Pennsylvania 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 pusuing 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 special education certificate 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 competency1. 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 requirements2.
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 teaching2. 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 license2.
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 teach2.
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.3
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)
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
One of the best online graduate education programs in the country, according to the 2013 U.S. News and World Report survey.
- Glenside, PAGlenside, PA
The Master of Education degree program focuses on educational processes, either in general education or specialized areas of education.
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
- Reading, PAReading, PA
Coursework and field experiences prepare students for success in a variety of inclusive special education classroom settings.
Saint Joseph's University
If you've already earned a bachelor's degree, you may obtain an Online Post Bachelor's Certificate in Autism Studies that is...
- West Chester, PAWest Chester, PA
West Chester University of Pennsylvania
In keeping with the purpose of teacher education at West Chester University, the prime mission of the Master of Education in Special Education is to prepare advanced-level teachers who can synthesize and apply self-awareness in general knowledge of a) t...
- West Chester, PA
- West Chester, PA
- Beaver Falls, PABeaver Falls, PA
The Master's of Education in Special Education is designed to prepare current teachers with supplemental skills in working with students diagnosed with mental and physical disabilities. Teachers will be prepared to work with students who are mentally re...
Slippery Rock University
The online School Supervision Program focuses on preparing students who want to become supervisors of special education. Students examine best practices literature regarding the professional knowledge, skills, and disposition required of leaders in educ...
- Elkins Park, PAElkins Park, PA
Salus University College of Education and Rehabilitation offers a Master of Education degree program and a certificate program for Teachers of Children with Visual and Multiple Disabilities. These competency-based programs offer coursework and practica...
- Bloomsburg, PABloomsburg, PA
Bloomsburg University Of Pennsylvania
This program provides an opportunity for individuals to pursue three different master of science programs. The Master of Science in Special Education is for those who hold certification in special education. It is intended to improve the competence of t...
- Millersville, PAMillersville, PA
The M.Ed. in Special Education allows students the opportunity of advanced study in mental and physical disabilities, including the areas of brain injuries, autism/PPD, specific learning disabilities, all levels of mental...
- Bethlehem, PABethlehem, PA
The graduate program is fully accredited by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and offers special education certification at the Master's level. We are strongly committed to the preparation of highly qualified educators who are not only skille...