Become a Special Ed Teacher in Grades K-12

The Marian University Bachelor of Science in Special Education program develops kindergarten through 12th grade teachers who serve with compassion and have the needed skills and knowledge to positively shape their students’ lives.

Students in the BS in Special Education program learn how to administer special education curricula while facilitating a safe and supportive learning environment. Upon completion, graduates receive a license from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) in Special Education for Cross Categorical and Specific Learning Disabilities (1801).

Students in the special ed teacher preparation program gain real-world, hands-on experience relevant to today’s classrooms. They practice skills and demonstrate knowledge through supervised classroom teaching experiences that allow for practical application of learning theory.


Become a Special Ed Teacher at Marian University!

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    During their introductory clinical experience as freshmen and sophomores, students observe teaching strategies, classroom management practices, and student development.


    As sophomores and juniors, students engage in authentic practice at one of several discipline-specific K-12 partner sites, while simultaneously studying models of theory and best practice in their selected content area.


    As seniors, students are placed at one site to complete both their pre-clinical and clinical practices. These placements provide students with increasing levels of opportunity and responsibility for demonstrating mastery of the planning-teaching-assessment cycle.

    We’ll help you become a special education teacher!

    Leading to a Bachelor of Science degree in Special Education, the program provides students:

    • A personal advisor from the education department, to assist them with meeting criteria for admission to their desired program
    • Field experience in partner schools as early as the first semester of their freshman year and in each methods course
    • The same clinical site for Pre-Clinical and Clinical Practice as a senior, ensuring a full school year experience
    • Opportunities to be placed in private and public institutions at different grade levels
    • Dedicated faculty to provide personalized attention and differentiated learning experiences
    • Job opportunities — our vast network of cooperating school districts and faculty members’ connections can help graduates find careers in academia
    • Program-specific professional development and networking opportunities through Marian Student Education Association and Kappa Delta Pi
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    The Program

    The Marian University Bachelor of Science in Special Education program prepares students to meet the diverse learning needs of all students and to work with students with disabilities, leading to licensure in Special Education for Cross Categorical and Specific Learning Disabilities.

    General Education Courses

    As a bachelor’s level student, you are required to take about 30 credits of general education courses as part of the 120 credits required for a bachelor’s degree.  Gen eds are required regardless of your major.

    All students take 10.5 to 17 credits in these areas:

    • Mathematical Reasoning
    • Argumentative and Research Writing
    • Introduction to Christian Theology
    • Interpersonal Communication
    • Introduction to Ethical Reasoning
    • First Year Studies

    Special education majors will take courses covering topics such as:

    • Psychology of learning
    • Art foundations for educators
    • Literacy interventions for students with disabilities
    • Methods of teaching content to diverse learners
    • Diagnosis and assessment of disabilities

    For more details regarding this program, view Marian’s Academic Bulletin.

    Sample Course Plan:
    Download Sample Course Plan

    132 Credits Required for Graduation

    46-49 Liberal Arts Core Curriculum University Requirements as required:

    A basic course developing an art foundation for educators. The art experiences will address necessary objectives for the development of cogent teaching practice including sensory and perceptual awareness, recognition and use of fundamental art concepts, implementation of the creative process, formation or enrichment of art techniques and skills and encouragement for a more profound respect and recognition of the visual arts. This is a required art course for all early childhood–elementary and elementary–middle education majors, and a recommended art core course for other education majors with the exception of art education.

    Students will investigate sets, logic and problem solving.


    MAT 150 Math for Elementary School Teachers I, with a grade of C or higher

    A course designed to examine and develop the conceptual foundation upon which elementary mathematics is built. Quantitative thinking skills are developed through applications and problem solving situations. Topics include probability, statistics adn geometry. (This is a required course for Education majors)

    An introductory course which studies the nature and purpose of national, state, and local government, the Constitution, and the institutions and pressures of American society.

