Are you passionate about making quality education accessible to a wide range of diverse learners and setting children up for success in the classroom? As a Special Education major at UNE, you will not only learn evidence-based strategies to meet these goals, but you will also discover how to put your knowledge into practice in a successful career as a special education teacher. Through our flexible curriculum, the development of critical thinking skills, and an abundance of real-world experience with students in a broad array of educational settings, you’ll graduate with a Special Education teaching certification in hand, plenty of experience under your belt, and a desire to make a difference in your heart.
Why UNE for Special Education
UNE’s Special Education curriculum is designed for maximum flexibility, allowing for double majors, minors, and study abroad experiences. You’ll have regular field experience, beginning your very first semester, and UNE’s strong, collaborative relationships and excellent reputation with local schools give you a leg up on career opportunities after graduation.
- Special Education majors who agree to intern as educational technicians in the Maine public school system may apply for a scholarship ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 per semester.
- Early and regular fieldwork in classrooms for maximum experience
- Ability to double major and earn dual certifications
- Close working relationships with faculty
- Exceptional post-graduation employment rate
Our Special Education major is designed to be flexible, allowing you, if you wish, to double major with a variety of our other degree programs, including Psychology; Social Work; Health, Wellness, and Occupational Studies; and more. You may even double major in Elementary/Middle Education to earn dual certifications.
Examples of Available Courses
The following are just some examples of the exciting courses that the Special Education major offers:
- Special Education Methods
- Inclusive Classroom Management
- Supporting Individuals With Autism and Significant Disabilities
- Assessing and Remediating Challenging Behavior
Special Education Teaching Certificate
Successful completion of the major meets all requirements of the Maine State Special Education Teacher Certification Program.
|CAS Core Requirements||Credits|
|EDU 105 – Exploring Teaching||3|
|SPE 220 – Exceptionality in the Classroom||3|
|SPE 350 – Special Education Law||3|
|SPE 300 – Special Education Methods or SPE 315 – Supporting Students with Autism||3|
|EDU 206 – Foundations of Lit/Lang Dev||3|
|EDU 373 – Teaching Mathematics, K-8||3|
|SPE 301 – Inclusive Classroom Management||3|
|SPE 410 – Assessing and Remediating Challenging Behavior||3|
|EDU 385 – Diversity Issues in Schools||3|
|SPE 486 – Special Education Practicum||3|
|SPE 405 – Inclusive Methods and Data-Based Decision Making||3|
|SPE 490 – Spec Edu Internship/Seminar||12|
|Open elective courses (needed to reach 120 credits)||Variable|
|Minimum Required Total Credits||120|
To learn more about the program see the Academic Catalog.
Changes were made to this program in an addendum to the 2022/23 academic calendar. Please see the 2022–2023 Catalog Addendum (PDF) for the most recent information. As always, it is recommended that students seek the guidance of Academic Advisors for course and program planning. In this way, you will be able to access all the most up-to-date information available.
Student Success by The Numbers
of undergrads employed or engaged in ongoing higher education within one year of graduating
in Maine for getting a job
Turn theory into practice. Take what you learn in the classroom and apply it to real-world situations. Every semester, you’ll gain the skills and confidence needed to thrive as a professional in the field of special education by getting hands-on experience working with students who have a wide range of disabilities, including learning/intellectual/emotional-behavioral disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
Fieldwork in Schools
- Work with students in resource rooms or general education classes
- Conduct assessments
- Observe and collect data for behavior plan development
- Work in specialized classes for students with high support needs or behavior challenges
- Attend IEP meetings
- Collaborate with occupational therapists and social workers
Your hands-on learning culminates with a 15-week student teaching internship, during which you’ll strengthen school relationships and networking connections. Local opportunities exist at:
- Local public school systems
- Special purpose schools
- Pre-school sites
UNE Special Education majors who agree to intern as educational technicians in the Maine public school system — in either part-time or full-time capacity — may apply for a scholarship ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 per semester.
Successful applicants will earn $1,000 per every recurring school day of the week that they work during a semester. For example, if you are able to work on Mondays, you will earn $1,000 for the semester. If you are able to work Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, you will earn $3,000 for the semester.
You will receive the scholarship money in addition to the regular wage that you are paid directly by the school district in which you work. Even the cost of your educational technician state certification will be covered.
The Special Education Internship Program will run from fall semester of 2022 through fall semester of 2024 (five total semesters).
- Scholarship money in addition to wages earned
- Full-time or part-time positions (job sharing is encouraged among part-timers)
- Semester-by-semester commitment
- Assistance from UNE’s Education Department in finding a position
- Covered cost of Maine state educational technician certification
- Hours worked count toward the major’s fieldwork requirement
- Opportunity to build relationships in school districts that may lead to jobs after graduation
For more information or to apply, contact Audrey Bartholomew, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Coordinator of Special Education Programs at email@example.com or (207) 602-2685.
Priority will be given to candidates from underrepresented groups and/or rural areas.
Meet Kaylee, Education ’22
During your first semester in one of our teacher preparation programs, you work with children in school settings. Watch what UNE student Kaylee Blake has to say about her time as an education student at UNE.
As a Special Education teacher, you will be qualified for a variety of positions, including:
- Resource Room Teacher
- Life Skills Teacher
- Emotional Support Teacher
- Autism support Teacher
You will possess excellent employability amid a national special education teacher shortage. Within the Northeast, special education has been identified as a “hotspot” (Emsi Occupation Snapshot Report, 2019), offering higher than average median salary, number of job postings, and rate of employment.
