Special Education / Pre-K - Grade 4 Certification

Special Education / Pre-K - Grade 4 Certification Bachelor of Science in Education (B.S.Ed.) in early childhood education with pre-K - 8 special education certification

About Pre-K - Grade 4 Education with Special Education Certification

Help those in need achieve their potential as a special education teacher.

Start the path to a challenging and rewarding career teaching children with cognitive disabilities, learning disabilities, emotional problems and physical disabilities.

 A bachelor's degree from California University of Pennsylvania in early childhood education and pre-kindergarten to grade 8 special education is a dual major program that will enable you to earn certification to teach pre-K-grade 4, as well as a license to teach special education for grades Pre-K-8

As part of the regular curriculum, you'll also receive the Pennsylvania Department of Education's Integrative STEM Education Endorsement, an additional credential that documents your ability to integrate science, technology, engineering and math concepts into early childhood and elementary education.

For those interested in teaching a broader range of grade levels, a dual major in grades 4-8 education and special education is available as well.

It's more than a career. It's a calling.

  • Gain comprehensive knowledge of the special education field and teaching students with exceptionalities.
  • Develop instructional techniques for all students with exceptionalities, including specialized training in applied behavior analysis, behavior modification and working with autistic students.
  • Apply your knowledge in real-life settings though field placements and student teaching.
  • Earn the Integrative STEM Education Endorsement as part of your four-year teacher education program.

Program Highlights: Special Education / Early Childhood Education

Top Accreditation: This undergraduate degree program is approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Cal U's education programs have also been accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) since 1954, and we are continuing with the successor organization, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). See CAEP reporting measures of program impact and outcomes.

Hands-on Education: Receive hands-on experience during three field placements in high-incidence and low-incidence disabilities, special education and pre-K­-grade 4 education, as well as student teaching practicums where you'll work alongside a supervisor to practice the principles you've learned in your courses.

Learn more about applying.


Cal U has a 160-year reputation of producing top-quality teachers in Pennsylvania and beyond.
Is the mean annual salary for special education teachers in kindergarten and elementary schools. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics).
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Degree Benefits

As a special education bachelor's degree student, you will:

  • Gain in-depth knowledge of human development and learning.
  • Learn from top faculty and get individualized advising and supervised field experiences with children.
  • Complete one semester of student teaching, including classroom experience with early childhood and special education
  • Become certified to teach pre-K-grade 4 and special education grades pre-k-8 upon graduation and completion of Pennsylvania certification requirements.
  • Benefit from career support from faculty and Cal U's Career and Professional Development Center.
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Graduate Outcomes

Pennsylvania is among the top five states for number of professionals employed as special education teachers in kindergartens and elementary schools. The field of special education continues to grow, providing excellent career opportunities for today's graduates. Cal U graduates are qualified to assume professional roles, including:

  • Special education classroom teacher.
  • Resource room teacher.
  • Homebound instruction teacher.
  • Hospital teacher.
  • A variety of roles in sheltered workshops and community-living arrangements for adults with disabilities.



Special Education/ Early Childhood Education Bachelor's Degree Courses and Related Programs

This four-year dual major bachelor's degree results in certification to teach pre-K-grade 4, as well as pre-K-8 special education upon graduation and completion of Pennsylvania certification requirements. Degree courses will prepare you to meet the standards of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC).