    This introductory philosophy course builds on the critical reading and thinking outcomes students will have achieved in the First Year Seminar, and prepares students for their future studies and for life by leading them to develop their abilities in three outcome areas: Interpretive Reasoning, Critical Reasoning, and Global Citizenship. Through engagement with historical, multicultural, and contemporary texts students will learn how to interpret texts, move from evidence to conclusions, and use their interpretations and conclusions to live a more examined life.

    A survey of the changes which occur during the entire lifespan as people develop: physical, motor, cognitive, moral, and social-emotional. Developmental theory and research data are critically considered. Application of existing knowledge about the variables which affect the course of development is emphasized.


    ENG 001 Basic Writing, Appropriate English placement test score or ENG 001.

    A course designed to enhance students’ composition and critical thinking skills, by providing experiences with a range of writing strategies. This course will focus primarily on the writing of clear and thoughtful expository prose, as well as the identification and use of the rhetorical modes of development: narration, description, definition, division, classification, process analysis, comparison/contrast, cause/effect, and evaluation/analysis. Further, this class requires students to demonstrate their understanding of these rhetorical modes and their skill in employing them. Students develop their awareness of the resources of language and of the stages in the writing process. The course aims to make students competent in standard edited English and to prepare them for the writing they will do in college and in their careers.


    ENG 105 Expository Writing, or appropriate English placement test score

    A course introducing students to the principles of college research, with emphasis on analytical reading of research material, focused use of sources, and the methodology of citation and documentation. This course will focus primarily on the translation of critical reading and critical thinking into critical writing by reinforcing and expanding upon the rhetorical modes, the foundational mechanics, and the composition skills taught in the Expository Writing Course as well as the critical-thinking, critical-reading and library skills introduced in the First-Year Seminar. In this class, students refine their awareness of the resources of language and of the stages in the writing process. The course aims to make students proficient in standard edited English and to prepare them further for the writing they will do in college and in their careers.

    An introduction to Christian theology understood as the critical and reflective study of God’s revelation through the person, life, and teaching of Jesus Christ and of the implications of this revelation. Proceeding from the Catholic intellectual tradition and incorporating perspectives of other Christian traditions, this study aims to present theology as a striving for the harmony of faith and reason. Through critical study and reflection, students are introduced to specific concepts, terminology, and methodologies needed to participate well in on-going theological dialogue. Students have the opportunity to apply and reflect on their knowledge in written work, presentations, service-learning, community service, and/or retreat experiences.

    THE elective, 3 cr.

    An introductory biology course for non-majors. The relationship between structure and function is emphasized at the cellular and organismic levels. A survey of taxonomy and classification, cell biology, plant biology, human physiology and ecology is provided. (May be taken as “lecture only” or concurrently with BIO 150.)

    Topics correspond to lecture material, including taxonomy, cell biology, plant biology, human physiology and ecology. Dissection of a fetal pig is required. (Laboratory experiences strongly enhance and support material in BIO 100 and concurrent registration is recommended.)


    A study of the organization of ecosystems and human use of natural resources, including problems and opportunities generated by human interaction with the environment. Basic ecological principles are applied to current environmental issues and topics. Environmental case studies and current environmental literature are employed. Laboratory activities include field trips, simulations and other activities designed to enhance lecture topics.


    This course is a service-learning intensive biology course where students learn about environment stewardship through participation in the maintenance and restoration of local ecosystems, for example, stream monitoring and invasive species removal. Through the hands-on projects and selections of readings, the student will develop an understanding and appreciation for environmental stewardship. The course fulfills the one-credit laboratory requirement under general education. The course will be a hybrid course where much of the content will be delivered in an on-line format with one-day-a-week meetings to participate in field trips and stewardship projects. Due to the service learning and environmental aspects of the course, students must be able and willing to perform light labor (on the level of gardening) and a moderate amount of hiking. Students will be required to provide their own transportation to nearby locations, car pooling and cost sharing will be encouraged under Marian University’s policy on approved drivers for field trips.

