An educator in the classroom

Elementary Education: Early Childhood Special Education

Bachelor of Arts

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Program Intro

You’ll develop specialized knowledge and skills for working with young children and their families, gaining hands-on expertise needed to launch a career in a variety of settings. Early childhood special education prepares you to work with both typically developing children and those with exceptionalities (birth through third grade).

School of Education and Counseling

Our program is responsive to the growing need for highly qualified early-childhood professionals in Indiana and beyond. PNW faculty actively promote the professionalization of early-childhood education and have strong connections with the regional network of child care centers, Head Start and school districts.

Curriculum Overview

The Educator Preparation Program (EPP) at PNW follows both inTASC and CAEP accreditation standards, and early childhood courses align with CEC standards. Our curriculum includes courses in child development, literacy and special needs as well as hands-on classroom experience.

You can currently complete this degree at PNW’s Hammond campus or Westville branch campus.

Start with an introduction to field-based classes and the fundamentals of working with children under age three.

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Sample Courses

  • EDPS 27600 Young Children with Exceptional Needs

Interview for full admission into the Educator Preparation Program and expand your knowledge of the method and practice of teaching.

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Sample Courses

EDCI 30500 Curriculum and Programming for Young Children with Developmental Needs

EDCI 27600 Child, Family, School and Community Partnerships

Explore strategies for literacy and the development of creative learning activities in early childhood practicum.

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Sample Courses

  • EDCI 36201 Literacy Instruction in K-3
  • EDPS 40300 Early Intervention for Young Children with Developmental Needs

Conclude your studies with hands-on teaching experience. In your seventh semester, you’ll spend three days each week in the classroom before going on to a full-time student-teaching assignment during your final term.

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Sample Courses

  • EDPS 40100 Professional Year Early Childhood Special Education
  • EDCI 49700 Practicum in Early Childhood Special Education

Program Requirements

  • 5 GPA or above and a “C” or better in all courses
  • ACT score of 20, SAT 1030 or passing score on the Praxis CASE (or approved alternative)
  • Interview with faculty


Studying early childhood education with a special education concentration at PNW means you will be immersed in diverse early-learning settings right away. You’ll gain valuable experience, practice a variety of teaching strategies, observe young children and nurture their development. You will graduate eligible for the Indiana Initial Teaching License: PreK – Grade 3.

A lion sculpture on PNW's campus PNW graduates at commencement


Because of the high demand for teachers who are qualified to meet the individual needs of exceptional students, our graduates are offered a broad variety of career opportunities. You can choose to teach in child care centers, K-3 primary grades or resource rooms in school districts across the country.


Funding opportunities available to Elementary Education students with an Early Childhood Special Education concentration include:

See All CHESS Scholarships

Beyond the Classroom

We encourage you to get involved in activities like:

  • PEL Fellows
  • Library Sprouts
  • PNW Aspiring Educators

Career Paths

You’ll find many opportunities to make a difference for students in careers such as:

  • Primary grade (K-3) teacher
  • Head Start lead teacher
  • Child care center director
  • Developmental therapist


Our alumni are thriving in:

  • La Porte Community Schools
  • School City of Hobart
  • Duneland School Corporation


All of the Educator Preparation Programs (EPP) at Purdue University Northwest are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

Being a part of the School of Education has opened up other opportunities for me. I was able to become a student ambassador, which allowed me to help others in my community.

Nicole Kelly
Early Childhood Education, Crown Point

Meet the Faculty

Amanda Passmore

Amanda H. Passmore, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Special Education/Early Childhood

Passmore teaches classes in early childhood special education and advocates for practices that promote the inclusion of young children with disabilities across all educational settings. Her research interests include supporting young children, teachers, and families through play-based social-emotional and behavioral supports within early childhood education.

Geoff Schultz

Geoff Schultz, Ed.D.

Professor of Psychology and Special Education

Geoff Schultz is a professor in undergraduate teacher preparation, SOEC program chair, special education, SOEC faculty senate and budget chair CAEP board examiner.

LaVada Taylor Brandon Headshot

LaVada Taylor, Ph.D.

Professor of Education

LaVada Taylor is a Professor of Education in the School of Education and Counseling. Her teaching and research interest are grounded in post colonialism and culturally relevant pedagogy.

Meet Professor Taylor

A PNW Student in the Classroom

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See how a PNW degree opens doors, from corporate boardrooms to non-profit leadership.

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