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Bachelor of Arts

Special Education and Elementary Education Degree
(Dual Licensure)

Leads to Teacher Licensure


A Dual Teacher Licensure Degree in Elementary and Special Education


This elementary education and special education degree program will ensure you're ready to impact students, classrooms, and your community. You'll be prepared to teach students with a range of disabilities (from mild to moderate) and learning needs. This elementary education and special education degree program equips you with the skills you need to connect to diverse learners, helping them thrive. This bachelor’s program prepares you for teaching certification in both special education (K–12) and elementary education in states where dual teaching licensure is available.

In this elementary education and special education degree program, you'll do your coursework online but have Demonstration Teaching opportunities that give you classroom experience. When you earn your teaching degree online from WGU you become a credentialed expert, ready to help students with different learning styles and needs.

Note: This is a dual licensure program in special ed and elementary ed. If your state offers a single license in K–12 special education, you might also want to consider the B.A. Special Education (Mild to Moderate) program. An Enrollment Counselor can help you decide which program is right for you.

61% of graduates finish within 

27 Months*

Prepare for two teaching licenses in less time. WGU lets you move more quickly through material you already know and advance as soon as you're ready. The result: You may finish faster.

*WGU Internal Data

Tuition per six-month term is


Tuition charged per term—rather than per credit—helps you control the ultimate cost earning your teaching degree online. Finish faster, pay less!

On average, students transfer

28 credits

Your associate’s degree or previous college may waive some courses through transfer. We review your transcripts for transfer credits.

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Next Start Date: May 1

Start Dates the 1st of Every Month


Special & Elementary Education Courses

A highly relevant elementary and special ed curriculum developed by education experts.

Earning a B.A. in Elementary Education and Special Education prepares you with the content knowledge and effective teaching skills to become a special education instructor for students with mild to moderate disabilities.

Some of the courses in this program may be waived through transfer from your previous college experience. The rest you will complete one at a time as you make your way through your program, working with your Program Mentor each term to build your personalized Degree Plan. You’ll work through each course as quickly as you can study and learn the material. This means that you can finish as many courses as you're able in a term at no additional cost.

The B.A. Special Education and Elementary Education program is a mostly online program, with some in-classroom requirements. You will complete your courses by studying and working independently with instruction and support from WGU faculty. You will be expected to complete at least 12 competency units (WGU's equivalent of the credit hour) each 6-month term. (Each course is typically 3 or 4 units.)

Washington students, please note that you will be required to complete one additional course that is not listed below: Survey of Pacific Northwest History for Educators. View the Washington program guide.

Students will take eight professional core courses in this special education teacher degree that will prepare them to handle unique educational situations and become better teachers. These courses focus on a variety of important topics including social and emotional learning, and technology and diversity inclusion in the classroom. Plus, students will get to use augmented reality experiences to give them the opportunity to practice their work before entering the classroom. These eight professional core courses are also coupled with preclinical experience to help ensure teachers are ready for their classroom.

This program comprises the following courses. Some may be waived through transfer from your previous college experience. The rest you will complete one at a time as you make your way through your program, working with your Program Mentor each term to build your personalized Degree Plan. You’ll work through each course as quickly as you can study and learn the material. As soon as you’re ready, you’ll pass the assessment, complete the course, and move on. This means that you can finish as many courses as you're able in a term at no additional cost.

Special Education
Elementary Education Methods
Professional Core
General Education
General Science Content
Pre-Clinical Experiences
Demonstration Teaching

46 Courses

Program consists of 46 courses

At WGU, we design our curriculum to be timely, relevant, and practical—all to help you show that you know your stuff.

Professional Portfolio

Special requirements for this program

You will complete a professional portfolio, which will include your résumé and Philosophy of Teaching Statement and serve as a way to showcase the skills you have acquired throughout your degree program and Demonstration Teaching. 

