Special Education (undergraduate)

Bachelor of Science in Education - Special Education
Learning Behavior Specialist I or Vision Impairments

The B.S. Ed. degree in special education is designed for those who plan to teach students with disabilities at the elementary, intermediate, and secondary level. Completion of department and appropriate requirements leads to licensure by entitlement for teaching individuals with disabilities, as a Learning Behavior Specialist I, or Teacher of Students Who are Blind or Visually Impairmed. Both the LBS I and the Vision Impairment Programs lead to Professional Educator License preK-12. For a complete listing of required courses, refer to the Learning Behavior Specialist I Undergraduate Advising Worksheet and Sample Program and/or the Vision Impairments Undergraduate Advising Worksheet and Sample Program.

Academic Advisement Services

Advisement services are provided the student from freshman year through graduation. Students are responsible for utilizing these services by scheduling advisement appointments every semester and by responding to periodic notices of deadlines for clinical placement requests.

Teacher Licensure Competency Exams

As part of special education teacher licensure, students must pass the following four competency exams required by the Illinois State Board of Education: (1) Test of Academic Proficiency (TAP), ( 2) Content Area Test (LBS I or Vision), (3) Special Education General Curriculum Test, and (4) Assessment of Professional Teaching Test. Additional information on all of these tests can be obtained through the Illinois LicensureTesting System (ILTS).


Admission to teaching methods and clinical course work in special education requires a minimum NIU cumulative GPA of 2.50 or higher prior to taking Block 1 courses (LBS I) or First Professional Semester courses (Vision Impairments).

Students are expected to meet all university and College of Education standards for retention. They also must meet the standards set forth in the Council for Exceptional Children Code of Ethics and Standards for Professional Practice for Special Educators. See the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC).

Licensure Requirements

Students who major in special education are required to meet the Illinois licensure requirements including 29-41 semester hours of general education classes which must include 3 semester hours of cultural diversity course work. Transfer students with an A.A. or A.S. degree also must meet these requirements for teacher licensure. Students who successfully complete the program requirements will have completed all required ISBE and NCATE/CAEP standards for teacher licensure.

Additional Information

Financial Aid and Scholarships

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) offers a tuition waiver program for qualified students who are seeking special education teacher licensure and are willing to teach for two, out of their first five years after graduation, in a special education program in the state of Illinois. Additional information can be obtained from the ISAC web site or their toll-free phone number at 1-800-899-4722.

Illinois State Board of Education

The Core Standards for Special Educators and the Standards for Learning Behavior Specialist I, as well as other information regarding special education teacher licensure in Illinois, can be obtained at the Illinois State Board of Education web site.

Council for Exceptional Children

The Council for Exceptional Children web site contains other useful information regarding the field of special education.

NIU Open House / Campus Visitation Programs

For information on attending one of the NIU Open House Programs where you can meet and talk with the undergraduate special education academic advisor, and/or to take a virtual tour of the campus, please visit the NIU web site.

Please refer to the following three documents for more information:

For further questions, or to schedule an appointment, please contact the Undergraduate Academic Advisor for Special Education, at 815-753-8361.