Educational Psychology

Undergraduate Program for Special Education

College of Education, Health, and Society

Undergraduate StudentsSpecial education is one of the fastest growing careers in the nation. In fact, more than 80 percent of the largest school districts in the country report an immediate need for special education teachers, and the number of children identified as having special needs increases every year.

Advantages of Miami's program:
  • You can graduate in four years and go immediately into a teaching position.
  • You can expect thorough preparation combined with personal attention. We offer small classes and lots of interaction with faculty members in and out of the classroom.
  • You'll be placed in real-world situations as early as your sophomore year and be mentored throughout the process as you first observe classrooms, then assist veteran teachers, then actually student teach. For more information, go to the College of Education, Health and Society's Office of Student Teaching and Field Experiences website.
  • You will learn strategies to incorporate technology in the classroom, with a particular emphasis on assistive technology.
  • A variety of out-of-classroom opportunities will allow you to grow personally and professionally. For example, we have an active student chapter of our field's primary professional organization, the Council for Exceptional Children. This provides a direct transition into professional life after graduation.
  • Miami offers many opportunities to become involved in service learning and undergraduate research.
  • Miami offers special programs for students interested in a career teaching in urban areas.

Program and license information

The Special Education major leads to a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education with an initial four-year educator license as an intervention specialist in mild-moderate special needs. The license allows you to teach in kindergarten through 12th grade.

The Mild-Moderate Intervention Specialist is an educator who has expertise in designing and implementing educational programs and services for children and youth needing mild to moderate support in the general education classroom and other educational settings.

How to apply

Admission to the special education licensure program is not automatic. It requires an application and the successful completion of several requirements. If there are more applicants than available spots, faculty will determine who is admitted.

Undergraduate Students

Application procedures:

Seeking admission to Miami as a first-year student and interested in special education?

You should declare special education as your field of interest on the Miami application. At orientation, you’ll receive additional information and your first-year advisor will provide assistance through the process.

Go here for information about how to apply to Miami.

Current student or transfer student?

When you begin classes in the fall, go to the Educational Psychology office at 201 McGuffey Hall and complete a pre-major application form. At that time, you’ll be assigned an advisor.

Students will be admitted to the special education program in the first semester of their sophomore year. Please note that a limited number of slots are available. Deadline for submission of materials is September 1st. Go here for information about how to apply to the special education program.

Requirements for admission to the program:
  • Minimum of 30 hours of coursework with a grade-point average of 2.75 or higher
  • Completion of EDP 201 and completion of or enrollment in EDP 256 and EDP 220 (EDP 220 - Fall only)
  • 100 hours of documented service work (volunteer or paid) with persons with disabilities
  • One-page essay. Write a one-page description of your current philosophy of and interest in educating learners with exceptionalities

For complete information on requirements and the application process, go here.


Ms. Molly Kelly-Elliott is departmental undergraduate advisor, and she describes Miami's special education program in the following video.

She will help you make sense out of your educational experiences and possibilities in special education.

Contact information:
Office: 201E McGuffey Hall
Phone: (513) 529-1711

What Students Say

What makes Miami's special education program special? Here's what students have to say:

"Miami has done an excellent job of preparing me to become a special educator through the professors and the field experiences in the schools. Because of this, special education has carved out a special place in my heart"
Heidi Kitsmiller

"The most helpful part about Miami special education is the well rounded group of required classes"
Melissa Burke

"Special education... allows you to be an advocate and a voice for people who need it most"
Katie Hale

"I love the other students I get to work with"
Katie Boyd

"The professors demonstrate such passion for what they teach. They are continually striving to improve special education for individuals and their families through effective teacher education as well as in their own professional lives"
Jamie Krakowski

"The special education program at Miami has provided me with excellent field experiences"
Lora Adair

"All of the professors care about students with disabilities and are passionate about the field."
Heather B.

"The professors in special education are approachable and hold a wide range of views"
Shannon M.

"The professors have always been very helpful. They enjoy meeting with students and advising us on problems we may encounter"

"The professors are very passionate about students with special needs and preparing pre-service teachers to also be passionate for their future students"
Rachel Gibson

"We have the opportunity to work with a diverse group of people who challenge and inspire us"


Can I enroll at Miami, choose a major in special education, graduate in four years and go straight to a teaching position without going to graduate school?
Yes. Miami's special education program is designed to allow our students to earn a degree in four years and go straight into a classroom position. There is a high demand for special education teachers and school districts actively recruit new graduates in special education. Our focus is preparing undergraduates for teaching careers though we do have an avenue for obtaining a Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology with an Educational Focus.

