Two female Commonwealth University students build cardboard fort with young child.

Special Education (PK-12) and Early Childhood Education (PK-4) Dual

The Dual Special Education/Early Childhood program is designed to prepare you for certification to teach students with disabilities from PreK through 12th grade, as well as, Pre-K through 4th grade general education.

Degrees & Offerings
  • B.S.Ed.
  • Bloomsburg
  • Lock Haven
Program Contact
Chair of the Department of Early Childhood Education and Exceptionality Programs, Associate Professor
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Students that complete the program and achieve certification have the opportunity to student teach in public schools, intermediate units, approved private schools, preschools, etc.  Multiple field-based experiences are also available through advanced sequence coursework and practicum placements. Student teaching assignments are located within select counties in Pennsylvania. 

Courses and Curriculum

Commonwealth University requires a minimum of 45 hours of general education. Many general education courses are prescribed to meet teacher certification requirements in a time-efficient manner. To meet Pennsylvania teacher certification requirements, special education majors must have six credits of:

  • College-level mathematics
  • College-level English comprised of composition and literature

Prescribed coursework is required for dual certification in Special Education (PK-12) and Early Childhood Education (PK-4). This includes credit hours earned through methods courses and the student teaching experience.  

Special Education Teacher Certification

The Special Education Teacher Certification major allows you the opportunity to teach students with disabilities in grades PreK-12. Within this degree program, you will learn knowledge, skills, and dispositions to teach across various grade levels and disability areas. Areas of expertise that will be covered in this major include:

  • Knowledge of special education law and regulations
  • Etiology and eligibility of various disabilities
  • Accommodations and modifications to meet diverse learning needs
  • Specific teaching strategies to enhance the academic, social, and functional growth of students with disabilities

Special Education (PK-12)

Degree Works

Note: Please see the CU degree requirements effective Fall 2023. All enrolled students can also review their degree program requirements and track progress to degree completion in Degree Works.

Special Education/Early Childhood Dual Major Teacher Certification

Special Education is available as a dual major for students who desire special education certification in addition to a content area certification. At this time, a dual major teacher certification is available for PreK-4 and Special Education (PreK-12). With this degree, you will be certified to teach general education PreK-4 and any special education classroom from PreK-12.   

Early Childhood Dual (PK-4)

Degree Works

Note: Please see the CU degree requirements effective Fall 2023. All enrolled students can also review their degree program requirements and track progress to degree completion in Degree Works.

The special education minor is designed for students in secondary education, elementary education, or early childhood education, but can be valuable to other majors such as social work, recreation, and psychology.  The minor is intended to provide you with an area of expertise but does not lead to special education certification. Topics covered include:

  • Foundations of Special Education
  • Effective Instructional Strategies for Students with Disabilities in Inclusive Settings
  • Positive Behavior Supports

Minor Details

Upon completion of this program, students will perform the competencies required by the accrediting bodies, some of which include (directly from PDE):  

  • Describe major considerations related to identifying individuals with disabilities and assess the individuals properly.  
  • Identify and differentiate learner differences within each disability category based on a student’s level of functioning rather than classification.  
  • Demonstrate understanding of the legal rights and responsibilities of the teacher for special educational referral and evaluation and the rights and procedural safeguards that students are guaranteed.  
  • Demonstrate an understanding of over-representation of minorities in special education so as to not misinterpret behaviors that represent cultural, linguistic differences as indicative of learning problems.
  • Identify and use specialized resources in order to implement specially designed instruction for individuals with disabilities.  
  • Recommend and use evidence-based trauma informed practices validated for specific characteristics of learners and settings.  
  • Apply prevention and intervention strategies for individuals at-risk for academic or behavioral failure.  
  • Implement multiple approaches to learning.  
  • Demonstrate knowledge of and competence in understanding the social characteristics of PK-4 students.  
  •  Effectively apply the principles and theories of child development.  
  •  Implement lessons based on early childhood education foundations, theory, and policy.  
  •  Demonstrate understanding of the way in which classroom environments influence children's learning.  
  •  Plan, implement, and adapt, for all children, developmentally, culturally and linguistically appropriate instructional practices and strategies. 
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Why Commonwealth U?

Awards and Recognitions

The Special Education program at Commonwealth University has continuously received national recognition from the Council for Exceptional Children. 

Field Experiences

One of the unique aspects of the Special Education program at CU is the vast amount of field experience hours that are embedded into the course sequence. Special Education majors at CU participate in a wide variety of field experiences beginning in their freshman year.  By their senior year, pre-service candidates will have gained 100 hours of experience in the schools prior to starting student teaching placements. 

