Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)

Exceptional Student Education Online

Teach and support gifted children and children with disabilities.

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Online format allows convenience and flexibility
Take courses taught by experienced, full-time faculty
Earn Florida DOE certification in Exceptional Student Education and Elementary Education with Reading and ESOL endorsements

Exceptional Student Education, B.A. Overview

The University of West Florida’s fully online exceptional student and elementary education bachelor’s degree program is a fully accredited program that prepares teachers to set high learning expectations for their students and address diverse, individual learning needs. Upon completion of this program, graduates are eligible for a Professional Florida Educator’s Certificate in Exceptional Student Education (K–12) as well as Elementary Education (K–6) with endorsements in both Reading and English for Speakers of Other Languages.

The Exceptional Student and Elementary Education program is a Florida Department of Education approved specialization that leads directly to state certification in Exceptional Student Education (K–12) and Elementary Education (K–6) with ESOL and Reading Endorsements (Students must pass FDOE exams prior to student teaching).

Eligibility for initial educator certification in most states is based on the completion of a state-approved educator preparation program. This program is approved in Florida. Even though you may be residing in Washington while in this program, your application for educator certification in Washington will be processed as an out-of-state application. Go to for more information. Teachers are advised to contact their individual school districts as to whether this program may qualify for teacher advancement.

Requirements for teacher education programs may change due to legislative mandates. Therefore, the actual program requirements may differ from those listed in the catalog. Candidates must inquire with the chair or an advisor in the School of Education to obtain the most current program requirements. Students seeking initial certification must be degree-seeking.

Field Experience

The Exceptional Student and Elementary Education bachelor’s degree program includes two 100-hour field experiences in K–12 classrooms under the careful supervision of an experienced teacher prior to their student teaching capstone experience.

Field experiences are designed for UWF students to observe effective teaching practices and expand their knowledge base related to content, the learner and learning, instructional practice and professional responsibility. Students develop their planning and instructional skills as they tutor individuals and small groups of K–12 students, and provide whole group instruction in reading, writing, mathematics, science and social studies. Field experience also includes an emphasis on teaching English language learners.

Student teaching is the capstone experience for students in the Exceptional Student and Elementary Education program. During the semester-long experience, students gradually assume full teaching responsibilities in a general or special education classroom with the guidance and support of an experienced teacher. Students will demonstrate that they can effectively provide all students with rigorous standards-based instruction, and are prepared for their first teaching position.

Fingerprinting is required for any placement in a school (including the field experience associated with EDF 1005: Introduction to Education). The Student Affidavit and Fingerprinting Application are required before any student can be placed in a school for field experiences or student teaching. Forms are available from the local school districts.

Candidates for This Program Include:

  • Future teachers who want to fulfill a critical shortage by making a difference in the lives of all students, including those with exceptionalities
  • Those wanting to teach at the elementary or middle school level in general education
  • Those wanting to teach at the elementary and secondary level in special education

You Will Be Able To:

  • Create and manage an inclusive learning environment which facilitates positive social interactions and makes content accessible and developmentally appropriate for all students
  • Plan instruction which sets rigorous learning goals, reflects knowledge of content area curriculum and pedagogy and facilitates critical thinking and problem solving
  • Critically evaluate their instruction using multiple methods of assessment to monitor student progress and guide decision making and problem-solving
  • Communicate relevant information using a variety of technologies during the learning process
  • Take initiative to create professional learning opportunities and proactively seek feedback to improve professional practices
  • Collaborate with colleagues, families and community members to provide effective instruction for students from diverse backgrounds


The B.A. in Exceptional Student Education is accredited based on the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) Standards through Spring 2025. CAEP is the only CHEA recognized national accreditor for educator preparation.

CAEP’s annual outcome and impact measures and their trends, candidate performance data, and additional accreditation information is available on the UWF School of Education Accreditation web page.