Special Education (BSE)

USF teacher writing on the board.

Why Study Special Education?

Special education is a demanding and challenging career path — and it’s also one of the most rewarding, satisfying teaching roles you can find. Your work will have a profound, lasting impact on your students’ lives.

There’s also a growing need for special education teachers nationwide; in Indiana, it’s estimated that 13,900 new positions will be created through 2029. To become a special ed teacher, you’ll first need to complete your bachelor’s degree — including the coursework and student teaching — required to take the special education licensure exam for the state of Indiana.

Majoring in special education equips you with a highly specialized, marketable skill set, which can lead to a range of other special education jobs: leading community programs, working in curriculum development or providing support services to students and their families, to name a few.

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Career Outlook & Success


Job placement rate for USF special education graduates


Median annual salary for special ed teachers in Indiana (BLS, 2019)

300 hours

of field experience before graduation

Why Choose USF’s Special Education Program?

With an academic mission rooted in values of respect and dignity for all, the University of Saint Francis is an incredibly fitting environment to prepare for purposeful work, such as a career in special education.

Expert instruction, a well-rounded curriculum and extensive field experience will prepare you to educate and inspire students of all abilities and learning styles, in grades Pre-K through12.

Hands-On Learning: Student Teaching & Field Experience

You will get into the field right from your first semester in the special education program:

Field Experiences

Your 300+ hours engaging with students of all backgrounds will take you to public, private and religious schools, and in urban, suburban and rural settings.

Student Teaching

You will spend a semester paired with a professional special education teacher. Under their mentorship, you will apply what you’ve learned in a classroom setting and build confidence in your professional skills.

Professional Development

All USF education majors also participate in professional development and networking events such as the Best Practices Showcase, which highlights educators who demonstrate outstanding teaching practices.

Faculty & Facilities

Class sizes are small at USF, so you will get personal attention from faculty mentors who are experts in their field. You’ll also have access to the Antoinette V. Murray Cougar Classroom, a learning lab filled with technology, resources and materials — everything you need to create lesson plans and get ready for student-teaching.

Campus and Community Involvement

Leading and serving others through campus organizations will help prepare you to become a special ed teacher. Here are just a few that might interest you:

  • Educators in Action
  • Campus Ministry
  • Council for Exceptional Children
  • Alpha Theta Epsilon (honor society)
  • Jesters of the University of Saint Francis

One summer I worked at an equine therapy camp for students with special needs. That experience fueled my interest in special education. When it was time to student-teach, my professor helped place me in a special education classroom in a Catholic school — another goal of mine!

Claire Manning ’20
Elementary education/special education

Special Education Jobs: Careers in Teaching & Development

After you graduate and pass your licensure exam, you’ll be ready to become a special ed teacher, but that’s not all you can do with a bachelor’s in special education. There’s a wide range of special education jobs in schools, recreational facilities, community agencies and healthcare facilities:

  • Advocate
  • Classroom aide/paraprofessional
  • Curriculum writer
  • Education policy maker
  • Emotional support specialist
  • Program director
  • Resources specialist
  • Site director

With a master’s degree in special education you can pursue additional opportunities in teaching, counseling and school administration.

Where You’ll USF Special Education Program Graduates

USF graduates teach and provide educational services in public and private school settings such as:

  • Bluffton-Harrison Metropolitan School District
  • East Allen County Schools
  • Edgerton High School
  • Fort Wayne Community Schools
  • Indianapolis Public Schools
  • Northwest Allen County Schools
  • Southwest Allen County Schools
  • Warsaw Community Schools
  • Westview School Corporation


Graduate School & Advancement Opportunities

Teachers are life-long learners: You’re likely to return to the classroom to earn continuing education credits, graduate certificates or other credentials to help you advance your career.

USF offers graduate programs in education, special education, school psychology and school counseling. Our special education majors have also been accepted into programs at:

  • Ball State University
  • Indiana University
  • Lewis University
  • University of Northern Colorado

I was hired into a teaching position before I graduated. I was halfway through my student placement when I was offered the job. I credit the university and my professors — they prepared me better than I could have imagined!

Jordyn Rigler ’17
Special education teacher at Northside High School



The Department of Education is accredited by the Indiana Department of Education and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), which was previously known as the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

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Academic Plan

An academic plan is a general blueprint showing how one might complete the degree, semester by semester. Get an idea on what each semester could look like.

View Elementary Education Plan