Special Education (Dual Certification)


Achieving dual certification in Early Childhood Education and Special Education enables you to be far more than a teacher. You will be prepared to make a difference while working with children of all abilities. You will be ready to change lives.

Thirteen percent of all children in public schools receive special education services due to conditions such as learning disabilities, social or emotional disorders, or autism. The necessity for specialized educators who understand and can provide for the needs of these students is clear, and Alvernia is committed to preparing students to fill those roles.

In this dual major, you’ll receive a broad-based liberal arts background, along with special education courses that prepare you to effectively deal with students with special needs in the regular classroom or a special education classroom.

Through three field work placements and a student teaching experience, you’ll gain knowledge and skills necessary to work with children with special needs in a variety of educational settings. You’ll develop an understanding of how to work with children of various abilities and disabilities in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.

Course work at Alvernia is designed to meet the latest state and national standards, and our Education Program is approved by the Pennsylvania State Department of Education.


Why should you study Early Childhood Education/Special Education at Alvernia University?

Because at Alvernia you get all the benefits of an outstanding university education in a manageable setting with personal attention and unique opportunities that can benefit you as you move toward your career.

Alvernia’s Early Childhood Education/Special Education program is well regarded, and graduates of the program are known and respected as capable and well qualified teachers.

Small Class Size
Alvernia has an average 12:1 student-faculty ratio, with fewer than 20 students in most classes. This facilitates valuable, professional relationships among faculty members and students. In these small class settings, you get individual attention to help you excel.

Faculty Who Care
Alvernia’s faculty members aren’t just teachers. They’re experts in their fields who are committed to passing along their knowledge and expertise to their students. In small class settings, faculty members become mentors and advisors, intent on helping you learn, grow and succeed. Alvernia’s Education faculty members have worked in various educational settings and are highly regarded in their fields. They understand the challenges of teachers because they have spent years in the classroom. Most importantly, they’re there to help you succeed.

Research Opportunities
Alvernia offers opportunities for many students to work with faculty members on research projects relating to their areas of concentration. This collaboration prepares students for professions and/or graduate school.

Honors Program
Alvernia’s Honors Program for students who are academically gifted and highly motivated is designed to allow students to work at their own pace and to recognize and encourage academic excellence. Honors students interact with one another to exchange ideas and information across a wide range of disciplines and interests.

The Honors Program offers co-curricular activities, service opportunities and intellectual and social support to encourage students to exceed their own expectations.

Learn more about Alvernia’s Honors Programs at www.alvernia.edu/academics/honors.

Get Real
Classroom learning is valuable and necessary, but out-of-the-classroom, experiential learning provides management students with hands-on, real world learning opportunities that enrich your educational experience and are highly valued by employers.

You’ll have opportunities to participate in field experiences and student teaching, community service, student teaching and other experiences to help you stretch and grow toward your full potential.

Learn more about Alvernia’s Get Real program at www.alvernia.edu/getreal.

Study Abroad

Living and studying outside of the United States can change you in ways you can’t begin to envision. Students who study abroad typically gain immeasurable confidence and experiences they could not have imagined.

Education majors have benefitted from participation in study abroad programs in countries including New Zealand, Italy, Spain, England, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Morocco, Palestine, China and Mexico.

Learn more about Alvernia’s Study Abroad program at www.alvernia.edu/studyabroad.


One thing is for certain, there will always be a place for excellent teachers. Employment prospects vary from region to region, but employment of early education teachers is expected to grow by 12 percent between 2012 and 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The projected growth rate for special education teachers is 6 percent. With dual certification, you will be positioned to be highly qualified for teaching positions.

Graduates of Alvernia’s Education programs are employed in nearly every school district in Berks and Schuylkill counties and surrounding areas. Alvernia teachers have taught in schools across the U.S. and in other countries, as well.

While you may be envisioning a career as a classroom teacher, teachers also serve in other capacities, including:

  • Educational consultant
  • Educational researcher
  • Child life specialist
  • Curriculum specialist
  • Resource teacher
  • Textbook writer
  • Education and training administrator

When you graduate from Alvernia’s Early Childhood Education/Special Education program, you’ll be prepared and eligible to take an Educator Certification test. Once certified, you’ll be ready to begin your career.

