Special Education

Build personal relationships with the students who need your support most. As a special education teacher, you’ll offer individualized instruction to students with exceptional needs. For a student with acute anxiety, that might mean providing advance notice of triggering situations like changes in schedule. For another with learning problems, it might mean providing shorter reading and writing assignments. The common thread is understanding each student’s unique needs and what you can do to make his or her learning experience successful.

Talented special education teachers are in high demand in every school district. Further, the skills you learn in our programs—how to provide differentiated instruction, how to make individualized adaptations of instructional and assessment tools based on student needs, and how to manage disruptive behavior—are skills that every good teacher needs.

The IU School of Education offers undergraduate degrees in special education at the elementary and secondary levels.

Elementary: Teaching All Learners: Exceptional Needs and Elementary Education

The Teaching All Learners program prepares future educators to teach either special education or general elementary education.

Course work focuses on integrating theories, philosophies, and techniques associated with both general and special education traditions. You’ll also receive intensive field experience working with students of different abilities.

Learn more about the Teaching All Learners program »

Secondary Special Education

Today, special education teachers at the secondary level are expected to have both the skills needed to teach students with exceptional needs and to teach a specific content area. At the IU School of Education, we’ll help you prepare to teach special education at the secondary level, along with focused content preparation in English, math, or science.

Program of Study

You’ll take on challenging course work in your chosen content area and explore issues in special education that include:

  • Instructional strategies
  • Assessment
  • Using assistive technology
  • Classroom management
  • Family involvement
  • Social-emotional learning

All students in secondary special education participate in our Community of Teachers program. As a member, you’ll develop strong relationships with fellow teaching students in ongoing seminars and work directly with a mentor teacher in that put you in real-world classrooms one to two days a week.

Student Teaching

The program culminates in a semester-long student teaching experience in a preschool, kindergarten, or primary grade classroom. You can also take on additional field engagements as early as your second semester (depending on your admissions status) through our early field experiences program.

Degree Requirements

Secondary special education majors can choose either Language Arts/English or Math or Science for their content area focus. Download admissions requirements and required course work:

Exceptional Needs–Early & Late Adolescence (Language Arts/English focus)

Exceptional Needs–Early & Late Adolescence (Math or Science)


When you graduate, you can apply for a single license covering Junior High/Middle School and High School, with special education and your chosen content focus as your content field. Learn more about applying for your initial license »