BEd, Exceptional Students & Elementary Education

Typical Length 2 years

Delivery Campus-Based






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 children with and without disabilities in kindergarten through 6th grade (K-6) general, inclusive, or special education settings.

This program is unique and was rebuilt and redesigned through a federal grant from the Office of Special Education Programs. This innovative ESEE program incorporates the principles of Culturally Responsive Teaching, Co-Teaching, Universal Design for Learning (UDL), Response to Intervention (RtI), instructional technology, Evidence-Based Practices, and Data-Based Decision Making into every aspect of the curriculum. The ESEE program has been ranked in the top 25 best special education degrees by College Choice for the last two years in a row!

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 Hawaii Teacher Standards Board, which will allow the licensee to teach in public and charter schools in the State of Hawaii.

Hawai’i also participates in the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement which facilitates the mobility of educators among the 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 the NASDTEC website for more information.

Admission 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 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)
    • SPED 304
    • ITE/EDEF 360
  • ESEE Program Prerequisite Courses
    • Must be completed prior to starting program: SPED 304 and ITE/EDEF 360
    • Strong 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.

  • 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.
  • Interview with the program
  • Write a personal statement
  • Provide Three (3) Professional References
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 campus during the regular school day, Monday-Friday on Oahu. Being a fully-merged program, all courses are co-taught by pairs or teams of faculty.

Tuition & Funding

Approximately $471 per credit (RESIDENT). See:

DOE STIPENDS (33 credits, approximately $15,500): Available to candidates who agree to teach SPED in a Hawaii DOE school for a minimum of 3 years after program completion. Upon yearly renewal of funds, funding will be offered to all admitted program candidates and is provided each semester directly to the students while enrolled.

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 and Star 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 to ensure program candidates do not need to take additional coursework to graduate.

FALL I (18 credits)

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

SPRING I (16 credits)

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

FALL II (16 credits)

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

SPRING II (12 credits)

*Student Teaching Fieldwork


[5cr] ESEE 354C Student Teaching: General education or inclusion classroom with teacher candidate effect on student learning

[5cr] ESEE 354S Student Teaching: General education or inclusion classroom with teacher candidate effect on student behavior

[2cr] ESEE 355 Seminar

* Student teaching is full time, Monday – Friday. Candidates must pass Praxis Subject Exam in Special Education prior to starting.

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

Field Placements

The program offers unique field experiences that can only be experienced if admitted into the ESEE program. Each semester candidates will be placed in local schools during the day. The final semester includes full-time student teaching in a local school in both general education and special education placements.

Semester 1: Candidates begin by working one-on-one with students identified as at risk for reading failure and are taught how to implement an evidence-based reading intervention (ESEE 350: RtI Reading Intervention).  In addition, in ESEE 351: Rounds, candidates will engage in purposeful observations at a variety of different types of schools (e.g. public, private, charter, and Hawaiian immersion).

Semester 2: Candidates will spend several days a week immersed in a general education, inclusive setting, or a self-contained special education field setting with the support of a mentor teacher providing opportunities for co-teaching.

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

Semester 4: Final semester of student teaching, full-time Monday-Friday in a K-6 elementary school inclusion classroom, or a combination of general education and special education settings, including a student teaching seminar.

These field experiences provide a unique opportunity for the teacher candidates to gain experience and a deeper insight into education, especially here in Hawaii.

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 Janet Kim

Janet Kim

Special Education Recruitment Specialist