Special Education has many specializations, but all public schools require a state license. Every state sets their standards and licensure requirements, so it would be best advised to check with the state you’re living in (or planning to work in).
In general, to attain licensure (also referred to as certification), you must have at least a bachelor’s degree and completed a teacher training program, which the Bachelor’s in Special Education provides. IT is these programs that our 25 Best Bachelor’s of Special Education and Top 20 Online Bachelor’s of Special Education ranks.
That said, it is also quite common that you will need a Master’s in Special Education to be licensed or after so many years to renew your license. The typical certification received will allow you to work with a broad range of students, though some states will require specializations or endorsements for specific populations.
The particular school you are interested in is worth consideration in light of the state’s requirements that you plan to work. Are you interested in high-incidence disabilities such as learning disabilities, behavioral disorders, and speech-language disorders? Or perhaps low-incidence disabilities such as sensory, developmental, and multiple to severe handicaps?
Are you drawn to work with emotional or behavioral disorders such as aggressive behaviors, attention deficit hyperactivity disorders, depression, and anxiety or conduct disorders, or those on the autism spectrum?
All the variation can seem daunting, so here’s a helpful resource or two to help you navigate the sea of special education licensure.
Here’s a list of some types and names of special education degrees:
- Bachelor’s in Special Education – This degree includes courses such as Fundamentals of Teaching Reading, Atypical Language Development, Introduction to Assessing Special Needs Students, Methods for Teaching Students with Mild Disabilities, and Technologies for Assisted Learning.
- Master’s in Special Education – This degree includes courses such as Fundamentals of Educational Research, Behavior Analysis in Special Education, Ethics and Law for Special Education, Characteristics of Mild Disabilities, and Characteristics of Severe Disabilities.
- P.hD. in Special Education – This degree includes courses such as Disabilities and Social Policy, Qualitative Research Methods for Education, Analysis of Qualitative Data, Literacy Development for Special Education, and Curriculum & Instruction Leadership.
There are also many specialization areas that lead to endorsements required for licensure for specific populations. May of these are options to add to a Master’s in Special Education. Here are only some:
- The Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) – This endorsement allows you to become a behavioral modification counselor who provides services to students with neurobehavioral disorders on the autism spectrum. This specialization can also be a separate master’s degree. The University of Georgia has a particular focus on training you to work with autistic children.
- Emotional Disturbance (ED)- This specialization focuses on assessment and strategies for children and adolescents with both emotional and behavior disorders such as anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and psychotic disorders.
- Gifted/Talented (G/T) – This specialization prepares you to assess, evaluate, and implement adaptations for those who classify as gifted or talented.