Eastern Michigan University streamlines special education program; provides faster path to graduation

EMU’s Department of Special Education was established in 1914 and was the first of its kind in the U.S.

A young teacher works with a pupil building with colorful blocks in a classroom.

YPSILANTI – Eastern Michigan University has revised its Bachelor’s program in special education with a new K-12 endorsement to streamline the program and provide a faster pathway to graduation. EMU’s Department of Special Education and Communication Sciences and Disorders will integrate eight current special education majors into a single special education major with four concentrations: autism spectrum disorder, cognitive impairment, emotional impairment, and learning disabilities. The action was approved by the University’s Board of Regents today (June 16, 2022).

“Eastern has one of the longest-standing, most successful special education programs in the nation,” said Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs Rhonda Longworth. “The merging of these disciplines into one single major with four concentrations provides a faster pathway to graduation and establishes a more distinct and attractive program for students.”

Since the Department of Special Education’s establishment in 1914, the first such department in the nation, it has received many accolades. Recently, the program was nationally ranked No. 9 by Intelligent.com for its strength, student readiness, return on investment, cost, and student engagement.

This program revision includes the following enhancements: 

  • Aligns program requirements with the secondary teaching and learning major and the early childhood-elementary teaching and learning major. Students in the special education K-12 endorsement major will double major with one of these two majors, earning teacher certification with a special education endorsement. The early childhood elementary teaching and learning major was introduced last year in response to changes to the State of Michigan's requirements. 

  • Reduces the number of credit hours required for the major from 51-59 to 30-36 credit hours, allowing students to complete their degree in a shorter amount of time. 

  • The previous structure of the majors gave students the impression that they were earning an "elementary" or "secondary" special education endorsement, which is not the case. All students will complete the same special education K-12 endorsement coursework; the difference is what students select as a double major, teaching and learning with elementary certification or teaching and learning with secondary certification.

“We pride ourselves on graduating educators who are prepared to teach, lead, and discover promising pathways in our schools and our communities,” said Longworth. “We’re committed to continuing our legacy of excellence by meeting the needs of future educators.”  

About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It serves more than 15,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral, and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences, and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors, and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and its graduate school. National publications regularly recognize EMU for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website. To stay up-to-date on University news, activities, and announcements, visit EMU Today.

June 16, 2022

Written by:
Melissa Thrasher

Melissa Thrasher