Bachelor of Arts in Special Education (Grades K-12) –Online Program

Offered by: Western Governors University

College credits: 122

Course length: Competency-based courses; 6-month terms


Western Governors University's online teaching degree leading to special education certification will prepare you to fill a vital need in your community. The Bachelor of Arts in Special Education (K-12) program teaches the content knowledge and effective teaching skills to become a special education instructor for students with mild to moderate disabilities. This degree is a cross-categorical model for initial certification. With our support you will have the opportunity to become a highly qualified educator prepared to make a difference with those who need it most. Depending on state licensure requirements, this program may lead to dual licensure in Elementary Education and Special Education.

By clicking the "Apply now" button, you will be directed to the general scholarship application form for the Denver Public Schools Paraprofessional Continuing Education Program, the first step on your way to a degree. 

Who the Program is For
  • Individuals who need a bachelor’s degree and want to become a certified special education teacher.
  • Unlicensed teachers, substitute teachers, career changers, retired military personnel, school paraprofessionals, and others who feel the call to teach. 
  • Individuals who have completed some college coursework or have applicable work experience. 
  • Individuals who can typically spend 15 or more hours per week on their studies.
This program will be flexible and adaptable to your schedule. Demonstration teaching and the cohort seminar are offered twice each year, in the fall and spring. Click here to see the program guidebook for Bachelor's of Arts in Special Education (K-12).


The Bachelor of Arts in Special Education (K-12), Cross-Categorical Model, is a competency-based program that enables teacher candidates to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Special Education (BASP) degree and leads to an initial dual licensure in Special Education (K-12) and Elementary Education (K-8) teaching certificate online (except for the in-classroom component Demonstration Teaching and options for in-classroom field experiences prior to Demonstration Teaching). This program consists of four balanced areas of study (domains), competency-based assessments, and the creation of a professional portfolio. It includes a supervised teaching practicum that consists of two placements, one in an elementary classroom and one in a middle or secondary level classroom. Both placements should support the academic needs of students with mild-to-moderate disabilities. The Special Education Cross-Categorical Model is a specifically designed program for the education and training of prospective teachers to work with students with mild/moderate disabilities in a variety of school settings, including inclusionary K-12 classrooms, resource rooms or self-contained classrooms; serve as teacher of record K-8, as well as teach all basic school subjects in the elementary education classroom. With the successful completion of required assessments in the major area of teaching, the student can receive institutional recommendation for certification in special education and in elementary education. During the required major or sequence of the standard path, students gain knowledge, skills, and competencies essential to effective teaching while being involved in field-based experiences.

What You'll Learn
Essential Knowledge and Skills
Western Governors University developed their online program with significant input from experts and educational leaders who serve on Western Governors University’s Education Program Council. This online degree program requires the completion of coursework to ensure you have the essential skills and knowledge you need to become a licensed teacher, as well as practice teaching in an actual classroom and the completion of a professional portfolio. The B.A. in Special Education is nationally recognized by the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC).

Key Subject Areas
These Courses Add to Your Credentials:
  • Teacher Education Foundations
  • Teacher Education Diversity
  • Special Education
  • Preclinical Experiences
  • Instructional Planning and Presentation
  • Elementary Education Methods
  • Demonstration Teaching (practice teaching)
Core Subject Areas
These General Education Assessments May Be Cleared through Transfer Credit:
  • English Composition 
  • College Algebra 
  • Elements of Effective Communication 
  • Survey of World History 
  • Health, Fitness, and Wellness
  • Survey of United States History
  • Introduction to Humanities
  • Critical Thinking and Logic 
  • Integrated Natural Sciences 
  • Survey of United States Constitution and Government

View syllabus / course list

Cost and Schedule

Guild provides reduced cost education for working adults. We’ll help you have an affordable path to move your education forward.


WGU's online degree programs are designed to be affordable for hard-working adults with bills to pay.

Guild students may pay as little as 10% of the published course or program cost to earn their bachelor's degree when taking advantage of:
  • Federal Pell Grants, with up to $5,920 per year in grant aid
  • Tuition assistance benefits from your employer
  • The $2,500 American Opportunity Tax Credit
  • Guild's tuition discount, and no out-of-state tuition costs
If you are an Active Duty Servicemember or Veteran, talk to our accredited partners about your eligibility for additional tuition benefits.


Each term is 6 months - for this degree, a full course load is 12 competency units (credit hours) per term.

How Long Will It Take? 
It Depends On You. 

The average time it takes to complete a Bachelor's of Arts degree program at Western Governors University is 2 to 2.5 years for students with an associate's degree or equivalent and 4 to 5 years for students with little or no prior college. Western Governors University’s competency-based method, which allows you to advance through your courses using the skills and knowledge you already have, may allow you to finish your degree in even less time.

The degree program requires a total of 122 competency units (CUs), our equivalent to the traditional credit hour. If you've taken courses or received a degree from another college or university, you may be able to clear some of these requirements through transfer credit. Ultimately, the pace at which you complete your online Bachelor's of Arts degree program depends on how rapidly you pass assessments. It’s your program. It’s up to you. Create your own schedule, choose your pace and achieve your personal goals.

