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Early Childhood Special Education

The Early Childhood Special Education Program at TCNJ for undergraduates is a five-year program that prepares students to be teachers of young students with disabilities. It culminates in a master’s degree and New Jersey certification in both Special Education and Early Childhood Education (P-3). Graduates of the program meet the state’s current requirements for being “highly qualified” teachers and therefore are eligible for employment in New Jersey school districts.

» Advisement and Resources for Current TCNJ Students

Additional Program Information

Graduates of the program meet the state’s current requirements for being “highly qualified” teachers and are, therefore, eligible for employment in New Jersey school districts. Students in the five-year accelerated program must also complete a liberal arts major in one of 11 state-approved disciplines. At the end of their fourth year, students earn a bachelor’s degree. The Early Childhood Special Education course of study continues the following academic year and culminates in a full-time student teaching experience and a master’s degree in Special Education.

Frequently Asked Questions for Future Students

When I graduate, what will I be qualified to teach?

Preschool through grade 3 for students with and without disabilities; Early Intervention

I am currently enrolled in another program at TCNJ; how can I transfer?

Complete a transfer application

Please note. An interview with the undergraduate coordinator is also required.

Why should I choose a five-year program rather than graduating in four?

You will graduate with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree and hold two NJ teaching certifications. Such achievement would take almost seven years. Furthermore, spreading coursework over five years allows more flexibility in scheduling and permits enrollment in elective courses.

What is your average class size?

22 students.

How do I arrange a visit?

Visit the College’s website for prospective students.

Who should apply?

The five-year Special Education program is designed for first-time students who have completed high school and for transfer students from community colleges or other four-year programs who have not yet earned a bachelor’s degree.

Does this program enable me to teach students who are deaf/hard of hearing?

No, if you are interested in teaching students who are deaf/HOH, the department offers another five-year integrated bachelor’s and master’s of arts program which culminates in two certifications: one in Education of the Deaf or Hard of Hearing and one in Elementary Education. Visit the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Education site.

Can I study abroad?

Yes, the department supports the College’s International Student Teaching program. There is room in the five-year program to study abroad. Visit for details.

I am excited about student teaching. When will I have experience in the classroom?

You will have part-time field experience in your junior and senior years. You will teach full-time during your fourth and fifth years.

School of Education Conceptual Framework

The program is consistent with the five themes of the School of Education’s Conceptual Framework, Creating Agents of Change:

  • Demonstrating Subject Matter Expertise
  • Demonstrating Excellence in Planning and Practice
  • Demonstrating a Commitment to All Learners
  • Demonstrating a Strong, Positive Effect on Student Growth
  • Demonstrating Professionalism, Advocacy, and Leadership

Special Education Program Standards

The program meets the standards and requirements of:

  • Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)
  • State of New Jersey Teacher Education Standards
  • National Association for the Education of Young Children
  • Council for Exceptional Children, Division of Early Childhood (DEC)

The coursework to qualify for education certification consists of:

Professional Education (12 course units)

  • SPE 099: College Seminar
  • MAT 105: Structures and Algorithms for Education
  • SLP 102: Language, Speech, and Communication Development
  • SPE 103: Social and Legal Foundations of Special Education
  • MST 202: Methods of Teaching Science, Health, and Technology
  • MTT 202: Methods of Teaching Mathematics
  • RAL 220: Literacy, Strategies, Assessment & Instruction
  • RAL 225: Children’s Literature
  • SPE 203: Psychology Development of Children and Adolescence
  • SPE 214: Exploring Classroom Communities
  • RAL 320: Literacy Learning Across the Curriculum
  • SPE 324: Teaching Students with Severe Disabilities
  • SPE 490: Practicum


SPE 099 College Seminar introduces the teaching profession and education program requirements. This pass/fail seminar has no course units.

Graduate Education (10 course units)

  • ECED 530: Culturally Responsive Practices with Children and Parents
  • EDUC 513: Collaboration and Consultation
  • ELEM 520: Multicultural Social Studies Methods
  • SPED 521: Assistive Technology
  • SPED 535: Seminar in Professional Practice
  • ECED 670: Current Issues and Trends in Early Childhood Education
  • SPED 621: Assessment of Young Children with Disabilities
  • SPED 622: Intervention Strategies Young Children with Disabilities (with field experience)
  • SPED 648: Positive Behavior Supports for Students with Extreme Behaviors
  • SPED 695: Student Teaching (Preschool SPED)
  • SPED 700: Comprehensive Exam