School of Education

Special Education Degree

Education Bachelor's Degree Program

Special Education serves children and young adults with a variety of exceptionalities including learning disabilities, mild to moderate disabilities, behavioral disabilities, and cognitive disabilities.

Students earning a bachelor’s degree in special education work as special educators in schools and program developers and directors in community-based systems.

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Take Me To

Why should I earn a special education degree?

Impact

Gain the skills necessary to give your students the opportunity to grow.

Relationships

Ask any special ed teacher – there will be challenges, but the connections you form with your students are worth every bump in the road. 

In Demand

As programs grow, so does the demand for teachers with this important skill set. 

What Can I Do With a Special Education Degree

  • Special education teacher
  • Special education specialist

On Campus

On Campus

Storm Lake

Why study special education at BVU?

Never Alone

Partner with exercise science majors to host Unified Sports Day for special needs children. Collaborate with computer science students to develop virtual reality learning activities. From teamwork with your fellow students to advice from our supportive, experienced faculty, this is a journey you won’t have to take alone.

Opportunity

Through BVU’s partnerships with local schools, you will receive field experience in almost every class you take, and—with a quality degree in special education from BVU—you can not only pursue special education teaching but also program directing and developing in a variety of settings.

Students at an assistive technology facility

The Right Tools to Help Students

Education Students Visit Assistive Technology Center

Students from the Student Chapter of Council for Exceptional Children organization traveled to the Iowa Center for Assistive Technology Education and Research. They spent hours learning about assistive technology which can help learners with reading, writing, organization, note-taking, math challenges, and resourcing skills. Learning about this assistive technology can be helpful for students with multiple needs (such as dyslexia) and increase their learning and engagement in the classroom. 

Hybrid

Online

Hybrid Learning

You can earn your bachelor’s degree in special education without leaving your community. Hybrid courses combine the benefit of live ​video instruction with the convenience of online learning. In addition to a weekly class, hybrid students complete their coursework online and receive personalized advisement from local BVU site staff.

Transfer to BVU

BVU has transfer agreements with Iowa’s community colleges, helping you get the most out of your hard-earned credits.

Contact an academic advisor at 712.749.1000 to see how your credits will transfer.

See How Your Credits Transfer

Special Education Courses and Areas of Specialization

Students may elect to complete an area of specialization in special education (listed below) or complete a minor with teaching licensure in a content area. These specializations are completed in an internship model with assigned academic and field work.

Autism Spectrum Disorders  |  Emotional and Behavioral Disorders  |  Intellectual Disabilities  |  Learning Disabilities  |  Multiple Disabilities  |  Physical Disabilities

  • Major in Special Education (54 Credit Hours, with Education Core 73 Credit Hours)

    The Education Core (18-19 credit hours)

    The education core, which is required of all students seeking a teaching license, is the nucleus of the teacher education program and includes basic courses in education and psychology. Elementary education majors, students seeking secondary licensure, and Post Baccalaureate students are required to take all EDCO courses for a letter grade and to earn a minimum grade of “C-“ in each course.

    • EDCO 240 Human Development: School Age Children or EDCO 241 Human Development: Adolescents
    • EDCO 245 Learning and Motivation: School Age Children or EDCO 246 Learning and Motivation: Adolescents
    • EDCO 255 Professional Seminar I and Field Experience: Learning and Motivation
    • EDCO 280 History of American Education
    • EDCO 290/291 Professional Seminar II and Field Experience: Human Relations
    • EDCO 301 Differentiated Instruction for Exceptional Learners
    • EDCO 301 Introduction to Exceptional Learners
    • EDCO 303 Differentiated Instruction for Diverse Learners
    • EDCO 390 Instructional Technology and Innovative Teaching

    Students pursuing K-12 Licensure (art, foreign language (Spanish education), music, PE) may take either EDCO 240 or EDCO 241, and EDCO 245 or EDCO 246. Each course includes learning related to the full span of age ranges; however, the focused range is different as indicated by the course title. The recommended path is to take one course focusing on school-age children (EDCO 240 or EDCO 245) and one course focusing on adolescents (EDCO 241 or EDCO 246). ESSI majors should take ESSI 102 and 103, instead of EDCO 303.

