Undergraduate Catalog: 2021-22

Special Education BS

The Special Education program at the University of Saint Francis licenses candidates to teach children in all grades: pre-kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high school.  Special Education majors have the option to add a license in Elementary Education. This high-demand license affords Special Education majors opportunities to teach in urban, suburban, and rural schools and in public, parochial, and private schools.

Special Education majors learn several models of instruction, including adaptive inclusion, co-teaching, collaborative planning, and project-based learning. Majors also have opportunities to apply problem solving skills that address the academic and social-emotional needs of individual children. Collaborative relationships both with their fellow classmates and experienced teachers in schools are an essential element of the program. Discovering ways to differentiate all aspects of their teaching and assessment is a fundamental aspect of becoming a special educator. By acquiring skills to adapt methods, materials, and assessments, Special Education majors assist children to maximize, demonstrate, and transfer learning, with the goal of increasing children’s abilities to successfully function in society. Working with USF’s special needs theatre group, the Jesters, Special Education majors experience the application of special needs methodologies in non-academic settings.

Special Education graduates enjoy a 100% job placement rate directly out of the university. Graduates are ready to teach, manage, and assume positions of leadership in schools and social service agencies that serve children and families of children with special needs. Graduates work in school districts, community agencies, non-profit organizations, medical facilities, and in private practice in the region, state, and across the nation. Graduates of the undergraduate program often choose to pursue a Master’s Degree in Special Education (Mild Intervention or Intense Intervention). They are well prepared for graduate school at USF and can take advantage of the reduced tuition through the Virtual Campus online graduate programs.

Special Education students are eligible to license in P-12 (All-grade) levels. All Education programs have been revised to conform to State of Indiana REPA licensing criteria. Because Indiana State education requirements may change, program requirements may be altered according to state specifications.

Student Learning Outcomes

At the completion of the Special Education program, teacher candidates will demonstrate the following proficiencies:

Learner Development The teacher understands how learners grow and develop, recognizing that patterns of learning and development vary individually within and across the cognitive, linguistic, social, emotional, and physical areas, and designs and implements developmentally appropriate and challenging learning experiences. (INTASC Standard 1)

Learning Differences The teacher uses understanding of individual differences and diverse cultures and communities to ensure inclusive learning environments that enable each learner to meet high standards. (INTASC Standard 2)

Learning Environments The teacher works with others to create environments that support individual and collaborative learning, and that encourage positive social interaction, active engagement in learning, and self-motivation. (INTASC Standard 3)

Content Knowledge The teacher understands the central concepts, tools of inquiry, and structures of the discipline(s) he or she teaches and creates learning experiences that make the discipline accessible and meaningful for learners to assure mastery of the content. (INTASC Standard 4)

Application of Content The teacher understands how to connect concepts and use differing perspectives to engage learners in critical thinking, creativity, and collaborative problem solving related to authentic local and global issues. (INTASC Standard 5)

Instructional Practice Assessment The teacher understands and uses multiple methods of assessment to engage learners in their own growth, to monitor learner progress, and to guide the teacher’s and learner’s decision making. (INTASC Standard 6)

Planning for Instruction The teacher plans instruction that supports every student in meeting rigorous learning goals by drawing upon knowledge of content areas, curriculum, cross-disciplinary skills, and pedagogy, as well as knowledge of learners and the community context. (INTASC Standard 7)

Instructional Strategies The teacher understands and uses a variety of instructional strategies to encourage learners to develop deep understanding of content areas and their connections, and to build skills to apply knowledge in meaningful ways. (INTASC Standard 8)

Professional Learning and Ethical Practice The teacher engages in ongoing professional learning and uses evidence to continually evaluate his/her practice, particularly the effects of his/her choices and actions on others (learners, families, other professionals, and the community), and adapts practice to meet the needs of each learner. (INTASC Standard 9)

Leadership and Collaboration The teacher seeks appropriate leadership roles and opportunities to take responsibility for student learning, to collaborate with learners, families, colleagues, other school professionals, and community members to ensure learner growth, and to advance the profession. (INTASC Standard 10)

Council for Exceptional Children Standards

Learner and Learning Environments

Understanding and Addressing Each Individual’s Developmental and Learning Needs: Candidates use their understanding of human growth and development, the multiple influences on development, individual differences, diversity, including exceptionalities, and families and communities to plan and implement inclusive learning environments and experiences that provide individuals with exceptionalities high quality learning experiences reflective of each individual’s strengths and needs. (CEC Initial K-12 Standard 2)

Supporting Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Growth: Candidates create and contribute to safe, respectful, and productive learning environments for individuals with exceptionalities through the use of effective routines and procedures and use a range of preventive and responsive practices to support social, emotional and educational well-being. They follow ethical and legal guidelines and work collaboratively with families and other professionals to conduct behavioral assessments for intervention and program development. (CEC Initial K-12 Standard 6)

Content and Content Pedagogy Knowledge

Demonstrating Subject Matter Content and Specialized Curricular Knowledge: Candidates apply their understanding of the academic subject matter content of the general curriculum and specialized curricula to inform their programmatic and instructional decisions for learners with exceptionalities. (CEC Initial K-12 Standard 3)