    One course from:

    An introduction to the fundamental principles of Chemistry including modern concepts of atomic and molecular theory, physical states of matter, stoichiometry, chemical bonding, gas laws, equilibria and reactions of inorganic compounds.


    CHE 001 Preparatory Chemistry, or high school chemistry; MAT 001 Basic Algebra, or appropriate math placement test score

    An introductory course for non-science majors. This course provides a basic knowledge of chemistry and its application to everyday life with special focus to biological and medical applications. With laboratory.

    A general introduction to the basic principles of chemistry and physics and their application in contemporary society. The course, for non-science and non-nursing majors, includes a laboratory experience with experiments designed to assist the student in understanding the concepts discussed in lecture.

    An introduction to the physical nature and processes of the earth, along with the chemical bases for them. Dynamic processes of landscape formation and change as shaped by the forces of plate tectonics, weather, and ground and surface water will be studied. Planetary geology will be introduced. The laboratories will complement lectures with both indoor study and field trips to study local examples.

    A course in the basics of meteorology in which students study the atmosphere and its physical processes including large scale climatological and local weather phenomena, their impact on society and on other aspects of ecological systems. Measurement of physical characteristics such as temperature, atmospheric pressure, humidity, and wind along with data collection and analysis are included in laboratory exercises. Mathematical problem-solving skills will be emphasized. Professional meteorology and climatology are examined. Unusual and dangerous weather conditions, their causes and effects are studied and students are introduced to microclimatology.


    MAT 201 Calculus I, or Corequisite

    This is a lecture and laboratory course which stresses the fundamental principles of mechanics, momentum, work and energy, rotational motion and fluid statics and mechanics. The course will use calculus in derivation of the laws of physics as well as in problem-solving.


    MAT 112 Pre-Calculus Mathematics, MAT 114 Algebra and Trigonometry, with a grade of C or better, or appropriate math placement test score

    A one-semester lecture and laboratory physics course. Topics addressed include the fundamentals of kinematics, dynamics, statics, oscillation, electromagnetism, and optics.

    3 credits from:

    An introduction to basics of music theory: notation, rhythmic reading, sight singing, scales, key signatures, intervals, chords, transposition, and terminology. Functional skills of playing melodies and simple accompaniments on piano and other classroom instruments are taught. This course is for Elementary Education majors.

    A survey of the major forms and compositions of Western art music, with units in world music and jazz. Emphasis is placed on the development of listening skills, as well as historical, biographical and sociological study to enhance appreciation of the music. This course is designed for the general student. (Required field trip, with fee.)

    A survey of the development of music in America, including concert styles, popular and show music. This course is designed for the general student. (Required field trip, with fee.)

    A chronological study of jazz and its antecedents from 1900 to the present. Includes style periods, major artists, relevant historical/sociological background and the development of listening skills. This course is designed for the general student. (Required field trip, with fee.)

    A study of various world musics including Oriental, African, Eastern European, American jazz and others, but not including Western art music. Includes study of the structure and the sociological setting of the music with an emphasis on the development of listening skills. This course is designed for the general student. (Required field trip, with fee.)

    3 credits from:


    A study of American literature from its beginning to the Civil War, tracing the development of American writing in its cultural contexts. In lectures and discussions, students are introduced to a broad range of critical methods for approaching major American authors.


    A study of major writers of Europe, Africa, Asia, and the New World, with emphasis on writers of international stature and influence. The course offers students a broad perspective on literary history from classical times to the 17th century. A chronological survey of significant work leads to discussion of problems in the historical examination of literature: the definition of movements, the relationships between society and literature, and the evolution of literary genres.

    3 credits from:

    A survey of world civilizations from human origins to the 16th century. Exploration of the cultural, political and economic development of humankind in a global context.

    A survey of world civilizations from the 16th century to the present. Exploration of the cultural, political and economic development of humankind in a global context.