“There were many, many obstacles that I faced while earning my degree. Not only was I single mother of three, I was also having to work and attend school full-time. Thankfully, WGU made it possible for me to succeed! Though I did lose a few nights of sleep to work on courses while my kids slept, it was all worth it in the end. The financial and emotional obstacles I faced made the outcome and achievement even more special.”

—Amanda Ogle
B.A. Elementary Education & Special Education

Why WGU?

You Aren't On Your Own

WGU has Program Mentors who work with you from the day you start, all the way through graduation. They help you set up your Demonstration Teaching, learn about teaching certification in your state, and more. You're not alone when you choose an online education degree at WGU.

On Your Schedule

Students choose WGU for their online teaching degree program because of its flexibility. Whether you already have a full-time job, have responsibilities as a parent, or just have a busy schedule, WGU can work for you.

Licensure In Any State

WGU's online special and elementary education degree prepares you for a teaching license in any state in the United States. It's valuable to learn the other requirements in your state to know the full process for gaining licensure.

Accredited, Respected,

One important measure of a degree’s value is the reputation of the university where it was earned. When employers, industry leaders, and academic experts hold your alma mater in high esteem, you reap the benefits of that respect. WGU is a pioneer in reinventing higher education for the 21st century, and our quality has been recognized.


An Affordable Elementary and Special Education Degree Program

By charging per six-month term rather than per credit—and empowering students to accelerate through material they know well or learn quickly—WGU helps students control the ultimate cost of their degrees. The faster you complete your program, the less you pay for your degree.

Tuition Calculator
Pay less by completing your program faster

A College Degree Is Within Reach

There is help available to make paying for school possible for you:

The average student loan debt of WGU graduates in 2022 (among those who borrowed) was less than half* the national average.

*WGU undergraduate students have approximately half the debt at graduation compared to the national average, according to the Institute for College Access and Success (2022).

Most WGU students qualify for financial aid, and WGU is approved for federal financial aid and U.S. veterans benefits. 

Many scholarship opportunities are available. Find out what you might be eligible for.


A Different Way to Learn: Degree Programs Designed to Fit Your Life—and All the Demands on Your Time

At WGU, we understand that you’ve got professional responsibilities, family obligations, and personal commitments. That’s why we offer a flexible approach to higher education. You’ll get a solid, career-focused education that fits your life. Expect to be challenged, to work hard, and to put in the hours needed. But WGU enables you to complete your coursework online, anytime and anywhere your schedule allows, and move through assignments and assessments as quickly as you're able.

"My journey through Western Governors University was successful because of the well-educated and knowledgeable course instructors, as well as my program mentor. I loved having the independence and ability to work when I wanted without having to sit in-seat at a university. The cost is the biggest attraction to Western Governors University. It is incredibly inexpensive, which makes it possible for me, as an adult, to work full time while attending college.”

—Kristy Gammon
B.A. Elementary Education & Special Education


A Special Education Degree Opens Doors to Your Own Classroom and Beyond

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates employment of special education teachers in the United States to grow by more than 14,000 from 2019 to 2029. Once you have completed your B.A. in Special Education and Elementary Education, you'll be ready to fill this needed role in your school district. With your new skills, knowledge, and in-classroom experience, you will be set up for a rewarding teaching career.

Graduates of this respected special education teacher degree program work in a variety of school settings, including inclusionary K–12 classrooms, self-contained classrooms, or resource rooms. You may also serve as a teacher of record (K–8) and teach all basic subjects in an elementary school classroom. No matter what you choose to do with this degree program, you're sure to make an impact on education. (Grade level eligibility will depend on your state’s corresponding license). 

Return on Your Investment


The number of teaching positions for all special education teachers in the United States is expected to grow by 4% from 2021 to 2031.

