Certificate Program in Early Childhood Special Education

Certificate Program in Early Childhood Special Education

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Admissions requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.
  • An overall grade point average of at least 3.0 in the last two years of undergraduate work.
  • Applicants with a GPA of less than 3.0 may be granted a Conditional Admission. 
  • A 250 word statement of purpose indicating why they've chosen this program and what they hope to accomplish.
  • A valid Michigan teaching certificate.

Student testimonial

  • "I am so passionate about what I am studying for and I couldn't be more excited to get into the classroom!"Belle Venticinque, current student 

Program Overview

This program is offered online, hybrid and in-person.

This Certificate is designed to provide both face to face and online options for students working to obtain their State of Michigan ZS endorsement (Early Childhood Special Education).

Students working toward the state ZS endorsement must meet three requirements:

  • Completion of a total of 27 graduate credits, 15 credits (5 classes) of which must be early childhood courses.
  • Professional experience at two of three early childhood levels (infants/toddler, preschool, kindergarten-grade 3).
  • Passing grade on the state-level examination.
  • In addition to the 15 required early childhood credits, students may transfer in 12 credits of existing graduate coursework OR may elect to take additional graduate coursework toward a Master of Arts in Teaching, Learning and Educational Studies concentration in Early Childhood Education.

Why this program at Western Michigan University

  • Leads to State of Michigan ZS endorsement .
  • Only early childhood program in Michigan that offers hybrid/online options.
  • Our hybrid formats have been successful in assisting graduate students living throughout the state of Michigan, including the Upper Peninsula, to complete coursework necessary for the ZS endorsement.
  • Courses offered in a consistent rotation, allowing students to compete required classes within a 12-month period.
  • Students are encouraged to pursue additional educational opportunities through one of our many excellent study abroad programs, such as Education and Human Development in India.
  • We are the only institution in the U.S. that includes an optional co-curricular designation known as the WMU Signature. Pathways include: Teaching & Student Success, Leadership, Health & Wellbeing, Diversity, Inclusion, Equity & Justice, and more! 

Who should apply

Teachers that hold a bachelor's degree and valid teaching license that wish to obtain their State of Michigan ZS endorsement (Early Childhood Special Education)

Career opportunities

The Early Childhood Special Education program prepares you for jobs in:

  • Public schools
  • Private schools
  • Preschools

Courses required to complete the Certificate (minimum of 15 credits):

  • ED 5750 — Administration of Child Development Centers Credits: 3 hours
    Presentation of trends in childcare regulations and/or requirements, and knowledge of administrative materials and duties in providing optimum growth for young children. Includes management, planning, and organizing child development centers.
  • ED 6060 — Early Childhood Education Methods and Materials Credits: 3 hours
    Focuses on developing an understanding of how children learn and how these principles relate to curriculum development and teaching practices. Current topics related to educating young children, including special needs learners, and relevant impacts on professional practice are also presented. The importance of play as a medium for learning will be emphasized throughout the course.
  • ED 6080 — Seminar in Early Childhood Development Credits: 3 hours
    This course is designed to provide in-depth exploration of particular facets of development in young children. This course provides students with opportunities to enhance knowledge of multiple theoretical approaches and to examine early childhood education from a historical perspective. Students will research and study current areas of emphasis in early childhood education and will focus on strategies for applying new knowledge in their own professional work.
  • ED 6140 — Parent Education for Teachers of Young Children Credits: 3 hours
    Focuses on theoretical and practical aspects of strategies for working with parents and other caregivers. Enhanced knowledge of many challenges commonly facing today’s families will enable professionals to work more effectively with family members to meet students’ diverse needs. Formal and informal interactions with family members, as well as relevant applications to daily work with students and their families, will be emphasized.
  • ED 6110 — Assessment in Early Childhood Inclusive Education Credits: 3 hours
    This course presents pertinent theories of development and familiarizes students with techniques for observing young children both individually and in groups. Varied informal and formal assessment techniques will be presented and assignments will focus on assisting students to prioritize approaches for use in their work with young children. Strategies related to assessing and guiding learners with special needs between the ages of birth to five years will be emphasized.

Elective Courses (3 hours)

  • ED 7120Professional Field Experience Credits: 3 hours

Cost & Funding

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For more information, please contact Dr. Andrea Smith.