For more information about Alvernia’s Early Childhood Education program contact the Admissions Office at 1-888-ALVERNIA or 610-796-8269 or admissions@alvernia.edu.


All Alvernia students must complete courses that collectively are known as the Liberal Arts Core. These courses total 55 credits. You’ll also need to complete graduation requirements, including community service.

Acceptance into the Education Department requires that you’ve completed 48 credit hours and have at least a 3.0 cumulative grade point average. You’ll also need to have a recommendation from a faculty member.

As an Early Childhood Education/Special Education major, you’ll need to complete 74 credits in education courses. Those courses are:

ED 200 Fundamentals of Early Childhood Education
ED 204 Human Development and Learning
ED 208 Health and Physical Education in the Elementary School
ED 209 Planning, Instruction and Assessment
ED 210 Methods for the Elementary Inclusive Classroom
ED 440 Teaching Science in Elementary School
ED 302 Principles of Writing Instruction
ED 310 Skills for Early Childhood Education
ED 313 Managing Classroom Learning Communities
ED 314 Teaching the Arts in Elementary School
ED 400 Assessment and Evaluation
ED 402 Professional Seminar
ED 403 Reading Methods for the Elementary Inclusive Classroom
ED 404 Teaching Mathematics in the Elementary School
ED 414 Teaching Social Studies in Elementary School
ED 436 Field Experience III
ED 470 Student Teaching
ED 472 Teaching Seminar
SPE 100 Introduction to Exceptionalities in Children and Youth
SPE 315 Teaching Reading/Language Arts to Students with Disabilities
SPE 335 High Incidence Disabilities
SPE 345 Low Incidence Disabilities
SPE 410 Evaluation and Progress Monitoring with Special Needs Students
SPE 425 Legal and Professional Practices in Special Education
Related requirements are:

MAT 106 Mathematics for Teachers II
COM 270 ESL Teacher

You can learn more about all courses offered by Alvernia University by viewing the 2015-2016 Academic Course Catalogue at http://www.alvernia.edu/academics/catalogs/Catalog_2015-16/index.html.

Your Real World Learning Experience
Alvernia believes that real world experience is extremely important, as it can improve your confidence and introduce you to professionals in your intended field of employment.

You will not only benefit from faculty members who have extensive knowledge and experience in education, you’ll also get the opportunity for first-hand learning in classroom settings.

Your advisor and the Education Department’s director of field services will help you to identify and secure three field placements and a student teaching experience as part of your education requirements. You’ll get first-hand experience as you work with experienced teachers and learn the essentials of classroom teaching.

In order to student teach, you’ll need to have a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher and approval for teaching from the Education Department. Current clearances will be required for field placements and student teaching.

You can find out more about Alvernia’s commitment to real world learning at www.alvernia.edu/academics/experiential_learning.

Research Opportunities
Research is a valuable aspect of any education. Alvernia faculty members conduct research in a variety of areas and, as an Early Childhood Education/Special Education major, there may be opportunity for you to assist in faculty research, and to benefit from knowledge gained through faculty research.

Honors Programs
If you’re academically gifted and highly motivated, you may want to learn more about Alverania’s Undergraduate Honors Program. Honors students have opportunities to take courses dealing with unusual topics and participate in a variety of activities. You can learn more about the Honors Program and how to apply at www.alvernia.edu/academics/honors/index.html.

Education majors also may seek membership to Pi Lambda Theta (PLT), the oldest and most selective educational honor society that recognizes excellence is education. PLT honors outstanding teachers and works to inspire them to become effective leaders who address critical issues in education. The organization is open to undergraduate and graduate students who meet the admission standards.

The Eight-Semester Plan
You can do it! It’s easy to stay on track to graduate in four years if you pay close attention to what classes you need and make sure to take them in a timely manner. Advisors are available to assist in planning academic programs, course selection and registration, but it’s your job to make sure that you meet all academic requirements and comply with University policies.

Start planning well in advance for your clinical experience or other off-campus experience, as you’ll need to assure that you will be able to complete all required coursework.

Study Opportunities beyond Campus
Your college years are the perfect time to broaden your horizons and participate in experiences that can change your life. Alvernia offers some great opportunities for students who want to spend some time studying beyond its campus.

The Washington Center
The University’s O’Pake Institute for Ethics, Leadership and Public Service manages a relationship with The Washington Center, an organization that offers residential academic programs and internships in the nation’s capital.

