BEd, Exceptional Students & Elementary Education

Typical Length 2 years

Delivery Campus-Based

Nationally Accredited




Stipends Available

The Exceptional Students & Elementary Education (ESEE) program is one of a small number of truly merged elementary and special education programs in the nation. This cohorted program allows candidates to earn their bachelor’s degree along with two teaching licenses at the elementary level and is offered as the final two years of the bachelor’s degree in education. This emphasis prepares teachers for students with and without disabilities in kindergarten through 6th grade (K-6) general, inclusive, or special education settings.

This innovative ESEE program incorporates the principles of Culturally Responsive Teaching, Co-Teaching, Universal Design for Learning (UDL), Response to Intervention (RtI), Instructional Technology, High Leverage Practices (HLPs), and Data-Based Decision Making into every aspect of the curriculum. The ESEE program has been ranked nationally in the top 25 best special education degrees by College Choice!

Learn about what makes the ESEE program unique from the perspectives of students, faculty, and our Hawai‘i school partners!

Who should consider the program

People who:

  • Live or want to live on Oahu throughout the program, and
  • Want to teach elementary (K-6) general education settings, and/or
  • Want to teach elementary (K-6) special education settings, and/or
  • Want to teach in elementary private school programs, and
  • Are interested in inclusion and inclusive practices
Career & Licensure Information

Upon program completion, qualified candidates will be recommended for initial teacher licensure in BOTH elementary (K-6) and special education (K-6). Graduates are prepared to:

  • teach in general education elementary classrooms attended by diverse learners,
  • teach in special education elementary classroom attended by students with high-incidence disabilities, and
  • teach in inclusive classes attended by both students with and without disabilities at the elementary level.

Once completing an initial teacher licensure program, graduates are eligible to apply for a state license through the Hawai‘i Teacher Standards Board, which will allow the licensee to teach in public and charter schools in the State of Hawai‘i.

Hawai‘i also participates in the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement which facilitates the mobility of educators among states that are members of NASDTEC. UHM recommends you contact the office of certification in any state to which you may be relocating to get the most current information. See NASDTEC website for more information.

Admission Requirements
Eligibility Requirements
  • 2.75 GPA or higher
  • Complete 55 credits prior to beginning the program. The 55 credits can be from UHM and/or approved transfer credits from another institution.
  • Complete UHM General Education Core Requirements prior to the start of program. Applicants who have completed an articulated Associates of Arts (AA) degree from a UH Community College are considered to have met the UHM General Education Core Requirements with possible exceptions (see an academic advisor).
  • Complete 40 hours of paid or voluntary group leadership field experience with K-6th grade students. The experience cannot have occurred more than 5 years prior to acceptance into the program.
  • Complete Licensure Track Prerequisite Courses
    • MATH 111
    • MATH 112 (FS)
    • MUS 253, THEA 470, DNCE 490 or any other DA course
    • HWST 107 (DH)
    • HDFS 230 or PSY 240 (DS)
  • ESEE Program Prerequisite Courses
    • Must be completed prior to starting program: SPED 304 and STE/EDEF 360
    • Strongly recommended to be completed prior to starting program: EDEF 310 (or EDEF 352) and EDEP 311

Work with your Office of Student Academic Services (OSAS) Academic Advisor to schedule the above Elementary Education Emphasis courses. Some of these courses may be offered in the summer. Set up an appointment with an academic advisor

Application Requirements
Application Deadlines
Fall February 1 March 1

Late applications are not accepted. To receive updates, notifications, and reminders regarding admissions, please complete the “Request More Info” form.

How to Apply
Delivery & Format

Candidates are in field settings or on the UH Mānoa campus during the regular school day. For the first three semesters, classes are held Monday-Thursday. For the last semester (student teaching), candidates are in their field settings with on campus seminars Monday-Friday. Being a fully-merged program, all courses are co-taught by teams of faculty from the School of Teacher Education and Department of Special Education.

Tuition & Funding

Approximately $471 per credit (RESIDENT). See:

DOE STIPENDS (33 credits, approximately $15,500): Available to fund in-state or out-of-state candidates who agree to teach as a special education teacher in a Hawaii DOE school for a minimum of 3 years after program completion.

  • Upon yearly renewal of funds, this funding opportunity will automatically be offered to all admitted program candidates. The stipend is given each semester directly to the student while enrolled, therefore stipend is considered taxable and may impact financial aid award.
  • Prior to accepting stipend, Non-U.S. citizens need to inquire with the Hawaii DOE to determine eligibility for employment upon graduation.

