Exceptional Student Service and Instruction (Special Education)

Undergraduate Major - 54-73 Credit Hours
Classes start every 8 weeks.
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Take the next step in education with the only university in Iowa that offers a major in special education and is the leading producer of special educators in the state.

Program Description:

BVU special education majors combine science, theory, and hands-on field and classroom experience while building a professional network of their own. Our teacher mentors have the real-life experience necessary to provide the knowledge required in classrooms today.

BVU offers all four endorsements within the major, or as independent endorsements:

  • Strategist I: Mild to moderate disabilities K-8: Teach students with mild to moderate disabilities in resource, inclusion, pull-out, and push-in models with students having exceptionalities in the area of mild to moderate disabilities.
  • Strategist II:
    • Option 1: Cognitive: Teach students with severe and profound cognitive or physical disabilities in grades K-12.
    • Option 2: Behavior/learning: Teach students with severe and profound behavior or learning disabilities in grades K-12.

Endorsements are also available as part of a unique plus 1 master’s degree, where students have the option of completing their bachelor’s degree in a teaching endorsement area, plus their master’s in special education in one additional year.

  • Council Bluffs
  • Creston
  • Denison
  • Estherville
  • Fort Dodge
  • Le Mars
  • Marshalltown
  • Mason City
  • Ottumwa
  • Spencer
  • West Burlington

Education Core

The education core, which is required of all students seeking a teaching license, is the nucleus of the teacher education program and includes basic courses in education and psychology. Elementary education majors, students seeking secondary licensure, and Post Baccalaureate students are required to take all EDCO courses for a letter grade and to earn a minimum grade of “C-“ in each course.

  • EDCO 240 Human Development: School Age Children or EDCO 241 Human Development: Adolescents
  • EDCO 245 Learning and Motivation: School Age Children or EDCO 246 Learning and Motivation: Adolescents
  • EDCO 255 Professional Seminar I and Field Experience: Learning and Motivation
  • EDCO 280 History of American Education
  • EDCO 290/291 Professional Seminar II and Field Experience: Human Relations
  • EDCO 300 Differentiated Instruction for Exceptional Learners
  • EDCO 301 Introduction to Exceptional Learners
  • EDCO 303 Differentiated Instruction for Diverse Learners
  • EDCO 390 Instructional Technology and Innovative Teaching

Exceptional Student Service and Instruction - Special Education Courses

  • ESSI 210 Special Education Law and Professional Practices
  • ESSI 220 Multidisciplinary Assessment and Evaluation
  • ESSI 230 Transitions and Self-Determination
  • ESSI 291 Professional Seminar II: Supervised Participation in Special Education
  • ESSI 303 Curriculum Development and Instruction
  • ESSI 304 Literacy Methods with Field Experience
  • ESSI 305 Mathematics Methods with Field Experience
  • ESSI 306 Methods for Teaching Students with Cognitive Disabilities
  • ESSI 307 Methods for Teaching Students with Behavioral Disabilities
  • ESSI 310 Behavior Interventions and Supports with Field Experience
  • TEAC 494 Professional Seminar III: Student Teaching - Elementary ESSI
  • TEAC 495 Professional Seminar III: Student Teaching - Secondary ESSI

Exceptional Student Service and Instruction - Support Work

  • EDUC 317 Foundations of Literacy
  • EDUC 342 Methods of Written Communications
  • EDUC 371 Methods of Data-Driven Literacy Instruction
  • EDUC 393 Elementary Math Methods & Field Experience
  • EXSC 321 Adapted Physical Education

Exceptional Student Service and Instruction - Areas of Specialization

In addition to this, students who complete the ESSI major may elect to complete an area of specialization listed below or complete a minor with teaching licensure in a content area. These are completed in an internship model with assigned academic and field work.