High Impact Experiences

When pre-service candidates enter their senior year, they culminate their degree with a semester-long student teaching experience. For dual majors in SPEC/ PreK-4, student teachers will have one placement in general education (PreK-4) and one placement in special education (PreK-12).

Clubs and Organizations

Best Buddies: is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development, and inclusive living for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). 

Student Council for Exceptional Children (SCEC): is a student organization aligned with the professional organization, Council for Exceptional Children. SCEC provides valuable interactions to learn from and to teach students with exceptionalities. This includes multiple volunteer events and organized meetings that provide information on current and popular topics in special education. SCEC actively engages with Special Olympics and other community organizations. 

Trinity Learning Community: is a collaborative endeavor developed by parents, adults with disabilities, CU, and Columbia County Corporation that addresses the critical need for housing options and creative support for adults with disabilities. Our efforts have resulted in a unique housing opportunity that directly improves the quality of life for individuals with disabilities, provide learning experiences for university students, and enhancing our community. 


From grants to tuition-waivers, scholarships exist to reward your hard work and dedication to the major.


Pre-service candidates who enroll in the Special Education program at CU have the opportunity to actively engage in technology-equipped classrooms to empower their instructional skills as future educators.  In addition, students are given access to dedicated hands-on learning materials, such as assessment kits and manipulatives, in order to effectively prepare instructional designs for PreK-12 students.

The Uncommon Difference

CAEP logo
CAEP Accreditation
CAEP accreditation ensures we prepare new teachers to know their subjects, their students, and have the critical training that allows them to enter the classroom ready to teach effectively.
Employment Rates
Opportunities exist for education majors to substitute teach in local school districts after completing 60 credits while pursuing their undergraduate degree.


There remains a growing demand for special education teachers, particularly in rural and inner-city school districts. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the overall demand will continue to be driven by increasing enrollment and a continued need for special education services.

Jenna Beiter '21

Bloomsburg's education program prepared me to be the teacher I aspire to be by ensuring experience in the classroom from freshman year through senior year. It's been incredibly beneficial to observe and participate in various classroom settings over the years as well as learn 'behind the scenes' tips from these amazing educators.

Jenna Beiter '22
Early Childhood and Special Education
Klohe Faatz '22

In high school I worked with a kindergarten class every morning and that was when I realized that it was my goal to become a teacher. I loved spending time with the students and watching them learn throughout the year. I chose early childhood education, because I think it's important students get a positive impact at a young age to create a positive school career.

Klohe Faatz '22
Early Childhood and Special Education
Cassidy Larkin '21

I've been prepared through observations, practicum experience, and student teaching. I've seen many different environments of teaching, all different than the next. All environments have inspired me to become the best educator I can, all thenks to Bloomsburg.

Cassidy Larkin '21
Early Childhood and Special Education
Megan Canfield '22

Bloomsburg's education program has helped prepare me in more ways than I could've ever hoped. The program got me into classrooms from the very first semester and has showed me what the best educators look like. I feel more confident than ever, especially after the Danville Practicum, to not only enter student teaching but also to enter the field after graduation.

Megan Canfield '22
Early Childhood and Special Education
Klohe Faatz '22
Cassidy Larkin '21
Megan Canfield '22
Jenna Beiter '21
Student teacher observing student writing

Blocked Classes

Dual majors will take courses in early childhood and in special education. Early childhood courses include subject-specific “methods” courses where prospective teachers learn about curriculum, assessment, and technology in addition to methods for teaching in the various content areas. Special Education courses focuses on assessment and instructional planning for both low and high-incidence populations, as well as special education law.

McDowell Institute

McDowell Institute

The McDowell Institute is dedicated to supporting the facilitation of social, emotional, and behavioral wellness of children, youth, and young adults across school and community settings. This mission is accomplished through training, technical assistance, and information.

Connect with our Faculty

Maureen Walsh

Maureen Walsh

  • Chair of the Department of Early Childhood Education and Exceptionality Programs, Associate Professor
  • Bloomsburg

Robin Drogan

  • Graduate Program Coordinator of Exceptionality Programs
  • Bloomsburg
CommonwealthU University Employee

Kayla Mohney

  • Associate Professor of Special Education
  • Lock Haven
CommonwealthU University Employee

Erica Jones

  • Professor/Chair, Special Education Department
  • Lock Haven

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