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 skilled practitioners and/or researchers but also are leaders in establishing effective teaching and learning environments for individuals with disabilities in their school and community.
The philosophy that underlies the program's curriculum and the activities of the program's faculty include the following:
- Cross-Categorical. Consistent with state guidelines, the program offers a 'cross-categorical' approach to teacher education with an emphasis on individual needs rather than labels. Students gain expertise in curriculum development, instructional strategies, assessment and planning, and behavioral support that is applicable to students with learning disabilities, emotional/behavioral disorders, intellectual disabilities, physical disabilities, autism, traumatic brain injury, and other disabilities.
- Experiential Learning. The best way to learn how to teach and support individuals with disabilities is through a combination of course work and direct experience. All course work in special education involves fieldwork experiences. The program is affiliated with university-operated field-based programs that provide opportunities for student funding and fieldwork experiences.
- Preventative and Proactive Strategies. The most successful approaches for individuals with disabilities focus on prevention. Programming should focus on early identification and intervention to avoid the development of serious challenges. Interventions should build supportive environments that are instructive and maximize positive learning opportunities for individuals with disabilities.
- Person-centered. Programs and educational experiences for individuals with disabilities should encourage self-determination and competence. Skills that facilitate autonomy and personal freedom are critical. Our faculty is committed to the enhancement of quality of life for people with disabilities.
- Innovative. Our faculty are uniquely involved in the development of both research and innovative practices. As practitioners, they glean the best of research to design instruction and behavior support that is highly effective. As researchers, we investigate new teaching and instructional proactive. All of our students learn to design instruction and other forms of support based on best practices. Opportunities to collaborate with faculty on research endeavors are available to all students.