Exceptional Student Service and Instruction - Autism Spectrum Disorders Specialization

  • ESSI 320 Characteristics of Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • ESSI 321 Assessments of Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • ESSI 322 Instructional Strategies for Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • ESSI 323 Transition and Self-Determination for Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • ESSI 324 Field Experience and Portfolio in Working with Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Exceptional Student Service and Instruction - Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

  • ESSI 330 Characteristics of Learners with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
  • ESSI 331 Assessments of Learners with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
  • ESSI 332 Instructional Strategies for Learners with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
  • ESSI 333 Transition and Self-Determination for Learners with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
  • ESSI 334 Field Experience and Portfolio in Working with Learners with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

Exceptional Student Service and Instruction - Intellectual Disabilities

  • ESSI 340 Charasteristics of Learners with Intellectual Disabilities
  • ESSI 341 Assessments of Learners with Intellectual Disabilities
  • ESSI 342 Instructional Strategies for Learners with Intellectual Disabilities
  • ESSI 343 Transition and Self-Determination for Intellectual Disabilities
  • ESSI 344 Field Experience and Portfolio in Working with Learners with Intellectual Disabilities

Exceptional Student Service and Instruction - Learning Disabilities

  • ESSI 350 Characteristics of Learners with Learning Disabilities
  • ESSI 351 Assessments of Learners with Learning Disabilities
  • ESSI 352 Instructional Strategies for Learners with Learning Disabilities
  • ESSI 353 Transition and Self-Determination for Learners with Learning Disabilities
  • ESSI 354 Field Experience and Portfolio in Working with Learners with Learning Disabilities

Exceptional Student Service and Instruction - Multiple Disabilities

  • ESSI 360 Characteristics of Learners with Multiple Disabilities
  • ESSI 361 Characteristics of Learners with Multiple Disabilities
  • ESSI 362 Instructional Strategies for Learners with Multiple Disabilities
  • ESSI 363 Transition and Self-Determination for Learners with Multiple Disabilities
  • ESSI 364 Field Experience and Portfolio in Working with Learners with Multiple Disabilities

Exceptional Student Service and Instruction - Physical Disabilities

  • ESSI 370 Characteristics of Learners with Physical Disabilities
  • ESSI 371 Assessments of Learners with Physical Disabilities
  • ESSI 372 Instructional Strategies for Learners with Physical Disabilities
  • ESSI 373 Transition and Self-Determination for Learners with Physical Disabilities
  • ESSI 374 Transition and Self-Determination for Learners with Physical Disabilities
Admissions criteria for the Exceptional Student Service and Instruction (Special Education) program

BVU's degree completion programs are classified as junior-senior level. Persons who have completed an associate degree or 60 credit hours from a regionally accredited institution qualify for admission. College level examination program credits (CLEP) and life experience credit may be available as described in the academic section. 

Admissions process for the Exceptional Student Service and Instruction (Special Education) program
  • Although personal interviews are not required, applicants are urged to confer with an advisor.
  • Request that official transcript(s) from each college or university previously attended be sent to BVU. Without official transcripts and records, a student will not be allowed to register beyond the initial semester.
  • Complete the BVU Degree Completion Application
  • If you will be applying for financial assistance including student loans, complete the Free Application for Federal Financial Student Aid (FAFSA) at www.fafsa.gov.
  • Students who have previously earned a B.A. or B.S. degree may be eligible to earn a second bachelor’s degree from Buena Vista University.

Tuition & Fees

BVU offers a quality, affordable education, and our financial specialists are here to help as you navigate the costs of your educational investment so you can move forward with your career.

Financial Aid

BVU's Institution code: 001847

Don't miss the opportunity for financial aid. Fill out the FAFSA at fafsa.gov and use BVU's institution code.

The G.I. Bill & Yellow Ribbon Program

All Buena Vista University programs are approved for the G.I. Bill and Yellow Ribbon Program.

Federal Teach Grant

The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program provides up to $4,000 per year in grants for graduate and undergraduate students who intend to teach full-time in high-need subject areas for at least four years at schools that serve students from low-income families. Students must meet all eligibility requirements.

Get full details on the TEACH Grant and learn how to apply

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