BA/BS in Special Education + License

The Department of Special Education blends evidence-based research with innovative classroom practices to prepare dynamic, confident, effective, and committed educators to work in 21st century schools. Our work is centered on six guiding themes: scaffolding instruction, collaboration and teaming, individualization, data-based decision making, inclusion and diversity, and leadership and advocacy. These themes drive our goals in 1) providing high-quality, responsive, and effective teacher training; 2) creating and sustaining meaningful partnerships in our communities; and 3) developing and disseminating research to advance effective educational theory, practices, and implementation.

The Special Educator License + BA/BS program provides candidates with an opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree in special education and a Preliminary Teaching License with an endorsement in special education. Presently, this is the only undergraduate teacher preparation licensure program in special education in the state of Oregon. The program is unique in that it offers preparation to teach students across a wide range, including students age 3 through 21 and those who have more significant disabilities requiring extensive supports.

Program benefits

Benefits of the Special Educator License + BA/BS program include:

  • Flexible schedule (full- and part-time options)
  • Nationally accredited by CAEP
  • Collaborative clinical practica
  • Emphasis on equity
  • Well respected faculty engaged in a wide variety of applied research projects

Program specifics

The Special Educator License + BA/BS program:

  • Is completed through a combination of face-to-face coursework and clinical field experiences (practica)
  • Builds to a culminating student teaching experience in the final term, in which teacher candidates assume the wide range of of roles and responsibilities of the special education teacher
  • Includes 180 credits and can be completed in four years (full-time study) or six years (part-time study).

Upon successful completion of the program, teacher candidates will earn a Bachelor’s degree in special education and be eligible to earn a preliminary teaching license with an endorsement in Special Education.

Our graduates

Special Educator License + BA/BS graduates are well prepared to work with a wide range of students in a variety of instructional settings. Potential roles include: self-contained special education classroom teachers, learning specialists/resource room classroom teachers, inclusive/co-teaching roles, and transition specialists. Our graduates will also be prepared for specialized graduate coursework in our graduate-level Master’s degree program


  • All children can learn
  • Educators have a fundamental responsibility for children's learning and a duty to advocate for students and their families
  • Diverse, inclusive, and equitable environments improve educational opportunities and quality of life for all learners
  • Families have valuable knowledge about their children and are essential partners in education
  • Collaboration among schools, families, and communities improves educational outcomes
  • Preparing high quality teachers requires blending effective instruction at PSU with successful school partnerships
  • Prevention and systemic early intervention are essential for maximizing student success and for preventing failure amount student groups as well as for individual students
  • Support systems and the provision of culturally responsive instructional practices should be used to address the unique needs of diverse learners and to enhance the recruitment of a diverse educational workforce
  • Research and evidence-based practices increase the effectiveness of educators' work
  • Collection and thoughtful data analysis should drive educational decision-making about instruction and support

Critical concepts in special education

  1. Scaffolding Instruction. Scaffolding enables a learner to perform a skill or carry out a task that would be beyond his or her unassisted efforts. Scaffolding encompasses many strategies and should be based on assessment of the learner’s current performance. It is a flexible, temporary support designed to be gradually removed as performance improves.
  2. Collaboration and Teaming. A dynamic process of effective communication and mutual effort across stakeholders (e.g. learners, families, school personnel, community members) involving shared resources, collaborative decision making, and joint accountability to achieve meaningful outcomes.
  3. Individualization. A systematic and collaborative process to develop and adapt environments, supports, and instruction to individual needs. Individual considerations include the strengths, cultural, and family contexts, preferences, and priorities of the learner and family.
  4. Data-Based Decision Making. Continuous, purposeful process of collecting, interpreting, presenting, and using data to inform actions that support positive educational outcomes. Data-based decision making considers the learner’s progress within the contexts of instruction, curriculum, and environment.
  5. Inclusion and Diversity. Inclusion embodies the values, policies, and practices that ensure the right of every learner and family to full membership in classrooms, schools, and communities. Supports enable all learners to be engaged participants in social, academic, and extracurricular activities.
  6. Leadership and Advocacy. Advocacy and leadership are guided by research and professional standards with a robust understanding of context, including perspectives across stakeholders. Leaders and advocates actively engage a range of strategies to facilitate effective practices, systems, and policies to support learners outcomes for an individual or across learners.

Vision and Mission

The Special Education Department at Portland State University is dedicated to preparing and supporting professionals to improve the educational outcomes and quality of life for all learners. To achieve our vision, the Special Education programs strive to increase the use of evidence-based practices by preparing exemplary educators, collaborating with schools, building community partnerships, and conducting and disseminating research.

Contact information

For additional information, please contact