Planning, Instruction, and Assessment

Using Assessment to Understand the Learner and the Learning Environment for Data-Based Decision Making: Candidates assess students’ learning, behavior, and the classroom environment in order to evaluate and support classroom and school-based problem-solving systems of intervention and instruction. Candidates evaluate students to determine their strengths and needs, contribute to students’ eligibility determination, communicate students’ progress, inform short and long-term instructional planning, and make ongoing adjustments to instruction using technology as appropriate. (CEC Initial K-12 Standard 4)

Supporting Learning Using Effective Instruction: Candidates use knowledge of individuals’ development, learning needs, and assessment data to inform decisions about effective instruction. Candidates use explicit instructional strategies and employ strategies to promote active engagement and increased motivation to individualize instruction to support each individual. Candidates use whole group instruction, flexible grouping, small group instruction, and individual instruction. Candidates teach individuals to use meta-/cognitive strategies to support and self-regulate learning. (CEC Initial K-12 Standard 5)


Engaging in Professional Learning and Practice within Ethical Guidelines: Candidates practice within ethical and legal guidelines; advocate for improved outcomes for individuals with exceptionalities and their families while considering their social, cultural, and linguistic diversity; and engage in ongoing self-reflection to design and implement professional learning activities. (CEC Initial K-12 Standard 1)

Collaborating with Team Members: Candidates apply team processes and communication strategies to collaborate in a culturally responsive manner with families, paraprofessionals, and other professionals within the school, other educational settings, and the community to plan programs and access services for individuals with exceptionalities and their families. (CEC Initial K-12 Standard 7)


Teacher education programs are accredited by the Indiana Department of Education and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).


  • License application through LVIS
  • Suicide Prevention Training
  • Adult and Child CPR/AED Certification
  • Pass Indiana required Content Knowledge Test(s) and required Pedagogy Test in appropriate developmental level

Degree Requirements

The Bachelor of Science in Education: Special Education requires 120 hours, which includes:

  • 84 credit hours Professional Education Courses
  • 36-37 credit hours in the Franciscan Core Curriculum
  • Electives if needed to reach 120 credit hours
  • Completion of 300+ Pre-Clinical Internship Field Hours
  • Completion of Clinical Internship

Program of Studies

  • 84 credit hours of required Professional Education courses: BIOL 121 or BIO 122 EDUC 108, EDUC 105, EDUC 207, EDUC 209, EDUC 303, EDUC 304, EDUC 356, EDUC 374, EDUC 375, EDUC 376, EDUC 377, EDUC 412, EDUC 491 and /or EDUC 493, PSYC 121, PSYC 326, PSYC 305, PSYC 339, READ 200, READ 302, READ 275, SPED 137, SPED 226, SPED 230, SPED 326, SPED 420, SPED 421
  • 36-37 credit hours in the Franciscan Core Curriculum
  • Electives to reach 120 credit hours if needed

Admissions Requirements

Candidates majoring in teacher education must meet the following criteria to be eligible for formal Admission to Teacher Education (Progression Point 1):

  • EDUC 108, EDUC 207, and SPED 137 with grades of C or better
  • Maintain an overall grade point average (GPA) of 2.8
  • Meet benchmark in EDUC 207 Field Evaluation
  • Pass State and National Background Checks
  • Complete Professional Development requirements

Progression Requirements

Candidates who earn less than a “C-” (C minus) in any professional education must retake the course. Professional education may only be repeated one time for admission to or retention in the Teacher Education program. Grades of WP and WF are counted as having been taken ‘one time’ and, thus, are subject to the “repeated course” rule.

Progression Point II: Admission to Clinical Internship

  • Completion of Professional Education Courses: “C-” or Higher
  • EDUC courses
  • READ courses
  • SPED courses
  • Overall GPA: 2.8 / 4.0
  • Met Field Benchmark for EDUC 412
  • Completion and Documentation of Service-Learning Requirement: Minimum of 40 Hours
  • Clinical Internship Application and Documentation Submitted

Graduation Requirements

Progression Point III: Program Completion

  • Completion of Professional Education Courses “C-” or Higher
  • Overall GPA: 2.8 / 4.0
  • Completion and passing Clinical Internship, including the Field Evaluations

To apply for teacher licensure, candidates must meet the above criteria in addition to completing the following:

  • Pass Indiana required Pearson CORE Content Knowledge Test (025) Mild Intervention (P-12) and (064) Mild Intervention: Reading Instruction if they have not taken the Elementary CORE Reading Test (060).
  • Pass the appropriate Indiana required Pearson Developmental (Pedagogy) Test (007) P-12 Education.
  • Submit the online Application for an Indiana Teaching License in LVIS which includes an application fee.
  • Submit proof of Certification from either an American Red Cross or an American Heart Association approved program in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillators (AED) at the adult and child levels with the online application.
  • Submit proof of research-based Suicide Prevention Training.