There are several schools in Arizona that offer degree programs for teaching special education. Students may choose from bachelor's or master's degrees in the field; at least one institution offers a post-baccalaureate certificate program for individuals needing certification to teach special education. Master's degree programs require applicants to hold undergraduate degrees. Internships, student-teaching opportunities, or other practicum are incorporated into most education programs, including those focused on special education.
Below are short overviews of five of Arizona's largest schools offering special education degree programs, as well as a comparison table showing individual school offerings and tuition info at a glance.
Arizona State University
Based in Tempe, Arizona State University (ASU) enrolls more than 72,000 students each year. The Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College offers both a Bachelor of Arts in Education (BAE) and a Master of Education (M.Ed.) program in special education.
The undergraduate program is designed to instruct future educators in the options, methods, techniques and technologies required to teach children with special needs in an inclusive classroom environment. Students learn to assess the needs of individual children and create a specialized curriculum that takes into account culture, community and learning style. This program is offered at all ASU campuses and results in a dual certificate in special education and first through eighth grade elementary education. Courses include foundations of structured English immersion, child and adolescent development and special education for culturally and linguistically diverse children and youth.
The M.Ed. special education programs at ASU vary in details, but they generally focus on student teaching. Lecture courses are usually held in the evenings to free daytime hours for student teaching. Coursework involves a thorough continuation of the material detailed in the undergraduate program, as well as the practical application of special education practices as based on the most current research and theory.
Students who graduate from an ASU Master of Education in Special Education program typically earn not only a degree but also become eligible for dual teacher certification. This dual certification covers both special education instruction for students in first through eighth grade and also what is called cross-categorical special education for students in kindergarten through high school. Cross-categorical programs allow students with different types of special education needs, such as emotional, behavioral and physical disabilities or learning disabilities, to be grouped together to receive services.
Northern Arizona University
Those interested in special education teaching can find more than 80 undergraduate programs and 50 graduate programs at Northern Arizona University (NAU), which is located in Flagstaff. The college enrolls more than 25,000 students annually.
The Bachelor of Science (BS) in Education in Special and Elementary Education is a dual-major degree program combines special education training with elementary education training to create effective educators of young children with learning disabilities or other special needs. Course material may include mathematics in the elementary school, integrated literacy and classroom management in early childhood.
The M.Ed. in Special Education with Certification is designed to prepare students for immediate entry into the field of special education. Teachers certified in a different area as well as those preparing to enter the profession for the first time might take this graduate-level program. Subject matter includes cross-categorical topics such as behavior disorders, learning disabilities and health issues, along with severe-profound topics such as autism. Students seeking a different path at the graduate level may choose instead to enter the M.Ed. in Special Education program that does not offer certification, or the more specialized M.Ed. in Early Childhood Special Education program.
Ottawa University - Phoenix
Located in Phoenix, Ottawa University offers a bachelor's degree program in early childhood education. Participants of this program are able to pursue dual certification in both early childhood and early childhood special education. Students are required to complete courses in early childhood social and emotional development, literacy, teaching methods and early childhood assessment. Completion of a practicum is also necessary.
Pima Community College
Pima Community College in Tucson offers a post-degree certificate for special education in Mild-Moderate Disabilities (K-12). Applicants are not required to be certified in elementary, secondary or special education; however, those lacking certification will need to meet different program requirements. For instance, students lacking K-12 teacher certification must complete core courses in English immersion methods, content area reading, elementary science methods and secondary teaching methods. Required courses for both options include the study of the Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), classroom management, assistive technology, cross-categorical instruction and developmental reading. Completion of an internship is necessary to earn the degree.
University of Arizona
The University of Arizona in Tucson offers a bachelor's degree program in education that focuses on special education and rehabilitation. Students can choose a deaf studies or rehabilitation emphasis. Each program lasts rough four years. The rehabilitation emphasis prepares students for roles assisting the disabled in both teaching and non-teaching roles. Potential careers include working in assisted living, occupational rehabilitation and health advocacy. The deaf studies emphasis, on the other hand, focuses on counseling, interpretation and teaching. Students can expect to learn American Sign Language (ASL), and prepare for careers in health care administration, medical device testing and teaching.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Special Education Teaching Diploma Programs||Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)|
|Arizona State University||Four-year; public; midsize city|| Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Education in Special Education,
Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Special Education with Certification
|$10,158 in-state; $25,458 out-of-state*|
|Northern Arizona University||Four-year; public; small city|| Bachelor of Science (BS) in Education in Special and Elementary Education,
M.Ed. in Special Education with/without Certification
|$10,358 in-state; $23,348 out-of-state*|
|Ottawa University - Phoenix||Four-year; private not-for-profit; large city||BA in Early Childhood/ Special Education||$12,085*|
|Pima Community College||Two-year; public; large city||Special Education Mild-Moderate Disabilities Certification||$1,974 in-state; $8,610 out-of-state*|
|University of Arizona||Four-year; public; large city|| BS in Education: Special Education and Rehabilitation (deaf studies emphasis),
BS in Education: Special Education and Rehabilitation (rehabilitation emphasis)
|$11,403 in-state; $32,630 out-of-state*|
Source: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).