Special Education: Learning Behavior Specialist I (B.S.Ed.)


Children, adolescents and young adults with special needs deserve special teachers. The NIU experiential and research-informed program in Special Education prepares you to work with students from kindergarten through age 21 who have a variety of disabilities and abilities. You’ll learn evidence-based instructional practices and strategies designed for teaching and including all students.

Engaging professional experiences will help you learn to craft lesson plans, use and incorporate assistive technology and practice effective ways to individualize instruction to meet student needs. Our program is approved by the Illinois State Board of Education, and our field experiences and coursework adhere to policies, standards and frameworks of the Council for Exceptional Children.

Students admitted to NIU to pursue the B.S.Ed. degree in Special Education enter directly into the major program.

  • Admission to teacher education and retention in this major require a university GPA of 2.5 or above.
  • Grades of C or better are required in specific major courses.
  • You must meet all ISBE testing requirements for teacher licensure.

The NIU College of Education embeds diverse, real-world learning opportunities in our programs, offering you valuable experiences you won’t get anywhere else.

  • You’ll have three early clinical experiences prior to student teaching, focusing on various elements of special education, including instruction of students with high incidence disabilities at the elementary and secondary level and teaching students with low-incidence disabilities.
  • If you choose to live in Stevenson Towers’ TEACH House, home to students pursuing any area of teacher licensure, you’ll interact with teacher licensure faculty as well as peers with similar professional aspirations.
  • Our Educate and Engage Program provides hands-on experiences close and far from home.
    • Educate Global sends selected students to China to teach English.
    • Educate U.S. allows selected students to travel to the Houston Independent School District in Texas for an all-expenses-paid week during which they practice their skills and broaden their perspectives.
    • Educate Local provides opportunities to volunteer, observe and participate in various campus, community and educational settings.

Even if you’ve never acted, sang or danced on stage before, our amazing Penguin Players need you. As part of SESE 260 (Observation of Individuals with Disabilities in Community and/or School Settings), you can mentor a young adult with a disability who’s starring in a Broadway-style Penguin production, you can mentor a young adult with a disability who’s starring in a Broadway-style Penguin production. Unlike other observational options that meet the course requirements, you’ll actually work one-on-one with your artist and build a relationship. This teaching and mentoring role provides a deeper understanding of how individuals with diverse abilities learn and how they seek to connect with others.

  • SESE 370 - Educational Interventions for Students with Diverse Abilities (3 credits)
  • ETT 402 - Teaching and Learning with Technology (3 credits)
  • SESE 415 - Instructional Methods for Elementary Students with Mild Disabilities: Reading, Language Arts (4 credits)
  • SESE 416 - Instructional Methods for Elementary Students with Mild Disabilities: Math and Science (3 credits)
  • SESE 417 - Positive Behavior Support and Classroom Management for Special Educators (3 credits)
  • SESE 419 - Introduction to Instructional Planning and Teacher Performance Assessment (2 credits)
  • SESE 444 - Instructional Methods and Strategies for Middle and Secondary Students with Mild Disabilities (3 credits)
  • SESE 446 - Methods for Supporting the Social/Emotional Development of Students with Emotional/Behavior Disorders (3 credits)
  • SESE 447 - Consultation, Collaboration, and Communication Skills for Special Educators (3 credits)
  • SESE 448 - Planning for the Transition from School to Employment, Career and Postsecondary Education for Students with Disabilities (3 credits)
  • SESE 449 - Early Field Experience in Special Education: Middle/Secondary (2 credits)
  • SESE 461 - Assistive Technology for Individuals with Autism and Multiple Disabilities (3 credits)
  • SESE 463 - Early Field Experience in Special Education: Autism and Developmental Disabilities (2 credits)

Special Education teachers with a Learning Behavior Specialist I emphasis mostly work in schools with students who have a wide array of disabilities.

Job Fair

NIU’s annual Educators’ Job Fair brings school districts from throughout the state and around the country to interview for teaching positions. Participants are offered open session time with recruiters. It’s a great way to practice your professional communication skills and learn about employment opportunities, with the possibility of invitation-only interviews at the event.