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What is Special Education?

Students who have been identified with a disability (i.e. emotional, mental, physical and or social) often require more support when compared to their peers. Thus, special education seeks to generate a nonrestrictive environment that allows students to flourish and reach their full developmental potential. Special education also aims to meet the unique learning needs of students with an identified disability via support, instruction and services. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), all students with an identified disability have access to free public education.

Special Education Careers With a Bachelor's Degree

Earning a bachelor’s in special education can equip graduates with the ability to work with other professionals and parents to aid with student development. Graduates will also gain knowledge of how to assist students with disabilities, manage behavior, assess student’s unique needs and more.

Early Childhood Special Educator

Early childhood special educators provide services to infants, toddlers and preschool children with disabilities. They also work with other professionals and families to provide services and identify strategies to meet the unique needs of their students. The primary focus of this career is providing students the necessary skills to begin coping with their unique disabilities.

Special Education Teaching Assistant

Special education teaching assistants work with special education teachers to educate children with disabilities. Responsibilities can vary, however, the following are common duties:

  • Overseeing students in a group or one-on-one setting
  • Supporting teachers via student interaction, lesson plans and/or paperwork
  • Utilizing exercises to aid with the development of students with disabilities

Special Education Careers with a Graduate Degree

Earning a master’s in special education rewards professionals with more career opportunities in the special education field. Licensed teachers and professionals seeking to advance their careers or obtain new career paths would benefit the most from acquiring a master’s in special education.

Special Education Teachers

Special education teachers work with students who have a wide range of disabilities and are responsible for the following:

  • Assess each student’s skill set to determine their unique needs
  • Develop, implement and update Individualized Education Programs (IEP) for each student
  • Develop, implement and modify lessons to meet the unique needs of each student
  • Educate students on various skill sets throughout the year
  • Measure and share each student’s progress throughout the year

Special Education Art Therapist

Special education art therapists help build or enhance cognitive and motor skills of disabled children through art and counseling. Art therapists also provide children with disabilities an outlet to express their emotions and thoughts. According to the American Art Therapy Association, special education art therapists frequently work with medical professionals to determine the most effective art therapy plan-of-action that will benefit a child.

Prepare for a Career in Special Education at NLU

Start your journey to a rewarding career in special education today! Learn more about NLU’s:


    NLU’s Chicago campus on South Michigan Avenue occupies five floors of the historic Peoples Gas Building. This landmark building, across the street from the Art Institute of Chicago and Grant Park, is easily accessible by train, bus and car and is surrounded by restaurants, parking lots/garages and shops.

    122 S. Michigan Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60603
    (888) 658.8632
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    Conveniently located in a fast-growing business district off I-90 and Route 31, NLU Elgin features 10 classrooms with high-tech media equipment; a computer lab with high-speed Internet access; two conference rooms; and comfortable student lounges. Parking is free at this recently remodeled and upgraded teaching site, which now includes wireless Internet access.

    620 Tollgate Road
    Elgin, IL 60123
    (888) 658.8632
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    Opened in the summer of 2006, NLU North Shore at Skokie is a state-of-the-art modern campus located just off the Edens Expressway near the Old Orchard Shopping Center. The campus includes 44 wireless classrooms equipped with high-tech media equipment; four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, including a walk-in lab in the library; six conference rooms; a public café for beverages and snacks; a student welcome center; a library for research and study; and multiple, comfortable student lounge areas.

    5202 Old Orchard Road
    Skokie, IL 60077
    (888) 658.8632
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    Located just minutes from the East-West Tollway (I-88), NLU Lisle features 42 wireless classrooms equipped with high-tech media equipment; four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, including a separate walk-in lab in the library; a café for beverages and snacks; a student welcome center; a library for research and study; conference rooms; and six comfortable student lounge areas with wireless access.

    850 Warrenville Road
    Lisle, IL 60532
    (888) 658.8632
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    Located in one of Chicago's major northwest suburbs, the newly renovated NLU Wheeling includes 20 classrooms with high-tech media equipment, four conference rooms, four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, large student lounge areas with wireless capabilities and interactive video capabilities, and an extensive research library. The site also houses the university library research collection.

    1000 Capitol Drive
    Wheeling, IL 60090
    (888) 658.8632
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    Established in 1988 and located in one of Tampa's major business districts, NLU's Florida Regional Center serves students in 13 counties in central Florida. In addition to its classrooms, the National Louis University Tampa Regional Center features a computer lab, student lounges, and conference room.

    5110 Sunforest Drive, Suite 102
    Tampa, FL 33634
    (800) 366.6581
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