Frequently Asked Questions

Who is my advisor?
Laura Parrish is the undergraduate advisor. If you are interested in the mild/moderate or severe undergraduate programs offered at select USU sites in Utah. You may contact her at laura.parrish@usu.edu. You may schedule an advising appointment with Laura at cehs.usu.edu/advising.

Why am I a pre-SPED major?

All students interested in SPED are admitted to USU as a pre-special education major. Students apply to the major typically during the fall of their sophomore year. If admitted, students are admitted both to special education and teacher education programs.

I have been admitted to USU. Now how do I apply to the special education major?

The online application can be found on the special education webpage. For students working on their first 4 year college degree, the application opens on July 1 each year and is due by Octobber 10. For students who have completed a four year college degree and are applying to the 2nd bachelors option (OPTT), contact Laura Parrish (laura.parrish@usu.edu) about when to apply.

What is the difference between the Logan Main Campus and the OPTT program?

The Logan Main Campus program is a full-time, face-to-face program that allows you to complete your degree in a four-year timeline. The OPTT program is an online program that is offered on a part-time basis and is offered across the state of Utah; this program is created for individuals who are currently paraeducators or teachers in a special education classroom.

What are the requirements to be admitted to the Special Education major as a first bachelor’s (first 4 year college degree) seeking student?
Students must complete Math 1051/1050, BAI, BPS, BLS and HDFS 1500 (Human Development Across the Lifespan) with a grade of C or higher, ENGL 1010 with a grade of C+ or higher, pass the Educator Background Check, pass the Educator Ethics Review and take the Praxis Elementary Multiple Subjects test. In addition, OPTT students must be working as a para-educator in a special education classroom that matches their emphasis area.

What are the requirements to be admitted to the Special Education major as a second bachelor’s degree (I already have completed a 4 year university program)?
It counts in two ways.  First, the credit will help fulfill the teaching support requirement of the special education major. Second, the credit will count as experience points on the application for admission to the special education major.

Educator Background Check Implications
It is your responsibility to inform the Department of Special Education if you have been arrested or convicted of violating any law except minor traffic violations while you are a student in the program. Failure to disclose this information may affect your status in the Special Education Teacher Program.

When do I need to have the Praxis 5001: Elementary Multiple Subjects test passed if I am a first bachelor’s student?

The Praxis 5001 must be taken before applying to the Special Education major and passed before applying for student teaching.

When do I need to have the Praxis 5001: Elementary Multiple Subjects test passed if I am a second bachelor’s student (I already have a 4 year degree)?

Students must have the Praxis passed the semester before student teaching in order for them to complete their student teaching experience.

SPED 1000 (Principles of Effective Peer Teaching) I took SPED 1000 in high school. How will the credit count towards my special education degree?

It counts in two ways. First, the credit will help fulfill the teaching support requirement of the special education major. Second, the credit will count as experience points on the application for admission to the special education major.

When are the SPED courses offered on the Logan Main Campus?

Students must be admitted to the SPED major to complete the Special Education courses. Students take the professional education courses spring semester after being admitted to the major. Students are admitted as a cohort and take the courses together as a group. During the next academic year(s), students complete the special education coursework. They student teach after finishing all their degree coursework. Special education courses are only offered once per year and must be taken in sequence.

When are the SPED courses offered for the OPTT first- and second-degree students?

First degree students begin the OPTT special education sequence after completing all other coursework for their bachelor’s degree. The OPTT courses are two years long including one summer.
Second degree students in the OPTT program complete the coursework in two years including one summer.

What is the required GPA to be admitted to the Special Education Program?

The minimum required GPA is 3.0. Students who do not have a 3.0 GPA can still be considered for the major by completing the GPA waiver form. Admission is not guaranteed.

How long will it take me to graduate?

Most Logan Main Campus students graduate within four years. It is important for students to meet with their advisor to plan out their program semester by semester. The OPTT special education courses are only offered part time because of the teaching requirements (either as a para-educator or as the teacher of record).

How difficult is it to get into the first bachelor’s degree (4 year degree) special education major?

Most students who meet the minimum requirements get into the special education program. The application process is competitive. The admissions committee considers many factors, but GPA counts most in the formula. Other things that count are experience working with people with disabilities, passing the PRAXIS test before admission, completing the math requirements, and the number of credit hours completed. Passing the Praxis test before admission is not required, but it must be taken before admission.

How difficult is it to get into the second bachelor’s degree (I have completed a 4 year degree already) special education major?

Students must meet the minimum requirements in order to be admitted into the program. These requirements include, passing the entrance assessment, having a background check and ethics review passed, and must meet the employment criteria (be employed in a special education classroom setting).

I am a transfer student. How easily will my credits transfer?

USU has worked with other Utah schools as well as schools in the surrounding area to make this process as simple as possible. Please contact the special education advisor (laura.parrish@usu.edu) at USU as soon as you are thinking of transferring. She will work with you to make the transition as easy as possible. If students send her an unofficial transcript, the semester they are planning on moving to USU, and the program they are interested in completing, she will make a graduation plan for them. USU also has developed a transfer guide.


18. How much longer will it take for me to combine a major with elementary education or secondary education?

Combined degrees are only offered for Logan Main Campus students. If students meet with an advisor and plan, most students can complete the combined program within four to five years.


Will I need a car?

Students need a car to get to practicum placements and student teaching. There is also an option to take the bus

What is the difference between the different emphasis areas in special education?


    • The mild/moderate degree prepares teachers to work with students (kindergarten through twelfth grade) with high incidence disabilities such as learning disabilities, mild/moderate behavior and emotional disorders, mild/moderate intellectual disabilities and communication disorders. Teachers usually work in a resource room setting. Mild/moderate teachers typically teach academic skills.
    • The severe degree prepares teachers to work with students (kindergarten through twelfth grade) with low incidence intellectual and physical disabilities such as severe intellectual disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, traumatic and acquired brain injury, and multiple disabilities. Severe teachers typically teach functional and life skills.
    • The Birth to Age Five Degree prepares teaches to work with young children with disabilities (birth to age five). For children birth to 3 years, the early childhood teacher typically works in early intervention programs with families. For children 3-5 years old, the early childhood teacher teaches in public preschool settings in local school districts.
Where are the different Undergraduate Special Education programs offered?
Mild/Moderate, Severe and Birth to Age 5 are offered at the Logan Main Campus and through OPTT statewide (Utah only). Visual Impairments is offered on the Logan Main Campus only.

How demanding is the special education program?

The field of special education is demanding. Our special education courses are rigorous to prepare the best special education teachers who can meet the demands of the field. The special education program at Utah State University has been ranked in the top 20 special education programs in the United States by US News and World Report for the last several years.

Are there scholarships available?

There are a lot of scholarships available in special education. There are USU scholarships, state scholarships, federal loan forgiveness, TEACH grants, and departmental scholarships. This PowerPoint presentation explains the many scholarships available

How much practical experience will I receive in the classroom?/strong>
Each semester that you are in the special education program, you will have a practicum placement. You will be teaching a group of students and applying what you have learned in your coursework. Students comment frequently that this is their favorite part of the program. As a freshman and sophomore there are also opportunities to work in the classroom. Talk to the special education advisor about these opportunities.

How approachable are the professors?
The professors have an open-door policy. When they are in the office, their door is open and they welcome students to come and ask questions. OPTT students are invited to call, zoom, or email their professors whenever they have a question.

Do you have to have a lot of experience with people with disabilities to get accepted into the special education 0major?
Experience can help you decide if this is the right field for you, but it is not required. Many students take SPED 4910 to gain classroom experience before applying to the program.