If you participate in The Washington Center program, you might be placed in an internship in a government agency, non-profit organization or an educated-related setting. You can learn more about the Washington Center and opportunities there at www.alvernia.edu/about/ethics-and-leadership/washington.html.

Study Abroad Programs
Alvernia’s Study Abroad Office works closely with students who want to spend one or more semesters in a different country. Early Childhood Education/Special Education majors have studied and traveled in Italy, Spain, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, England, Germany, Greece, Belgium, Austria, Morocco, Palestine and China.

You pay the regular Alvernia tuition while studying abroad, and continue to receive financial aid, if applicable. Credits earned count toward your Alvernia undergraduate degree.

If you’re interested in studying in another country you should start planning early, as you’ll need to start the application process about a year in advance.

You can get more information about these programs from the Study Abroad Office at www.alvernia.edu/studyabroad or by contacting studyabroad@alvernia.edu.

Year-by-Year Major Map

Think Globally

  • Explore opportunities for study abroad, alternative break trips, pilgrimage to Assisi, the Washington Center and service trips.
  • Start at the Study Abroad Office or studyabroad@alvernia.edu.

Take the Right Classes

  • Review general education, university and major requirements.
  • Be aware of which semester required courses are offered.
  • Focus on getting good grades.

Get Good Advice

  • Get to know Education faculty and your advisor.
  • Visit the Educational Planning Center on the first floor of Bernardine Hall at Alvernia’s main campus in Reading.

Real Life Learning

  • Explore opportunities for upcoming clinical practices.
  • Utilize skills acquired in First Year Experience.

Make the Right Connections

  • Identify peers that support your academic goals.
  • Get involved by joining the Alvernia Education Association.
  • Review qualifications for Pi Lambda Theta, the education honor society.
  • You may decide to join the Student Government Association or consider some of the many other student clubs and community organizations.

Get Ready to Graduate

  • Develop a working resume.
  • Assess strengths, weaknesses and interests.
  • Start thinking about the type of education setting in which you want to work.
  • Begin the process of obtaining all required background checks and clearances.

Think Globally

  • Review opportunities for extended learning and, if interested, start planning with the Study Abroad Office.

Take the Right Classes

  • Make sure you’ve reviewed which semester required courses are available.
  • Focus on getting good grades.

Get Good Advice

  • Talk to Eduction faculty and your advisor about your area(s) of interest within the field of education.
  • Work with the Education Department’s director of field services and your advisor to identify field experiences.
  • Stay in touch with the Educational Planning Center.

Real Life Learning

  • Look into the Alternative Break program.
  • Shadow in jobs that are related to your specific interests.
  • Look for part-time or summer jobs that relate to your interests.
  • Get familiar with the Educational Planning Center’s Internship data base.

Make the Right Connections

  • Volunteer for community service.
  • Stay involved in clubs and organizations.
  • Observe the roles of those in leadership positions.
  • Form study groups.

Get Ready to Graduate

  • Update working resume.
  • Assess strengths, weaknesses and interests.
  • Complete the process of obtaining all required background checks and clearances.
  • Research teacher job postings to get familiar with job availability and requirements.

Think Globally

  • Participate in Study Abroad program.
  • Participate in service trips or “May”mester.

Take the Right Classes

  • Learn about different types and locations for clinical experience opportunities.
  • Focus on getting good grades and improving GPA.
  • Work with advisor to make sure you’re on track to graduate on time.

Get Good Advice

  • Work with the Education Department’s director of field services and your advisor to identify field experiences.
  • Talk to faculty members about career opportunities in the field of education.
  • Stay in touch with the Educational Planning Center.
  • Get familiar with Vault.com, a career services library available on Educational Planning. Center’s website.

Real Life Learning

  • Look into the Alternative Break program.
  • Shadow in jobs that are related to your specific interests.
  • Look for part-time or summer jobs that relate to your interests.

Make the Right Connections

  • Connect with area educators.
  • Connect with alumni in your field.

Get Ready to Graduate

  • Get feedback on your working resume from Educational Planning Center.
  • Get resume ready for practicum applications and job fairs.
  • Work on getting recommendations.
  • Attend Career Planning opportunities such as job fairs and practice interviews.
  • Look for coaching opportunities.

