Bachelor of Science (BS) in Early Childhood Special Education Degree

Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special EducationInitial Program – Leads to Initial Teacher Licensure

Offered By: College of Education

What Is a Dual Degree in Early Childhood Education and Special Education?

The Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education at Grand Canyon University (GCU) is offered by the College of Education. This degree prepares aspiring teacher candidates to pursue a career devoted to helping young children strive to reach their full potential as learners and community members. Students who earn an early childhood special education degree are well-positioned to recognize the signs of developmental delays and disabilities, and to work with families, schools and other stakeholders to meet the needs of these exceptional children.

This dual bachelor’s degree combines the specializations of early childhood education and special education. Teacher candidates explore the education of children with and without exceptionalities, as well as concepts of child, family and community collaboration and advocacy.

The early childhood special education degree is regionally accredited and approved by the Arizona Department of Education. Graduates are qualified to pursue a dual teaching certification credential in Arizona.

Why Earn an Early Childhood and Special Education Degree from GCU?

The BS in Early Childhood Special Education degree at GCU emphasizes the value of servant leadership and Christian ethics. Aspiring teacher candidates may pursue a career working with children during a critical period in their development, when the right role models can encourage these young learners to embrace creativity, strive toward literacy and develop an enduring love of learning, while also helping children with exceptionalities. 

GCU supports a modern and diverse student body. This degree offers flexible learning options to suit the needs of our students. Both online and on-campus classes are available.

What Will I Study as an Early Childhood Special Education Major?

Early childhood special education majors at GCU benefit from an in-depth and comprehensive curriculum that imparts essential knowledge and critical classroom skills, including the following:

  • Early language and literacy development
  • Social and emotional development
  • Behavioral interventions
  • Classroom management
  • Learning strategies
  • Instructional methods
  • Assessments, evaluations and progress reporting
  • Child, family and community collaboration
  • Educational advocacy for children with and without exceptionalities

This bachelor’s degree program includes 190 field experience hours. All teacher candidates must successfully complete a 15-week student teaching experience in an inclusive environment with children birth to grade three.

What Are the Career Options for Graduates of the Early Childhood Special Education Program?

There are many possible career paths for individuals with a background in early childhood special education. This degree could equip you to work in any of these settings:

  • Early childhood education centers
  • Public and private preschool/pre-K
  • Public and private elementary school
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Educational policy organizations

Some of the jobs that may be directly related to an early childhood special education degree could include:

  • Education teacher (postsecondary)
  • Special education teacher (postsecondary preschool, kindergarten and elementary school) 
  • Teaching assistant (special education)

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that, “about 38,600 openings for special education teachers are projected each year, on average, over the decade” from 2020 to 2030. “Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.”1

What Licensure is Obtained With the Early Childhood Special Education Degree

The Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education degree program at Grand Canyon University leads to initial teacher licensure. This program meets licensure requirements in most states, including Arizona. Upon completion of this dual degree program, teacher certification may be pursued. Licensure may require practicum hours, state exams, student teaching and an institutional recommendation from GCU.

Early Childhood Education and Special Education Degree FAQs

Many people regard early childhood and special education as two of the most important areas of expertise in the field of education. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, special education teachers have a median annual wage of $61,820 as of May 20212 — making this degree worth it for those with a passion for teaching young children with certain exceptionalities and nurturing their growth along the way.

Early intervention is critical when children have developmental exceptionalities. Children with intellectual exceptionalities can do well in school but will likely need individualized help from special educators. The student’s inclusive education plan and early intervention shows positive changes in the health, language, and the cognitive, social and emotional development of the student.3 Early childhood education degree graduates are necessary to the success of these exceptional students.

Yes. This early childhood special education degree and several more GCU programs are regionally accredited and approved by the Arizona Department of Education. Full accreditation means these programs prepare effective educators who continue to grow as professionals and have demonstrated their commitment to quality. Visit the college of education accreditation page to see a full list of AAQEP-Accredited programs.

