As a Special Education major, you will learn how to reach and teach students from kindergarten through age 22, of varied abilities and diverse needs. You will interact with experienced faculty who model research-based practices. Learning is stimulating, engaging and directly applicable to the classroom. As a testament to our student-centered approach, you will benefit from full-time advisors and personal attention in small classes.

You can expect to work in a variety of classroom settings as you complete your coursework, addressing topics such as life skills, inclusion, behavior disorders, autism and more. These classroom experiences will provide you with a wide range of opportunities for collaboration, mentoring and networking with teaching professionals and school districts in the surrounding area. Most impressively, you will benefit from the College of Education’s excellent reputation with area schools and will be highly employable after graduation.

Through this program, you will have the opportunity to earn an Elementary Education endorsement with no additional coursework. 

The University of St. Francis is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (, a regional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. College of Education programs are further approved by the Illinois State Board of Education (

The College of Education has several years of experience preparing teacher candidates to successfully complete the edTPA, a national assessment designed to lead aspiring teachers to a high level of professional performance. The assessment requires teacher candidates to demonstrate substantial academic and cultural knowledge of their students, as well as use data to improve instruction. USF teacher candidates can count on extensive support and guidance to ensure positive results on the edTPA. 

As a Special Education teacher candidate, you will get a world of experience as you learn. Starting with your beginning field experience, you will be placed in a special education setting for approximately 12 weeks. Experiences may include working with small groups or with individual students, assessing student work and supporting the classroom environment. 

Each semester you will be enrolled in a school-based practicum, a one-credit hour course in a variety of settings that will broaden your teacher preparation experiences. Through three semesters of internship, you will have the opportunity to spend a year in a special education classroom, where you will apply your knowledge and skills in a carefully supervised setting.

The Special Education degree at USF will prepare you to teach students with special needs from kindergarten through age 22, across a range of disabilities from mild to severe. As an excellent teacher with a true teacher’s heart, you will grow to understand students, serve the community and find your professional self. You will enhance your communication skills, develop creativity, introduce exciting new ideas, inspire minds, mentor others, instill a sense of value and purpose in your students, initiate positive change, and shape the future of our communities and our world.

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