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You can be the difference for students with special needs. This program will prepare you to enable children and teenagers with particular learning, social or physical challenges to develop their gifts and realize their potential—to say, “I can do this.”

Get ready for a life of service and meaning

In small classes and amazing field experiences, you’ll work closely with the outstanding faculty of our School of Education. You’ll learn how to evaluate students with special needs and empower them to expand their abilities—intellectual, physical, developmental, social and emotional. You’ll foster your own communication skills, learn to collaborate effectively with parents and colleagues, and study the subtleties of growth and development across a broad spectrum of human difference. You’ll learn to monitor your students’ progress and your own classroom effectiveness, and gain a deep understanding of the profession’s key values of scholarship, leadership and service.

More ways to grow—on campus and beyond

Practical, hands-on experience is built into our curriculum. You’ll spend a lot of time with special education teachers, observing how they create caring and stimulating classroom environments and develop individualized learning programs for their students. With the guidance and support of your professors, you’ll spend a semester teaching students with special needs. You will enter the teaching profession with the knowledge and skills you’ll need for successful service in the special education classroom and with individual students and their families.

You'll be classroom ready

This program prepares you to teach students with disabilities from preschool through age 22. You’ll be ready to teach the full range of academic subjects, and to help your students develop their academic and social skills. When you graduate, you’ll be eligible for a Professional Educators License (PEL) from the Illinois State Board of Education with a Learning Behavior Specialist I endorsement and an English as a Second Language (ESL) approval. In short, you’ll be ready for your own classroom! If you’re bilingual, you can take just one additional course and add an Approval in Bilingual Education to your Professional Educator License. This will prepare you to work effectively with a wider range of students and expand your professional options.

Ben Freville

School of Education Faculty

“I can’t tell you the number of times the principals who hire our teachers have told me that Dominican graduates are the best prepared—not only in the basics of teaching but also in their ability to interact with students and parents.”

Amazing opportunities

Our alumni often return to Dominican to share their knowledge with current students or to further expand their career options. The School of Education offers post-graduate opportunities in special education, bilingual education, English as a second language and other high-demand fields. Undergraduates who major in special education can complete both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in about six years.

The university works to ensure that academic commitment, not family wealth, opens its doors. More than 95% of our students receive financial aid. The average award totals more than $25,000. Education students also are eligible for special grants from the Illinois Future Teachers Corps Program, the Minority Teachers of Illinois Scholarship Program, and the TEACH Grant Program. We’ll be happy to assist you through the application process.

Prepare for work in a growing profession

By 2026, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that job opportunities for special education teachers will grow nationally by 8%. Both the State of Illinois and the nation as a whole are facing a growing shortage of special education teachers. As a Dominican graduate, you’ll be prepared not only for your first job in this rising expanding but also for a lifetime of intellectual and professional competence. Our alumni work across the United States in a remarkable range of educational settings. They connect with students and their families in important, transforming and lasting ways.

Claudia Ramirez

Education Graduate

“I felt at home at Dominican right away. The faculty and the field experiences pushed me out of my comfort zone. It was exciting to be hands-on with the children in real classrooms, and I learned so much from the teachers in the field.”