Special Education Teaching Diploma Programs in South Carolina

There are 17 schools within South Carolina that have special education teaching degree programs. Read an overview of ten of the largest schools' programs, requirements and tuition info and find out which school is the right one for you.

Essential Information

Of the 17 schools that have programs for special education, 16 are public or private non-profit; this article focuses on the 10 largest of these schools. Rather than a diploma, which won't prepare one for certification, prospective special education teachers will need to earn a bachelor's degree at minimum. However, there are also master's and doctoral degree programs for certified teachers looking to enhance their knowledge of this specialty. Most of the degree programs have areas of concentration, such as mental disabilities and visual impairment. All students will participate in a fieldwork project.


Clemson University

Situated in Clemson, this university enrolls almost 22,000 students. It offers a bachelor's degree that prepares student to teach special-needs children in grades pre-kindergarten through 12 with state certification in multi-categorical special education. Coursework in this 122-semester hour program covers topics like the arts in elementary schools, an introduction to American education and educational assessment of persons with disabilities.

Individuals may also earn a Master of Education in Special Education. Students in this 36-semester-hour program may focus their studies on emotional/behavioral disorders, learning disabilities or mental disabilities. Required classes in the program focus on subjects like literacy instruction for individuals with disabilities and applied behavior analysis.

Coastal Carolina University

This university, which is located in Conway, offers a Bachelor of Arts in Special Education program that prepares students to obtain initial state teacher certification to teach learning-disabled students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12. This program requires 120 credit hours of study and includes field experiences and an internship as well as courses in learner characteristics, human development, assessments and ethics.

The College of Charleston

This school is located in the city of its name, Charleston, and enrolls about 12,000 students. It offers an undergraduate degree program in special education that leads to an award of a Bachelor of Science. Classes in this program cover topics like characteristics of students with mental disabilities, social competence instruction for students with disabilities and the foundations of education. Students in the program also complete a field experience and clinical practicum. Graduates will be recommended for state certification if they complete the clinical practicum and non-violent intervention training, along with receiving passing scores on the Praxis II exams.

The college also offers a Master of Arts in Teaching Special Education program that is designed for individuals with a bachelor's degree in a non-education field seeking initial teacher certification. This program requires 40 credit hours of study.

Francis Marion University

Francis Marion University is located in Florence. The university has three graduate degree programs related to special education: a Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Instructional Accommodation, a Master of Education in Learning Disabilities and a Master of Arts in Teaching - Learning Disabilities (MAT-LD). The instructional accommodation program is designed for licensed teachers and non-educators, while the learning disabilities program is designed for licensed educators. The M.Ed. program doesn't lead to initial certification. Students in either program complete 36 credit hours of study.

The Master of Arts program trains individuals to qualify for initial certification in learning disabilities. This program requires 51 credits of study, and the classes in the last semester mirror the student teaching semester that is part of the undergraduate training.

Lander University

Lander University in Greenwood provides a Bachelor of Science in Special Education program that prepares graduates to obtain multi-categorical special education certification for teaching grades pre-kindergarten through 12. Classes in this approximately 122-credit-hour program provide instruction about teaching students suffering from mild to moderate disabilities.

South Carolina State University

South Carolina State University is situated in Orangeburg. The school administers a Bachelor of Science in Special Education that can emphasize teaching emotionally disabled or learning disabled students. Regardless of chosen area of focus, this program includes 130 semester hours of study and an internship.

The university also offers a Master of Education in Special Education for certified teachers possessing a bachelor's degree. Students in this program may focus on one of five areas: emotionally disabled, learning disabled, educable mentally disabled, trainable mentally disabled and severely/profoundly mentally disabled. Classes in this program focus on subjects such as learning theories for teachers and behavior management.

University of South Carolina - Aiken

Located in Aiken, this campus of the University of South Carolina offers a Bachelor of Arts in Special Education that prepares students to teach individuals from birth through age 21 suffering from mild to moderate disabilities. This program requires completion of a minimum of 129-132 credit hours of study and includes a practicum and internship.

University of South Carolina - Columbia

The flagship campus of the University of South Carolina, located in Columbia, offers a Master of Arts in Teaching in Special Education. This program prepares individuals who hold a non-education bachelor's degree for initial certification in special education. A Master of Education in Special Education program is also available for licensed teachers seeking advanced knowledge in the field. Students in either of these master's degree programs may specialize in one of five areas, the options for which include learning disabilities and emotional behavioral disorders. The former program requires 60 semester hours of study, while the latter requires 36.

