Early Childhood Special Education at BHSU

Early Childhood Special Education

Learn how to teach. Everyone.

The need for teachers with training specific to the developmental needs of a wide range of learners continues to grow. A degree in EC/SPED will prepare you to provide an education grounded in research-based practices. At BHSU, we strive to create opportunities to broaden and deepen the knowledge, skills, practices, and dispositions of individuals who will work closely with young children.

  • GAIN HANDS-ON EXPERIENCES in preschool through 3rd grade settings
  • LEARN EARLY CHILDHOOD AND SPECIAL EDUCATION CONTENT from faculty experienced in the field

The Early Childhood Special Education major at Black Hills State University provides the opportunity to acquire training and certification needed to work with children, from newborns to eight year olds. Students learn strategies for reaching each individual child and connecting with families to enhance learning.

This major prepares students to work in public schools, state early intervention programs, private schools, or in nationally recognized early childhood developmental centers.


  • Study with BHSU early childhood education faculty who are strong advocates for children with typical and atypical educational needs.
  • Get involved with student organizations that support the learning goals of this program.
  • Gain early childhood experience at the BHSU Little Jackets Learning Center.

Prepare for the future

The ultimate goal of the Black Hills State University ECE/SPED (Early Childhood Special Education) program is to prepare you to provide for the developmental learning needs of young children. Our program emphasizes engaged, inclusive, and collaborative teacher training. This is achieved through coursework, internships, research opportunities, and hands-on participation.
Our ECE/SPED composite major and affiliated programs provide BHSU teacher education students to work with faculty who:

 » Are active in professional organizations 

» Are active in the community » Are closely involved with BHSU’s lab setting, Little Jackets   Learning Center\

 » Are experienced ECE and/or SPED educators

 » Conduct research in the field » Hold doctorates (PhDs or EdDs) in ECE/SPED 

» Present at conferences and serve on committees  


BHSU ECE/SPED students are given ample opportunities to work with young children. Our courses are designed to provide students real life experiences with children through practicum components. The ECE/SPED program works closely with BHSU Field Experiences office, area public schools, child-care centers, and local programs to provide BHSU students with quality practicum experiences.


Little Jackets Learning Center was founded in 1988. At one time, our center provided students with child care during class times. Today, our ECE/SPED program provides a lab setting that emphasizes quality care and experiential learning. Little Jackets Learning Center provides meaningful connections of research and practice through practicums, observation, lab, and active involvement with young children. 

*Current students, please refer to the DegreeWorks Dashboard in MyBHSU to confirm your major requirements.

Get Involved

Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)

You can join the group and expand your education with special and exceptional needs through activities and conventions. The group hosts several local activities, including holiday dances for the Northern Hills Training Center and the Black Hills Special Services groups.

Reading Council

The International Reading Association is a professional organization concerned with the promotion of literacy, with specific emphasis on reading, language, and thinking. Its primary purposes are to promote quality reading and language arts instruction at all levels of reading and maturity consistent with each individual’s unique capacity.

South Dakota Education Association (SDEA)

The SDEA works to better education for both teachers and students. They work with elected officials to pass bills that help the education system. They also work with local leaders to increase education funding for local schools. The SDEA also provides development sessions and trainings for educators to help continue developing their craft through hands-on learning.

Talking Hands (Sign Language Organization)

BHSU Talking Hands strives to educate others about sign language (American Sign Language, Signing Exact English, along with other forms of sign language). Its purpose is to help students, faculty, staff, and community members learn sign language while developing lasting relationships. BHSU Talking Hands aims to have both community and university involvement by volunteering and participating in university activities. In the community, members have participated in activities such as teaching sign language to children at area Boys and Girls Clubs as well as performing for community groups to introduce them to the power of sign language.


Our ECE/SPED major program leads to state certification for teaching:
» Birth through 3rd Grade
» Special Education Birth through 3rd Grade

Our minors and endorsements in working with young children include:
» Early Childhood Education Endorsement
» Early Childhood Education Minor
» ECE/SPED Endorsement
» Kindergarten Endorsement
» Major Content for Head Start Teachers (non-licensure program)


Open to all teaching majors each spring semester, BHSU holds its annual teachers fair welcoming over 60 employers to campus to meet with students seeking job opportunities.

Early Childhood Special Education Major Course Requirements

Required Core - 6 semester hours

  • 3 HIST 151 - United States History I
  • 3 HIST 152 - United States History II
  • 3 PSYC 101 - General Pyschology

Pre-Professional Core - 30 semester hours

  • ECE 228 Guidance with Young Children & 228L Lab
  • EDFN 338 Foundations of American Education
  • ELED 303 Earth & Physical Science for Elementary Teachers
  • ELED 315 Foundations & Theories of Reading
  • EPSY 302 Educational Psychology
  • HLTH 321 K-8 Methods of Teaching Health
  • INED 411 South Dakota Indian Studies
  • LIBM 205 Children's Literature
  • MATH 341 Math Concepts for Teachers I
  • SPED 100 Intro to Persons with Exceptionalities
  • SPED 460 Family Systems & Professional Collaboration

Professional Core - 54 semester hours

  • ECE 371 Infants and Toddlers: Developmentally Appropriate Practices
  • ECE 408 Assessment in Early Childhood Special Education
  • ECE 411 Social Development in Early Childhood
  • ECE 413 Early Childhood Curriculum
  • ECE 417 Methods of Early Childhood Education
  • ECE 495 Practicum
  • EDFN 365 Computer Based Technology & Learning
  • ELED 320 K-8 Science Methods
  • ELED 330 K-8 Math Methods
  • ELED 360 K-8 Social Science Methods
  • ELED 408 Plan, Manage, and Assess the Diverse K-8 Classroom
  • ELED 440 K-8 Language Arts Methods
  • ELED 450 K-8 Reading Methods
  • ELED 459 Intro to Literacy Assessment & Remediation
  • ELED 495 Practicum: Pre-Student Teaching
  • SPED 406 Introduction to Assistive Technology
  • SPED 410 Behavior Management of Exceptional Children
  • SPED 413 Students with MR, DD & Severe Disabilites
  • SPED 431 Identification and Assessment in Special Education
  • Take the following courses your last semester:
  • EDFN 475 Human Relations
  • ECE 486 Early Childhood/Special Ed Student Teach: Preschool
  • ECE 488 Student Teaching

Global Requirement: depending on your selection, this requirement will satisfy 3 hours of either Social Science or Arts & Humanities requirements. Take 1 course from: AIS/HIST 257, ANTH 210, ARTH 211/212/251, ENGL 211/212, GEOG 210, HIST 121/122/153, HUM 100, MCOM 151, POLS 141/250

Early Childhood Education Minor Requirements

23 semester hours

  • ECE 328 Guidance with Young Children
  • ECE 411 Social Development in Early Childhood
  • ECE 413 Early Childhood Curriculum
  • ECE 417 Methods of Early Childhood Education
  • ECE 495 Practicum
  • EPSY 428 Child & Adolescent Development
  • SPED 100 Intro to Persons with Exceptionalities
  • SPED 460 Family Systems and Professional Collaboration


Develop valuable personal relationships in a small community with amazing faculty and staff while thriving in the outdoors of the Black Hills.