View syllabus / course list

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply?
  1. Submit the DPS Scholarship Application
    • Submit your scholarship application by clicking either the "Start Your Scholarship Application" button on the top of this page or the "Apply Now" button on any degree of interest.
    • Principal Endorsement: Ask your principal (or school leader) to complete the Principal Endorsement Form on your behalf. (Assistant principals and deans are also accepted).
  2. Apply to  Western Governors University
    • Make sure to use the DPS code to waive your application fee—your Guild admissions advisor will provide you this code upon successful completion of the Scholarship Application. 
    • Once you apply, you’ll work with Western Governors University to complete your FAFSA, take a college readiness assessment, and submit all transcripts from prior college/university courses.
  3. Sign the Scholarship Agreement:
    • Once you have been accepted to Western Governors University, you will be required to complete and sign a Scholarship Agreement Form. 

Can I still work while going to school? 
Absolutely. Western Governors University’s degree programs are built with working adults in mind. Because of the program’s competency-based approach, you can complete your work on your own time. You can expect to work around 20 hours per week on school to remain on track to complete your competencies each term. 

Where do I send my transcripts?
You should send your transcripts directly to Western Governors University. 

Mail option:
Western Governors University
ATTN: Transcripts Department
4001 South 700 East, Suite 700
Salt Lake City, UT 84107-2533

Electronic option:
Western Governors University, 
Student Records 03339400 

What does the financial aid process look like?
You will first need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine your student aid eligibility based on your personal and family situation. Please note: if you are a first-time user, you will be required to create an FSA ID and will enter your name, date of birth, Social Security number, contact information, and challenge questions and answers. When you are completing your FAFSA, note that Western Governors University’s school code is 033394. Once Western Governors University receives your FAFSA, you will complete Western Governors University's financial aid application. You will find this in your Western Governors University student portal. To learn more, visit the Western Governors University financial aid application

How much time should I expect to spend each week?
Online learning is not easy. You should expect to work hard and spend 20 hours or more per week on your studies. Still, much of your program will be flexible enough to fit into your schedule, not the other way around. You will need to plan to complete your demonstration teaching and the cohort seminar in the spring or in the fall. They are offered twice each year. Also, be aware that demonstration teaching and preclinical experiences may not be waived and prior experience may not be used to satisfy these requirements as you must demonstrate competency in the classroom in order to complete your Western Governors University degree program. 

What makes Western Governors University unique?
Western Governors University has an innovative learning model for helping working adults earn bachelor's and master's degrees. Watch a video on what makes Western Governors University unique. Western Governors University is designed to let you go to school on your time, not according to a class schedule. The online degree program is flexible and puts you at the center of your education: you choose when and where to complete your coursework. 

Western Governors University is also very mission-driven. Created to expand access to higher education through online, competency-based degree programs, Western Governors University’s mission has remained one of helping hardworking adults meet their educational goals and improve their career opportunities. To fulfill the mission, the founding governors also insisted that Western Governors University be affordable, flexible, and student-focused. Hence, Western Governors University strives to serve as many students as possible—including minorities, first-generation college students, those with modest incomes, and others whose lives or geographic locations do not allow them to attend traditional, campus-based colleges. Western Governors University has flourished into a national university, serving more than 67,000 students from all 50 states, yet remains non-bureaucratic and innovative. It continues to receive praise for its academic model and to enhance its reputation with employers for the emphasis on graduating highly competent professionals.

How is Western Governors University accredited for teaching?
Western Governors University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. The Northwest Commission is also responsible for the accreditation of other major universities in the West, including the University of Washington, the University of Oregon, Gonzaga University, and the University of Utah, among many others. 

Western Governors University was the first exclusively online university to receive accreditation for its degree programs that lead to teacher licensure from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). Western Governors University has Teachers College graduates working in all 50 states, and has been recognized by the White House as an example of what works in postsecondary education.

The NCATE accrediting team extensively reviewed the entire Western Governors University Teachers College curriculum to ensure that candidates have the knowledge and skills to be effective in helping all students learn. This involved intensive interviews with students, faculty, graduates, school district personnel, and education experts, as well as a review of Western Governors University student performance on national performance exams. An online teaching degree from Western Governors University tells employers that you're serious about success.

Tell me more about Guild Education.
Guild Education partners with employers to offer a variety of online classes, programs, and degrees from top-ranked universities that you can complete while working.

You will get support from a Guild advisor, who will help you find the right program, navigate the financial aid process, and provide you with personal college and career advising to help you navigate the college process from day one to graduation.

To give employees a variety of options, Guild partners with a consortium of universities and learning providers, including Brandman University, Western Governors University, Bellevue University, and StraighterLine, in addition to offering custom content. 

Benefits of partnering with Guild include:
  • A path to finish your degree or take graduate courses, at little to no cost
  • A personal college and career adviser to help you navigate programs and offerings
  • Online classes that allow you to work at your own pace
  • Relevant classes and programs designed to help you advance in your career
  • Credit recognition for past college credits and corporate credits towards your degrees

What are Guild's guiding principles?
  • Students first: We're here to help you, and you come first in our world. In exchange, we expect you give your all and to support your fellow classmates.
  • We learn best by doing: Experimentation, learning by doing, feedback and reflection lay at the core of every learning experience with Guild.
  • Feedback makes us better, in fact, it’s a gift: Practice only makes perfect when we get feedback on how to improve.
  • Reflection is a need-to-have, not a nice-to-have: Reflection allows us to digest the learnings and feedback we’ve received.
  • Community matters: We’re all in this together and we expect all Guild members to appreciate the role we play in each other’s learning experience.