Think Globally

  • Look for service opportunities.

Take the Right Classes

  • Complete field experiences if you haven’t already done so.
  • Work with advisor to make sure you’re on track to graduate on time.

Get Good Advice

  • Find out what is necessary for you to do to prepare for your student teaching experience.
  • Stay in touch with the Educational Planning Center.
  • Talk to faculty members about career opportunities.
  • Ask for advice from professionals in your area of interest.

Real Life Learning

  • Finalize plans for your student teaching experience.
  • Consider volunteering as a tutor or homework helper with an Alvernia community partner.

Make the Right Connections

  • Connect with area educators.
  • Connect with alumni in your field.
  • Attend events at which alumni are present.

Get Ready to Graduate

  • Prepare for certification testing
  • Fine tune your resume.
  • Search for jobs through Vault.com and connections you’ve made.
  • Finalize recommendations you’ll need when applying for jobs.
  • Attend Career Planning opportunities such as job fairs and practice interviews.
  • Attend the Alvernia Job Fair.

Alvernia is committed to serving the needs of its students. Whether you have questions or problems related to academics, student activities, social activities or any other issue, there is someone available to help you. You can learn more about all student services at www.alvernia.edu/student-life/student-services.

Educational Planning Center
The Educational Planning Center offers advice and support to help you with any problems or issues related to your Alvernia education. It also assists with career exploration and preparation. The office is open every day at Alvernia’s main campus in Reading and can be contacted at 610-796-8266.

Career Services
Staff members at the Career Development office at Alvernia’s main campus in Reading will help you with any questions you have about exploring or planning careers. They also will guide you about how to look for and apply to jobs as you get closer to graduation. The office also has a career resources library. You can learn more about career services at www.alvernia.edu/student-life/career-services, or by emailing career.services@alvernia.edu.

Financial Aid
The Financial Aid office at Alvernia’s main campus in Reading is the place to contact with any questions you have about the cost of an Alvernia education and options for paying for it. Nearly all undergraduates at Alvernia get some type of financial aid, and everyone is encouraged to apply for it. You can learn more at www.alvernia.edu/financialaid/index.html or by emailing financialaid@alvernia.edu.

Admissions Office
If you’re interested in applying to the Early Childhood Education/Special Education program at Alvernia, contact the Admissions Office at 610-796-3011 or at http://www.alvernia.edu/admissions/.

Faculty Members
Alvernia’s Education faculty members are dedicated, highly qualified professionals who are committed to sharing their expertise and knowledge with students. Faculty members have extensive experience in various aspects of education, and bring their expertise to the classroom. They often work one-on-one with students to enhance the student’s learning experience, and serve as mentors to aspiring students.

Education faculty members are actively engaged in research, have written articles that have appeared in prestigious publications and have presented nationally and internationally at conferences.

You can learn more about Alvernia’s Education faculty and their credentials at www.alvernia.edu/academics/professional-programs/education/faculty.


There is so much more to college than classes, and Early Childhood Education/Special Education majors at Alvernia have some excellent opportunities to get involved in activities that are both enjoyable and provide beneficial, hands-on experience. Students who get involved and engaged in extra-curricular activities benefit both academically and socially, and open themselves to integral life lessons from beyond the classroom.

You’ll be encouraged to participate in a range of activities, including some rewarding and inspiring service projects. Some organizations and activities you might enjoy and benefit from include:

  • The Alvernia Education Association. This group is affiliated with the student PSEA, and works to provide education majors with practical information and experiences related to the field of education.
  • Alvernia also offers many organizations, clubs and activities outside of your major, and you’re encouraged to get involved. You can learn more about Alvernia’s Student Government Association, becoming a Student Ambassador, student trips and other activities at www.alvernia.edu/student-life/activities.
  • The Holleran Center for Community Engagement serves as a bridge between the University and the community. The Center partners with a variety of organizations to provide Alvernia students opportunities to serve. You might volunteer to help students with homework at an afterschool program, or to volunteer as a tutor. You can read more about volunteer opportunities at http://alvernia.edu/about/holleran-center.

Graduates of Alvernia’s Special Education program enjoy a very high employment placement rate, and members of the Career Services Office are available to offer job search advice and help you prepare for your job search.

special education (dual certification)

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