Michelle Foley 8 min read Academic Tips and Info, College Lists

List of All U.S. Colleges With a Special Education Major

Good education, and with it, good teachers, partially form the foundation for a fulfilling life. Those who teach and connect well with others encourage their students to embrace learning for learning’s sake. They push kids to recognize their academic strengths and work on their weaknesses.

 

Special education teachers have a particularly complex responsibility. Unlike general educators, who apply similar learning methods to a broad base of students, special education teachers work closely with a (typically smaller) group. They adapt to the different needs of children with physical and learning disabilities, emotional and behavior disorders, social challenges, and more.

 

The special education major focuses on the design and execution of educational services to those with special needs. Students in this field will learn how to support students in becoming their best and strongest selves.

 

Interested in this major? Here, we’ll break down which colleges offer Special Education programs and what to look for in a school.

 

Overview of the Special Education Major

 

While course requirements vary from school to school, students in this major can more or less depend on covering these central concepts:

 

  • Mild, Moderate, and Severe Disabilities
  • Assistive Technology
  • Behavior Management
  • Human Learning and Development
  • Cultural and Linguistic Diversity 

 

Each school will have unique requirements and offer unique opportunities. For example, Vanderbilt University allows its students to specialize in one of multiple subject areas and requires an in-field internship, while the University of Wisconsin-Madison has a dual major program allowing students to become certified as elementary school teachers. 

 

Successful students are passionate about educational equality and providing extra assistance to those who need it. Since they may eventually be working directly with special-needs students, they should be patient and attentive. Every special-needs student will learn in different ways and at different paces, so educators must be willing to accommodate diverse needs. 

 

Since you’ll be the grown-up around these kids, it’ll be your job to stay calm and kind, even when your students are upset. Those who are successful in the education field are flexible, with a high tolerance for stress and surprise. They’re adaptable and willing to handle disorder and lengthy paperwork.

 

Special education majors have fantastic job security, as their skills are in high demand. Many top education programs, like University of Wisconsin-Madison, have nearly 100% rate of post-grad job placement. Additionally, special education teachers are, on average, paid more than the typical general education teacher.

 

While teaching is a popular path for students in this major, it’s far from the only one. Many graduates become interpreters, translators, or even special education professors. The latter requires an advanced degree, of course, but graduate school overall isn’t universally popular among Special Education B.S./B.A. recipients. About 30% get a master’s degree and about 50% receive a post baccalaureate certificate.

 

If you’ve got a directorial or advocacy bent, some of these careers may be right up your alley:

 

  • Nonprofit Director
  • Program Director
  • Board of Education Chairman
  • Mental Health Facility Worker
  • Speech Pathologist
  • Lobbyist 

 

If you know that you’re passionate about special education, but not the specifics of what you would like to do, don’t stress too much. Luckily, special education is a relatively broad field, and college is a great time to identify your strengths, interests, and priorities.

 

What to Look for in a College as a Special Education Major

 

Opportunities for Experience

 

Sitting in a classroom is one thing; being good at your job is something else entirely. While strong educational resources will prove a vital asset, you should still look into real-world opportunities to supplement your academic knowledge. Look into your potential schools’ internship programs and opportunities. Quite often, special ed programs actually require field experience.

 

Michigan State University, which offers one of the US’s top ten special ed programs, sends graduates into the world with 1000+ hours of field experience. In keeping with the university’s land grant mission, Michigan State faculty work within local schools and communities, giving students special access to mentorship and opportunities.

 

Experienced Professors

 

Of course, you’ll need professors who can convey beyond-theoretical knowledge. Do a bit of deep digging to see if your future mentors have a background on the specializations that interest you. This will be especially useful if you’re likely to be taught by these actual tenured professionals—as opposed to TA’s—and if the class sizes are small enough to make closer professor-student relationships likely. If you pick the right classes and ask the right questions, you can glean some valuable insights from experienced professionals.

 

Inclusivity

 

Students with special needs have always come from every background, and the education field is continually adjusting to accommodate them. Is your college doing the same? 

 

Make sure that cultural and linguistic fluency is a priority, or at least an element, of your undergraduate education. This is especially important if you’re interested in nonprofit work or serving underserved communities. 

 

Vanderbilt’s Peabody School of Education, for example, offers courses SPED 7100: Cultural Diversity in American Education and SPED 7120: High Poverty Youth: Improving Outcomes. The latter course actually contains a heavy fieldwork component; students work with community agencies in Nashville to to assist low-income youth through tutoring and mentoring high schoolers.