    Special Education Courses (40 credit hours)

    • ESSI 210 Special Education Law and Professional Practices with Field Experience
    • ESSI 220 Multidisciplinary Assessment and Evaluation
    • ESSI 230 Transitions and Self-Determination
    • ESSI 291 Professional Seminar II: Supervised Participation in Special Education
    • ESSI 303 Curriculum Development and Instruction with Field Experience
    • ESSI 304 Literacy Methods with Field Experience
    • ESSI 305 Mathematics Methods with Field Experience
    • ESSI 306 Methods for Teaching Students with Cognitive Disabilities with Field Experience
    • ESSI 307 Methods for Teaching Students with Behavioral Disabilities with Field Experience
    • ESSI 310 Behavior Interventions and Supports with Field Experience
    • TEAC 494 Professional Seminar III: Student Teaching - Elementary ESSI
    • TEAC 495 Professional Seminar III: Student Teaching - Secondary ESSI

    Support Work (14 credit hours)

    • EDUC 317 Foundations of Literacy
    • EDUC 342 Methods of Written Communications
    • EDUC 371 Methods of Data-Driven Literacy Instruction
    • EDUC 393 Elementary Math Methods & Field Experience
    • EXSC 321 Adapted Physical Education

    Areas of Specialization

    In addition to this, students who complete the ESSI major may elect to complete an area of specialization listed below or complete a minor with teaching licensure in a content area. These are completed in an internship model with assigned academic and field work.

    Autism Spectrum Disorders Specialization

    • ESSI 320 Characteristics of Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorders
    • ESSI 321 Assessments of Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorders
    • ESSI 322 Instructional Strategies for Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorders
    • ESSI 323 Transition and Self-Determination for Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorders
    • ESSI 324 Field Experience and Portfolio in Working with Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorders

    Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

    • ESSI 330 Characteristics of Learners with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
    • ESSI 331 Assessments of Learners with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
    • ESSI 332 Instructional Strategies for Learners with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
    • ESSI 333 Transition and Self-Determination for Learners with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
    • ESSI 334 Field Experience and Portfolio in Working with Learners with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

    Intellectual Disabilities

    • ESSI 340 Characteristics of Learners with Intellectual Disabilities
    • ESSI 341 Assessments of Learners with Intellectual Disabilities
    • ESSI 342 Instructional Strategies for Learners with Intellectual Disabilities
    • ESSI 343 Transition and Self-Determination for Intellectual Disabilities
    • ESSI 344 Field Experience and Portfolio in Working with Learners with Intellectual Disabilities

    Learning Disabilities

    • ESSI 350 Characteristics of Learners with Learning Disabilities
    • ESSI 351 Assessments of Learners with Learning Disabilities
    • ESSI 352 Instructional Strategies for Learners with Learning Disabilities
    • ESSI 353 Transition and Self-Determination for Learners with Learning Disabilities
    • ESSI 354 Field Experience and Portfolio in Working with Learners with Learning Disabilities

    Multiple Disabilities

    • ESSI 360 Characteristics of Learners with Multiple Disabilities
    • ESSI 361 Characteristics of Learners with Multiple Disabilities
    • ESSI 362 Instructional Strategies for Learners with Multiple Disabilities
    • ESSI 363 Transition and Self-Determination for Learners with Multiple Disabilities
    • ESSI 364 Field Experience and Portfolio in Working with Learners with Multiple Disabilities

    Physical Disabilities

    • ESSI 370 Characteristics of Learners with Physical Disabilities
    • ESSI 371 Assessments of Learners with Physical Disabilities
    • ESSI 372 Instructional Strategies for Learners with Physical Disabilities
    • ESSI 373 Transition and Self-Determination for Learners with Physical Disabilities
    • ESSI 374 Transition and Self-Determination for Learners with Physical Disabilities

Financial Aid & Scholarships

We’ll help you figure out your options for financial assistance and possible scholarships.

Learn More Info

Special Education Faculty

Our instructors are committed to helping you build the future in Iowa and beyond.

See Our Faculty

Transfer Your Credits

Do you have previously earned credits or an associate degree? BVU accepts most — if not all — of your credits so you don’t have to retake courses.

Request More Info

Earn a Master’s Degree Faster with Our Accelerated Program

With BVU's Plus One program, you can earn your education, special education, or organizational leadership master's within one year of graduating with your bachelor’s degree. 

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