Our students appreciate being placed in real-world situations as early as their sophomore year, and continue through the senior year with student teaching and the senior capstone. These field experiences allow students to initially observe, eventually assist veteran teachers, implementing teaching methods presented in class; and tutor children in reading.

By graduation, special education majors have been gradually immersed in their future profession. There is mentoring and feedback each step of the way, and by the time a student teacher is put in charge of a classroom he or she is well prepared for the challenge.

I thought I had to get my master’s degree or enroll in a five-year program to get a teaching license.
No, when you complete Miami’s undergraduate program you are eligible for a two-year provisional license. That is the first step to becoming a teacher.

During that period of time, your school system will assign a veteran teacher to be your mentor and a trained Praxis III assessor (scroll further in the FAQ for an explanation of Praxis and teacher licensing) will visit your classroom to evaluate your work and help you improve.

When you pass Praxis III and take additional credit hours, you get your first five-year license. You can renew that five-year license one time before you have to obtain either a master’s degree or 30 additional semester hours.

I think I want to be a teacher, but I’m not sure.
We think teaching is a great career, but we also know it’s not for everyone. Our recommendation is that you visit your favorite former teachers when you are home for holidays and breaks. Ask if you can sit in on their classes or help them with something. Talk with them about their lives as teachers. In the sophomore year of the Special Education pre-major, just prior to applying to the major, students take a field experience class that assists in gaining the first understanding of how special education services are provided in public schools. This experience also provides and opportunity to confirm interest in the major.

What license will I obtain through the Special Education Program?
Once you have successfully completed the undergraduate program and passed the Praxis II, you are eligible for the State of Ohio Mild-Moderate license. This license permits you to teach children with mild to moderate disabilities in kindergarten through high school.

What is an intervention specialist?
Intervention specialist is just another term, somewhat more updated, for describing a special education teacher.

What does an intervention specialist do?
The role of an intervention specialist with a mild-moderate license can vary greatly. The role is largely determined by the needs, policy and philosophy of the hiring school district. An intervention specialist may have his/her own classroom where, during parts of the school day, children come to receive special instruction in a needed subject area, take a test in a modified presentation or receive assistance in a needed area of development or skill. An intervention specialist also travels to general education classrooms to collaborate with teachers in modifying instruction and providing in-class assistance and instruction to children. Some school districts utilize a co-teaching model, pairing a general education teacher with an intervention specialist. An intervention specialist could participate in all three of these models. Intervention specialists are collaborators, working with the team of people needed to meet the needs of individual students. The special education major at Miami prepares our students to work effectively in all of these settings.

Are there other licensure programs available at Miami?
Yes, Teacher Education offers both undergraduate and graduate programs in early childhood education, middle childhood education, and adolescent/ young adult education. Other Miami departments offer licensure programs in art and music.

What sets your programs apart from those of other universities?
In addition to being able to complete a licensure program as an undergraduate, your education coursework will help you learn to apply technology to your teaching. Our program provides a focus on issues of social justice and incorporates opportunities for service learning and undergraduate research.

When I’m admitted to Miami does that mean I am in your program?
You start out as a pre-major in the program you’re interested in and apply for the program at the beginning of your sophomore year. Admission to the cohort is competitive. Several factors determine admission to the cohort, including a cumulative G.P.A. of 2.75 or better, 100 documented service hours with children with disabilities (paid or volunteer), successful completion of three courses (EDP 201, EDP 256 and EDP 220) and a written essay describing your interest in the field. Since our pre-majors apply to the cohort sophomore year, we utilize GPA as an indicator of academic capability in lieu of Praxis I.

Cohort? What is a cohort?
The cohort is simply the group of students who take certain courses together. Typically, it is the group of students who applied during the same year. Cohort students often become close personally and professionally, even after graduation.

What testing is required?
The Ohio Assessments for Educators (OAE) tests are required for licensure in Ohio. For more information about Ohio Assessments for Educators, go here. 

Cohorts, Ohio Assessments for Educators, licensure programs—it all seems overwhelming. Will there be advisors to help me understand the process?
Absolutely. That’s an advantage to majoring in special education at a university where the department is focused on undergraduates. As a small program you will know the Program Advisor well and have close access to the faculty in the program.

