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Special and Elementary Education, Bachelor of Science in Education
No job is more challenging, rewarding, or important than teaching small children. As a special and elementary educator, you’ll help shape the character—and future—of every child in your classroom. It’s a big responsibility.
If you're a prospective elementary school teacher with an interest in meeting the unique needs of children with disabilities, a degree in Special and Elementary Education will allow you to enhance your expertise. The dual certification prepares you to teach students with learning disabilities, emotional and behavioral disorders, intellectual disabilities, and orthopedic and health impairments. You'll spend one semester student teaching, dividing time between special education and elementary education classroom settings. You'll graduate with certification in special education for K-12 and elementary education in 1-8.
This undergraduate program prepares students to become certified teachers of children and youth who have disabilities, as well as those who do not. The program pairs a strong background in elementary education (teaching of math, science, social studies, reading, etc.) with a rich coursework in special education. Teaching practicums and fieldwork give direct experience in classrooms throughout the program.
This program is nationally recognized by the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC).
This program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
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Career Accordion Open
Career opportunities that might be pursued:
- Elementary education
- Early childhood education
- Special education
- Private industry
With further education, one of these paths is possible:
- School psychologist
- Curriculum specialist
- Private industry
Requirements Accordion Closed
To receive a bachelor's degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete at least 120 units of credit that minimally includes a major, the liberal studies requirements, and university requirements as listed below.
- All of Northern Arizona University's liberal studies, diversity, junior-level writing, and capstone requirements.
- All requirements for your specific academic plan(s).
- At least 30 units of upper-division courses, which may include transfer work.
- At least 30 units of coursework taken through Northern Arizona University, of which at least 18 must be upper-division courses (300-level or above). This requirement is not met by credit-by-exam, retro-credits, transfer coursework, etc.
- A cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0 on all work attempted at Northern Arizona University.
Overview Accordion Closed
In addition to University Requirements:
- At least 88 units of major requirements
- Up to 9 units of major prefix courses may be used to satisfy Liberal Studies requirements; these same courses may also be used to satisfy major requirements
- Elective courses, if needed, to reach an overall total of at least 120 units
Candidates in this program are required to demonstrate content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge and skills, professional knowledge, and professional dispositions to be eligible to enter student teaching or internship placements. Content, pedagogical, and professional knowledge or skills, professional dispositions are demonstrated through candidate performance on key assessments embedded throughout courses in the program of study.
Please note that you may be able to use some courses to meet more than one requirement. Contact your advisor for details.
|Minimum Units for Completion||120|
|Highest Mathematics Required||MAT 155|
|Additional Admission Requirements||Required|
|Student Teaching/Supervised Teaching||Required|
|University Honors Program||Optional|
|AZ Transfer Students complete AGEC-A||Recommended|
|Progression Plan Link||View Progression Plan|
This program may lead to licensure.
The Special and Elementary Education undergraduate program prepares students to become a certified teachers of children and youth who have disabilities, as well as those who do not. The program provides a strong background in elementary education related to teaching methods of foundational content.
The coursework allows the candidate to demonstrate and apply their understanding of the elements of literacy critical for purposeful oral, print, and digital communication. It also presents major mathematics concepts, algorithms, procedures, applications/practices in varied contexts, and connections within and among mathematical domains. The program also emphasizes the understanding and integration of the three dimensions of science and engineering practices, cross-cutting concepts, and major disciplinary core ideas, within the major content areas of science. Additionally, the coursework focuses on candidate understanding, capabilities, and practices associated with the central concepts and tools in Civics, Economics, Geography, and History, within a framework of informed inquiry. These general educational programmatic emphases are richly augmented by an eclectic coursework in special education. From a foundational special education perspective, the program provides for an understanding of how the field of special education is an evolving and changing discipline based on philosophies, evidence-based principles and theories, relevant laws and policies, and diverse historical points of view. Through the varied coursework, the candidates demonstrate respect for their students first as unique human beings and demonstrate an understanding of the similarities and differences in human development and the characteristics between individuals with and without exceptional learning needs (ELN). Programmatic emphasis is placed on the importance of understanding the effects that an exceptional condition can have on an individual’s learning in school and throughout life that include beliefs, traditions, and values across and within cultures. Within the program, content is provided that helps the candidate select, adapt, and use these instructional strategies to promote positive learning results in general and special curricula and to appropriately modify learning environments for individuals with ELN. The program focuses on creating learning environments for individuals with ELN that foster cultural understanding, safety and emotional well-being, positive social interactions, and active engagement of individuals with ELN. It also emphasizes the need to understand typical and atypical language development and the ways in which exceptional conditions can interact with an individual’s experience with and use of language. The program recognizes how assessment is integral to the decision-making and teaching of general and special educators and candidates learn multiple types of assessment information for a variety of educational decisions. They also learn to use the results of assessments to help identify exceptional learning needs and to develop and implement individualized instructional programs, as well as to adjust instruction in response to ongoing learning progress. Emphasis is provided related to the teaching profession’s ethical and professional practice standards. Foundational to the program is the importance of how educators routinely and effectively collaborate with families, other educators, related service providers, and personnel from community agencies in culturally responsive ways. Teaching practicums and fieldwork give direct experience in classrooms throughout the program in both general and special education.