—U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

WGU Has Alumni Teaching in Schools Across the Country

Graduates of WGU's online Teachers College have found meaningful, rewarding teaching careers in classrooms at:

  • Inclusionary K–12 classrooms
  • Middle/junior high schools
  • High schools
  • Private and charter schools

Impressive Class of Graduates

Graduates of the WGU Teachers College include recipients of many professional honors, including:

  • Gates Millennium Scholars
  • Intel Grant for Mathematics and Technology
  • Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction Award
  • Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award
  • Association of Public Charter Schools Educator of the Year Award


Bachelor of Elementary and Special Education Admission Requirements

Students who are seeking initial teacher licensure in a bachelor’s, post-baccalaureate, or master’s program must also pass a state-specific basic skills test for the state in which they live as a prerequisite to Demonstration Teaching (student teaching). (Registering and paying for the test is the student’s responsibility.) This requirement can be met either prior to admission or before beginning the Foundations of Teaching subject area once you are in your WGU program.

WGU’s teacher licensure programs also include Demonstration Teaching (student teaching). You must be at least 18 years of age before you may begin the application process or participate in Preclinical Experiences and Demonstration Teaching. You must also submit to a criminal background check prior to entering the classroom for this component of your program.

An Enrollment Counselor can help you best determine whether you have the sufficient background for entry into your program of choice.

Transfer Credits

If you’ve taken courses or received a degree from a community college or another college or university, you're likely already well on your way to a WGU degree. You can almost always transfer credits when you send bachelor's or associate's degree transcripts to WGU for a college transfer evaluation. 

Get Your Enrollment Checklist

Download your step-by-step guide to enrollment.

Get Your Questions Answered

Talk to an WGU Enrollment Counselor.


Becoming a Licensed Teacher


State-specific licensure requirements: Each state in the U.S. has specific testing requirements that must be met or completed in addition to completing your teaching degree program at WGU. Teacher licensure requirements vary depending on state laws and may include a number of factors, such as:

  • Completion of a bachelor’s degree program
  • Submission of transcripts
  • Completion and clearance of a background check
  • Passing of required entrance exams and basic skills tests

Preclinical Experiences    

As part of this program, you'll participate in a wide range of in-classroom teaching experiences through at least 75 hours of in-classroom observation.

Demonstration Teaching

To help you prepare to work in classrooms, this program includes a student teaching component (we call it Demonstration Teaching, or DT). DT is a full-time, supervised, in-classroom experience of a minimum of 12–20 weeks during which you will be hosted by an experienced teacher and observed by a Clinical Supervisor. Your host teacher will evaluate your performance based on accepted professional standards. Learn more.

More About the B.A. in Special & Elementary Education

A degree in special education can help ensure you are uniquely qualified to work with all kinds of learners, especially those who need additional help and support in the classroom. A special education degree program is a great option if you have a passion for helping unique learners.

If you are interested in becoming a special education teacher, you'll likely need a degree in special education. This degree will give you specific skills and training to work with unique learners in a variety of classroom settings. It will also prepare you for specific special education teaching licensure. 

Each state has unique requirements for getting certified in special education teaching. For most states you'll be required to:

  • Earn a bachelor's degree in special education
  • Do student teaching inside a classroom
  • Pass state licensing exams
  • Pass a background check

Special education is a classroom setting designed to help students with disabilities be able to learn.

It depends on your state and which Teachers College program you complete, so it is best to ask your Enrollment Counselor. Typically, teachers with an elementary education license can teach anywhere from kindergarten through 8th grade, and secondary teachers in math, English, or science can teach anywhere from 5th to 12th grades. K–12 special education licenses typically enable teachers to work with students from kindergarten through 12th grade.

It depends on your state and your program, but for most Teachers College programs, Demonstration Teaching is typically about the length of one full traditional school semester. DT is a minimum of 12–16 weeks, but it can be longer in other programs.

WGU has a team that works with you to connect you with schools in your area, and with host teachers that will support you through your Demonstration Teaching.

Your Enrollment Counselor can provide more details about your specific situation. While you can provide recommendations of a school you want to be placed in, generally, our Field Placement Office will be selecting and setting up the placement in the end.

