Online Special Education Certification

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Maximize your capacity to work with students with special needs and significantly impact their lives.

This fully online, biblically integrated program equips educators with expert knowledge and best practices to competently engage students with special needs in enriched and meaningful skill development and growth in all areas of life. Special education (SPED) certified teachers are in high demand in both inclusive and more restrictive classrooms.

This program, designed only for individuals holding valid teaching certification, can be a stand-alone program or a part of the MS in Special Education degree in Instruction.

At a glance

Program Credits


Standard Completion Time

2 yrs

Program Highlights

  • Program can be started in any semester and completed in as few as six semesters, including two summers.
  • PA Special Education Certification and ACSI Special Education certificate available for qualified individuals; certification from other states may be possible. See below for details.
  • 50% tuition discount for educators working in Christian schools.
  • Field experience integrated into multiple courses.
  • 30 credits.
Boy during session with speech therapist learning letters

Typical Program Curriculum

Semester 30 Required Credits1
Fall #1 SPE 721 ABA for Autism and Other Disabilities I (S1)2
SPE 661 Foundations of Special Education (S2)
Spring #1 SPE 764 Teaching Children with Lower Incidence Disabilities (S1)
SPE 723 Interventions for Autism/Other Disabilities (S2)
Summer #1 SPE 763 Teaching Children with Higher Incidence Disabilities (S1)
 Fall #2 SPE 761 Teaching Children with Higher Incidence Disabilities
SPE 762 Developmental and Diagnostic Reading Interventions
Spring #2 SPE 791 Special Education Practicum I (1 cr.) (2 weeks/60 hours)
SPE 714 Diagnosis & Evaluation of Exceptional Learner (S2)
Summer #2 SPE 792 Special Education Practicum II (2 cr.) (3 weeks/90 hours)
EDU 781 Student Teaching (4 weeks)
1Effective Fall 2019, if prerequisite of 3 credits or 90 hours on instructional needs of English Language Learners not met prior to entering program, must take TSL 611 in first year.
2S1 = first 7-week session; S2 = second 7-week session

Additional Information

  • Upon completion of this program, students receive a document of completion which should not be considered as certification. Students are also eligible to apply to ACSI for a Special Education certificate if additional ACSI requirements are met.
  • Individuals holding PA-issued teaching certification are also eligible for PK-8 or 7-12 PA Special Education certification if they also pass Special Education PECT modules for the appropriate grade band.
  • Teachers certified by another state are not eligible for PA Special Education Certification. However, if all coursework necessary for state certification is completed, they may qualify to meet their state’s special education certification requirements but are advised to check with their state’s Department of Education.
  • Completion of this program does not lead to Special Education certification other than the aforementioned certification from PA or other states or ACSI certificate for eligible individuals.


To enter the program, the candidate will:

  • Apply and complete Cairn University’s Graduate Program enrollment process
  • Hold a bachelor’s degree (with a cumulative GPA of 3.0) from an accredited undergraduate institution and submit proof in the form of official transcripts
  • Hold valid teaching certification and submit acceptable proof including state or government-issued teaching certification or ASCI teaching certificate. Other teaching certificates are subject to University evaluation

To complete the program, the candidate will:

  • Successfully complete all required coursework with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0
  • Successfully complete all practicums and student teaching

For more information about the online Special Education Certification, email

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