Special Education

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Programs of study

Bachelor Degree


The Department of Special Education has created a unique program designed to meet the needs of a variety of learners with a variety of disabilities, at risk for disabilities, and those with specific reading disabilities such as Dyslexia -- the Intervention Specialist Program. The Intervention Specialist Program combines special education preparation at the undergraduate level and special reading education at the graduate level. It also includes mathematics content knowledge and methods. All of this preparation is to ensure that individuals with specific learning needs and diverse abilities entitled to a free and appropriate quality education utilizing specialized teaching receive it at all age levels.

Upon completion of the program students will:

  • Earn a Bachelor of Science in special education.

  • Earn a Master's of Science in special education.

  • Be prepared to sit for the examinations required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for Special Education as well as Reading Specialist Certification.

Requirements | Maps | Outcomes | Intervention Special Info


The School of Education offers a program of study which will provide students interested in working with students with disabilities dual certification in special education and early childhood education. Students completing this program are qualified to teach in special education programs (K-8) and early childhood programs from pre-K to Grade 4. Graduates may also find employment in special education infant stimulation and pre-school programs.

Requirements | Maps | Outcomes


Students enrolled in the middle level program are qualified to teach students in Grades 4-8 in concentration areas identified below.

A fifth year of graduate school prepares students for special education opportunities working with students who have disabilities in grades Pre K-8 or 7-12 depending upon if they are seeking middle level or secondary certification.

Master Degree


As indicated the intervention specialist program as it's known on campus is designed to prepare a new professional for the commonwealth's schools. The program combines special education, special reading education, as well as mathematics content knowledge, to ensure that individuals with special learning needs and diverse abilities entitled to a free, appropriate quality education utilizing specialized teaching, receive it at all age levels.

Upon completion of the program students will;

  • Earn a Bachelor of Science in special education

  • Earn a Master of Science in special education

  • Be prepared to sit for the certification examination for special education as well as reading specialist certification.

Requirements | Maps | Outcomes


The Master's of Education with a concentration of special education program is primarily designed for individuals who possess a teaching certificate in some other area and wish to add a special education teaching certificate while also receiving a master's degree.

  • Students who presently hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited program may pursue the master's degree while completing additional course work leading to Pennsylvania certification in the area of special education.

  • The student's advisor will individually determine the specific course work for certification after a review of the student's past course work and experience.

Requirements | Maps | Outcomes


The M.S. in special education is designed for those individuals who currently hold special education certification and desire to increase their knowledge of students with disabilities and special education services.

  • Candidates are offered courses covering the latest in advanced special education theory, knowledge, skills and critical thinking.
  • Degree coursework goes well beyond the scope of initial special education licensure programs.
  • The program is offered in an online seven-week semester format.
  • The one research methods course is offered in a 15-week semester format.

Requirements | Maps | Outcomes



A minor allows students to add an area of interest by taking an additional 18-21 credits. The special education department has a number of these programs.

  • Minor in Diagnosis & Intervention Strategies for Students with Mathematical Disabilities - This minor is designed to provide educators in-depth knowledge of students with specific learning disabilities, as well as a variety of alternative methods to meet the instructional needs of students with disabilities or at risk for academic failure in mathematics. Requirements
  • Minor in Special Education - The minor in Special Education is designed for those individuals who want more information about service delivery for students with disabilities, but do not want certification. Requirements
  • Minor in Disability Studies - Disability is an increasingly important aspect of many careers. All environments must take into account the diversity of the populations they serve and be prepared to consider issues of accommodations, inclusion and accessibility. Students with an interdisciplinary background in disability studies will have a crucial skill set desired by employers and are prepared to work with a wide variety of people and build skills in creating inclusive, accessible settings.

The Department of Special Education at Clarion University has been a leader in the field for more than 50 years. Through scholarship, teaching and service, the department has disseminated innovative practices for both pre-service and in-service professionals. We have a variety of majors, minors and certificates in our department to prepare students for fulfilling careers in the field.

New Competent Learner Model (CLM) and Applied Behavior Analysis training embedded into our curriculum in the undergraduate and graduate level degrees making you more marketable to fill the education workforce needs. You will leave this program as a fully competent behavioral educator.

The curriculum focuses on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) which guides students to develop programming or instruction that uses effective teaching procedures while managing maladaptive behaviors.

  • Conducting behavioral assessments
  • Analyzing data
  • Writing and revising behavior-analytic treatment plans
  • Training others to implement components of treatment plans
  • Overseeing the implementation of treatment plans

Clarion University is the only university within a two-hour radius offering courses in Applied Behavior Analysis that allows its students to sit for certification once Clarion receives Verified Course Sequence status from the Behavior Analysis Certification Board.  Competent Learner Model (CLM) courses prepare students to address complex, interrelated needs in most learning environments.  There are increasing numbers of students with autism and other significantly complex learning and behavioral challenges.  In addition, schools and other learning environments are in need of multi-disciplinary teams (MDTs) to work together to design and deliver evidence-based interventions with reliability.  Having these courses embedded in the undergraduate education degree prepares our graduates to address these workforce needs.

HIGH NEED:  There are currently a total of 1,197 BCBAs and BCaBAs in Pennsylvania.  Internationally there are 23,674 BCBAs and on 2,7389 BCaBAs.  The current infrastructure of those trained in ABA in Pennsylvania will not be able to sustain the current caseloads within the County systems.  There is expected to be an influx of those needing to become trained and potentially certified in ABA.

Career Outlook

The job market for special educators will continue to be favorable through 2026 (Best Choice Schools). Special Educators work with students with a variety of disabling conditions (Dyslexia, Learning Disabilities, Autism, Behavior Disorders, physical disabilities etc.) in various settings such as schools, hospitals, private schools and even prisons.  Students who graduate from our Special Education PreK-8/7-12 with Reading  Specialists program are in high demand and many are hired before they graduate.

The Statistics:

  • 49 states report a shortage of special education teachers including Pennsylvania
  • 82% of special education teachers report that there are not enough professionals to meet the needs of students with disabilities
  • 51% of all school districts and 90% of high poverty school districts report difficulty attracting highly qualified special education teachers

    Special Education Personnel Shortages Factsheet


As a student in any of Clarion's Special Education Programs, you are in field experiences from your very first semester.  If you pursue the M.S. Special Education (Intervention Specialist program) you will be able to obtain three certifications and will have three field placements. 

Teachers coming from the Intervention Specialist program are seasoned beyond their years of experience.  Using data the Intervention Specialist teacher solves problems pulling from a multitude of interventions in order to continue student growth. Other faculty recognize their skills and seek them out for help.  They quickly demonstrate themselves as leaders that establish growth and adapt to the challenges of learning for each student. - Joy Zuck, Oil City Area School District

Teacher shortage areas

Pennsylvania Statewide Academic Disciplines/Subject Matter


Rick Sabousky Ph.D.
Department Chair
107 SPED Annex

(814) 393-2294 Office

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Erin Neely

Erin Neely is one of two Clarion students to receive the prestigious 2017 George O'Neil Scholarship. Her dedication to the field of special education hasn't gone unnoticed, serving in student organizations and volunteering to help the disabled.

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Aubrey Monte

Aubrey Monte is one of two Clarion students to receive the prestigious 2017 George O'Neil Scholarship. Her commitment to academics and pertinent extracurriculars hasn't stopped her from volunteering to help the disabled in a variety of capacities.



Last Updated 7/1/19