1 COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well. Accordingly, data shown is based on September 2021, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Special Education Teachers, retrieved on 7/25/2022

2 The earnings referenced were reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”), Special Education Teachers as of May 2021. Due to COVID-19, data from 2020 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may also impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the BLS. BLS calculates the median using salaries of workers from across the country with varying levels of education and experience and does not reflect the earnings of GCU graduates as special education teachers. It does not reflect earnings of workers in one city or region of the country. It also does not reflect a typical entry-level salary. Median income is the statistical midpoint for the range of salaries in a specific occupation. It represents what you would earn if you were paid more money than half the workers in an occupation, and less than half the workers in an occupation. It may give you a basis to estimate what you might earn at some point if you enter this career. You may also wish to compare median salaries if you are considering more than one career path. Grand Canyon University can make no guarantees on individual graduates’ salaries as the employer the graduate chooses to apply to, and accept employment from, determines salary not only based on education, but also individual characteristics and skills and fit to that organization (among other categories) against a pool of candidates.

3 The Education Trust, Increasing Equity in Early Intervention in July 2022

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TOTAL CREDITS & COURSE LENGTH:
Total Credits: 120
Campus: 15 weeks [More Info]

Online: 7 weeks
[More Info]
TRANSFER CREDITS:
Up to 90 credits, only 84 can be lower division
TUITION RATE:
Campus: $8,250 per semester [More Info]
Online: $455 per credit [More Info]

Course List

General Education Requirements:
34-40 credits
Major:
77 credits
Open Elective Credits:
3-9 credits
Total Degree Requirements:
120 credits

General Education Requirements

General Education coursework prepares Grand Canyon University graduates to think critically, communicate clearly, live responsibly in a diverse world, and thoughtfully integrate their faith and ethical convictions into all dimensions of life. These competencies, essential to an effective and satisfying life, are outlined in the General Education Learner Outcomes. General Education courses embody the breadth of human understanding and creativity contained in the liberal arts and sciences tradition. Students take an array of foundational knowledge courses that promote expanded knowledge, insight, and the outcomes identified in the University's General Education Competencies. The knowledge and skills students acquire through these courses serve as a foundation for successful careers and lifelong journeys of growing understanding and wisdom.

Requirements

Upon completion of the Grand Canyon University's University Foundation experience, students will be able to demonstrate competency in the areas of academic skills and self-leadership. They will be able to articulate the range of resources available to assist them, explore career options related to their area of study, and have knowledge of Grand Canyon's community. Students will be able to demonstrate foundational academic success skills, explore GCU resources (CLA, Library, Career Center, ADA office, etc), articulate strategies of self-leadership and management and recognize opportunities to engage in the GCU community.

Course Options

  • UNV-112, Success in Science, Engineering and Technology & Lab: 4
  • UNV-103, University Success: 4
  • UNV-303, University Success: 4
  • UNV-108, University Success in the College of Education: 4

Requirements

Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to construct rhetorically effective communications appropriate to diverse audiences, purposes, and occasions (English composition, communication, critical reading, foreign language, sign language, etc.). Students are required to take 3 credits of English grammar or composition.

Course Options

  • UNV-104, 21st Century Skills: Communication and Information Literacy: 4
  • ENG-105, English Composition I: 4
  • ENG-106, English Composition II: 4

Requirements

Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to express aspects of Christian heritage and worldview. Students are required to take CWV-101/CWV-301.

Course Options

  • CWV-101, Christian Worldview: 4
  • CWV-301, Christian Worldview: 4

Requirements

Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to use various analytic and problem-solving skills to examine, evaluate, and/or challenge ideas and arguments (mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, geology, astronomy, physical geography, ecology, economics, theology, logic, philosophy, technology, statistics, accounting, etc.). Students are required to take 3 credits of intermediate algebra or higher.

