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B.A. in Special Education

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Special Education

Cornerstone’s special education major prepares you to teach all learners, value each individual and empower them to live into God’s plan for their lives.

Through your special education program with a learning disabilities emphasis, you will be prepared to teach special education in a K-12 setting. At Cornerstone, our special education majors are also trained to be certified in teaching within a general classroom setting in grades PK-3 and grades 3-12.

Degree Type

  • Bachelor of Arts


  • On-Campus


  • Grand Rapids

A Commitment to
Every Student

The special education major is a rigorous program for students who are driven by the desire to see others succeed. By learning and understanding the intricacies of neuro-diverse brains, you will be able to equip all learners. On top of that, your courses are taught from a Christ-centered perspective.

When you graduate from this program, you’ll be equipped to obtain your K-12 Special Education Endorsement. Additionally, your courses and field experience in this program will prepare you to test for your general elementary education certifications in either grades PK-3, 3-12 or both, providing you with flexibility and choice to teach in various settings.


Careers in special education are numerous. Here are some career opportunities for program graduates.


  • Inclusion teacher
  • General education teacher
  • Special education resource teacher
  • Self-contained special education teacher
  • Teacher consultant

Special Education Field Experiences

Each student in the special education major takes part in a student teaching practicum as part of their studies.

Special education majors graduate with a variety of placements in K-12 settings, which include public, charter and private schools in the Grand Rapids area.


Of graduates passed the MTTC LD State Certification test the first time.


Of special education students in 2019 were employed or enrolled in graduate school within six months of graduation.


Dual certification makes you highly marketable.

Course List

Special education students can expect to take well-rounded courses in education with concentrations in learning methods.

EDU-233 Foundations of Exceptional Learners & Clinical Experience

This course addresses the foundations of teaching students with exceptional needs. Topics include a common understanding of disabilities in children, including etiology, characteristics and classification, educational legislation, state-specific guidelines, and the collaboration between general and special educators.

This course introduces the IEP process and accommodations for students with disabilities. These topics are addressed through a Christian worldview lens valuing each individual created in the image of God. Additionally, students will complete a field experience in a local educational environment, which will allow them to observe and analyze course content in a school setting.

EDU-328 Learner-centered Assessment

Teacher candidates will use ongoing systematic observation, documentation, screening tools and other appropriate formative and summative assessment tools, and approaches embedded in assessment-related activities in curriculum and daily routines.

Candidates will use a team-based, problem-solving approach using data to identify struggling learners early to improve student outcomes.

Candidates will be able to describe the roles and responsibilities of other building and district professionals in the PK-12 school system (e.g., early childhood specialists, school psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, speech and language pathologists, physical therapists, school counselors, reading specialists, and bilingual or English as a second language educator).

Candidates will also understand their role as participants in developing, enacting, and assessing an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and 504 plan.

Prerequisite: Conditional Status and EDU-233

EDU-335 Teaching the Exceptional Learner & Clinical Experience

This course focuses on instructional approaches, strategies and materials for addressing the academic needs of students with disabilities. Students will learn how to use data to make instructional decisions and monitor student growth in the academic content areas.

Teacher candidates will use evidence-based teaching methods related to literacy instruction for students with reading disabilities (e.g., dyslexia, language-based learning disabilities) in guidelines for instruction and intervention. Emphasis is on applying an understanding of the English language and reading development to the implementation of structured literacy instruction.

Prerequisite: Conditional Status & EDU-233

Clinical Experience

Prospective teachers spend a minimum 10 hours in inclusive elementary, middle or secondary classrooms. Emphasis is placed on observation and participation related to the application and content in EDU-335, including examing curricula content, effective teaching strategies, collaboration, accommodations and modifications.

EDU-338 Assessment and Diagnosis of Exceptional Learners

This course will take the student from the beginning stages of the special education referral process through placement qualification. Teacher candidates will be introduced to a variety of assessment tools, basic interpretation of data and a framework for reporting information. Students will develop an understanding of the team approach to diagnosis and learn the components of collaborative planning. Students will gain knowledge of assessment as it relates to an individual education program.

Prerequisite: Professional Status and EDU-233

EDU-364 Equitable and Inclusive Education

This course will consider the reality of diversity in the classroom and provide instructional theories and strategies to help the teacher candidates respond to the challenges that accompany this diversity. Issues relating to diverse populations include socioeconomic and cultural considerations, at-risk, and ethnic and racial groups.

These topics will be studied within the context of a Christian worldview, with particular attention to issues of inclusion, equity and individual worth. Teacher candidates will learn how to build inclusive learning environments using the Universal Design for Learning approach, brain-based strategies, and other evidence-based strategies that engage and empower all learners.

Prerequisite: Conditional Status

EDU-365 Equitable and Inclusive Education Clinical Experience

This course is designed to extend learning from EDU-364 through a clinical experience that brings teacher candidates into urban settings and provides an opportunity to apply their developing understanding and knowledge of diverse populations.

EDU-434 Special Education Practicum & Seminar

This course is a school-based apprenticeship that allows observation, participation and analysis of the teaching and learning process in a Special Education classroom under the supervision of a practicing professional. Students will complete 180 hours in a local school district.

Prerequisite: Professional status and all Special Education courses completed

Want to Learn More About CU?

The professors are continually there for me and checking in on me. While at Cornerstone, I have encountered people who support me and help me continue on when the days start to feel challenging.

Nikki Tellkamp (B.A. ’24)


Faculty in the Teacher Education Division have extensive experience in classroom settings and are equipped to help you achieve your goals as a future educator.

Related Programs

The Teacher Education Division at Cornerstone offers several different education programs to help you become a future instructor. Here are some of the other programs we offer.

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