    3 credits from:

    A survey course in which the cultural, political and economic events that have shaped American history from the precontact period to 1877 will be explored. The course will pursue several key topics including the evolution of race and gender relations, independence, the emergence of popular democracy, the era of the Civil War and Reconstruction and the impact of industrialism and urbanization upon American life.

    A survey course in which the cultural, political and economic events that have shaped American history from 1877 to the present will be explored. The course will pursue several key topics including the continuing development of race and gender relations, the impact of industrialism, the world wars and the Cold War upon American life.

    3 credits from:

    This course focuses on the exploration of fundamental principles of effective communication. Skilled communication behaviors are developed through the study and practice of interpersonal communication, public speaking, listening, and group dynamics. Practical applications include class discussion, group activities, listening exercises, and individual presentations.

    A course applying traditional rhetoric and communication theory to oral presentations. Students study, write, deliver and evaluate public speeches. Emphasis is placed on the students’ ability to speak from an outline in a variety of situations including informative speaking, persuasive speaking and demonstration speaking. All presentations are made in class and videotaped to aid in evaluation.

    Elementary-Middle and Education Courses 61 credits:

    Introduction to the foundation and philosophical background of education in the United States, through examination of principles, policies, current trends, and history. An overview of the knowledge and performance skills needed to become an effective teacher, including a 10 hour field experience in a partner school classroom.


    The course will focus on the educational implications of psychological principles and theories of child and adolescent development derived from research. The application of theories and principles will emphasize components of the teaching-learning situation.

    Introduces and begins to develop foundational skills for clinical practice such as lesson planning, instructional approach, assessment, integrating technology, and classroom management. Students will plan and deliver micro-lessons and engage in reflective practice. This course includes a 20 hour field experience.


    Critical examination of factors that impact student learning, ie: sexual orientation, gender, religion, socio-economics, language, and age. Forces of discrimination in schools are evaluated. Particular attention is given to critical race theory, educational equity, and critical social justice theory. American Indian culture is studied. Students have opportunities to develop relationships with people from various cultural backgrounds. Includes a 10 hour field experience.

    Pre-student teaching clinical experience for all teacher education candidates. Students complete a 60-hour field experience, under the supervision of the cooperating teacher. Students apply and analyze instructional methods, assessment alternatives, reading strategies, technology integration, co-teaching and collaborative methods, through teaching experiences and reflective practice.


    Reading is a complex process that is best developed through both holistic and systematic methods.  This course is intended to provide an overview of early reading and writing instructional strategies in word recognition, including phonemic awareness and phonics, vocabulary development, and comprehension.  It was designed to encompass both the theoretical and practical aspects of learning how to teach and assess reading in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, and primary grade classrooms. Includes a 10 hour embedded field experience.


    Designed for teachers of intermediate or early adolescent students.  Emphasis will be placed on a developmental approach to teaching reading which uses a balanced approach to meeting the needs of the students.  Strategies for teaching fluency, vocabulary and word study, and comprehension will be studied to enable learners to become independent and competent readers.  The reading/writing connection will be expanded upon.  Assessment and evaluation will be taught as a means to inform instruction.  Includes a 20 hour embedded field experience.


    A course that provides students with experiences using methodologies recommended for the effective teaching of mathematics. Students evaluate mathematics curricula and supplementary materials using specific assessment tools. Students review mathematics theory and content necessary for teaching early childhood, elementary, and middle school levels.


    Major concepts, procedures, and reasoning processes related to number systems, number sense, geometry, measurement, statistics, probability and algebra are examined. Candidates are exposed to the selection and use of a wide range of manipulatives, and instructional resources to support the teaching of mathematics. Candidates learn to promote all students’ abilities to apply, interpret, and construct mathematical thinking skills. This course includes 10 hours of field experience.


    A course that explores the disciplines that comprise the social studies core and also stresses the importance of addressing environmental issues. Students study a variety of methodologies and materials and have opportunities to teach social studies lessons, and discuss value clarification processes, questioning techniques, and current issues and social studies education.


