ALMA — Future teachers who specifically wish to work with special education students in their careers will have greater opportunities to do so, thanks to a new major Alma College is offering.

Beginning in fall 2024, Alma College students will be able to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Special Education — Mild to Moderate Disabilities. This is a separate program from the traditional education major, which is still being offered. The special education major program has been approved by the Michigan Department of Education.

Associate Professor of Education Peggy Yates said Alma is the first college or university in the state to offer a special education program for undergraduates that does not require dual certification, meaning that a student can become a special education teacher without general education certification. In this program, students will focus their time on education and special education courses, including student teaching experiences, complete core curriculum requirements and finish their degrees in four years.

Upon passing these courses and the state tests, graduates will be licensed to teach in Michigan special education classes from kindergarten to 12th grade.

“We have an incredible need for special education teachers in the state of Michigan and each teacher needs to be prepared to manage varying needs of students with special needs simultaneously,” Yates said. “Preparing special education majors to work with students who have academic and behavioral needs while also learning to work with students who need extensive supports will equip future teachers with the skills needed to teach special education students at any level.”

The degree program differs from Alma’s traditional education degree program in several key ways. Special education majors will have the opportunity to pursue three different endorsements during their time in the program — learning disabilities, cognitive impairment, and emotional impairment — whereas pursuing Alma’s traditional path to special education teacher licensure also requires students to major in elementary or secondary education and earn an endorsement in learning disabilities.

If a student desires, they could add time to their program and also pursue general education teacher endorsement.

“Alma is working toward alleviating the shortage of special education teachers in Michigan through optimizing their preparedness which in turn, may help to retain special education teachers in the field,” Yates said.

Furthermore, at Alma, students can continue their education after graduation to complete the fully online Master of Arts in Special Education degree program, to expand their knowledge and skills while working as a teacher. The master’s program, which successfully launched last year, was also spearheaded by Yates.

For more information on the Alma College Special Education — Mild to Moderate Disabilities degree program, visit or call (989) 463-7139.