Education

Best Early Childhood Special Education Degree Programs of 2022

Learn more about the top Early Childhood Special Education programs, what to expect, job prospects, and how to choose the program that’s right for you.

Early childhood special education is the study and practice of teaching young children with special needs, typically from birth to age eight. Early childhood special educators work in a variety of settings, including public and private schools, child care centers, Head Start programs, and private homes.

The field of early childhood special education is growing rapidly, as research increasingly demonstrates the importance of the early years in a child’s development. Early childhood special educators play a vital role in preparing young children with special needs for success in school and in life.

Early childhood special education degrees can prepare students for a variety of careers in early childhood special education, including teaching, administration, and research. Students in early childhood special education degree programs learn about the different theories and techniques of early childhood special education, and how to apply those techniques to teaching young children with special needs.

How to Choose the Right Early Childhood Special Education Program

When it comes to choosing the right Early Childhood Special Education Bachelors Degree Program, there are many factors to consider. The first step is to research the different programs available and find one that is accredited and offers the courses you need. Once you have found a few programs you are interested in, the next step is to compare the cost of each program. You will also want to consider the time it will take to complete the program, as well as the graduation requirements.

Another important factor to consider is the location of the school. If you plan to study on-campus, you will need to consider the cost of living in the area, as well as the job opportunities after graduation. If you plan to study online, you will need to make sure the program is accredited and offers the courses you need. You will also want to consider the time it will take to complete the program, as well as the graduation requirements.

Once you have considered all of these factors, you will be able to narrow down your choices and find the right program for you.

Best Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Special Education Programs

The best programs for Early Childhood Special Education ranking is based on key statistics and student reviews using data from the U.S. Department of Education. Some of the metrics influencing how the rankings are determined include graduation rate, average salary for graduates, accreditation, retention rate, and cost.

Rank 1
Lewis University
Romeoville, IL

The Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Special Education from Lewis University is a unique program that allows students to earn three endorsements in one degree. The endorsements include Early Childhood Education, Early Childhood Special Education, and English as a Second Language. The coursework will prepare students to work in a variety of settings, such as public schools, child care centers, and social service agencies.

Rank 2
University of Maryland-College Park
College Park, MD

The Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Special Education from University of Maryland-College Park is an intensive, cross-departmental program that is evidence-based, building on the research emanating from its two sponsoring departments, on development, learning, pedagogy, and disabilities.

The Early Childhood Special Education program is divided into two phases: Pre-Professional and Professional coursework. During the first two years, freshman and sophomore students complete a series of courses to build a foundation of EC/ECSE. Upon completion of these courses, students apply for formal admission to the EC/ECSE Professional program. During the Professional program, students continue to take courses while moving into the internship phases. Throughout the program students have the opportunity to be placed in several field experiences culminating in a year-long internship in both an inclusive Early Childhood classroom and an Early Childhood Special Education setting.

Rank 3
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
Whitewater, WI

The Bachelor of Arts in Special Education from University of Wisconsin-Whitewater is designed to provide an avenue for professionals who are currently working with students as a para-educator, special education assistant and/or supporting individuals with disabilities. The program is fully online and offered in 8-week and 3-week course sequences, this allows students the opportunity to work in their current school district and partner with UW-Whitewater for on the job field experiences and student teaching.

Rank 4
Drexel University
Philadelphia, PA

Drexel University’s online Bachelor of Science in Special Education program prepares students to support diverse learners in developing social, emotional, academic, and life skills. The program features online courses with in-person practicum experiences. Students learn the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) core competencies to become special education teachers. The program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Education Preparation (CAEP).

Rank 5
Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ

The Bachelor of Arts in Education in Early Childhood and Early Childhood Special Education from Arizona State University focuses on child development and best practices in early childhood education, including the skills needed to assess, monitor, and report the progress of children with and without disabilities or developmental delays. Students also learn techniques and approaches to involve family members in the growth and development of young children. The program offers a full, structured English immersion endorsement to work with English language learners and provides extensive experiences in integrating technology into teaching.

