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Early Childhood Special Education 5-Year Program

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 therefore are 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 degree and a master’s degree. You will also hold two NJ teaching certifications. Separately, such achievement would take almost 7 years. Furthermore, spreading coursework over 5 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 program in Special Education is designed for students who have completed high school and are first-time students 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)