Certified professionals interested in teaching aspiring special education teachers at the college level may earn a Doctor of Philosophy in Special Education. This program's curriculum includes a qualifying exam and comprehensive exam and requires that students write a dissertation prior to graduation.

University of South Carolina - Upstate

Over 5,500 students attend the University of South Carolina on the upstate campus in Spartanburg. The school has a Bachelor of Science in Special Education (Learning Disabilities) and a non-degree special education certification program for individuals seeking to begin a career as a special education teacher. The bachelor's degree program includes 123 credits of study in classes such as developmental psychology and the foundations of education.

The university also offers the state's only graduate degree program focusing on visually disabled students for currently certified teachers. This program, which is offered in conjunction with the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind, requires 39 credits of study. Classes in this program are delivered through distance-learning methods during the school year to accommodate working teachers' schedules.

Winthrop University

Winthrop University in Rock Hill offers a Bachelor of Science in Special Education program in which students may focus on teaching individuals suffering from mental and severe disabilities or learning and emotional disabilities. Students in this 120-124-credit-hour program complete the requirements to obtain certification in elementary education as well as their area of focus.

A Master of Education in Special Education program is also offered at Winthrop for certified teachers. Students in this 36-credit-hour program may elect to write a thesis or complete a capstone. Classes cover topics such as lifelong integration and schooling in American society.

Career Requirements

To work in a South Carolina public school as a teacher, an individual must be certified by the South Carolina Department of Education. The department grants certification to individuals who have completed at least a bachelor's degree from a state-approved or accredited program in teacher education and who have passed two Praxis II exams: the Subject Assessments/Specialty Area Tests and the Principles of Learning and Teaching Exam. The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) accredits the teacher education programs at the following institutions, which meet the academic requirements for teacher certification.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type & Setting Special Education Teaching Programs Offered Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)
Clemson University 4-year, public; large suburb Bachelor of Arts in Special Education,
Master of Education in Special Education
$14,272 in-state; $33,190 out-of-state (undergraduate)*
$9,220 in-state; $18,406 (graduate)*
Coastal Carolina University 4-year, public; small city Bachelor of Arts in Special Education $10,530 in-state; $24,320 out-of-state (undergraduate)*
The College of Charleston 4-year, public; midsize city Bachelor of Science in Special Education,
Master of Arts in Teaching Special Education
$11,322 in-state; $28,866 out-of-state (undergraduate)*
$12,450 all-students (graduate)*
Francis Marion University 4-year, public; small suburb Master of Education in Instructional Accommodation,
Master of Education in Learning Disabilities,
Master of Arts in Teaching - Learning Disabilities
$10,312 in-state; $20,092 out-of-state (graduate)*
Lander University 4-year, public; distant town Bachelor of Science in Special Education $10,752 in-state; $20,370 out-of-state (undergraduate)*
South Carolina State University 4-year, public; distant town Bachelor of Science in Special Education,
Master of Education in Special Education
$10,088 in-state; $19,856 out-of-state (undergraduate)*
$10,088 in-state; $19,856 out-of-state (graduate)*
University of South Carolina - Aiken 4-year, public; large suburb Bachelor of Arts in Special Education $9,878 in-state; $19,472 out-of-state (undergraduate)*
University of South Carolina - Columbia 4-year, public; midsize city Master of Arts in Teaching in Special Education,
Master of Education in Special Education,
Doctor of Philosophy in Special Education
$12,784 in-state; $26,932 out-of-state (graduate)*
University of South Carolina - Upstate 4-year, public; midsize suburb Bachelor of Science in Special Education,
Non-degree Certification Program for Special Education,
Master of Education in Special Education: Visual Impairment
$10,818 in-state; $21,468 out-of-state (undergraduate)*
$12,834 in-state; $26,982 out-of-state (graduate)*
Winthrop University 4-year, public; small city Bachelor of Science in Special Education,
Master of Education in Special Education
$14,456 in-state; $27,704 out-of-state (undergraduate)*
$14,128 in-state; $26,938 out-of-state (graduate)*

Sources: *College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics.


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