Rank 6
Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania
Slippery Rock, PA

The Bachelor of Science in Education at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania is a four-year program that prepares students to work with a wide range of students. The program provides students with the skills and knowledge necessary to teach children with cognitive, behavioral, and physical disabilities. Students in the program benefit from six semesters of hands-on field experiences with students in public schools in Western Pennsylvania.

Rank 7
University of Wisconsin-Stout
Menomonie, WI

The University of Wisconsin-Stout’s Bachelor of Science in Special Education program prepares future teachers for a cross-categorical license to teach elementary, middle, and high school students with disabilities in the areas of learning, intellectual, emotional, and behavioral disabilities. The program is designed for working adults and is delivered 100% online by full-time faculty. Courses are offered in Fall, Spring, and Summer, and students have the support of Adult Student Services Coordinators and Distance Librarians.

Rank 8
Ball State University
Muncie, IN

The Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Special Education from Ball State University is a comprehensive program that prepares students to work with infants and toddlers with special needs. The program includes coursework in early childhood special education, assessment of children with exceptional needs, teaching methods for mild interventions, and more. Students will also complete field experience and student teaching in both early childhood and mild intervention settings.

Rank 9
West Virginia University
Morgantown, WV

The Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Special Education from West Virginia University is an online program that prepares students to earn a teaching certification in pre-K special needs. The courses cover topics such as human development, classroom pedagogy, special education, assessments, technology in the classroom, and field placements.

Rank 10
Southwest Minnesota State University
Marshall, MN

The Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood degree from Southwest Minnesota State University is 120 credits and takes four years to complete. The program is designed to give students the necessary foundation to work with infants, toddlers, and young children with disabilities. The program also prepares students to take the MN licensure for ECSE.

What to Expect From a Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Special Education Program

Students in a bachelor’s in early childhood special education program can expect to take classes on topics such as child development, assessment and intervention strategies, and working with families. The program will also include fieldwork experiences in order to give students the opportunity to apply what they have learned in real-world settings.

In order to be eligible for the program, students must have a high school diploma or equivalent. They must also have completed some college coursework, although the exact requirements vary by school. Once admitted to the program, students will take classes on topics such as child development, assessment and intervention strategies, and working with families.

The program will also include fieldwork experiences in order to give students the opportunity to apply what they have learned in real-world settings. These experiences will help students develop the skills they need to work with children with special needs.

Graduates of the program will be prepared to work with children with special needs in a variety of settings, including early childhood education programs, special education classrooms, and private practices.

Common Early Childhood Special Education Courses

The course requirements for early childhood special education programs vary depending on the school and degree level. However, there are some common courses that are often included in these programs.

Assessment of Young Children

This course covers the assessment of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with disabilities. Emphasis is placed on the selection, administration, and interpretation of formal and informal assessments, as well as the development of individualized family service plans. Upon completion, students should be able to select and administer appropriate assessments, interpret assessment data, and develop individualized family service plans.

Working with Families

This course focuses on developing positive relationships with families of young children with exceptionalities. Emphasis is placed on family-centered practices, effective communication, and partnering with families. Upon completion, students should be able to apply family-centered practices in working with families of young children with exceptionalities.

Inclusive Practices

This course covers the philosophy, rationale, and methods for providing quality inclusive experiences for young children with and without disabilities and their families. Emphasis is placed on the knowledge and skills necessary to support the inclusion of all children in early childhood programs. Upon completion, students should be able to apply the principles of inclusion to support the development of positive relationships, effective communication, and individualized learning experiences for all children.

Special Education Law and Philosophy

This course is an overview of the legal landscape of special education. Students will learn about the history, philosophy, and major laws and court cases that have shaped the field of special education. The course will cover topics such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and state and federal laws and regulations related to the provision of special education services. Students will also learn about the due process procedures for resolving disputes between parents and schools, and the role of the courts in interpreting and enforcing the laws governing special education. Upon completion of the course, students should be able to identify the major laws governing the provision of special education services, explain the due process procedures for resolving disputes between parents and schools, and describe the role of the courts in interpreting and enforcing the laws governing special education.

