Help children with special needs reach their full potential

The Early Childhood Education with Special Education Certification program at Carlow focuses on nurturing the dignity, worth and uniqueness of children with special needs from birth to fourth grade. You will learn to address the needs of children with a wide variety of mental, physical, social, emotional and behavioral disabilities in multiple settings.

Rooted in constructivism, the program is guided by child development pedagogy and early learning standards, and advocates for best 21st-century learning practices. Students utilize the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s three core considerations when planning learning environments: child development and learning theory, individual appropriateness and cultural importance. The program is guided by the NAEYC’s Professional Standards and Competencies for Early Childhood Educators, Power to the Profession and the Pennsylvania Department of Education‛s Teacher Certification Competencies.

You will take additional special education courses and participate in special education practicum experiences and student teaching placement with children with unique needs.

A group of college students sit outside the library. Some are on laptops and some are reading books.

Bachelor of Arts


On campus, some online


Oakland or Satellite

Transfer credits:

Up to 90 credits

Curriculum for Early Childhood Education (PreK-4) with Special Education Certification

You will learn inclusive practices, differentiated instruction, instructional and assistive technologies, universal design theory, positive behavioral interventions and culturally responsive education practices for young children with special needs. Explicit multisensory-based structured literacy practices and recent neuroscience inform special education practices targeting reading and dyslexia. 

This program is also offered at our Greensburg and Cranberry campuses.

Quick facts

  • Gain experience with multiple diagnostic tools
  • Employ special education strategies and assessments in multiple practicum placements
  • Participate in special education practicums and student teaching experiences 
  • Learn from dyslexia specialist instructors
  • Gain early intervention experience

Career opportunities for Early Childhood Education (PreK-4) with Special Education Certification

Most special education teachers work in public schools, teaching students with a variety of disabilities at the preschool, elementary, middle and high school levels. Graduates can also work in private schools, child care services and other institutions.

Employment of special education teachers is projected to grow 6% from 2014 to 2024, according to career database Many job opportunities will stem from the need to replace teachers who leave the occupation.

Admission requirements and application process

  • Submit an application for admission. It is free to apply.
  • Request that official transcripts from all current and previous institutions you’ve attended are sent directly to the Carlow University Office of Admissions.


Start terms:

Fall, Spring & Summer

Note for all certification students: At the end of your sophomore year, you must officially apply to the education department through the coordinator of undergraduate programs. You must have 48 credits, have at least a 3.0 GPA, pass SKW 101, SKQ 101, a math course and a literature course, and pass the Pre-service Academic Performance Assessment (PAPA) or the CORE ETS Fundamental Skills Tests in reading, writing and math.  

Certification requirements: Carlow’s Early Childhood Education with Special Education Certification program provides the necessary coursework required for Pre-K-4 teacher and special education certification in Pennsylvania. You must meet additional requirements and apply for certification after graduation. You must complete a degree program; score a 4 or higher on both Pennsylvania Department of Education 430 evaluation forms; and pass the PECT Pre-K-4 exam.

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Early Childhood Education, Special Education faculty & staff

Contact Admissions

If you are interested in this major, our Admissions team is available to help you with the next steps, including scheduling an on-campus visit or attending an upcoming event.

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