessing student learning, and collaborating with families.
  • Learn the Council for Exceptional Children’s 22 high-leverage practices in special education that can be used to leverage student learning across different content areas, grade levels, and student abilities and disabilities.
  • Gain extensive clinical practice with students.

Plan of Study

Upon successful completion of the Special Education program, you are recommended for licensure and will be able to earn a K–12 Special Education teaching license with an endorsement in mild/moderate disabilities. Generally, this license/endorsement authorizes a teacher to work with students from kindergarten through age 22. The Utah State Board of Education grants teaching licenses.

Elementary Education Major with Special Education Minor

The Special Education program can also be taken as a minor. Many students take the Special Education program as a minor with the Elementary Education program, rather than as a major. Upon successful completion of the Elementary Education program and special education minor, you are recommended for licensure and will be able to earn an elementary education teaching license and an endorsement in K–12 mild/moderate disabilities.

Admittance to Program

You must be admitted to the Teacher Education Program prior to enrolling in any special education course except SPED 303. All coursework will be planned with your advisor.

Minor Requirement

Special education majors must have an academic or teaching content minor. Minors you might choose to pursue include psychology, sociology, or others. Your minor, including credits transferred for a minor, must be approved by the School of Education dean or the Special Education program director.

Student Teaching

You will complete student teaching during your final semester after passing the Praxis Test. This will allow you to get extensive hands-on practice working in a classroom—a valuable experience that allows you to become a thoughtful and reflective practitioner, observe and practice teaching methods, explore what it means to be a teacher, and establish professional connections.


Sample Courses

Mild/Moderate Special Education Methods K–6

Explore the current research on best practices regarding curriculum and instruction for students with mild-to-moderate disabilities in K–6 settings. In this course, you will learn to apply interventions that assist students with learning difficulties in reading, math, and written and oral expression. You will also learn to use instructional and assistive technologies to enhance the learning of students with disabilities and will be required to spend 15 hours in a field placement.

Mild/Moderate Special Education Methods 7–12

Explore the current research regarding methods to serve students with disabilities in the general education classroom. In this course, you will learn to apply learning strategies to reading, writing, mathematics, and study skills. You will also develop transition programs to enhance student learning and learn to use instructional and assistive technologies to enhance the learning of students with disabilities. As a part of this course, you will be required to spend 15 hours in a field placement.

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Career Opportunities

According to the U.S. Department of Education, states have a severe shortage of special education teachers, leaving many schools with a need for educators with specialized skills and experience. In Utah, the State Board of Education now requires that teacher preparation programs require students to demonstrate competency in the knowledge and skills designed to assist in the identification of students with disabilities and meet their needs in the general classroom. This means you will graduate from Westminster with extensive clinical practice and a variety of tools and knowledge that will prepare you for success in opportunities both in and out of the classroom.

Potential Careers

Graduates of the Special Education program are in high demand, and Westminster’s relationships with Utah school districts and administrators lead to a high rate of job placement.

Careers in the Classroom

  • Elementary or secondary special education teacher for mild/moderate disabilities
  • Self-contained classroom teacher
  • Co-teacher in general education classrooms (English, math, science, etc.)
  • Teacher/specialist in learning disabilities or emotional and behavioral disorders

With your special education teaching license/endorsement, you will be qualified to work with students in mild/moderate disability areas (learning disabilities, behavioral disorders, speech-language disorders, etc.) in an inclusive and/or resource classroom environment.

Inclusive Environment

In an inclusive environment, you co-teach with a general education teacher, allowing students with disabilities to stay in the general education classroom throughout the school day. There are a variety of co-teaching models available so that teamed teachers can find and use the model that works best for them and meets the needs of the students with disabilities in the classroom.

Resource Environment

In a resource environment, you may pull students with disabilities out of the general classroom for short periods of time to teach them in a more structured setting.

Careers Outside the Classroom

  • Assistive technology specialist
  • Inclusion specialist
  • Learning disabilities specialist
  • Director/administrator for exceptional student programs
  • Post-high school transition services specialist

"I found that having a license from Westminster put me at the top of the list during my job interviews. Principals liked the fact that I had a special education background and understand that children learn in many different ways."

Alley Chai, elementary education major, special education minor
Two students talking
Group of students talking

Learn More About the Special Education Program

Check Out the Special Education Department

Tuition and Aid

There's No Better Investment Than You

Westminster College knows you want an education where you matter—a place that will serve as a launchpad for a successful career and a meaningful life. Westminster will work with you individually through every step of the financial aid process. From scholarships to grants and loans, Westminster helps you make it happen.

With the highest percentage of students who complete one or more internships in the state, Westminster students hit the ground running with real-world experience. Plus, 90% of students were either employed or attending graduate school within 5 months of graduating. With a Westminster degree, you don't have to choose between a successful career and a fulfilling life.

Learn About Tuition

You’ll be automatically considered for scholarship and grant opportunities.

In addition to general merit scholarships, there are other scholarship programs to support you throughout your time at Westminster.

Check out scholarships

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