Course Options

  • MAT-154, Applications of College Algebra: 4
  • MAT-144, College Mathematics: 4
  • PHI-105, 21st Century Skills: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: 4
  • BIO-220, Environmental Science: 4

Requirements

Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to demonstrate awareness and appreciation of and empathy for differences in arts and culture, values, experiences, historical perspectives, and other aspects of life (psychology, sociology, government, Christian studies, Bible, geography, anthropology, economics, political science, child and family studies, law, ethics, cross-cultural studies, history, art, music, dance, theater, applied arts, literature, health, etc.). If the predefined course is a part of the major, students need to take an additional course.

Course Options

  • HIS-144, U.S. History Themes: 4
  • PSY-102, General Psychology: 4
  • SOC-100, Everyday Sociology: 4

Core Courses

Course Description

This course focuses on the fundamental basis of the field of early childhood education and early childhood special education. This course includes historical and philosophical foundations, current practices, ethics, advocacy, models of teaching, and application in early childhood/special education settings. Professional responsibilities for early childhood/early childhood special education educators are explored. Practicum/field experience hours: None. Fingerprint clearance not required.

Course Description

This course examines current special education laws and professional practices. Emphasis is placed on Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), assessment, identification, and implementation of services. Candidates also incorporate data-based decision making and utilization of assistive technology in instruction. Practicum/field experience hours: None. Fingerprint clearance not required.

Course Description

This is the first in a two-course sequence designed for prospective elementary school teachers. Concepts include set theory, functions, numeration systems, number theory and properties of the natural numbers, integers, rational numbers, ratios, proportions, decimals, and percents, with an emphasis on problem solving and critical thinking.

Course Description

This is the second in a two-course sequence designed for prospective elementary school teachers. Concepts include elementary probability, data analysis, descriptive statistics, geometry of shapes in two and three dimensions, congruence and similarity, measurement, and geometric transformations, with an emphasis on problem solving and critical thinking. Prerequisite: MAT-150.

Course Description

This course examines child growth and development, including milestones regarding physical, cognitive, and social-emotional development in order to align program and instructional planning with state guidelines and regulations in health, safety, and nutrition for young children with and without exceptionalities. Family education and communication are also emphasized. Practicum/field experience hours: None. Fingerprint clearance not required.

Course Description

This course is a survey of Arizona history and government, as well as American government. It meets the teacher certification requirement for Arizona government and American government.

Course Description

In this writing intensive course, teacher candidates study how to teach a diverse population of students by examining the foundations and dimensions of social justice in education, social constructs, privilege, prejudice, and oppression with the goal of becoming culturally competent educators. Practicum/field experience hours: None. Fingerprint clearance not required.

Course Description

This course explores historical foundations, theories, and models of building relationships within families and schools, including family characteristics, diversity, advocacy, and community relationships. The course emphasizes community organizations that support and assist children with and without exceptionalities and their families, and advocacy for families with young children. Practicum/field experience hours: None. Fingerprint clearance not required.

Course Description

This course explores the foundations of early language acquisition and literacy development for children Birth to Age 8/Grade 3. Teacher candidates focus on the essential components of literacy and communication methods in early childhood special education, including oral language and emergent literacy. In addition, assistive technology to enhance communication and learning is explored. Practicum/field experience hours: None. Fingerprint clearance not required.

Course Description

In this course, teacher candidates examine assessment, evaluation, and early identification for young children to develop IFSP’s and IEP's, Birth to Age 8. The processes of using data in assessing, monitoring, and reporting the progress of young children’s performances are investigated, in addition to early identification of children with special needs. The practicum/field experiences for this course are in an inclusive K-3 setting. Practicum/field experience hours: 20. Fingerprint clearance required.

Course Description

This writing intensive course uses theories of child guidance and development for young children with and without exceptionalities as a basis for creating a safe and supportive classroom environment. Candidates create a classroom management plan and use student data to create a Behavioral Intervention Plan (BIP). The practicum/field experiences for this course are in an inclusive K-3 setting. Practicum/field experience hours: 20. Fingerprint clearance required.

