Feb 05, 2023  
2019-2020 Undergraduate Catalog 
2019-2020 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Special Education

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221 Helble Hall
507.457.5535, Fax: 507.457.2483
Special Education website
Amy Olson, Chairperson


James Kirk, Associate Professor; BA, Marquette University; MA, Western Oregon State College; PhD, University of Iowa-Iowa City; 2012 -
Amy Olson, Assistant Professor; BA, MS, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison; 2015 -


The Special Education Department offers undergraduate and graduate courses to prepare teachers of K-12 students with disabilities. Classes are designed to meet the Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board criteria for licensure in Developmental Disabilities and Academic & Behavioral Strategist. Teacher candidates take a set of Special Education Core classes that cover Special Education foundations; referral, planning, and placement; instructional design, teaching, and evaluation; and collaboration and communication. They also take reading methods, field experiences, licensure specific methods classes and student teaching. Teacher candidates must also complete the Professional Sequence offered by the Education Studies Department.


The mission of the Special Education Department is “Improving the world for K-12 students with disabilities through quality teacher preparation.” The Department of Special Education exists within the College of Education. University students majoring in Special Education prepare to become Special Education teachers serving K-12 students with disabilities. The Special Education Department offers two majors: Developmental Disabilities and Academic & Behavioral Strategist. Both majors lead to a Bachelor’s degree.

Career Opportunities

Graduates with a Special Education major are employed primarily as K-12 educators in public schools.

Special Education (SPED) Programs

WSU offers the following undergraduate programs leading to licensure by the State of Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board:

Requirements for Majoring in Special Education (DD, ABS)

Applicants must meet with a Special Education advisor immediately upon making the decision to major in Special Education. The applicant must submit a completed Major Declaration Form; an advisor will be assigned at that time. Note: Applicants must be accepted into the Teacher Education program before their Special Education application will be processed.

Requirements for Teacher Education Admission

  1. Minimum GPA of 2.75.
  2. B grade or better in ENG 111 - College Reading and Writing  and CMST 191 - Introduction to Public Speaking .
  3. C grade or better in MATH 100 - Mathematics for Sustainability  or higher mathematics. STAT 110 - Fundamentals of Statistics  recommended.
  4. Official score report on all three sections of the Minnesota Teacher Licensure Examination (MTLE) Basic Skills Tests: Math, Reading, and Writing.
  5. Complete the teacher education admission process.

Requirements for Special Education Admission

  1. Complete and submit a Special Education Department application.
  2. Write an essay and schedule an admissions interview.
  3. Participate in an interview with the Special Education Department.

Students must maintain a 2.75 GPA with no grade lower than C in any special education course, professional education sequence course, or methods course. Students who receive a grade lower than C must repeat the course.

General Education Intensive Requirements

Students may use intensive courses to satisfy both General Education Program (GEP)  and major requirements. Intensive courses will usually be in the student’s major or minor program. The following are offered as GEP intensive courses in the Special Education Department:


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Intensive courses that can be used to satisfy major/minor requirements are identified in the lists of required courses and electives.

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