Special Education Certificate Online (Mild to Moderate)

Graduate Certificate of Completion: Special Education, Mild to Moderate

Offered By: College of Education

Explore Practices for Empowering Mild to Moderate Special Education Students

If you have an active, state-issued teaching license or certification and have a desire to increase your effectiveness as a special education teacher, consider earning a special education certificate online from Grand Canyon University. The Graduate Certificate of Completion: Special Education, Mild to Moderate can help prepare you to complete the requirements associated with the Special Education Mild/Moderate Disabilities endorsement from the Arizona Department of Education. Some states may require additional coursework, exams and/or clearances for licensure or certification.

During this program, you’ll have opportunities to equip yourself with evidence-based instructional methodologies for working with students with exceptionalities. You’ll explore methods of teaching mathematics and language arts, and for fostering positive and productive learning environments for students with a range of exceptionalities. Pursue your passion for empowering students.

Earn Your Mild to Moderate Special Education Certificate Online From GCU

GCU’s online mild to moderate special education certificate program is tailored to teach you specialized skills in educating students with exceptionalities. This program offers a comprehensive curriculum with a focus on best practices in student assessments and research-based instructional strategies. Whether you're a working professional or a busy individual, our online coursework can provide the convenience and flexibility to enhance your academic qualifications while meeting your current work commitments.1

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Coursework Offered in This Special Education Certificate 

GCU is committed to providing you with specific coursework that can have the potential to empower you as an educator and help you advocate for those with mild to moderate exceptionalities. You will be taught to support students and their families as they navigate special education services, and to provide individualized learning experiences that meet the students’ needs. 

Throughout this special education certificate program, you will explore a diverse range of content areas, including:

  • Professional practice standards, laws and regulations that apply to special education
  • The use of diagnostic and assessment tools
  • Creating safe, inclusive and culturally responsive learning environments to foster students' well-being and academic progress
  • Typical and atypical language development, their associated disabilities and the use of accommodations
  • Research-based instructional strategies in mathematics and language arts

Skills and Concepts You Will Be Taught In This Online Program

This special education certificate is designed to encourage you to develop as an education professional. Throughout the program, you will be taught:

  • Global awareness
  • A high standard of professional ethics and responsibility
  • To promote the continuous development of each student, with consideration for personal backgrounds, values and experiences

Career Paths With a Mild to Moderate Special Education Certificate

This special education certificate online can prepare graduate-level teachers to support their students with mild to moderate exceptionalities. 

This certificate can provide professionals who already hold an active, state-issued teaching license or certification with opportunities to work toward developing competencies in working with special education students. Teachers who focus on special education may be able to pursue positions such as:

  • Preschool or kindergarten special education teacher
  • Elementary special education teacher
  • Middle or high school special education teacher
  • Special education teaching assistant 

Throughout GCU’s online special education certificate program, you will study specific skills and concepts that can help you empower, instruct and care for your students with high-incident disabilities. These are disabilities more commonly found in the population.2 Most high-incidence disabilities do not inhibit the students’ ability to participate in inclusive educational settings, though some students may require more personalized, self-contained assistance.

You will be taught to support students with learning needs, including those with:

  • Communication disorders (speech and language impairments)
  • Specific learning disabilities
  • Mild/moderate intellectual disabilities
  • Emotional or behavioral disorders
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Autism spectrum disorder

Institutionally Accredited Education Certificate Programs

In all our academic offerings, GCU prioritizes excellence in education and exceptional instruction. As a Higher Learning Committee (HLC) accredited university, we’re dedicated to preparing learners to tackle current challenges while embracing future opportunities. If you seek a comprehensive curriculum and a dedication to quality education, we welcome you to join our online learning community.

Mild to Moderate Special Education Certificate Online Program FAQs

You may find working with students who have exceptionalities to be a fulfilling and rewarding endeavor. However, before choosing the best path for your career, you may wish to do some career-related research. The following frequently asked questions and answers can offer a starting point.

Individuals with mild learning disabilities often maintain high levels of independence and can function socially. They are also able to acquire practical life skills and function in everyday life. However, they do display some developmental progress that is slower than typical and their comprehension may be impaired.3

Those with moderate learning difficulties may require more support for daily tasks. Moderate exceptionalities may include observable delays in speech or motor skill development and may include physical impairments. However, individuals with moderate disabilities are still generally able to perform self-care tasks and execute basic communication. They can exhibit a degree of independence, although they will likely need more support and individualized instruction than a person without exceptionalities.3

GCU’s special education certificate online requires a total of 18 credits for completion. Most of the online courses are six weeks in length. To better understand how long it might take you to earn your graduate certificate, you can fill out the form on this page and request a consultation with a university counselor.

Educators who have at least three years of verified full-time teaching experience in pre-K-12 (public or private settings) who wish to obtain the Special Education Mild/Moderate Endorsement from the AZ Department of Education may wish to consider this special education certificate. Working professionals with qualified teaching experience may also benefit from this certificate, which may allow you to continue to work while enhancing your academic credentials.

If you’re already a licensed or certified teacher, you may decide that you’d like to shift to or strengthen your focus on mild to moderate special education. A graduate certificate in special education can allow you to take a closer look at the developmental issues and needs of children with exceptionalities, and how best to connect with them in the classroom. Special education competencies may form the basis for pursuing a career as a special education teacher from preschool through high school.

