Special Education Teacher


Are you interested in learning more about human disabilities? Do you want to better understand related laws and advocacy that protect the rights of children and adults with disabilities? Does collaboration across fields and roles to support people with special needs in schools and community settings appeal to you?

The Certificate in Disabilities and Inclusive Communities Program is designed for those who seek to advance their ability to support and advocate for the individuals with disabilities and protect their rights. 

This online program consists of 4 courses (12 credits). Course credits may be used as Act 48 credits or applied to Special Education (PK-12) Certification Program, Master of Education with Special Education (PK-12) Certification Program, and Master of Education in Special Education Program

Tuition rate is $516 per graduate credit, aligned with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) institutions. Take advantage of a rolling admissions process and apply now! 


Special Education Program Mission

The Alvernia University Education Department, rooted in a proud Franciscan heritage, is dedicated to providing instruction in educational theory balanced with current best practices. The Special Education Program focuses on the high leverage practices of interdisciplinary collaboration and inclusivity within a legally and ethically responsible environment, designed to foster growth in all children and adolescents with identified learning needs in our schools today.


The program starts on Aug. 21 & Oct. 12 in 2023; Jan. 16, Mar. 7, May 13, & July 8 in 2024. 

Read more about:



MED 505, Introduction to Special Education (3 credits, 5 field hours)

This course reviews all areas of student exceptionalities and how special education services are acquired, developed and provided in today’s schools.  Students will learn how family and community collaboration together with research-based educational practices, assist individuals with exceptionalities be successful in home, school and community settings.  Embedded in this course are observation and interaction activities with individuals in community settings who have disabilities.

MED 515, Differentiated Instruction in the Inclusive Classroom (3 credits, 5 field hours, pre-requisite MED 505)

This course focuses on content, methods, and materials specifically oriented to assisting students with diverse needs to achieve academically and socially in today’s inclusive schools.  Competencies in analyzing instructional events and collaboration as needed by school personnel are observed for five hours in inclusive settings which address the needs of students with disabilities in our schools.

MED 535, Collaboration and Legal Issues for Special Education (3 credits, pre-requisite MED 515)

This course will focus on understanding the legal statutes and regulations regarding students with disabilities and the resulting impact on the delivery of services and educational programs. Skills in development and delivery of the Individualized Education Plan, from age 3-21, including effective communication and collaboration, will be addressed. Discussion of professional dispositions and ethical behaviors of effective special educators will be reviewed. 

MED 545, Social Development and Behavior Support in Inclusive Classrooms (3 credits) 

This course will prepare teachers to be educational leaders who effectively manage their classrooms.  It will focus on taking a pro-active approach to create a positive learning environment for all students.  The course will operate from a perspective that it is the teacher’s responsibility to bring an enhanced level of professionalism and strong sense of ethical behavior to the classroom. Special attention will be given to the recognition that today’s classrooms are inclusive and contain students with a variety of needs and learning styles that need to be accommodated.  A successful learning environment requires creation of effective lesson plans and appropriate communication with students, parents, administration, and community resources.


Questions? Contact:

Kelly Burr, M.Ed.

Director, Graduate Enrollment




Lucinda Schaeffer, Ed.D.

Director, Special Education Programs



Francis Hall at sunset
Admissions Requirements
Julie Kehr, Special Education Teacher
Why Choose Alvernia?
"Alvernia introduced me to the world of special education, and I knew this would be my career track. Currently, I am employed as a Special Education Program Coordinator. In this position, I can continue serving students with special needs in the greater Reading area, specifically those with autism and multiple disabilities.”

— JULIE KEHR, Elementary/Special Education ‘09, Principal Certification ‘22