Special Education (B.S.Ed.)

Why Study Special Education at NIU?

If you're passionate about working with students with disabilities, our Department of Special and Early Education offers four Bachelor of Science in Education degrees with an emphasis in the following:

  • Learning Behavior Specialist I: You're prepared to work in the classroom with individuals with a wide array of disabilities from kindergarten through age 21.
  • Visual Impairments: You're prepared to work as a certified special education teacher with children with visual disabilities, as an orientation and mobility specialist with children and adults with visual disabilities, or as a rehabilitation teacher with adults who have visual disabilities.
  • Special Populations: You’re prepared to become that difference-maker for people with a range of disabilities across the lifespan. You can practice in private organizations, community settings, agencies and other providers, but it does not qualify you for professional educator licensure in the state of Illinois.
  • Vision Rehabilitation Therapy: You’re prepared to help people with visual impairments live independently, and thrive as productive, responsible adults. This emphasis prepares you to obtain national licensure from the Academy for the Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals as a vision rehabilitation therapist, but it does not qualify you for professional educator licensure in the state of Illinois.

Careers with a Special Education Degree

As a special education teacher with a Learning Behavior Specialist I emphasis, you'll mostly work in schools with students who have a wide array of disabilities but are also employed by group homes, residential treatment centers and early intervention centers.

Those who specialize in visual impairments are frequently employed by school districts to work with students in their schools who have visual impairments. Such careers boast a “300 percent” job placement rate: alums from our program typically have three job offers on the table before they graduate.

Special Education Occupational Outlook

Special Education Faculty

We provide an inclusive, engaging and supportive environment that inspires excellence. Our faculty prepare students to succeed and lead in their careers and communities through programs grounded in engaged learning experiences. Our innovative and effective instruction addresses the changing educational and professional needs of our students. Special Education faculty research includes evidence-based practices for individuals with autism, school-based support for students with intellectual disabilities and behavioral challenges, employment for individuals with disabilities, transition planning using technology, assistive technology for people with visual impairments and spatial organization skills of persons who are blind.

Hands-on Learning Opportunities

You'll receive three clinical experiences prior to student teaching, eight weeks of student teaching at the elementary level and eight-week student teaching at the secondary level.

Hands-on learning is an integral part of our special education curriculum and can include these courses:

  • SESE 260 - Observation of Individuals with Disabilities in Community and/or School Settings: You'll receive early exposure to services in special education in settings through mentoring actors with special needs in the Penguin Players.
  • SESE 452 - Assistive Technology/Multiple Disabilities: Working in the COE Assistive Technology Lab, you'll learn a variety of low- and high-tech applications for students with disabilities.

You're almost assured of acing the edTPA: 99 percent of undergraduates in spring 2018 passed the mandatory assessment required to obtain teacher licensure in Illinois and several other states.

For unparalleled exposure to the classroom, check out our "Educate and Engage" series: Our Educate Local, Educate U.S. and Educate Global programs transport students throughout the northern Illinois region, across the country and around the world to observe, learn, teach and participate. You can apply what you have learned while we support your transition from student to professional.

Our Teacher Education and Certification House (TEACH House) residence hall floors help build your career through activities, conferences, seminars and leadership skill development.


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