Bachelor of Science 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

The Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education degree at Grand Canyon University (GCU) is offered by the College of Education. This bachelor’s degree in early childhood special education can prepare aspiring teacher candidates to pursue a career devoted to helping young children (in birth through third grade classrooms) strive to reach their full potential as learners and community members. 

The early childhood special education degree online and on campus is approved by the Arizona Department of Education and accredited by the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC). Graduates are qualified to pursue a certification credential in Arizona that covers both the early childhood and early childhood special education content up to a third-grade classroom level.

Pursue Your Early Childhood Special Education Degree from GCU

The BS in Early Childhood Special Education degree online and on campus from GCU emphasizes the value of servant leadership and Christian ethics. Aspiring teacher candidates with an early childhood special education degree may pursue a career working with children during a critical period in their development. As a role model to young children up to third grade, you will be taught how to encourage young learners to embrace creativity, strive toward literacy and develop an enduring love of learning.

GCU supports a modern and diverse student body by offering this early childhood special education degree in both online and on campus modalities. This flexible learning option suits the needs of many students by allowing them the convenience of pursuing a degree while maintaining life’s busy schedule.

Get More Information

Loading Form

This dual bachelor’s degree combines the specializations of early childhood education and special education. As a teacher candidate, you will explore the education of children with and without exceptionalities, as well as concepts of child, family and community collaboration and advocacy.

When you graduate with an early childhood special education degree, you are positioned to pursue your initial teacher license in both general education and special education classrooms from birth to third grade. You will be provided with the necessary tools and resources to recognize the signs of developmental delays and disabilities, and work with families, schools and other stakeholders to meet the needs of these exceptional children.

The Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education degree program at GCU leads to initial teacher licensure. This program meets licensure requirements in most states, including Arizona. To check your state’s program eligibility, visit our state disclosure page. Upon completion of this dual degree program from GCU, teacher certification may be pursued. Licensure will require practicum hours, state exams, student teaching and an institutional recommendation from GCU. 

A program that leads to licensure is ideal for students who are looking to earn their initial teaching license and may already have a bachelor’s degree in a non-teaching field. 

“I have multiple staff members who've found their dream job through our partnership with GCU, who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to. At GCU, they can go to school and still maintain a job to provide for their family.”

Aubree Spencer National Partner and Principal in Michigan
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]

 

Skills Learned in an Early Childhood Special Education Degree Program 

Early childhood special education majors at GCU benefit from an in-depth and comprehensive curriculum that imparts knowledge and 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 in early childhood special education includes 190 practicum/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.

Career Options for Early Childhood Special Education Degree Program Graduates

This degree could equip you to work as a preschool special education teacher 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

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that 37,600 openings for special education teachers are projected each year, on average, over the decade from 2021 to 2031. Many of those openings are expected as a result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force.1

Early Childhood Special Education Degree FAQs

When pursuing any degree, you’re likely to have many questions. We’ve gathered a few of your most frequently asked questions below regarding our dual degree in early childhood special education online and on campus program. 

It is widely acknowledged that early childhood and special education are considered significant areas of expertise, as early identification and intervention are keys to a child’s success.2 Whether pursuing a degree in an early childhood special education degree online or on-campus program is worth it depends on several factors, including your personal goals, career aspirations and financial situation. Earning a degree in early childhood special education can be a worthwhile investment if you have a passion for helping young children with special needs and are committed to making a positive difference in their lives.

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 

Yes. GCU education programs, including this early childhood special education degree, are accredited and approved by the Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation (AAQEP). 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.

To become an early childhood special education teacher, you typically need to have at least a bachelor's degree in special education or a related field, along with a teaching certification or license from the state in which you plan to teach. Requirements for certification vary by state, but generally include passing a certification exam and completing a period of student teaching or a clinical experience. A bachelor's degree in early childhood special education can prepare you to work with children with a variety of disabilities and needs, including learning, physical and behavioral challenges. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, special education teachers have a median annual wage of $61,820 as of May 2021.4 

If seeking licensure or certification, applicants to the program are responsible for contacting their state department of education for licensure requirements and program approval. In addition, fingerprint and background clearance is required.

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 July 25, 2022. 

 2 Kilgo, Jennifer L. (2022)

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

 4 The earnings referenced were reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”), Special Education Teachers, as of May 2021, retrieved on Feb. 8, 2023. 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.

Course List

General Education Requirements:
34-40 credits
Major:
80 credits
Open Elective Credits:
0-6 credits
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

In this course, candidates identify the developmental milestones of children, prenatal to adolescence. Students examine the progression of these milestones in all areas of development, including psychological, social, emotional, linguistic, cognitive, and physical. Additional focus is placed on typical and atypical child development, and analyzing the effects of environment, trauma, and family dynamics on the development progression. Practicum/field experience hours: None. Fingerprint clearance not required.

Course Description

Teacher candidates are introduced to the educational needs of students with mild to moderate disabilities and their families, including the definitions, characteristics, prevalence, causes and educational approaches to these disabilities and disorders. Teacher candidates will identify cognitive, linguistic, social and emotional patterns of learning and development for students with mild to moderate disabilities. Teacher candidates also survey the special education process involving the application of various laws and regulations. Practicum/field experience hours: 5. Fingerprint clearance not required.

Course Description

This course examines practices of effective instructional planning specific to early childhood and early childhood special education. Students are introduced to instructional planning that is differentiated to meet various needs and ages of students. Students are introduced to instructional tools and strategies specifically focusing on Universal Design for Learning to enhance strategies in individualizing, differentiating, and designing lessons to support accommodations and modifications to assist young learners with and without exceptionalities. 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

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

This course is a survey of the Arizona constitution and government. It meets the teacher certification requirement for Arizona government.

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

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 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

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 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

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.

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

Teacher candidates spend time in an inclusive Birth-Preschool setting observing, interviewing teachers, and working with small groups of children with and without exceptionalities. 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 characteristics, abilities, and social-emotional needs on development and learning. Practicum/field experience hours: 40. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisites: ECS-210 and ECS-320.

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

Teacher candidates study the early stages of reading disabilities, including dyslexia. Emphasis is on assessment procedures in early childhood settings and methods of early intervention and remediation. Candidates will explore the collaboration with stakeholders in the use of formal and informal assessment data to support the diagnosis and remediation process in literacy. Candidates will examine research-based strategies to support literacy development. Prerequisite: ECS-430.

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

Teacher candidates spend time in an inclusive Kindergarten to Grade 3 setting observing, working with small groups, and teaching. Emphasis will be placed on individual education planning, implementing, and evaluating developmentally appropriate curricula, instruction, and adaptations based on knowledge of children with exceptionalities, the family, and the community. Special attention is placed on exceptionalities and medical conditions that influence care, resources, and priorities. The practicum/field experiences for this course are in an inclusive Kindergarten to Grade 3 setting. Practicum/field experience hours: 40. Fingerprint clearance not required. Prerequisite: ECS-462.

Course Description

Teacher candidates are engaged in substantial experiences with both early childhood and early childhood special education populations alongside appropriately certified mentors throughout this student teaching course that includes, but is not limited to, practical classroom experiences, research, analysis, and teaching to support the creation of a Student Teaching Evaluation of Performance (STEP) and an Individualized Education Program (IEP) Performance Template. Practicum/field experience hours: None. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisites: Successful completion of all courses in POS and content area; a 2.8 GPA; successful completion of NES or your state’s mandated content area exams; and approval and placement by College of Education Office of Clinical Practice. All paperwork for student teaching must be submitted by the due date the semester prior to student teaching.

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.

Scroll back to top