    A course that gives students opportunities to peer-teach science lessons using inquiry and process-orientation methodologies. They evaluate science curricula and materials using specific criteria, and review physical, biological and earth science content necessary for teaching for the early childhood, elementary and middle school grades.


    Addresses the characteristics of exceptional children and introduces successful inclusive teaching practices. Topics covered may include disability conditions, gifted and talented, legislation, collaboration, planning, assessment, response to intervention, and diversity. Includes a 20 hour field experience.


    An overview and application of instructional strategies to provide collaborative supports, accommodations, and differentiated instruction and curriculum to include students with disabilities and other special needs in general education classes. Appropriate adjustments to teaching, learning and assessment will include development of an understanding of the connections between various content areas (math, science and social studies) to best meet individual learning needs.


    Diagnosis and assessment of students with disabilities as identified by the federal definition (IDEA) using a variety of developmentally appropriate assessments, including those used in Response to Intervention (RTI). Candidates will analyze the measures used and data collected to make informed decisions about student progress, the identification of appropriate interventions and the formal placement process of students for special education services. Specific consideration is given to the reporting of assessment information to parents, teachers, and other support personnel to determine appropriate placement levels within the continuum of services. A 20-hour field experience provides students with an opportunity to observe and reflect on diagnosis and assessment in the classroom.

    An exploration of the diverse cognitive, neurological and emotional characteristics of students with disabilities and how these affect literacy development of learners. Course includes an embedded 20 hour field experience which includes a focus on the application of the literacy assessment, differentiation, and supportive technologies as well as the development and analysis of intensive and explicit interventions.


    Examine and employ various strategies used in managing, planning, implementing and evaluating a classroom environment to meet both the social and emotional needs of students with disabilities. Topics include approaches and theories of behavior management, an introduction to mental health in the educational environment, strategies and models of discipline, motivating students, parent and teacher communication, co-teaching and collaboration methods for maintaining an atmosphere that enhances learning.


    Permission of faculty


    Pedagogical theories are applied to authentic learning environments. Students compile comprehensive work samples for planning, instruction, and assessment. Student teaching experiences are shared with peers in a supportive manner.


    Permission by faculty


    Students engage in the practical application of educational theory and best practice during a full semester of student teaching that is developmental in scope and sequence, and corresponding to the student’s licensure program(s). Under the supervision of a cooperating teacher and college supervisor, the teacher candidate will assume full responsibility for planning lessons, delivering instruction, and assessing student learning.

    Please visit the Elementary-Middle Education webpage to read the Professional Standards of Marian University’s Education programs.

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    Please visit the Elementary-Middle Education webpage to read the Mission and Learning Outcomes of Marian University’s Education programs.

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    Compassionate, committed educators can make a real difference in the future success of children and adolescents with disabilities. Graduates of the Bachelor of Science in Special Education program gain practical, hands-on experience, find an increase in job opportunities and be prepared to provide a quality learning environment for students with special needs.

    School of Education Assessment Reports

    2014-15 Annual Analysis: Teacher Education Undergraduate Programs

    The education programs offered by the Marian University School of Education are approved by the:

    Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

    American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education

    Marian University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

    Please visit the Elementary-Middle Education webpage to read the Admission Progression Criterion of Marian University’s Education programs.

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    Philip Johnson, M.S.

    Polly Manske, M.S.E.
    Assistant Professor

    Sr. Cyndi Nienhaus, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor

    Kimiko Ott, Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor

    Students in the Bachelor of Science in Special Education program are presented numerous opportunities to renew and strengthen their understanding of special education and broaden their qualifications as a professional working with students who have a wide range of learning, mental, emotional and physical disabilities. Students are prepared for intervention work and to create plans that meet the special needs of all students.

    Apply Now

    Dr. Kimiko Ott
    Assistant Professor

    Director of Field & Clinical Experiences
    Mr. Phil Johnson
    800.262.7426 ext. 8752

    Support Staff
    Ms. Leah Schraeder, Support Specialist III
    800.262.7426 ext. 8128 or 920.923.8128