Course Credits
Freshman Year  
First Semester 16
ENG 101  English Composition I 3
HIS 101  OR  102 U.S. History  3
MAT 120  Elementary Topics in Math I 3
PSY 205  Childhood Psychology  3
UNI 100  First-Year Seminar 1
Any Natural Science Course  3
Second Semester 18
CHD 200  Introduction to PreK-Grade 4  3
ELE 220  Instruction and Assessment PreK  3
ELE 221  Instruction and Assessment in K-4 3
ESP 210  Special Education Foundations and Collaboration  3
ESP 311  Assessment and Positive Behavior Interventions  3
MAT 130  Elementary Topics in Math II 3
Sophomore Year  
Third Semester 15
ELE 300  Emerging Literacy  3
ELE 310  Teaching Math/Science PK-4  3
GEO/POS/ECO 102  Social Sciences  3
MUS/ART/THE 372  Creative Arts PK-4  3
Any Approved AM/BRIT Literature  3
Fourth Semester 12
CHD 250  Health and PE for PK-Grade 4  3
CHD 312  Instructional Leadership in Childhood Education 3
EDU 333  Educational Technology  3
PSY 208  Educational Psychology  3
Junior Year  
Fifth Semester 18
ELE 301  Literacy Foundations I: LA  3
ELE 302  Literacy Foundations II: Reading  3
ELE 331  Teaching Social Studies K-4 3
ESP 312  Applied Behavior Analysis for Special Educators  3
ESP 339  Special Education Field Experience I  3
ESP 403  Assessment and Prescriptive Teaching  3
Sixth Semester 18
EDU 350  Supporting ELL  3
ELE 311  Teaching Math K-4   3
ELE 321  Teaching Science K-4  3
ESP 407  Early Intervention Special Education  3
ESP 411  History, Theory, and Exceptionality 3
ESP 412  Evidence Based Practices  3
Senior Year  
Seventh Semester 18
CHD 350  Family and Community Collaboration Partnerships 3
CHD 450  Assessment and Data Literacy  3
EDU 375  Introduction to Integrative STEM Education 3
ESP 349  Special Education Field Experience II  3
ESP 402  Life Skills Planning and Instruction 3
ESP 414  Advanced Evidence Based Practices for PK-8 Inclusion   3
Eighth Semester 12
ELE 461  Student Teaching and School Law  6
ESP 461  Student Teaching and School Law 6
Total 127

Program Notes

  • All ELE/ESP/CHD courses require current clearances and a minimum 2.5 GPA to register.
  • All courses required for certification must earn C or better.
  • Admission to Teacher Education required for enrollment in ESP 412, CHD 450, ELE 311, ELE 321, ELE 331, ESP 461 and ELE 461. 
  • Pre-requisites for ELE 221 and all 300 level ELE and CHS courses are ELE 200 and ELE 220. ESP 210 and ESP 311 are prerequisites for all ESP courses.
  • Bolded courses titles indicate a block of courses that must be taken together.

Approved British or American Literature Courses

  • ENG 107 Introduction to Fiction
  • ENG 125 The American West
  • ENG 127 Woman as Hero
  • ENG 148 Horror in Literature
  • ENG 150 Baseball in Literature
  • ENG 155 Black Literature                                         
  • ENG 160 Introduction to British and American Literature
  • ENG 203 Great Books
  • ENG 301 English Literature I
  • ENG 302 English Literature II                 
  • ENG 337 Survey of American Literature I
  • ENG 338 Survey of American Literature II
Related Programs


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What Can You Do With a Special Education Degree?

Whether your long-term goal is to be a special education teacher in an elementary school, in a middle school, or in another engaging position working with individuals with disabilities, our bachelor’s degree program prepares you be a successful, valuable professional. 

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A Cal U student interacts with an elementary student.

What Do Alumni Like Best About the Program?

According to Brenda DiEugenio '04 (Dual B.S. Special/Elementary Education), student teaching was a very valuable experience. "I had the opportunity to learn from exceptional teachers, allowing me to gain an understanding of myself as a teacher and my philosophy on teaching."

Pencils and an apple rest on a teacher's desk in front of a chalkboard.

STEM Education Endorsement

When you earn your Level I teacher certification in this special education program, you’ll also earn the Integrative STEM Education Endorsement. Cal U is one of the only Pennsylvania universities to offer this in-demand credential as part of the standard teacher preparation curriculum. The Integrative STEM Education Endorsement documents your ability to plan, design and implement instructional strategies that integrate STEM into classroom lessons. The learning activities you’ll learn to create also can be used in maker spaces, tinker labs, fabrication labs and other innovative settings.

Student in gap and gown.

Top 10 Reasons to Get a Special Education Degree

A special education degree from California University of Pennsylvania is a great investment in your future. Whether you want to teach special education in elementary schoolor middle school, or want to earn a bachelor’s degree that qualifies you for many other exciting employment opportunities serving individuals with disabilities, we’ve got you covered. Here are the Top 10 reasons to get a special Education Degree from Cal U.

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Special Education Faculty

Dr. James Burton
Associate Professor


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Dr. Diane Fine
Associate Professor and Coordinator, Reading Specialist Program and Integrative STEM Education Program


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Dr. Peter Heh
Assistant Professor


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Dr. Jason Kight
Associate Professor and Chair


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Dr. Kalie Kossar
Associate Professor


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