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.

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.
  • Advance standing may be granted for Bible/theology credits.
Boy during session with speech therapist learning letters

Typical Program Curriculum

Semester 30 Required Course Credits
Fall #1 SPE 661 Foundations of Special Education
SPE 721 ABA for Autism and Other Disabilities I
Spring #1 SPE 723 Interventions for Autism/Other Disabilities
SPE 764 Teaching Children with Lower Incidence Disabilities
Summer #1 SPE 714 Diagnosis & Evaluation of Exceptional Learner
SPE 791 Special Education Practicum I (1 credit)
SPE 792 Special Education Practicum II (2 credits)
 Fall #2 SPE 762 Developmental and Diagnostic Reading Interventions
SPE 763 Teaching Children with Higher Incidence Disabilities
Spring #2 SPE 761 Inclusionary Practices
Summer #2 EDU 781 Teaching Practicum (4-week student teaching)

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.
  • Qualifying teaching experience may reduce the number of practicum hours required per University approval
  • Students not residing within an hour from the Langhorne campus should first ensure they are able to meet additional placement criteria required for SPE 791, SPE 792, and EDU 781.


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, contact Kristina O’Connell, Admissions Counselor, at

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