Early Childhood Special Education
The Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) Program is a graduate program that provides students with the necessary experiences and information to work with young children, both typically developing and those with disabilities, and their families in a variety of settings, including both home and school. The program also focuses on working effectively with families and children from a variety of cultures and how to provide intervention in a culturally consistent manner. ECSE certification is an add-on rather than initial certification. Most students enroll in the Masters program and pursue both a Masters and ECSE certification at the same time. The majority of ECSE students have an initial certification in Early Childhood Education (ECE). The state certification requirements for ECSE are closely aligned with those for ECE. For students with certification in ECE, an additional five courses and a practicum are required for certification in ECSE. The coursework includes a three-course sequence in ECSE, and additional coursework in language development, behavior management, and working with families and other professionals. In addition to initial certification in ECE, students also come in with certification in Elementary Education or Special Education. For students with initial certification in Elementary Education there may be coursework in ECE required as well as the special education coursework described above. Students with initial certification in special education will take the three course ECSE sequence and practicum and additional coursework in ECE. The College of Education 's Advising Office will evaluate student transcripts to determine what additional coursework is required by the state for ECSE certification.
The Masters program in ECSE is 33 credit hours and varies depending on what coursework and experience students enter the program with. For students who want a Masters degree and not certification, there are six required courses. During their first semester, graduate students take a one hour Proseminar that orients students to the program. The other required courses include the ECSE core, Research in Special Education, which is required by the graduate school, and Trends and Issues In Special Education that meets the college requirement for a foundations course. The remaining hours are negotiated between the student and his or her advisor. The ECSE core consists of a 4-course sequence targeting Intro and Methods of Early Intervention, Intro and Methods of Early Childhood Special Education, Assessment, and a practicum. One unique feature of the program is that the ECE and ECSE faculty team-teach the Methods and Curriculum courses. This 4-hour class is required for anyone getting a masters in either ECE or ECSE. Students from both disciplines examine theory and teaching practices looking at both typically developing children and children with disabilities.
ECSE practica are negotiated individually and based on student needs and interests. Students are placed in integrated preschool settings, integrated daycare settings, and sometimes shadow a professional in the early intervention system. Because most of the students in the program are working professionals practica are usually done in the summer. Full-time students may participate in practica along with their coursework during the academic year.