Teacher working with a young student.

Special Education

Make a difference in the lives of students with special needs by majoring in special education.

Why Study Special Education?

Unlock the power to transform lives and shape unique stories as a special education major at USD. Embrace the opportunity to make a profound difference in the lives of exceptional individuals. Whether pursuing a major solely in special education or pairing it with elementary or secondary education, you'll emerge as a versatile leader ready to excel in diverse classroom settings. Throughout this comprehensive four-year journey, including a full year of immersive teacher residency, you'll gain invaluable hands-on experiences that will distinguish you in your career path. 

Follow your passion for empowering students with special needs by choosing our dynamic special education program.

Degrees & Offerings

Special Education (B.S.Ed.)

  Vermillion Main Campus

With this degree, you'll earn eligibility for a K-12 Special Education endorsement for a South Dakota Teaching Certificate. Our specialized program equips you with the skills and real-world experiences essential to becoming a K-12 teacher and innovator in the field of special education.

Elementary Education & Special Education (B.S.Ed.)

  Vermillion Main Campus

This unique double major not only equips you with the expertise to support and instruct students with special needs but also positions you as an exceptional candidate for sought-after teaching roles in high-demand areas. You can graduate in four years and earn a South Dakota Teaching Certificate with Elementary Education and K-12 Special Education endorsements.

Secondary Education & Special Education (B.S.Ed.)

  Vermillion Main Campus

With a double major in Secondary and Special Education, you can still graduate in four years and gain the expertise to instruct special education students in your content area. You will have numerous career opportunities, as a highly valuable teacher with a South Dakota Teaching Certificate with Secondary Education and K-12 Special Education endorsements.

Accelerated Special Education: Advanced Specialist in Disabilities (M.A.)

Accelerated Program
  Vermillion Main Campus

You can choose an accelerated option when specializing in advanced specialist in disabilities. If you are a current USD undergraduate student who would like to begin a master's degree while completing your bachelor's degree, you may apply and begin the program after the completion of 90 undergraduate credit hours.

View Admissions Requirements

Program Details






Known for Excellence

With qualities like small class sizes, specialized programs and incredible student opportunities, USD is not your typical university. What makes us unique is what makes your education exceptional.


As a student at USD, the opportunities available to you extend beyond the classroom. Explore your interests, find your community and experience your education to the fullest extent through the following opportunities.

There are plenty of ways you can get involved as a student in the School of Education at USD. Whether you want to serve the community of Vermillion, work with children who have special needs, promote literacy or explore another interest related to education, you'll be able to find the right organization for you.

Explore Student Organizations

The National Association for the Education of Young Children and the National Education Association are professional organizations for educators. Connect with a wide network of teachers and be an advocate for students in one of these organizations.

Explore Student Organizations

Enrich your education and see the world by participating in one of our many study abroad experiences. Here are a few benefits of studying abroad during your time at USD.

  • Gain a new perspective on your academic field of study
  • Improve your language skills
  • Explore a new culture
  • Gain independence and increase self-reliance
  • Become more prepared to work in a global economy
  • Set yourself apart from other job and graduate school applicants
  • Learn more about yourself and your own culture

Learn More

A unique part of your USD education is access to undergraduate research opportunities. As an education student at USD, you will have the chance to explore your interests and conduct innovative research with the support of professors who care about your success. Grants and travel funding are available through the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

Learn More


Explore the departments, facilities and centers that contribute to your education in special education.

Teacher Sitting at a Table with Students.

Teacher Residency & Education

The Division of Teacher Residency & Education is focused on preparing effective, responsive teachers who can meet the needs of all students in today's schools. Through unique features such as a robust yearlong residency, an emphasis on technology and curriculum that recognizes a variety of learners, our division offers an enriching education for educators and leaders.

Faculty & staff

Get to know the faculty and staff in the Division of Teacher Residency & Education. Our faculty's K-12 experience informs their teaching; they know what it's like to manage a classroom, plan curriculum and teach a wide variety of learners, so they have the expertise necessary to prepare you for your future classroom.
Bio Image for Faculty Member Daniel Mourlam

Daniel Mourlam

Division Chair, Teacher Education/Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Susan Gapp

Susan Gapp

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Jing Williams

Jing Williams

Associate Professor


Social Studies Education
Bio Image for Faculty Member John Williams

John Williams

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Lisa Hazlett

Lisa Hazlett



Young adult literature; secondary ELA education
Bio Image for Faculty Member Nicki Carr

Nicki Carr

Bio Image for Faculty Member Danielle Davenport

Danielle Davenport

Senior Secretary
Bio Image for Faculty Member Kristen DeMuth

Kristen DeMuth

Bio Image for Faculty Member Jamie Hovden

Jamie Hovden

Bio Image for Faculty Member Monica Iverson

Monica Iverson

Senior Lecturer


Special Education
Bio Image for Faculty Member Kelly Knutson

Kelly Knutson

Bio Image for Faculty Member Carla McMurryKozak

Carla McMurryKozak



K-12 Special Education
Bio Image for Faculty Member Kevin Reins

Kevin Reins

Associate Professor
Teacher Reading a Story to an Elementary Class

Gain Real-World Experience

At USD, you will gain the real-world experience and skills schools are looking for.

Our graduates are highly sought-after because they bring such a wealth of experiences to the classroom; by the time you graduate, you will have experience in at least three schools and at two or more grade levels – including a full year of teaching experience incorporated into your four-year program. These hands-on experiences prepare you to graduate as a highly-effective teacher with a wealth of knowledge and a variety of marketable skills.

Tuition & Costs

USD offers low tuition rates for in-state and out-of-state students, as well as scholarships, financial aid and employment opportunities to help make your education even more affordable.
SD Residents, SD Advantage* & Child of Alumni
Tuition (30 cr.)
Fees (30 cr.)
Books (estimate)
Food Service

* SD Advantage: The in-state rate is available to new undergraduate students who are residents of South Dakota, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas (starting Summer 2024), Minnesota (starting Summer 2024), Missouri (starting Summer 2024), Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Wyoming and children of alumni of USD.

More About Tuition & Costs

This is an estimated annual cost. Other factors may change the cost of tuition.

Undergraduate Tuition & Costs

Learn more about tuition and fees for undergraduate students and see how your out-of-pocket costs at USD compare to those at other colleges and universities.

Financial Aid

Navigating options for how to pay for college can be challenging, but you are not alone. The Office of Financial Aid will work with you and your family to explore how you can make your college education even more affordable.


USD awards nearly $9.5 million in scholarships each year. View our scholarships to see which ones you may qualify for and how you can apply.


Alum success story

Success story Mason Rogers smiling.
My yearlong residency was extremely beneficial when working towards my ELED/SPED double major. It gave me the opportunity to be in an Elementary Resource Special Ed classroom, a High School Low Functioning Special Ed classroom, and a Middle School General Ed classroom. This let me look at every level of a K-12 education before I chose what level I wanted to teach.

Mason Rogers

B.S.Ed. Elementary and Special Education '19
6th Grade Math and Science Teacher

Take the Next Step