Special Education Certificates and Certification
Licensing is required to teach special needs students in all states, so a certificate in special education might benefit individuals pursuing a career in the field. Special credentials have various requirements, and certification with professional organizations such as the National Association of Special Education Teachers might be a potential path.
Sometimes the difference between certificate in special education programs and certification can be confusing. A certificate program provides educational training on a specialized topic, for which you receive a certificate after completing the required courses. Whereas, professional certification is a voluntary process in which you are assessed by a professional board or entity to see if you meet a predetermined and standardized criteria (which often involves passing an exam) to practice in the field.
Special Education Certificate Programs and No Child Left Behind
While earning a graduate certificate in special education might not be a professional requirement it might be a great professional development tool. When the No Child Left Behind Act was passed in 2001, it outlined minimum qualifications for teachers including: a bachelor’s degree, full state certification and demonstration of subject-matter competency (Source: 2.ed.gov). As such, some states now require that certified or licensed teachers log a certain amount of continuing education credits each year—and enrolling in special education certificate programs may be a way to help meet these requirements (Source: bls.gov).
Licensure and Certification Requirements for Special Education Teachers
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), all states currently require special education teachers in public schools to be licensed. Requirements for certification vary by state—but all states require that teachers earn a bachelor’s degree at a minimum, and that they complete a teacher preparation program including supervised experience in teaching. Some states also require a minimum grade point average and most states require teachers to complete a background check. As we mentioned above teachers may also be required to complete annual continuing education courses—or in some cases earn a master’s degree to maintain their license.
Some states might offer general licenses in special education that allow teachers to work with students with a variety of different disabilities—while others might offer licenses based on a specific disability category, such as behavior disorders. Some states may also allow special education teachers to transfer their licenses from another states. However, other states require that teachers pass their respective state-specific licensing requirements. Be sure to check with the state’s requirements for the area where you intend to teach.
Graduate schools with Special Education Graduate Certificate Programs
In some cases, special education teachers may decide to pursue optional forms of certification to demonstrate a commitment to excellence in the field. Board Certification in Special Education (B.C.S.E.) is a voluntary form of certification offered by the American Academy of Special Education Professionals (AASEP). It was created to outline specific professional standards that require high professional competency in special education. Accordingly, earning this certification can be a great way to show potential employers and parents that you are competent, committed and highly-qualified to teach in the field. (Source: naset.org)
To be eligible to attain B.C.S.E. certification, you must meet the following requirements:3
- Have earned at least a master’s degree from an accredited institution of higher learning in the U.S. or Canada
- Have earned at least a master’s degree from an institution of higher learning outside of the U.S. or Canada that maintained an equivalent standard of training as those accredited in the U.S.
- The master’s degree you earned must be in a field involved with students with special needs
- Complete the five certificates of advanced professional development
- Pass the multiple choice exam with a score of 80% or higher (you may take the exam up to three times)
Online Special Education Graduate Programs
If you have interest in pursuing a career in special education, consider enrolling in one of the many online special education degree programs. Special education graduate programs are designed to prepare students to work as teachers, scholars, and professionals in the field of education. An online graduate degree in special education program is an academic path that may help you launch your career in special education.
Curriculum in Online Special Education Graduate Programs
In special education degree programs, you generally take online classes in education policy, curriculum development, and pedagogical methods and theories. Special education graduate programs also hone your research and writing skills to prepare you for the field of education. Special education careers are varied and it is no surprise that graduate special education programs are designed to reflect that diversity.
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GradSchools.com offers 102 Graduate Schools with Special Certificate in Special Education Programs
University of Oregon
Loyola University Maryland
University of New Hampshire
University of New England
Youngstown State University
University of North Dakota
Saint Mary's University of Minnesota
Minnesota State University - Mankato
St. Mary's College Of California