Child's toy with blocks

About Special Education and Childhood Education

Special education is a cross-categorical program that focuses on educating students with special instructional needs. Undergraduate exceptional education majors learn to teach children with intellectual and developmental disabilities, physical/neurological disabilities, and learning and behavioral difficulties. While most students who graduate from this major become special education or elementary education teachers, others use their skills to serve individuals with disabilities in different capacities — behavior specialists, job coaches, or direct support specialists. Others continue their education at the graduate level to prepare for careers in speech pathology, social work, or higher education. 

Special Education and Childhood Education, B.S. Ed

Special Education: Childhood Program, M.S. Ed

Special Education: Early Childhood Program, M.S. Ed

Students with Disabilities 7-12 Generalist and Students with Disabilities 7-12 Subject Extensions, M.S. Ed

Teaching Bilingual Exceptional Individuals, GCP

Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages - TESOL, Certificate

Degree Information

Exceptional education and childhood education graduates typically obtain positions as teachers in inclusive classrooms, resource rooms, self-contained classrooms, special schools, residential facilities, or as consultant teachers in general education settings. Special education is and has been considered a high-need area across the nation. Projections indication that there will be more jobs in the coming years than those qualified to enter the special education field. Many of our graduates have progressed in their careers as school principals, superintendents, college professors, and researchers. They have also been employed in agencies and schools in states across the nation.

In addition to teaching, our exceptional education graduates may serve individuals with disabilities in different capacities such as behavior specialists, job coaches, or direct support specialists. These are some of the specialty areas that exceptional education graduates pursue:

  • Adapted Physical Education
  • Attention Deficit Disorders
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Deaf-Blindness
  • Developmental Delays
  • Early Childhood Intervention


  • Emotional or Behavioral Disorders
  • Hearing Impairment
  • Intellectual Disabilities
  • Multiple Disabilities
  • Orthopedic Impairments
  • Reading/Literacy Special Needs


  • Sensory or Developmental Disabilities
  • Special Education Administration
  • Special Education Homeschooling
  • Specific Learning Disabilities
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Visual Impairment


    Council for Exceptional Children: The local chapter of the international organization provide members with professional development, community volunteer activities, and fun events.

    Kappa Delta Pi: The international honor society in education is dedicated to scholarship and excellence in education.

    Best Buddies: This organization provides opportunity for college students to be matched in a one-to-one friendship with individuals who have intellectual disabilities.

    Global Book Hour: Student-facilitated program provides weekly book-hour sessions integrating geography, music, visual arts, and healthy eating for local children.

    Polar Plunge: The Exceptional Education Department, Buffalo State Best Buddies, and the Student Council for Exceptional Children help raise money for the New York Special Olympics during this “freezing for a reason” event every December at Woodlawn Beach State Park

    Tutoring in Area Schools: Multiple opportunities are available for students, staff, and faculty to engage PK-12 students through one-on-one tutoring in schools throughout Western New York.

    TeachLivE™: This computer-simulated, immersive, virtual reality classroom provides teacher candidates the opportunity to develop their skills in a safe, digital environment.

    CEURE: Buffalo State’s Center for Excellence in Urban and Rural Education recruits 25-30 education majors each year. Students work as paid teachers alongside classroom teachers with groups of 15 or more children, providing enrichment and recreation.

    International Initiatives: Students have the option to gain field experience in foreign countries, including Chile, Zambia, Italy, and Germany, through the college’s International Professional Development Schools (IPDS)

    A number of our exceptional education faculty members work with students on undergraduate research. The department also offers a special scholarship aimed at supporting student/mentor relationships grounded in undergraduate research opportunities. 

    Buffalo State puts substantial financial resources behind faculty-mentored undergraduate research. The Undergraduate Research Office promotes, supports, and funds undergraduate research in all academic areas—from the sciences to the arts—and for all committed students. More than 400 students present their research through posters and performances each year at the Student Research and Creativity Celebration. They also compete for Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowships, which support eight weeks of paid research activity

    Undergraduate Research Office

    Instead of internships, most exceptional education students complete their fieldwork in schools, agencies, and hospitals. Students work under the supervision of classroom teachers throughout Western New York.  Students who take a service-learning course within the department are exposed to an even greater range of experiences.

    • Buffalo State Child Care Center
    • Summit Educational Resources
    • Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center
    • Baker Victory Services
    • Suburban Adult Services

    Compassionate Learning

    Do you enjoy working with children on a personalized basis? Are you adept at responding to the needs of different learners? Are you patient, caring, and understanding of those whom others might see as different? Our Exceptional Education and Childhood Education Program might be perfect for you.

    "With my degree, I’ll be able to work anywhere from a regular classroom to a self-contained one. Friends who are studying education at other schools don’t necessarily have that option.”

    - Christine Garas Alumni

    "...teacher preparation programs should embed more authentic opportunities into our preparatory programs for exceptional education teachers, which allow them to work with children and families outside of a classroom setting.”

    - Kathy Doody Faculty