In addition to opportunities to spend a semester abroad, you may choose to enroll in our education-related or another short-term travel course.
EDU 242: Comparative Education in a Global Context
Dr. Lane Clarke
This course investigates comparative education theories and philosophy to examine education in different contexts and includes spending eight days in Ireland in mid-May following final exams. You extend your knowledge of society and how this is enacted through the institution of its schools. In Ireland, you visit schools and learn about Irish culture and history by touring castles, the famous Cliffs of Moher, and the Aran Islands. Other highlights may include exploring the Ring of Kerry and spending time in Galway, Cork, Kinsale, and Killarney.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can special education be a major?
Yes, a major in special education equips you for a career in a school setting, preparing you to teach students with disabilities. Those with this major can serve as educators in kindergarten, middle school, or high school levels.
UNE’s School of Education offers special education as both a major and a minor. Our B.S. in Special Education program in Maine teaches evidence-based strategies to make quality education accessible to a wide range of diverse learners and settings. Students will discover how to put their knowledge into practice in a successful career as a special education teacher.
What can you do with a special education degree?
A degree in special education opens up diverse career avenues, spanning from teaching within educational institutions to providing consultation or contributing to private learning centers. A few career paths that a special education degree can prepare you to fulfill include:
- Special Education Teacher
- Behavior Specialist
- Early Intervention Specialist
- Education Writer
- Special Education Advocate
- Special Education Consultant
- Speech Language Pathologist
Graduates of UNE’s B.S. in Special Education program have gone on to hold jobs as resource room teachers, life skills teachers, emotional support teachers, and autism support teachers. Overall, UNE offers Career Advising to help graduates plan their next step. 100% of bachelor’s degree in education graduates are employed or continuing higher education within six months to one year of graduating. 100% of 2022 and 2023 School of Education graduates were employed or in grad school upon graduation.
There is a demand for special education teachers nationwide. Based on information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for special education teachers has maintained a steady growth pattern, similar to the average trend seen in the broader teaching field, in the period spanning from 2014 to 2024. The Maine Department of Education also reports a shortage of teachers of students with disabilities based on a report for the 2023-2024 school year. This demand for special education teachers allows them to be selective in where they work, enabling them to choose a supportive and welcoming school to work in.
What degree do you need to teach special education?
Special education teachers usually require a bachelor's degree in a relevant field, which involves about four years of full-time study. Depending on location, they also commonly need a teaching certification. Throughout a special education bachelor's program, students study subjects such as tailored teaching methods, diagnostic evaluation, and promoting positive behavior. Students also are placed in neighborhood classrooms to complete fieldwork and fulfill student teaching obligations to develop practical classroom skills.
Public and private schools generally have distinct criteria for hiring special education teachers. Public schools often mandate state certification for special education teachers, while private schools may not. The specific educational requirements, such as whether a bachelor's or master's degree in special education is necessary, can vary across different schools and states.
UNE’s Bachelor of Science in Special Education degree leads to special education certification in the state of Maine. UNE Special Education students will graduate with the skills, knowledge, and dispositions to educate a wide variety of students with disabilities in K-12 school settings. Additionally, this major has been designed using existing education courses as a foundation, enabling students to double major in general education and special education.
At the completion of their bachelor's degree in Special Education, UNE students will be able to:
- Demonstrate mastery of the Council for Exceptional Children’s Initial Teacher Preparation Standards
- Demonstrate professionalism through accountability and engagement
- Demonstrate ability to communicate effectively in both written and oral formats
- Demonstrate appropriate dispositions as defined by professional expectations
What colleges offer the best special education degrees for me?
There are many factors to consider when deciding which special education program is right for you including faculty, curriculum, career goals, location and environment, and financial aid. To help decide whether the B.S. in Special Education at UNE is right for you, take a look at the following factors:
- Close working relationships with the School of Education faculty.
- An experiential education including regular field experience, beginning your very first semester.
- Strong, collaborative relationships and an excellent reputation with local schools to give you a leg up on career opportunities after graduation.
- A flexible curriculum gives you the ability to double major and earn dual certifications in Elementary Education and Special Education.
- Scholarships for UNE Special Education majors who agree to intern as educational technicians in the Maine public school system ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 per semester.
- Successful completion of the major meets all requirements of the Maine State Special Education Teacher Certification Program.
- Study-abroad choices include a semester abroad or joining our education-related or other short-term travel courses.
Undergraduates of the UNE School of Education study on the scenic Biddeford Campus. The Biddeford campus boasts 4,000 feet of shoreline in a famous vacation spot.
Is special education a good major?
Yes, job security is excellent for students majoring in special education due to the high demand for their skills. For those interested in working with students with disabilities, opting for a special education degree offers advantages compared to a conventional education degree. These benefits include:
- Job security – Due to teacher shortages, most teaching positions are currently highly sought after, especially educators with specialized training in specific areas like special education.
- Unique opportunities and challenges – Because special education centers on addressing individual student needs, there is a greater opportunity for collaborative teamwork among teachers, therapists, and other stakeholders.
- Direct time with students – Special education teachers often spend more one-on-one time with their students throughout the day as they frequently work with the same students.
Why is special education important?
Special education is important because it supports students’ unique learning needs including a wide range of disabilities and learning differences. According to the National Education Association (NEA), around 7 million students with disabilities, roughly 14 percent of all public school students, receive special education services from public schools nationwide.
If you major in special education, you'll have strong job prospects due to a shortage of special education teachers across the country including Maine and throughout New England.
UNE students have the ability to work with our Academic and Career Advising Center. It doesn’t matter if you have a clear career goal or just a general interest in a field.