Course Description

Teacher candidates spend time in an inclusive Birth-Pre-K setting observing, working with small groups of children with and without exceptionalities, and interviewing teachers. Emphasis will be placed on the management and guidance of young children, and child initiated learning. Special attention is given to the effect of children’s abilities, social and emotional needs, and characteristics on development and learning across the span of birth through age 2. The practicum/field experiences for this course are in a general education or inclusive Birth - Pre-K setting. Practicum/field experience hours: 60. Fingerprint clearance required.

Course Description

This course examines instructional methodologies for teaching children with and without exceptionalities with an emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) content instruction. Candidates develop a unit plan that incorporates all STEM components and use data to identify areas to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of individual students. The practicum/field experiences for this course are in an inclusive preschool-Grade 3 setting. Practicum/field experience hours: 20. Fingerprint clearance required.

Course Description

In this course, teacher candidates examine the fundamentals of the legal, historical, and educational foundations of Structured English Immersion (SEI) and other instructional programs for English language learners. Theoretical principles of language acquisition and the role of culture in learning are examined. Methods of assessment are identified and analyzed. Teacher candidates identify strategies to promote English language development and improve student achievement. Through Universal Design for Learning they plan, deliver, and evaluate standards-based instruction for English language learners. Practicum/field experience hours: 15. Fingerprint clearance required.

Course Description

This course examines instructional methodologies for teaching children with and without exceptionalities, emphasizing instruction in language arts, social studies, and the arts. Candidates consider the developmental continuum of literacy instruction based on student data and individual needs. The practicum/field experiences for this course are in an inclusive preschool-Grade 3 setting. Practicum/field experience hours: 20. Fingerprint clearance required.

Course Description

This course explores components of typical and atypical literacy development for children Birth to Age 8/Grade 3. Coursework emphasizes the science of reading and components of literacy development, including phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. Teacher candidates focus on assessing developmental and other literacy concerns, through differentiation strategies to support literacy learning in young children, including dyslexia. Practicum/field experience hours: 10. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: ECS-425 or ECE-120.

Course Description

Teacher candidates spend time in an inclusive setting observing and evaluating students with and without exceptionalities in the area of literacy. Elements of reading and writing instruction are examined as a part of instructional practice with a focus on assessment, intervention, and remediation. Teacher candidates will explore research-based instructional strategies and interventions to select, adapt, and implement instruction to advance the learning for all students. The process of implementing literacy intervention and remediation strategies to support readers of varying ages and ability levels, including students with dyslexia will be explored. Emphasis will be placed on identifying development as a part of the instructional design process, as well as partnering with families to promote development in young children. The practicum/field experiences for this course are in an inclusive Kindergarten to Grade 3 setting. Practicum/field experience hours: 40. Fingerprint clearance required.

Course Description

Session A is one of two 8 week sessions of the student teaching experience. Teacher candidates are engaged in the student teaching experience that includes practical classroom experiences, research, analysis, and teaching to support the creation of a Student Teaching Performance of Evaluation (STEP). Fingerprint clearance required.

Course Description

This course supports the early childhood special education clinical field experience through an eight-week full-time student teaching experience in a kindergarten through age 8/grade 3 early childhood special education classroom. Candidates are engaged in the student teaching experience that includes practical classroom experiences, research, analysis, and teaching to support the creation of an Individualized Education Program (IEP) Performance Template. Fingerprint clearance required.

Locations

GCU Campus Student


Join Grand Canyon University’s vibrant and growing campus community, with daytime classes designed for traditional students. Immerse yourself in a full undergraduate experience, complete with curriculum designed within the context of our Christian worldview.

GCU Online Student


Pursue a next-generation education with an online degree from Grand Canyon University. Earn your degree with convenience and flexibility with online courses that let you study anytime, anywhere.

* Please note that this list may contain programs and courses not presently offered, as availability may vary depending on class size, enrollment and other contributing factors. If you are interested in a program or course listed herein please first contact your University Counselor for the most current information regarding availability.

* Please refer to the Academic Catalog for more information. Programs or courses subject to change.

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