Student Learning Outcomes
Outcomes align with Standards from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, the Association for Childhood Education International, Council for Exceptional Children, and the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium
Special Education Student Learning Outcomes
- Foundations: Special educators understand the field as an evolving and changing discipline based on philosophies, evidence-based principles and theories, relevant laws and policies, diverse and historical points of view, and human issues that have historically influenced and continue to influence the field of special education and the education and treatment of individuals with exceptional needs both in school and society.
- Development and Characteristics of Learner: Special educators know and demonstrate respect for their students first as unique human beings. Special educators understand the similarities and differences in human development and the characteristics between and among individuals with and without exceptional learning needs (ELN).
- Individual Learning Differences: Special educators understand the effects that an exceptional condition can have on an individual’s learning in school and throughout life. Special educators understand that the beliefs, traditions, and values across and within cultures can affect relationships among and between students, their families, and the school community.
- Instructional Strategies: Special educators possess a repertoire of evidence-based instructional strategies to individualize instruction for individuals with ELN. Special educators select, adapt, and use these instructional strategies to promote positive learning results in general and special curricula and to appropriately modify learning environments for individuals with ELN.
- Learning Environments and Social Interactions: Special educators actively create learning environments for individuals with ELN that foster cultural understanding, safety and emotional well-being, positive social interactions, and active engagement of individuals with ELN. In addition, special educators foster environments in which diversity is valued and individuals are taught to live harmoniously and productively in a culturally diverse world. Special educators shape environments to encourage the independence, self-motivation, self-direction, personal empowerment, and self-advocacy of individuals with ELN.
- Language: Special educators understand typical and atypical language development and the ways in which exceptional conditions can interact with an individual’s experience with and use of language. Special educators use individualized strategies to enhance language development and teach communication skills to individuals with ELN. Special educators are familiar with augmentative, alternative, and assistive technologies to support and enhance communication of individuals with exceptional needs.
- Instructional Planning: Special educators develop long-range individualized instructional plans anchored in both general and special curricula. In addition, special educators systematically translate these individualized plans into carefully selected shorter-range goals and objectives taking into consideration an individual’s abilities and needs, the learning environment, and a myriad of cultural and linguistic factors.
- Assessment: Assessment is integral to the decision-making and teaching of special educators and special educators use multiple types of assessment information for a variety of educational decisions. Special educators use the results of assessments to help identify exceptional learning needs and to develop and implement individualized instructional programs, as well as to adjust instruction in response to ongoing learning progress. Special educators understand the legal policies and ethical principles of measurement and assessment related to referral, eligibility, program planning, instruction, and placement for individuals with ELN, including those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
- Professional and Ethical Practice: Special educators are guided by the profession’s ethical and professional practice standards. Special educators practice in multiple roles and complex situations across wide age and developmental ranges. Their practice requires ongoing attention to legal matters along with serious professional and ethical considerations. Special educators engage in professional activities and participate in learning communities that benefit individuals with ELN, their families, colleagues, and their own professional growth.
- Collaboration: Special educators routinely and effectively collaborate with families, other educators, related service providers, and personnel from community agencies in culturally responsive ways. This collaboration assures that the needs of individuals with ELN are addressed throughout schooling.
Details Accordion Closed
Additional Admission Requirements
- Admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.
To be eligible for admission to the Professional Education Programs (PEP), candidates must meet the following requirements:
45 units of coursework which includes:
- EDF 200, MAT 150, and MAT 155 with grades of "C" or better
- Two lab science courses with grades of "C" or better
- The English foundations requirement (ENG 105 or equivalent) with a minimum GPA of 3.0. (If your English GPA is below 3.0, you may take an approved writing course to achieve the 3.0 GPA.)