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List of All U.S. Colleges With a Special Education Major

 

School Name City State
Merrimack College North Andover Massachusetts
Fitchburg State University Fitchburg Massachusetts
Seton Hall University South Orange New Jersey
Northern Arizona University | NAU Flagstaff Arizona
University of North Carolina at Wilmington | UNC Wilmington Wilmington North Carolina
Georgia Southern University Statesboro Georgia
Flagler College Saint Augustine Florida
Youngstown State University Youngstown Ohio
Clemson University Clemson South Carolina
University of Connecticut | UConn Storrs Connecticut
Presbyterian College Clinton South Carolina
Arizona State University | ASU Tempe Arizona
Florida State University | FSU Tallahassee Florida
Tennessee Technological University | Tennessee Tech Cookeville Tennessee
Texas A&M University–Commerce Commerce Texas
University of Dayton Dayton Ohio
University of Hartford West Hartford Connecticut
University of Kentucky Lexington Kentucky
College of Charleston Charleston South Carolina
Coastal Carolina University | Coastal Conway South Carolina
University of Memphis Memphis Tennessee
Pennsylvania State University | PSU University Park Pennsylvania
Indiana University Bloomington | Indiana Bloomington Indiana
University of Evansville Evansville Indiana
Campbell University Buies Creek North Carolina
Indiana State University | ISU Terre Haute Indiana
University of Hawaii at Manoa | UH Manoa Honolulu Hawaii
Brigham Young University | BYU Provo Utah
Northern Illinois University | NIU Dekalb Illinois
Ashland University Ashland Ohio
Grand Canyon University | GCU Phoenix Arizona
Robert Morris University | RMU (Pennsylvania) Moon Township Pennsylvania
Cazenovia College Cazenovia New York
National Louis University | NLU Chicago Illinois
Georgia College | GCSU Milledgeville Georgia
Marietta College Marietta Ohio
Loyola University Chicago Chicago Illinois
Ohio University Athens Ohio
Ohio Wesleyan University Delaware Ohio
Union University Jackson Tennessee
Indiana University of Pennsylvania | IUP Indiana Pennsylvania
St. John’s University Queens New York
Brooklyn College Brooklyn New York
Manhattan College Riverdale New York
Fordham University Bronx New York
The State University of New York at Buffalo | SUNY Buffalo Buffalo New York
Dordt College Sioux Center Iowa
Augusta University Augusta Georgia
University of Georgia Athens Georgia
University of North Carolina at Charlotte | UNC Charlotte Charlotte North Carolina
University of Nevada, Las Vegas | UNLV Las Vegas Nevada
University of Mississippi | Ole Miss University Mississippi
Mississippi State University | MSU Mississippi State Mississippi
Baruch College | CUNY Baruch New York New York
Benedictine University Lisle Illinois
Elmhurst College Elmhurst Illinois
Southern Illinois University Carbondale | SIU Carbondale Illinois
Lesley University Cambridge Massachusetts
Boston University | BU Boston Massachusetts
Curry College Milton Massachusetts
Grand Valley State University | GVSU Allendale Michigan
Lipscomb University Nashville Tennessee
Middle Tennessee State University | MTSU Murfreesboro Tennessee
Fisk University Nashville Tennessee
Vanderbilt University Nashville Tennessee
Trevecca Nazarene University Nashville Tennessee
Otterbein University Westerville Ohio
Ohio State University | OSU Columbus Ohio
Capital University Columbus Ohio
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities | Minnesota Minneapolis Minnesota
St. Joseph’s University | SJU Philadelphia Pennsylvania
Cedar Crest College Allentown Pennsylvania
West Chester University | WCUPA West Chester Pennsylvania
The College of New Jersey | TCNJ Ewing New Jersey
University of Wisconsin-Madison | Wisconsin Madison Wisconsin
University of the Cumberlands Williamsburg Kentucky
Augustana University Sioux Falls South Dakota
Jackson State University | JSU Jackson Mississippi
Tougaloo College Tougaloo Mississippi
University of Southern Mississippi | Southern Miss Hattiesburg Mississippi
St. John Fisher College Rochester New York
New Mexico State University | NMSU Las Cruces New Mexico
Goshen College Goshen Indiana
University of Missouri | Mizzou Columbia Missouri
Bloomsburg University | BloomU Bloomsburg Pennsylvania
Biola University La Mirada California
Florida Atlantic University | FAU Boca Raton Florida
University of Arizona Tucson Arizona
Xavier University Cincinnati Ohio
University of Cincinnati Cincinnati Ohio
Miami University Oxford Ohio
St. Edward’s University Austin Texas
Central Washington University | CWU Ellensburg Washington
Whitworth University Spokane Washington
Eastern Washington University | EWU Cheney Washington
Gonzaga University Spokane Washington
University of New Mexico | UNM Albuquerque New Mexico
Spalding University Louisville Kentucky
Bellarmine University Louisville Kentucky
University of Arkansas at Little Rock | UA Little Rock Little Rock Arkansas
University of Arkansas Fayetteville Arkansas
Utah State University Logan Utah
Liberty University Lynchburg Virginia
East Tennessee State University | ETSU Johnson City Tennessee
Bowling Green State University | BGSU Bowling Green Ohio
University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee | UWM Milwaukee Wisconsin
Westfield State University Westfield Massachusetts
Towson University Towson Maryland
University of Maryland Eastern Shore | UMES Princess Anne Maryland
University of Oklahoma Norman Oklahoma
University of Nebraska Omaha | UNO Omaha Nebraska
Providence College Providence Rhode Island
Rhode Island College | RIC Providence Rhode Island
Western Washington University | WWU Bellingham Washington
Saint Martin’s University | St. Martin’s Lacey Washington
University of Florida Gainesville Florida
High Point University High Point North Carolina
Bennett College Greensboro North Carolina
University of North Carolina at Greensboro | UNC Greensboro Greensboro North Carolina
Elon University Elon North Carolina
University of Akron Akron Ohio
Kent State University Kent Ohio
Utica College Utica New York
Wayne State University | WSU Detroit Michigan
DePaul University Chicago Illinois
Roosevelt University Chicago Illinois
Illinois State University | ISU Normal Illinois
Florida International University | FIU Miami Florida
West Virginia University | WVU Morgantown West Virginia
University of Maryland, College Park | Maryland College Park Maryland
Carthage College Kenosha Wisconsin
Alabama A&M | AAMU Normal Alabama
Baylor University Waco Texas
East Carolina University | ECU Greenville North Carolina
University of South Alabama | South Mobile Alabama
Valdosta State University | VSU Valdosta Georgia
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign | UIUC Champaign Illinois
Cleveland State University | CSU Cleveland Ohio
University of Texas at El Paso | UTEP El Paso Texas
University of Tennessee Knoxville Tennessee
University of South Carolina Upstate | USC Upstate Spartanburg South Carolina
University of West Florida | UWF Pensacola Florida
University of South Carolina Aiken | USC Aiken Aiken South Carolina
University of Utah Salt Lake City Utah
University of Toledo Toledo Ohio
University of West Georgia | UWG Carrollton Georgia
University of South Dakota | USD Vermillion South Dakota
Westminster College (Utah) Salt Lake City Utah
Widener University Chester Pennsylvania
University of Northern Colorado | UNC Greeley Colorado
University of South Florida | USF Tampa Florida
City College of New York | CCNY New York New York
Pace University New York New York
University of Texas at San Antonio | UTSA San Antonio Texas
Boise State University | BSU Boise Idaho
University of Maine at Farmington | UMF Farmington Maine
Seattle Pacific University | SPU Seattle Washington
University of Alabama Tuscaloosa Alabama

