Special Education


Bachelor of Arts

Major, Minor
School of Education
4-Year Degree

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Teacher teaching in an elementary school classroom

The Special Education Program at Westminster College

The 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.

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.

Explore helpful student resources provided by special education faculty and get insight on the perspectives of Westminster special education students.

Who the Special Education Program Is 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.

What You'll Learn in the Special Education Program 

  • 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.

sample Special Education courses

  • SPED-303: Roles of the Special Educator
  • SPED-327: Tech for Teaching Exceptional Learners

  • SPED-377: Facilitating Services Across Disciplines
  • SPED-385: Behavior Supports in SPED

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Our Faculty

Anneliese Cannon, Ph.D
Associate Professor

Eleonor Castillo, Ph.D
Assistant Professor

Bradley Kahrs
Associate Professor

Lowell Oswald, Ph.D
Associate Professor

 

liberal education courses

You must complete the WCore program or join the Honors College (and complete requirements) to fulfill your liberal education credits.

 

licensure

Westminster has not determined whether it meets the educational requirements for licensure in all other states within the United States, including U.S. territories. Students will need to inquire with additional states for information.

 

"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."

Read The Story

Rylee
('21)

 

Special Education Program 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.

What Are the Key Benefits of the Special Education Program?

  • 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.

Special Education 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.

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
  • 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

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, other scholarship programs are available to support you throughout your time at Westminster.

Check Out Scholarships

Your tuition, fully paid

All students should have the ability to explore their passions. Westminster College is proud to cover the cost of tuition for qualifying students through the Westminster Commitment.

Learn About the Westminster Commitment