- One of the following GPA requirements:
- A cumulative 2.5 GPA in Liberal Studies courses
- A cumulative 2.5 GPA
- A copy of your State-approved Identity-Verified Print (IVP) fingerprint clearance card obtainable through the Arizona Department of Public Safety (602-223-2279).
This major requires 88 units.
Take the following 88 units. A minimum NAU cumulative GPA of 2.5. Additionally, a minimum combined GPA of 3.0 is required for teacher preparation courses noted with an asterisk (*). For all major requirements, a passing grade is required and a Grade of "C" or better is required for course evaluated on an A-F scale.
- BME 430* (3 units)
- ECI 321*, ECI 330*, ECI 402*, ECI 403*, ECI 405*, ECI 406*, ECI 407*, ECI 411* (24 units)
- ECI 308 Practicum, Literacy (1 unit)
- ECI 308 Practicum, Math and Science (1 unit)
- ECI 308 Practicum, Social Studies and Curriculum (1 unit)
- ECI 490C Elementary (K-8 grade setting) which meets the senior capstone requirement (6 units)
- EDF 200 (3 units)
- EDF 301W* which meets the junior-level writing requirement (3 units)
- EPS 340* (3 units)
- ESE 280 (3 units)
- ESE 308 Practicum, Mild to Moderate (1 unit)
- ESE 308 Practicum, Secondary Special Education (1 unit)
- ESE 423*, ESE 424*, ESE 425*, ESE 426*, ESE 444*, ESE 450* (18 units)
- ESE 491 Special Education (K-12 grade setting) (8 units)
- ETC 447* (3 units)
- MAT 150, MAT 155 (6 units)
- POS 220 (3 units)
Note: Students may only repeat courses in which a grade of “D” or “F” was earned (see Course Repeat Policy.)
You may not complete the Elementary Education B.S.Ed. in conjunction with this degree.
In all of our teacher education programs, you are required to complete a student teaching or internship experience. In addition, a minimum number of units of practicum is required, which involves supervised field experience with a practicing teacher.
Before being accepted to student teaching, the following criteria must be met:
- Admission to the Professional Education Program (PEP)
- GPA and course grade requirements for degree program as stated in Additional Admission and Major Requirements
- Complete all plan requirements
- All major coursework, with the exception of EDF 200 and ESE 280, must be completed within the six years prior to student teaching
- Successful completion of required state and university training modules
- All candidates must demonstrate professional and ethical standards of practice as described in the Model Code of Ethics for Educators and adhere to NAU’s and PEP’s Student Code of Conduct
- All outstanding PEP Alerts must be resolved per improvement plan
Attend mandatory Student Teaching Orientation
- For candidates requesting a middle school student teaching placement ECI 490C, the following requirement must also be met:
- A passing score(s) on the required Arizona Educator Middle Grade content exam(s)
AZ Teacher Certification Requirements
In order to obtain an AZ teaching certificate, you must pass the required Arizona Educator Exams:
- NES Professional Knowledge: Elementary Exam
- NES Professional Knowledge: Special Education Exam
Additional coursework is required, if, after you have met the previously described requirements, you have not yet completed a total of 120 units of credit.
You may take these remaining courses from any academic areas, using these courses to pursue your specific interests and goals. We encourage you to consult with your advisor to select the courses that will be most advantageous to you. (Please note that you may also use prerequisites or transfer credits as electives if they weren't used to meet major, minor, or liberal studies requirements.)
Be aware that Arizona state teacher certification requirements leading to an Institutional Recommendation may change at any time, and may impact program of study requirements.
Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also take. For prerequisite information, see course information contained in the catalog or your advisor.
Equal access for all studentsAs we move to an inclusive educational environment where all children work and learn together, our programs promote inclusive practices through our dual certification in special and elementary education.
CertificationWe offer this plan to prepare you to become a certified teacher of children and youth who have disabilities, as well as those who do not. The courses included in the program of study are designed to address the Professional Standards for the Council for Exceptional Children, in addition to the Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC), adopted by the Arizona Department of Education. This plan prepares you to teach students with mild to moderate disabilities such as:
- learning disabilities
- emotional/behavioral disorders
- mild-moderate intellectual disabilities
- orthopedic and health impairments
- traumatic brain injury