Mild to moderate special education involves students with mild to moderate disabilities or exceptionalities. These mild to moderate students generally require some extra support and more individualized instruction, as well as some accommodations. Moderate to severe special education involves students with moderate to severe disabilities or disorders. These students typically need more support and extra help compared to mild to moderate students. For example, a student with a severe learning disability may require close supervision and display significant developmental delays, whereas a student with mild to moderate disabilities may be able to progress in the classroom with minimal daily-life interventions.3

If you’re interested in supporting students with moderate to severe exceptionalities, GCU’s Graduate Certificate of Completion: Special Education Moderate to Severe may be right for you.

Public school teacher requirements typically include a bachelor's degree, state licensure and, in some cases, special education-specific endorsements or programs.4 Each state establishes its own requirements for teacher licensure or certification, including requirements for special education teachers. If you are already a licensed or certified teacher and you wish to focus on special education, a graduate certificate may help you prepare to pursue this path.4

Pursue your passion for working to ensure that all students have access to the education they deserve. Fill out the form on this page to learn more about earning a special education certificate online at GCU.

TOTAL PROGRAM CREDITS & COURSE LENGTH:
Total Credits: 18
Online: 6 weeks
[More Info]
TRANSFER CREDITS:
The University will accept one course of the total certificate requirements in transfer.
PROGRAM TUITION RATE:
Online: $590 per credit [More Info]

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 Excluding observational and practice-based experiences, and student teaching.

2 Powers, Chloe (2023, July 21). Education And Disability: What Is A High Incidence Disability? Disability Help. Retrieved on Oct. 17, 2023. 

3 Gluck, S. (2022, Jan. 16). Mild, moderate, severe intellectual disability differences. HealthyPlace. Retrieved Oct. 12, 2023. 

4 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2023, Sept. 6). How to become a special education teacher. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved Oct. 12, 2023.

If you have questions specific to GCU and our graduate certificate in special education online, Request Info below and you will be contacted shortly.

Course List

Major:
18 credits
Degree Requirements:
18 credits

Core Courses

Course Description

Teacher candidates survey professional ethical principles, professional practice standards, law and regulations that guide special educators. Teacher candidates build upon the foundational knowledge to understand the multiple roles and complex situations of professional practice that require attention to a variety of legal, professional, and ethical issues. Practicum/field experience hours: 6. Fingerprint clearance not required. Prerequisite: SPD-500 or approved enrollment in the Graduate Certificate of Completion: Special Education, Mild to Moderate.

Course Description

Teacher candidates will investigate diagnostic and assessment tools. Teacher candidates will build foundational knowledge regarding the use of multiple methods of assessment and data-sources for diagnostic and educational decisions for individuals with mild to moderate disabilities. Practicum/field experience hours: 6. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: SPD-500 or SPD-502 or approved enrollment in the Graduate Certificate of Completion: Special Education, Mild to Moderate or approved enrollment in the Graduate Certificate in Learning Behavior Specialist 1 (LBS 1).

Course Description

Teacher candidates examine how to create safe, inclusive, culturally responsive learning environments through collaboration with colleagues so that individuals with disabilities become active and effective learners and develop emotional well-being, positive social interactions, and self-determination. Teacher candidates focus on behavior management, functional behavior assessments, adaptive behaviors, positive behavior interventions and supports, and behavior improvement plans. Practicum/field experience hours: 9. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: SPD-500 or approved enrollment in the Graduate Certificate of Completion: Special Education, Mild to Moderate.

Course Description

Teacher candidates explore components of typical and atypical literacy development for students with exceptionalities. Coursework emphasizes research-based phonics development and the science of reading, including phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension. Teacher candidates focus on assessing developmental and other literacy concerns, including dyslexia, and differentiation strategies to support literacy development in students with exceptionalities. Practicum/field experience hours: 9. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: SPD-510 or ESD-530.

Course Description

Teacher candidates build foundational knowledge on a variety of research-based instructional strategies to encourage individuals with mild to moderate disabilities to develop understandings and connections within content areas, and to build skills to apply knowledge in meaningful ways. From this foundational knowledge, teacher candidates select, adapt and use research-based instructional strategies and interventions in academic and specialized curricula to advance the learning of students with mild to moderate disabilities with focused attention upon mathematics. Practicum/field experience hours: 12. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: SPD-550 or ESD-530 or approved enrollment in the Graduate Certificate of Completion: Special Education, Mild to Moderate.

Course Description

Teacher candidates explore the language processing requirements of proficient reading and writing, including explicit, systematic, cumulative, and multisensory instruction that integrates listening, speaking, reading, and writing. In addition, disabilities, such as dyslexia, are reviewed to understand how they affect the acquisition of reading skills and how they vary in presentation and degree. Teacher candidates select, adapt, and use research-based instructional strategies and interventions in academic and specialized curricula to advance the learning for all students, including those with mild to moderate disabilities, with attention focused on literacy and reading. Practicum/field experience hours: 12. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisites: (SPD-550 and SPD-578) or approved enrollment in the Graduate Certificate of Completion: Special Education, Mild to Moderate.

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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