When you major in Special Education, you will be prepared to work in various capacities with individuals who have disabilities. You can choose a program tailored for your interests, whether you want to pursue a career in pre-kindergarten through secondary (P–12) teaching, disability policy, research, or supporting individuals with disabilities in community settings. The School of Education also partners with SPU's School of Theology to offer programs in special education that prepare you for a career in church ministries.
Special education teacher
Direct service provider
Church or faith-based ministry
Graduate school in speech, occupational, or physical therapy
Special Education Major: Teaching Track
In this teaching track of the Special Education major, you will gain the knowledge and skills necessary to teach students with disabilities. To earn your Residency Teacher Certificate with an endorsement in P–12 Special Education, you must complete requirements for:
- A bachelor's degree in Special Education
- The Residency Teacher Certification Program
Washington State requires Special Education majors to also have another "endorsement," or area in which teacher candidates are prepared to teach. To minimize additional coursework requirements for a second endorsement, Special Education majors are strongly advised to schedule an appointment with the Certification Office at their earliest convenience.
You can complete all of these requirements in four years.
Residency Teacher Certification Program
SPU has a reputation as one of the premier teacher preparation programs in the state and region. The professional program leading to a Residency Teacher Certificate at Seattle Pacific consists of four quarters of study:
- Foundations Quarter
- Methods Quarter
- Integrated Quarter
- Internship Quarter
Each of these quarters builds upon the preceding quarter, supporting a developmental approach to teacher preparation.
Your Foundations Quarter and Methods Quarter focus on the theory, background, and methodology of teaching. Your Integrated Quarter and Internship Quarter focus on applying what you have learned. Learn more about becoming a teacher at SPU.
You may choose to pursue Residency Teacher Certification with an endorsement in Elementary Education; a secondary content area(s); or a number of pre-kindergarten through secondary (P–12) content area(s), such as special education. Review requirements for the Residency Teacher Certificate with an endorsement in P–12 Special Education.
Special Education Major: General Emphasis
The purpose of the General Emphasis track in Special Education is to prepare you to work with individuals with disabilities outside the classroom setting. This track is designed for students who want to pursue the following three interest areas:
Work with state, local, or nonprofit agencies that serve individuals with disabilities. This includes direct-service providers and advocacy groups.
Work with individuals and families with disabilities in faith-based or church settings.
Pursuit of advanced degrees in Special Education or related fields (e.g., a career as a researcher in special education, a speech therapist, an occupational therapist, or a physical therapist).
If you choose the General Emphasis track of the Special Education major, you are required to complete an educational practicum to be arranged by you and your faculty advisor. Together, you will determine a placement in a community-based setting. This means you will work directly with individuals with disabilities; in schools; in agencies that serve students with disabilities; or alongside professors on research projects dealing with disability issues.
Special Education Major: Educational Ministry Emphasis
If you choose the Educational Ministry Emphasis track in Special Education, you will benefit from a partnership with the School of Education and the School of Theology. Coursework from both programs provides you with a foundation in disability studies and educational ministry. You will complete a foundation course in theology along with a portion of a practicum in special education and a portion in theology. You are required to complete this educational practicum, which will be arranged by you and your faculty advisor.
When you graduate from this program, you are prepared to address disability issues in church and parachurch organizations. You will be prepared to implement methods for including all people in worship and church life.
Major Courses and Degree Requirements
A few of the courses that all Special Education majors take include "Exceptionality in the Classroom," "Lifespan Developmental Psychology," and "Teaching Students With Emotional and Behavioral Disabilities."
Review all Special Education major courses and degree requirements: The Teaching track in Special Education (Elementary Emphasis or Secondary Emphasis) requires a minimum of 106 credits, with 36 upper-division credits. This includes the Residency Teacher Certification Program. The General Emphasis track requires a minimum of 45 credits, with 23 upper-division credits; and the Educational Ministry Emphasis requires a minimum of 47 credits, with 37 upper-division credits.
Admission to the Major and Advising
If you think you want to major in Special Education, contact the Special Education advisor to receive the necessary academic advising. By contacting the advisor, you are not committed to the program, but you will receive initial advising and current information about Special Education program requirements. When you have decided to major in Special Education, you should apply to the major (PDF).
It is to your benefit to contact the Special Education advisor as soon as possible after you enroll at Seattle Pacific. Since many courses are only offered once a year and must be taken in a particular sequence, academic planning is important to complete your undergraduate degree in a timely fashion. And, depending upon your chosen track, some internship and practicum experiences are tailored specifically to you and also require advanced planning.