Special Education PreK-8 Teacher Certification

The Special Education Teacher Preparation (SETP) PreK-8 specialization is a graduate teaching certification in special education. It is a certificate-only option in which students are required to complete a minimum of 30 credits beyond the prerequisite coursework. Students will develop advanced knowledge in the fields of learning theory, and child development to enhance their teaching practice. 

We also offer the opportunity to combine your special education teacher certification with a Master of Education degree in Instruction and Learning for nine additional credits. 

Quick Facts

  • Program Duration: 1 year
  • Time Commitment: Full-time 
  • Term of Enrollment: Summer/Fall/Spring 
  • Application Deadline: Applications are reviewed starting January 15 and acceptance decisions are made on a rolling basis until the program is full. 
  • Course Requirements: 30 credits 

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Program Details

Students are required to complete a minimum of 30 credits beyond the prerequisite course work. MEd students will develop advanced knowledge in the fields of learning theory and child development to enhance their teaching practice. 

The summer term for students begins in June with two courses, which meet in person three days a week from 8:30 am-4:15 pm. 

During the fall term, in addition to coursework, students are required to spend one day per week in each school to which they are assigned in preparation for student teaching in the spring. Students complete two 8-week, full-time student teaching experiences in those same placements in the spring. During student teaching, teacher candidates are closely supervised by both a university supervisor and an experienced mentor teacher.  

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Degree Requirements

Coursework, fall practicum experience, full-time student teaching (spring), and comprehensive exam 


The Special Education Grades PreK-8 Teacher Certification satisfies the requirements for a Pennsylvania Instructional I Certificate in Special Education Grades PreK-8, pending:​

  • Earning a passing score on Pennsylvania Educator Certification Tests (PECT) Special Ed PreK-8 exams; 
  • Completing the Pennsylvania Statewide Evaluation Form for Student Professional Knowledge and Practice (PDE 430);
  • Demonstrating satisfactory performance in courses and the student teaching


  • Successful completion of an initial teacher certification program (Elementary, PreK-4, Grades 4-8, Reading Specialist)
  • One prerequisite course:  Teaching English Language Learners (3 credits)

Career Pathways

Most graduates begin their career in this field as special education teachers. With experience—and sometimes further training—many graduates go on to become: 

  • Private contractors 
  • Special education coordinators or directors 
  • Instructional coaches 
  • Principals or assistant principals