Undergraduate Special Education Program

The Special Education program will prepare you to teach: 

  • All subjects, grades PK-3 and/or grades 3-6.
  • Special education in grades K-12
  • Special education programs for children and adults with disabilities up to age 26

PLEASE NOTE: In Fall 2021, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) established new certification structures for teachers. If you began your Special Education program prior to Fall 2021, please refer to the Elementary Special Education Program. If you began a Special Education program in Fall 2021 or later, please refer to the current Special Education Program (for students beginning Fall 2021 or later)

Incoming students in Fall 2021 who are interested in teaching Special Education will now double major with the Special Education major (your Education coursework) and the PCKET major (your content area coursework).

Special Education Major

Special Education Major

Students seeking Special Education teacher certification complete the PCKET major, as well as an additional major in Special Education through the College of Education and Community Innovation. Successful completion of both the PCKET major and the Special Education major certifies the student to teach all subjects kindergarten through grade 5, Special Education endorsement areas Kindergarten through 12th grade, and Special Education programs for adults with disabilities up to age 26. This major offers courses that meet the Michigan Administrative Rules for Special Education teacher preparation.

You will select two of the following focus areas for your program:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Cognitive Impairment
  • Emotional Impairment
  • Learning Disabilities


To earn Elementary Teacher Certification (needed for Special Education), all GVSU students must complete the Special Education major through the College of Education and Community Innovation, and the PCKET (Pedagogical Content Knowledge for Elementary Teaching) major through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. This double major program offers courses that meet Michigan Department of Education Standards for the Preparation of Teachers of Lower and/or Upper Elementary Education.

In the PCKET major, students learn content and pedagogy in the academic disciplines that are taught in an elementary curriculum: English language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, fine arts, and health and physical education. PCKET faculty engage students in discipline-specific teaching and learning, opportunities for research and scholarly activity in the disciplines, experiences in area classrooms and in the community, and study abroad programs.

PCKET with Special Education Advising Guides

Elementary Special Education:

See the Advising Guide for PCKET & Educational Studies Majors for additional information. Please consult with your advisor for assistance with scheduling classes and navigating the PCKET degree.

Birth to Kindergarten Special Education:

Birth to Kindergarten (B-K) program for General and Special Education

If you are looking to teach Young Children (Birth to Kindergarten) in both general and special education settings, please see the information page for the Birth to Kindergarten (B-K) program for General and Special Education.

Content Areas (select two)

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Cognitive Impairment

Emotional Impairment

Learning Disabilities


Courses may be viewed on the Education programs' Course List page.

Information on the courses for each subject area can be found by searching GVSU's Catalog.

Page last modified March 28, 2024