Undergraduate Major with Certification

Elementary Education: The Early Years and Special Education (PK-12) (BA)

Prepare for a rewarding career tackling the educational challenges of the 21st century with Widener’s early elementary education and special education undergraduate program.

Elementary Education Teacher and Student

Program Overview

Widener’s elementary and special education program will prepare you as a next-level educator.

You can prepare for certification in early elementary education and special education, opening you to a great range of job opportunities. If you are interested in working in education-related fields that do not require certification, like museums, nonprofits, and curricula development, we have a pathway to success for you too.

Our experienced faculty are dedicated to helping you succeed from the start. You will receive hands-on experience from your very first education course, by taking part in field experience at our cooperating schools.

Program Options

Certification Track

This track prepares you for elementary education and special education certification and includes student teaching requirements necessary for state teacher licensure. This will prepare you for a wide-range of education careers. 

View the Loading... for curriculum and coursework requirements.

Non-Certification Track

This track gives you a strong foundational background in the field of education so you can thrive in education-related careers that do not require certification/state teacher licensure, such as non-profit sector education, educational advocacy/policy, curriculum development, creating educational programming, working in museums and refugee centers, and teaching in private or charter educational agencies.

View the Loading... for curriculum and coursework requirements.

Our program prepares you to apply for Instructional I certification in Elementary Education grades PK–4 and Special Education PK-12 through the State of Pennsylvania.

Teacher candidates in the Elementary and Special Education dual certification program participate in the Community Engaged Teacher Education (CETE) program beginning in the fall semester of their senior year and the following semester, continue on to complete student teaching, providing students with a full year of public school residency and teaching before graduation.

The culminating experience in preparing students seeking certification is a full-time, 14-week, student teaching experience during the senior year. This experience builds on the Community Engaged Teacher Education (CETE) program and is designed to provide candidates with the opportunity to put into practice all the principles and techniques learned throughout their coursework.

Each state/jurisdiction has requirements that candidates must meet in order to obtain licensure and/or certification to teach. It is the student’s responsibility to seek appropriate guidance before beginning any academic program. If you intend to seek certification outside of Pennsylvania, the University recommends that you contact the appropriate state licensing agency to obtain specific licensure/certification requirements per state and the most up-to-date information.

To view Widener’s licensure eligibility by state/jurisdiction, please visit the Center for Education: Program Licensure page.

Students interested in teaching elementary-age students may be interested in pursuing the Spanish education certification program. 

This certification qualifies Spanish majors to teach pre-kindergarten through grade 12. 

View the Loading... requirements for the Spanish education certification.

Program Highlights

Our undergraduate program in early elementary education and special education gives you a solid foundation for entering the teaching profession with confidence and experience under your belt.

Teacher Education

Community-Engaged Teacher Education Program

We are committed to helping you become a capable teacher, to close the opportunity gap for students in diverse urban settings. Our CETE program places you in a Stetser Elementary School classroom—and with a community mentor in the city of Chester—with the intent of developing cultural proficiency and culturally-relevant pedagogy.

Study Abroad Student

Experience the World & Study Abroad

Prepare to be a well-rounded educator with global experience and diverse cultural perspectives. You can seamlessly integrate a study abroad experience during the semester of your student teaching.

Once you're back home, you'll realize the skills you learned abroad are in high demand in the education field.

Clubs & Organizations

Elementary and Special Education majors have the opportunity to join various clubs and organizations across and outside of campus to expand their network, including the Kappa Delta Pi, the Widener Student Education Association (WSEA), and many more.


Our professors' leadership and research are shaping the education field. Get to know our early elementary education and special education faculty.

Briana Bronstein
Assistant Teaching Professor

It takes someone special to teach someone special. Our pre-service educators are dedicated to learning, growing, and teaching the next generation.

Xiaobao Li
Associate Professor

"I have authored or co-authored 15 publications in top-tier education journals and am honored to be a highly rated online professor of Widener students."

Reisboard, Dana_22SP
Associate Professor

"My teaching focuses upon cognitive processing and application. In this regard, critical literacy complements the cognitive learning process. Critical literacy is the ability to actively read a text that promotes an understanding of social concepts and human relationships."

Richard E. Thurlow
Associate Professor

"My interests include brain development, literacy development, and applications of technology in research and instruction. My greatest excitement in teaching comes from the way that working with graduate students spills over to my teaching of undergraduates and vice versa."

Nadine McHenry

"Learning to be a teacher requires discipline and hard work. Learning to be great teacher requires passion and a deep dedication to the many and diverse children that we serve."

Your Inside Track to Success

Your Inside Track to Success

With a Widener degree, you will have the inside track to a noble career as a teacher. You will shape the education and growth of future generations.

Outlook & Outcomes

Potential Careers

  • Early childhood teacher
  • Elementary education teacher
  • Special education teacher
  • Preschool owner or director
  • Teacher leader

Industry Growth

The number of Elementary and Special Education jobs will grow by 7%, as fast as the average for other occupations

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Need for Special Education Teachers

Demand for special education services and teachers should rise as children with disabilities are increasingly being identified earlier and enrolled into special education programs.

Recent Employers

  • Chester Upland School District
  • Chichester School District
  • Elwyn
  • Interboro School District

Take the Next Steps

Join a leading university dedicated to your success.

Visit Us

To visit Widener is, more often than not, to fall in love with the place. To fit your timeline and schedule, we offer a variety of ways to get to know us.

View Tuition and Fees

When comparing costs, we encourage you to look beyond sticker price. Because Widener is a private institution, we’re able to offer financial assistance that brings our exceptional education within reach.

Financial Aid

Our financial aid team takes the guessing game out of applying for financial aid. To determine your financial aid package, including scholarships and grants, apply and complete the financial aid process. You might be surprised at how much we can offer in assistance.

Next steps to apply

Applying online has never been easier—and it’s free! We also accept the Common Application. Take the next step toward joining the Widener Pride.

Get in Touch