TEACH GRANT: Up to $8,000 may be available to candidates who intend to teach special education full-time at a Title I school. Candidates must qualify for financial aid and have a GPA of 3.25 or above to be eligible.

SCHOLARSHIPS: Refer to College of Education Scholarships

Course Sequence

The courses are cohorted and provided in a specific sequence spread across four semesters. Coursework is offered at the UH Mānoa campus during the day.  All coursework is designed, reserved, and sequenced specifically for this cohort and can be completed in two years.

In addition, general UHM Focus Requirements (i.e., E, H, O, W) are built into the program and prerequisites to ensure program candidates do not need to take additional coursework to graduate.

Fall I (18 credits)

Coursework Fieldwork
ESEE 310 (O) [3 cr]
Learner in the Environment I: Social & Cultural Context for Learning
ESEE 350 [4 cr]
Field Experience I: RtI Intervention
ESEE 320 [3 cr]
Assessment I: Foundations of Assessment
ESEE 330 (W) [3 cr]
Planning & Instruction: Introduction to Inclusive Teaching
ESEE 351 [2 cr]
Field Experience I: Rounds
ESEE 340 (W) [3 cr]
Literacy I: Teaching Children to Read in Inclusive Settings (K-3)

Spring I (16 credits)

Coursework Fieldwork
ESEE 311 (E) [3cr]
Learner in the Environment II: Classroom & Behavior Management
ESEE 352 [4 cr]
Field Experience II
ESEE 331 [3cr]
Planning & Instruction: Science
ESEE 332 [3 cr]
Planning & Instruction: Math
ESEE 341 (W) [3 cr]
Literacy II: Teaching Children to Read in Inclusive Settings (Grades 4-6)

Fall II (16 credits)

Coursework Fieldwork
ESEE 321 (W) [3 cr]
Assessment II: Formal Assessment
ESEE 353 [4 cr]
Field Experience III
ESEE 333 [3 cr]
Planning & Instruction: STEM
ESEE 334 (O) [3 cr]
Planning & Instruction: Integrating Social Studies & the Performing Arts
ESEE 342 (W) [3 cr]
Literacy III: Integrating Writing & Visual Arts

Spring II (12 credits)

*Student Teaching Fieldwork
ESEE 354C [5 cr]
Student Teaching: General education or inclusion classroom with teacher candidate effect on student learning
ESEE 354S [5 cr]
Student Teaching: Special education or inclusion classroom with teacher candidate effect on student behavior
ESEE 355 [2 cr]

*Student teaching is full time, Monday – Friday. As of 2018, program candidates may be exempt from taking the Praxis Subject Exam in Special Education or Elementary Education. Candidates will meet with an academic advisor to determine if a Praxis examination is warranted.

Please refer to the ESEE course catalog for more detailed course titles and descriptions.

Field Experiences

The ESEE program offers field experiences that are unique. Field experiences take place in local partnership schools with highly effective mentor teachers. In order to establish a stronger presence in the classroom, teacher candidates and classroom mentor teachers participate in relationship building activities and co-teaching training prior to starting each semester’s field experience. This training results in teacher candidates being more comfortable, confident, and purposeful in the classroom setting from day 1.

Semester 1: Candidates are involved in two different field experiences. First, candidates tutor first-grade students one-on-one using an evidence-based reading intervention (ESEE 350: RtI Reading Intervention). Candidates learn to collect, interpret, and present data based on their intervention. Second, candidates experience a variety of different types of schools in small groups (e.g. public, private, charter, and Hawaiian immersion; ESEE 351: Rounds).

Semester 2: Candidates spend several days a week immersed in a general education, inclusive, resource, or a self-contained special education field setting working alongside a mentor teacher, often providing opportunities for co-teaching.

Semester 3: Candidates spend the first eight (8) weeks at UH immersed in coursework, followed by eight (8) weeks full-days, Monday-Thursday, in the classroom setting.

Semester 4: Candidates complete their final semester with student teaching, full-days Monday-Friday in a K-6 elementary school. Student teaching can take place in an inclusive setting, or a combination of general education and special education settings.

These field experiences provide a unique opportunity for the teacher candidates to gain experience and a deeper insight into education, especially here in Hawaii. In addition, field seminars, hosted by their cohort coordinators, take place each semester to support the success of teacher candidates throughout the program.

Advising & Faculty

Program Info & Inquiries

Please complete the “Request More Info” form and our recruitment specialist will be happy to answer additional questions, provide more detailed information, and assist with the application process once admissions open.

Photo of Cynthia Farley

Cynthia Farley

Assistant Professor - ESEE Program Coordinator, Instructor, & Field Supervisor

Photo of Steven Klein

Steven Klein

Junior Specialist