Elementary Education, Concentration: Special Needs

Bachelor of Arts

Request Information


Program Intro

Improve the lives of all students by becoming a skilled, inspiring teacher through our Elementary Education – Special Needs dual-licensure program.

School of Education and Counseling

Through foundational and methodological courses, field placements and mentorship, this dynamic program trains you to become a innovative and effective teacher who is capable of working with all learners.

As a Special Needs concentration student, you’ll learn to help K-12 children reach their full potential, regardless of their socio-economic status, cultural background or severity of disability.

Curriculum Overview

Educator Preparation Programs (EPP) at PNW follow both inTASC and CAEP accreditation standards.

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

Start with an introduction to special needs and an overview of education throughout history.

See the Full Course of Study

Sample Courses

  • EDST 20000 – History and Philosophy of Education
  • EDPS 26000 – Introduction to Special Education

Interview for full admission to the Educator Preparation Program and expand your knowledge of pedagogy.

See the Full Course of Study

Sample Courses

  • EDPS 28500 – Diversity and Education
  • EDCI 35550 – Teaching and Learning in the K-12 Classroom
  • EDPS 32800 – Teaching Students with Mild to Moderate Needs I

Explore strategies for literacy instruction and teaching students with disabilities. This year, you’ll also complete three licensure assessments.

See the Full Course of Study

Sample Courses

  • EDCI 32303 – Literacy Instruction in K-3
  • EDPS 38000 – Special Education Law for Teachers
  • EDPS 45000 – Teaching Students with Disabilities

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.

See the Full Course of Study

Sample Courses

  • EDPS 43000 – Creating and Managing Learning Environments
  • EDPS 36100 – Assessment for Special Educators
  • EDPS 41100 – Collaboration & Transition Practices for Individuals with Disabilities

Program Requirements

For full admission to this program, candidates must meet the following requirements:

  • Faculty interview
  • 2.5 GPA and a “C” or better in all courses
  • Score of 20 or higher on the ACT, 1030 or above on the SAT, passing CASA score or approved alternative


As an education major with a special needs focus, you’ll engage in immersive coursework that covers the fundamentals of teaching as well as communication strategies today’s teachers need. These include effective instruction, classroom and behavior management, assistive technology, assessment and collaboration.

You’ll also have extensive opportunities for field placement in urban, suburban and rural schools.

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


Upon graduation, you will obtain dual licensure in elementary education and special education.

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.

This degree enables you to choose where you want to teach –whether it’s in a general education classroom, a self-contained classroom or a resource room – in school districts across the country.


Funding opportunities available to Elementary Education students with a Special Needs concentration include:

See All CHESS Scholarships

Beyond the Classroom

We encourage you to get involved in activities like:

  • PEL Fellows
  • Student Ambassadors
  • PNW Aspiring Educators

Career Paths

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

  • Teacher (K-6)
  • Consultant teacher
  • Co-teacher in an inclusive setting


Our alumni are thriving in:

  • School Town of Munster
  • Lake Station Community Schools
  • Portage Township Schools


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

The campus is a rather close network but with large opportunities attached. PNW wants you to succeed!

Hannah Stombaugh
Elementary Education/Special Education, ’23

I’ve had some of the best professors. They have been supportive, uplifting and inspiring. They’ve been my biggest support throughout my experience here at PNW and are always willing to go the extra mile to help us students.

Katie McNamara
Elementary and Special Education, Crown Point

Meet the Faculty

Patrick Keegan

Patrick Keegan, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Education

Patrick Keegan is an assistant professor in the School of Education and Counseling. He teaches courses in elementary social studies methods and multicultural 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

Take the Next Step

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

Request Info