Will I take all of the classes in my major with only other special education majors?
No. The majority of your major classes will be in educational psychology, but you will also take classes with general education majors from teacher education. You will take one block of classes in the middle childhood content area and several reading methods classes in teacher education. This provides a necessary understanding of general education curriculum and Ohio content standards, and establishes the groundwork for collaboration between the general education and special education.

What are career prospects like for graduates of Miami’s teacher education programs?
Our special education graduates are highly regarded. This, paired with the high demand for qualified special educators today, makes the transition from student to teacher an easy one. Our graduates have enjoyed a 100% placement rate for some time.
Miami provides a number of resources to students as they prepare to launch their careers, including a nationally recognized Office of Career Services. You’ll be able to participate in one of the largest collegiate career fairs in the nation, an internship fair, a teacher job fair, and have access to a full range of services, including information aimed specifically at education majors.

What about financial assistance?
The majority of Miami students receive financial assistance in the form of scholarships, grants, loans, or work/study employment and campus jobs. An important thing to remember when comparing the cost of schools is that more than 65 percent of Miami students graduate in four years or less (compared to 36.4 per cent nationally).

Prospective students should also be aware of Miami’s Access Initiative, which is designed to help make a Miami degree accessible to all academically qualified students. Any Ohio resident entering Miami’s Oxford campus as a first-time, full-time freshman will be considered for the scholarship program. Students must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by February 15, be eligible for federal aid, and have a total family income equal to or less than $35,000. For complete information about financial assistance visit Miami’s Office of Student Financial Assistance.

Can I graduate in four years?
Yes. Miami’s graduation rate is among the highest in the country for major public institutions.

Our program is designed to be completed in four years when followed according to the program of study. Academic advisors will assist in your course selection and program planning. Be aware that changing your major, adding a second major or deviating from the planned program could lengthen your time for completion.

A student who begins Miami as a pre-major in special education, who applies for and is admitted to a cohort during the sophomore year, and who does not add other majors, minors, or study abroad, should be able to finish the entire licensure program (including student teaching) in four years.

Can I combine a special education major with study abroad?
Yes. Miami is among the top 25 schools in the nation in the number of students who study abroad. Some students choose to complete their student teaching requirement by teaching in Belize or various locations in Europe or Australia. Many students choose Miami’s Luxembourg campus for overseas study, but a variety of additional international opportunities exist, such as a summer capstone in Europe. With early and careful planning many students are able to study abroad for a semester. Many summer options are also available.

Is it possible to complete a licensure program part time on a regional campus?
No. While all of the programs can be started on the regional campuses, all must be completed on the Oxford campus.

Is it possible to complete an alternative licensure program at Miami or take online courses for licensure?
This option is available at the post-baccalaureate level only, through our Special Education Online program, a hybrid program that provides most classes online with monthly Saturday face-to-face meetings and the provision of a mentor (a professional in the special education field) to meet and communicate with as you progress through the course work.

If I have further questions is there someone I can talk to in the Department of Educational Psychology before applying?
Call or email Dr. Leah Wasburn-Moses, program coordinator, at 513-529-6621 or for information.

Student Organizations

Best Buddies

Faculty advisor: Dr. Kathy McMahon-Klosterman ( 

The mission of Best Buddies, a non-profit international organization founded in 1989 by Anthony Kennedy Shriver, is to enhance the lives of people with intellectual disabilities by providing opportunities for one-to-one friendships and integrated employment. Miami’s chapter has about 75 members and received an “exceptional chapter” award in 2008.

Comparative Education Club (CEC)

Faculty advisor: Dr. Aimin Wang ( )

The CEC is primarily designed for the EDP Chinese Master Degree Cohort; however, both graduate and undergraduate students from any department are welcome to join and participate. Goals of the club are to increase cultural awareness and diversity within the Miami University community. Members will be provided opportunities to further their educational knowledge and experiences through activities such as seminars, guest speakers, group discussions and attending conferences.

Student Council for Exceptional Children (SCEC)

Faculty advisor: Dr. Sara Watt (, 513/529-6621

The SCEC is part of the Council for Exceptional Children's student division. SCEC provides professional development and leadership opportunities for pre-service special educators and provides services to individuals with exceptional learning needs in the community. Monthly meetings provide opportunities for interaction with fellow students and leaders in special education from the faculty and surrounding communities. Service projects will help involve students with individuals and groups in the surrounding area.


4 Paws for Ability at Miami (4 Paws Miami)

Faculty advisor: Molly Kelly-Elliott (, 513/529-1711


Below: Miami students at the  national CEC conference in Nashville. national conference


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