 

Notice a school that’s missing? Email us and let us know!

 

What Are Your Chances of Acceptance?

 

No matter your major, you must be academically comparable to previous years’ admits to be a competitive college applicant. Most selective schools use the Academic Index, a complex tool based on your grades, test scores, and class rankings, to evaluate academic aptitude and filter out students who don’t meet their standards.

 

Beyond stats, the qualitative aspects of your application, like your essays and extracurriculars, are your place to show who you are and demonstrate fit with your chosen schools and major. 

 

In high school, consider volunteering at special education centers and summer camps. You can also pick up valuable experience through volunteering through a Boy or Girl scouts program and babysitting. If you’re interested in teaching, become a tutor for kids at your school. Key skills of teaching and communication will be vital for your career, regardless of whether your students have special needs or not. 

 

If you’d like an even deeper look into what your future career may be, consider reaching out to education professionals to ask if you can shadow them for a few days. 

 

Struggling to figure out where you match up to other college applicants? Check out our free Chancing Engine. Unlike other solely stats-based chancing calculators, ours considers much of your entire profile, including both your quantitative stats and qualitative extracurriculars.

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Michelle Foley
Essay Breakdown Writer at CollegeVine
Short bio
Michelle Foley is currently taking a gap year before starting at Yale College in Fall '21, where she is considering majoring in Art, English, or Cognitive Studies while earning her Spanish certificate. In her free time, she likes to paint, run, and read!