Special Education Minor

The Special Education Minor provides undergraduate students with coursework on instructional practices to support the achievement of students with special education needs.

You can apply for the minor using LionPATH

LionPATH > Student Center > Update Academics

Applying for the minor is best done in the fall semester of your senior year. Additional information is available on the Canvas website for your cohort.

Requirements for the Minor

A total of 24 credits in identified classes are required for the minor. Please contact Dr. David McNaughton for additional information.

  • EDPSY 014 (3) (Semester 1-4)

  • EDPSY 010 GS (3), HD FS 229 GS (3), or HD FS 239 GS(3) (Semester 1-4)

  • SPLED 400 (4) (Semester 5-8)

  • SPLED 403A (3) or SPLED 403B (3) (Semester 5-8)

  • SPLED 419 (2 or 3) (Summer after junior or senior year)

    • Students interested in the 4+1 Program should take SPLED 419 as an Education Selection for their program and should choose the 3-credit option. Only the 2-credit option is required for the Special Education minor.

  • SPLED 461 OR SPLED 525 (3) (Summer after junior or senior year)

    • Students interested in the 4+1 Program should take SPLED 525 instead of SPLED 461 in the summer after their junior or senior year. SPLED 525 can be counted towards the requirements for the SPLED minor.

Select 6 credits from

  • CSD 146 US/IL (3)

  • CSD 218 (3)

  • CSD 269 GS/US/IL (3)

  • CSD 300 US/IL (3)

  • RHS 100 GS/US/IL(3)

  • RHS 402 (3)

  • RPTM 277 US (3) (Semester 5-8)

Before you begin to schedule Special Education Minor coursework you should:

  • E-mail Dr. David McNaughton to obtain appropriate information on coursework.

  • Please put "SPLED Minor" in your subject line, and include information about your

    • major

    • semester status ( i.e., freshman, sophomore, junior, senior)

    • your anticipated campus for your junior year (e.g., University Park, Altoona, Berks)

  • Dr. McNaughton will provide you with additional information regarding the Special Education Minor application procedures that are appropriate for you. He will also provide you with a link to the SPLED minor ANGEL group so that you will continue to have access to updated information on the SPLED minor.

Please note, we are continuing to work on ways that students who are completing an initial area of teaching certification (e.g., PK-4, Secondary Math) can use the SPLED Minor coursework, in combination with graduate level coursework in a 5th year of study, to earn a Masters of Education in Special Education, and to qualify for Special Education certification. If this program is of interest to you, it is important that you e-mail Dr. McNaughton to receive current information on the proposed 4+1 M Ed program, as this program is still in the process of development and approval.


Completion of the SPLED minor is evidence to an employer that you have taken additional coursework to help prepare you to work with students with disabilities. Like all teacher certification candidates, students starting as juniors in fall of 2011 will address (in SPLED 400 and 403a/b) the key competencies identified by PDE for all teacher candidates.

As a SPLED minor, your transcript also will show additional preparation in the areas of:

  • The use of assistive technology to aid in reading, writing, and communication activities;

  • Teaching valued skills to students with autism;

  • Supporting speech and language development for students with disabilities and other areas related to working with children with disabilities (depending on your course selections).

Completion of the SPLED minor does not result in special education certification, although the coursework you take to complete the minor may reduce the number of classes that you need to obtain special education certification.

Special education certification in Pennsylvania is designed to ensure that children with disabilities receive expert instruction that will assist them in achieving valued outcomes in school and in their adult life. As such, high quality special education certification programs provide extensive and rigorous special education coursework (typically a minimum of 40 credits) that prepares teacher candidates to work in today's classrooms. High quality certification programs also include multiple supervised practicum experiences in which the candidate has an opportunity to prepare and deliver instruction for students with a variety of disabilities, including students with learning disabilities, behavior disorders, and severe cognitive challenges. We believe that these extensive teacher preparation experiences create highly skilled professionals who are ready to work collaboratively to support positive outcomes for students with disabilities.

Typically at least some of the classes taken in the minor might be used to reduce the number of classes required for special education certification. The decision as to how classes taken towards completion of the SPLED minor would impact the courses needed for special education certification is up to the program granting special education certification.

At Penn State - University Park, many of the courses used to complete the SPLED minor can be used to to address competencies required for special education certification. For students who complete the minor as part of an UG program in another area of certification (e.g., elementary education, secondary education), special education certification at Penn State - University Park would be pursued as part of a graduate degree program - an M Ed in Special Education. If you are interested in more information on this topic, please email Dr. David McNaughton and ask for information on the 4+1 M Ed program.

At Penn State - University Park, both the undergraduate and graduate SPLED degree programs provide extensive coursework in working with students with a wide range of disabilities, and multiple supervised practicum experiences working with students with disabilities. We believe that both extensive coursework and multiple supervised practicum experiences are essential to the preparation of qualified special education professionals who will be truly ready to address the learning needs of students with disabilities.

If you are enrolled in the SPLED minor and you are interested in the relationship of the SPLED Minor to the SPLED M Ed (including certification), please email Dr. McNaughton, and include information on the coursework you have completed as part of the SPLED minor, and your expected semester of graduation from your current undergraduate program. For students who have completed the SPLED minor, and who are accepted into the SPLED M Ed program, the M Ed program is typically approximately one year in length. Please note that there is an application process for the SPLED M Ed program, and that the process is competitive (i.e., each application is individually reviewed before a decision on admission is made).