The Department of Special Education (SED) was recognized by College Factual as the number one school on the lists of Best Colleges for Special Education in both Illinois and the United States. Overall quality of the program, degree completion, post-graduation earnings, major focus, and accreditation were all factors in determining the ranking.

“Illinois State is the premier institution for preparing teachers in the Midwest and the oldest teacher’s college in the state,” said COE Dean James Wolfinger. “SED has always excelled in preparing the highest quality special education teachers, so this recognition is well-earned and no surprise.”

SED is one of only two programs in the country that prepares special education teachers in the areas of Learning and Behavior, Low Vision and Blindness, and D/deaf and Hard of Hearing. Graduates of the SED program are highly sought after by hiring directors in schools throughout the country, as students complete more than 600 hours of clinical experience prior to student teaching. Special Education teacher candidates are also prepared to teach learners with a range of disabilities in a variety of diverse settings, with hands-on experiences with assistive technologies.

Faculty are experts in their field and most have many years of experience in the classroom working with students of all abilities. In the last year, SED faculty have been awarded two grants of over $1 million each, one from the federal government to prepare future educators of infants and toddlers who are deaf or blind and one from the Illinois State Board of Education to prepare teachers to work with students on the autism spectrum.

“I am always proud of the work of the Special Education faculty, staff, students, and alumni, but I’m particularly proud of their hard work and resilience since the start of the pandemic,” said Dr. Susan Hildebrandt, interim chair of the Department of Special Education. “We continue to prepare excellent special educators to help all students learn and reach their full potential, even during a global crisis.”