Introduction to Autism

This course covers the characteristics of autism spectrum disorders (ASD), evidence-based practices, and current issues related to ASD. Emphasis is placed on providing students with an understanding of the etiology, prevalence, symptoms, and diagnosis of ASD as well as effective educational and behavioral interventions. Upon completion, students should be able to explain the characteristics of ASD, apply evidence-based practices to support individuals with ASD, and advocate for individuals with ASD and their families.

Career Options for Early Childhood Special Education Graduates

Graduates of early childhood special education programs work in a variety of fields and industries, including education, childcare, and social work. They may also work in fields such as health care and human services.

Preschool Teacher

Preschool teachers work with children between the ages of 3 and 5. They prepare lesson plans, implement activities, assess student progress, and maintain a safe and clean classroom environment. Preschool teachers also communicate with parents about their child’s development and progress. Many preschool teachers work in public and private preschools, child care centers, and Head Start programs. Some preschool teachers may also work in kindergarten classrooms.

Special Education Teacher

Special education teachers work with students who have a wide range of disabilities, from mild to severe. They adapt general education lessons and teach various subjects, such as reading, writing, and math, to meet each student’s individual needs. They also develop Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for each student and track each student’s progress. Special education teachers typically work in public schools, but they may also work in private schools, charter schools, or resource centers.

Nanny

A nanny is a professional caregiver who provides care for children in the family home. Nannies are usually employed by the parents, but in some cases, they may be employed by a third party, such as a nanny agency. Nannies typically have a wide range of responsibilities, including providing age-appropriate activities, feeding and dressing the children, handling discipline, and transporting the children to and from school and extracurricular activities. Nannies may also be responsible for light housekeeping tasks related to the children, such as laundry, tidying up the play area, and preparing meals.

Literacy Coach

Literacy coaches work with groups of teachers to help them improve their literacy instruction skills. They provide professional development and support to teachers, usually in the form of individualized coaching and modeling of best practices. In some cases, they may also teach classes or co-teach classes with teachers. Literacy coaches typically work in school districts, although some may work for state departments of education or other educational organizations.

Child Care Center Director

Child care center directors are responsible for the overall operation of a child care facility. They develop and implement policies and procedures, hire and train staff, oversee the budget, and ensure that the center meets all state and local regulations. They also work with parents and guardians to ensure that their children are receiving the best possible care. Child care center directors typically have at least a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or a related field, and they must be able to obtain a state-issued child care administrator’s license.

Insights From an Early Childhood Special Education Graduate

Tyshawn Hunt is an Early Childhood Intervention Specialist at New York University. He has a bachelor’s degree in early childhood special education from Lehman College. Tyshawn has over 7 years of experience working with young children with special needs.

ClimbtheLadder: What were the biggest takeaway(s) you got from your Early Childhood Special Education program that you may not have gotten otherwise?

Tyshawn Hunt: The biggest takeaway from my Early Childhood Special Education program was the knowledge and understanding of the different types of disabilities that can affect young children. I was also able to learn about different intervention strategies that can be used to help children with special needs.

ClimbtheLadder: What are the most rewarding aspects of your career? What are the most challenging aspects of your career?

Tyshawn Hunt: The most rewarding aspect of my career is knowing that I am making a difference in the lives of young children with special needs and their families. It is also rewarding to see the children make progress in their learning and development. The most challenging aspect of my career is dealing with the paperwork and administrative tasks.

ClimbtheLadder: What misconception(s) do people have about an Early Childhood Special Education degree, and what would you tell them?

Tyshawn Hunt: I think the biggest misconception people have about an Early Childhood Special Education degree is that it is easy. I remember when I first started my program, people would ask me what I was studying and when I told them they would say something like, “Oh, that’s easy. I could do that.”

I think people assume that because we are working with young children, it must be easy. But it is actually a lot of work. We have to be able to understand child development, know how to create lesson plans, and be able to adapt our teaching methods to meet the individual needs of each child.

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