Mild to Moderate Disabilities Teacher Preparation Program

Program Description

The Mild to Moderate Disabilities Teacher Preparation Program (undergraduate level) is a 60-credit program leading to the Bachelor of Science degree in Special Education (B.S.E.). The program consists of a three-semester sequence of coursework and culminates in a one semester (15 weeks) supervised internship in an approved special education setting with a certified special education teacher. The program is competency-based and is organized around national (INTASC/Council for Exceptional Children/CEC) and State of Arizona teacher certification standards.

Program Purpose and Rationale

The Mild to Moderate Disabilities Teacher Preparation Program is designed to prepare special education teachers to work with students with mild/moderate disabilities in the areas of learning disabilities and emotional/behavioral disorders. Upon successful completion of all coursework, the student teaching internship, and the Arizona Educator’s Proficiency Assessment (AEPA), participants will be qualified to teach students with mild/moderate disabilities in K-12 settings.

Program Admittance

The Mild to Moderate Disabilities Teacher Preparation Program is designed around a cohort model. For admission to the Fall cohort, students must submit a complete application package by the second Friday in February. A minimum GPA of 2.5 is required for application (3.0 preferred), along with 60 documented contact hours with children with special needs in a public school classroom.  Applicants will additionally need documented contact hours with diverse groups, an Arizona IVP fingerprint clearance card, and a minimum of two professional letters of recommendation. For additional application specifics and online application, contact the Office of Admissions, Advising and Student Services for the College of Education at (520) 621-7865.  Admission to the program is competitive; approximately 25 – 30 students are admitted each academic year.


Students entering the College of Education as pre-education majors are assigned to an academic advisor in the COE Office of Student Services based on the first letter of your last name. Students should maintain ongoing contact with their advisor and schedule regular appointments to review their program prior to registration each semester.

Graduation and Licensure Requirements

For specific information regarding graduation (e.g., degree checks, deadlines, fees, paperwork) and for licensure requirements, check with your assigned advisor in the Office of Admissions, Advising and Student Services. Information regarding the licensure application process (including registration for the NES Test) is also available through this office.

Unique Special Education Program Offerings to Students

* Cohort Model

The Mild to Moderate Disabilities Teacher Preparation Program is organized around a cohort model. Students enter as a cohort in the fall semester and process through the coursework and practica/internship experiences as a group. Small cohort sizes allow students to develop close working/mentoring relationships with each other and with the program faculty. This model of admission and program operations provides maximum support to students within each cohort and facilitates the building of preprofessional linkages and networks. These networks provide lateral support and assistance to students throughout the program as well as post graduation and during the first year/induction period for new teachers.

* Evidence-Based Practices

The Mild to Moderate Disabilities Teacher Preparation Program is a high-quality, pre-service experience with course work in special education and elementary education, with an emphasis on mild/moderate disabilities in the areas of learning disabilities, mental retardation, and emotional/behavioral disorders. The program provides a focus on current research-based best practices and curriculum content for the instruction of students with special learning and behavioral needs.

* Observation and Participation Experiences

The Observation and Participation practicum (SERP 475) courses are linked with specific content courses, providing students with real-life experiences in which to observe and interact with students with disabilities in public school settings. Students are visited during the SERP 475 practica by a University supervisor and meet regularly for seminars to discuss their experiences and theme-based topics (e.g., technology for students with disabilities, etc.). Students also participate in field trips to community-based agencies as well as model demonstration classroom sites.

* Standards-Based Internship Experience

The Student Teaching/Internship experience (SERP 493) is an intensive period of 15 weeks, full-day placement in an approved special education setting. Students are encouraged to participate in the selection of their internship site and their Cooperating Teacher. Pre-selection interviews and meetings are held to ensure the best match for each student teacher-cooperating teacher pair. Student teachers receive biweekly visits/observations from a University supervisor, as well as regularly scheduled seminars to discuss their experiences. Students also complete a standards-based, professional teaching portfolio, documenting their mastery of teaching competencies and standards across the 15-week internship period.