Special Ed Credential: Requirements of a Special Ed Credential Program

Published Apr 30, 2010

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A special education credential prepares students to work with mildly to severely disabled students. Those who decide to go into this field complete a bachelor's or master's degree (depending on the state) with a year of student teacher training in special education.

Special Education Career Summary

Special education can be broken down to teachers who work with mild to moderately disabled students and those who are specially trained to work with students with moderate to severe disabilities. Special education teachers work specifically with students who have emotional, physical or cognitive disabilities. Within the field of special education, there are nine general categories:

  • Early childhood special education
  • Emotional disturbance
  • Gifted or talented
  • Mental retardation
  • Physically handicapped
  • Learning disabilities
  • Visually impaired
  • Deaf or hard of hearing
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder

A credential program may focus on all, some or one of these categories as determined by the college and the state's board of education. Special education teachers not only need formal training; they also need to be organized, patient and calm. Exact requirements for a special education credential vary by state, and students can find out more about their state's exact requirements through the university's College of Education or by contacting their State Department of Education.

Preparation for a Special Ed Credential

A special education credential can be conferred at the bachelor's, post-bachelor's or master's degree level. This is dependent upon the requirements of the state where the student is going to school. Students must first complete their bachelor's degree in the chosen discipline before beginning their special education training required for their credential. Since the special education credential requires working in a classroom with students, most states require a health exam, which may include a tuberculosis test and various vaccinations.

Special Ed Credential Programs

Special education credential programs require students to work with special education students in a school or other institution under the supervision and instruction of an experienced teacher. Most credential programs take approximately one year, with the student taking on more and more responsibility in the classroom as time goes on. This classroom experience builds upon courses in education and special education that a student has taken previous to (and sometimes concurrent with) their student teaching experience.

Featured School Choices:

  • George Mason University

    George Mason University responds quickly to information requests through this site.

    Suggested programs:
    • Master of Education in Special Education, specializing in Applied Behavior Analysis
    • Master of Education in Special Education, specializing in Autism Spectrum Disorder
    • Autism Spectrum Disorder Certificate
    More information about George Mason University
  • Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

    Saint Mary's University of Minnesota responds quickly to information requests through this site.

    Suggested programs:
    • Master of Arts in Special Education
  • The George Washington University

    The George Washington University responds quickly to information requests through this site.

    Suggested programs:
    • Masters in Interdisciplinary Secondary Transition Services
    • Master of Arts in Education and Human Development in Special Education for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners
    • Graduate Certificate in Special Education for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners
    • Graduate Certificate in Transition Special Education
    • Master of Arts in Education and Human Development in Organizational Leadership and Learning
  • Winthrop University

    Winthrop University responds quickly to information requests through this site.

    Suggested programs:
    • Master of Education in Special Education Intervention
  • University of the Rockies

    University of the Rockies responds quickly to information requests through this site.

    Suggested programs:
    • Master of Arts in Education
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Education
    More information about University of the Rockies
  • Saint John's University

    Saint John's University responds quickly to information requests through this site.

    Suggested programs:
    • Ph.D. in Literacy
    • Ph.D. in Literacy: Educational Leadership
    • Ph.D. in Literacy: Special Education
    • Ph.D. in Literacy: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)
    • Ph.D in Literacy: Literacy