Special education programs

Welcome to the Special Education undergraduate program in the Watson College of Education! Teaching students with special needs is a challenging and rewarding profession that allows you to have a lasting, positive impact on the lives of individuals with disabilities. We offer two Special Education programs: General Curriculum and Adapted Curriculum.

The Special Education General Curriculum program offered by the Watson College will prepare you to provide instruction and supports for individuals with learning, behavioral and mild intellectual disabilities who are enrolled in the general education curriculum. Training includes individual and small group instruction for students with disabilities who are achieving below grade level in basic skills, implementation of positive behavior supports for students with disabilities and collaboration with general education teachers.

The program leads to a B.A. degree and initial North Carolina licensure in both Special Education (general curriculum K-12) and Elementary Education (K-6).

The Special Education Adapted Curriculum program will prepare you to provide instruction to assist students with moderate to severe disabilities who are not enrolled in the general education curriculum. Students supported have moderate to severe physical and/or intellectual disabilities, including such diagnoses as Down syndrome, moderate to severe autism, Fragile X syndrome, multiple disabilities and medically fragile students. Training includes instructional practices to teach functional skills, as well as functional academics, in a small controlled setting (self-contained classroom). These classrooms provide highly individualized instruction for students whose needs cannot be met in the general education classroom.

The program leads to a B.A. degree and initial North Carolina licensure in Adapted Special Education (K-12).

 Distinctive Features of the Programs

  • Small class sizes with personal attention and guidance
  • Dedicated special education faculty with extensive teaching experience
  • A collaborative learning environment
  • An opportunity to gain skills and knowledge in assistive technology and instructional design
  • Training in the use of assistive technology, sign language and how to assist with the medical needs of students
  • A minor is offered in Applied Behavior Analysis and Developmental Disabilities
  • MindSet crisis prevention training is provided for all interns
  • Extensive field and classroom experiences prior to internship
  • A full-time internship during the final semester
  • Opportunities for international experiences
  • High job placement rates
  • Strong preparation for effective teaching of diverse learners
“I chose UNCW’s Watson College of Education because of the many opportunities Watson provides for aspiring educators to be out in the classroom, using what they have learned." - Emily


Learn More About Watson

Admissions: Steps to Becoming a Teacher

Admission to UNCW and the Watson College of Education is a two-step process. The first step is admission to the university. The second step is admission to the Watson College of Education (WCE). Students typically apply to WCE during their sophomore or junior year at UNCW. Transfer students typically apply during their first or second semester at UNCW.


  • High School Seniors and Transfer Students
  • Freshman or Sophomore Year
  • Sophomore Year
  • Junior Year
  • Senior or Final Year