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Secondary Special Education 5-Year Program

The 5-Year SED/SPED major provides a cohesive learning experience that blends a focus on teaching a content area with course work in meeting the needs of students with disabilities.  Students in the program are dual majors in both a content area and education. Entering freshman will begin their coursework the first semester and be placed in the field to work with classroom students by the beginning of sophomore year.  Students will have extensive practicum experiences in both general education and special education settings throughout their 4 undergraduate years. The fifth year consists of three graduate semesters, typically summer, fall, and spring. The graduate year will focus on course work and clinical internships leading to a Masters Degree in Special Education.

» Advisement and Resources for Current TCNJ Students

Additional Program Information

The program is designed to prepare students who may be considering any of the following careers in education:

  • Students planning to become a middle or high school English, Mathematics, Social Studies or Biology teacher who want to be able to meet the diverse needs of secondary students in inclusive classrooms.
  • Students planning to become a Special Education teacher who might want to work with students with disabilities in middle and high school classrooms. (In New Jersey, the Teacher of Students with Disabilities certificate is not a stand-alone certificate and requires an additional instructional certificate.)
  • Students who may be uncertain what level they hope to teach but want to enter the profession with extensive skill in teaching a content area, a wide body of knowledge about how diverse students learn, and an advanced degree in education.

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. Upon completion of the undergraduate portion of the program, typically in four years, students earn the following:

  • English Education and Social Studies Education majors:  Bachelor of Arts Degree (BA)
  • Mathematics Education and Biology Education majors: Bachelor of Science Degree (BS)

Upon completion of the graduate portion, typically one additional year, students earn the following:

  • Master of Teaching (MAT) degree in Special Education
  • Certification in a Subject Area (K-12) in English, Mathematics, Social Studies or Biology
  • Certification as a Teacher of Students with Disabilities (K-12)

Frequently Asked Questions for Future Students

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

You will be qualified to teach your content area (English, Social Studies, Mathematics, or Biology) as a general education teacher in middle or high school; You will also be qualified to teach special education in elementary or secondary school (K-12).

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.

What happens if I change my mind and no longer wish to be a teacher?

You may change your major from education to liberal arts; for example, you can change from English Education to English.  You will graduate in four years with a Bachelors in English, Mathematics, History or Biology and can pursue a career based on your field of study.

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.

Can I complete the graduate year in fewer than three semesters?

Students are required to take 33 credits of graduate course work to earn a Masters Degree.  Typically, students complete this requirement in the following way:

  • Summer after undergraduate graduation: 3 courses (9 credits)
  • Fall: Student Teaching and Seminar (12 credits)
  • Spring: Four courses (12 credits)

Students who do not want to take courses during the summer between year four and five, may take those three courses during their senior year only if they have space in their course load. For example, students who have transferred in AP credits, taken undergraduate courses during summer and winter terms, or have taken an extra class (overloading) one semester may have enough space to take some or all of their summer graduate courses during senior year. Students should discuss their options with their advisor.

What is the job market like for special education teachers?

Highly qualified Teachers of Individuals with Disabilities are in high demand, particularly teachers who are also certified to teach a content area. The department boasts a 100% placement rate for those seeking employment in special education.

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 Secondary 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 experiences throughout your undergraduate years. You will teach full-time during your fifth year.

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
  • Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)