Your Enrollment Counselor has access to an up-to-date database that tracks requirements and eligibility for all WGU programs and all US states and territories, so a conversation with your Enrollment Counselor can quickly verify this for you based on where you live and your desired program.

Yes. Transcripts are used by your program mentor to help develop your personalized degree plan. WGU requires that official transcripts of previous academic work completed at other colleges or graduate schools be submitted for evaluation. It is your obligation to request official transcripts from the institutions you have attended when applying for admission. At the present time, we don't require a minimum grade point average (GPA) or SAT/ACT scores for admission.

Yes. Students applying to a graduate degree program must send bachelor's degree official transcripts verifying their receipt of a bachelor’s degree from a regionally or DETC-accredited institution. The Records and Admissions Departments should receive the official transcripts by the 1st of the month prior to the start of your program. WGU accepts limited college transfer credits at the graduate (master’s) level in only a few programs: M.S. Nursing and Master of Health Leadership. Transfer credit is not accepted in all other master's programs. For all other graduate-level programs, requirements are not cleared through transfer because of prior graduate school study. However, competencies obtained through prior study will help students to accelerate toward degree completion.

Your official transcripts will be evaluated by a member of the Transcripts Department. The time it takes to review your transcripts and report which subject areas (domains) are cleared will vary. We will inform you via email when your transcripts arrive, and we endeavor to report transfer decisions through your Enrollment Counselor within two weeks of that date.

Because your mentor will use your transcripts to help develop your personalized Degree Plan, it is important we receive official transcripts directly from all the colleges and universities you have previously attended no later than the 1st of the month prior to your intended start date. WGU will not award transfer credit based upon the work identified by transcripts received after your start date.

If you have questions about your transcripts prior to submission of your official transcripts, you may contact your Enrollment Counselor to discuss the Transfer Evaluation Guidelines for your intended degree program.

Yes. If you’re applying for a bachelor’s degree program and have completed college coursework at another institution, you may have your transcripts evaluated and may be able to have some or all of the requirements for lower-division courses cleared through transfer credits. In some programs, professional certifications may clear additional requirements.

Many students transfer into a WGU degree program already having accumulated many credit hours or having earned an associate’s degree. Transcripts are evaluated on a course-by-course basis according to the following general guidelines:

  • If you hold an Associate of Arts (AA) or Associate of Science (AS) degree from an institution that is recognized as nationally or regionally accredited by the U.S. Department of Education, you should clear all or many of the lower-division requirements for a bachelor’s degree in Business or Information Technology. For Health Professions and Teachers College programs, a course-by-course evaluation is typically required. Only an official transcript evaluation can determine how many requirements you may be able to waive.
  • If you earned an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) or other applied associate’s degree, you may be able to clear a significant portion of WGU's lower-division degree requirements.
  • If you have completed college courses but have not earned a degree of any type, you may also be able to have some degree requirements cleared through a course-by-course transcript evaluation.
  • WGU accepts limited college transfer credits at the graduate (master’s) level in only a few programs: M.S. Nursing and Master of Health Leadership. Transfer credit into the M.S. Nursing and Master of Health Leadership programs will only be considered for new students beginning their program on February 1, 2021, and beyond. Transfer credit is not accepted in all other master's programs. For all other graduate-level programs, requirements are not cleared through transfer because of prior graduate school study. However, competencies obtained through prior study will help students to accelerate toward degree completion.

It depends on how well the courses you’ve already taken match the competencies in the WGU degree program you’re applying for.

Each WGU degree program specifies the competencies you must possess and demonstrate mastery of in order to receive your degree; having accumulated credits isn’t sufficient proof that you have mastered the competencies.

Prior courses must be relevant. If your prior coursework directly matches the requirements for your WGU bachelor’s degree, you may be able to clear one or more required lower-division courses. However, if your coursework was in subject areas that don’t match WGU's degree requirements, the amount of transfer credit you receive may be limited.

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