Create a Classroom That Promotes Positive Learning

Early Childhood Education Associate’s Degree—Special Needs Specialization

As an early childhood educator, you become accustomed to recognizing children with special needs—sometimes even before their parents. Our Early Childhood Education Associate’s degree with a specialization in Special Needs—available fully online or on campus— allows you to better prepare your special needs students for future learning.

Through hands-on coursework, you create customized curriculum and teaching techniques to most effectively develop these students’ mental, emotional, and physical capabilities. Using the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) standards as a foundation for our curriculum, your courses also focus on preparing you to apply for your Child Development Associate (CDA) credential.*

Create an Exciting Learning Environment

Our fully online or on campus courses in our Special Needs specialization prepare you to effectively and positively teach children with special needs. The knowledge and skills that you gain in this unique specialization, together with your patience and compassion for your students, foster a positive and inclusive learning environment where children of all needs and abilities can thrive.

Our instructors are seasoned early childhood education professionals, and many hold a Master's degree, so you know that the education you are receiving is of the highest quality. Plus, to ensure you have the hands-on experience you need for a smooth career transition, part of your coursework includes 540 hours of applied learning in an environment that coincides with your career goals.

Learn more about our Early Childhood Education Associate's degree by completing the form on the right or calling us at 888-549-6755. One of our program managers will be happy to answer all your questions.

Program Highlights
  • Advanced curriculum based on national standards established by the NAEYC
  • Courses offered on campus or fully online
  • Hands-on experience through 540 hours of applied learning

Special Needs Courses

The special needs courses will prepare you to work with students who have faced numerous obstacles throughout their life already. Your instructors will teach you different ways to teach students who have learning disabilities. Your patience may be tested, but the reward of teaching and helping students learn new things will be satisfying.

  • Help develop students' mental, emotional, and physical capabilities
  • Explore current trends and advocacy on special needs
  • Curriculum developed based on national standards
  • 540 hours of applied learning

Sample Course List

Advocating for Children with Special Needs
Students will explore current trends, resources and advocacy on behalf of young children with special needs. They will examine their role in supporting and advocating for young children with special needs and their families.
The Inclusive Classroom
Students will learn strategies for promoting and supporting an inclusive classroom. They will analyze environmental restrictions and explore how to support young children with special needs in the early childhood setting.
The Exceptional Child
This course is designed to explore the benefits of inclusion in the early childhood setting. Students will develop an understanding of exceptional development. Students will identify the parties relevant to exceptional development and their roles as resources in support of the child and their families.
Early Childhood Education Capstone
Students will integrate the knowledge and skills gained from coursework in the Early Childhood Education program. They will complete a capstone project that integrates knowledge and skills in child development, health and nutrition, curriculum and instruction, observation and assessment, and other areas relevant to the field.
Calculate the estimated cost for the degree you are interested in.

Estimated Program Cost

  •   Full Time Part Time
  • Upper Division Credits

    Upper division courses

    Upper Division courses are either listed as 300-400 or 3000-4000 level, depending on the state.

    $299 $310
  • Lower Division Credits

    Lower division courses

    Lower Division courses are either listed as 100-200 or 1000-2000 level, depending on the state.

    $299 $395
  • Estimated Tuition Price

    Estimated Tuition Price

    Price if you are continuously enrolled in your program of study until graduation. Estimated price does not include $150 course resource fee.

  • Grants

    None Partner Success
  • Discounts and Scholarships

    None Corporate Military Scholarship


    Enter your estimated scholarships or awards to calculate how much you could save over the course of your program.

  • Transfer Credits

    How many credits can you transfer?


  • Net. Estimated Price

    Net. Estimated Price

    Price if you are continuously enrolled in your program of study until graduation. Estimated price does not include $150 course resource fee.

See Potential Earnings

For important methodology statements and disclosures regarding the information shown on this page, click here.

Estimated Potential Earnings

If you invested in your degree and started a career as a , the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states the median yearly salary for this career is . At that rate, your estimated return on investment would be over the course of a lifetime.

A career as a is just one career option you can pursue with your degree. Your income potential can vary based on your specialization or industry, and you should explore all your options to find the career that is right for you.

A Degree Matters

Earning an Associate's or Bachelor's degree—regardless of the field of study—can greatly improve your income potential in today's job market. In fact, according to the BLS, degree holders earn, on average, significantly more than high school diploma holders:

National Average Lifetime Earnings**
Unemployment Rate**
Bachelor's Degree
Associate's Degree
Some College
High School Diploma


Potential earnings calculated by multiplying median full-time salaries by 40 years

What's Your Earnings Potential?

Earning an Associate's or Bachelor's degree-regardless of the field of study-can greatly improve income potential in today's job market. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), here is the salary data for careers our graduates have chosen:

Job Title(s) 10th Percentile Salary 25th Percentile Salary 50th Percentile Salary
Childcare Workers$16,430$17,680$19,600
Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education$18,420$21,660$27,570

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, 2012-2013 Occupational Outlook Handbook,

BLS salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed, and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries. Employment conditions in your area may vary. Potential earnings calculated by multiplying median full-time salaries by 30 years,

Salary data includes earnings of June 2012 – March 2013 Rasmussen College graduates who reported salary information, reviewed 12 months after graduation. This data does not specify that each graduate was placed by Rasmussen College in their current position; some graduates find jobs on their own while others maintain previously held employment.

The average
starting salary
for our Special Needs graduates:


Seamless Transfer Policies

  • Transfer up to 67% of the credits required to complete your degree
  • Credits accepted from nationally and regionally accredited schools
  • Course-by-course evaluation of all courses with a grade of C or higher
  • No expiration of your previously-earned general education and certain degree-specific credits
  • Credit through prior learning, work, and military experience
    • Test out of courses where you can demonstrate specific knowledge
    • Complete advanced placement (AP) exams and achieve a score of 3 or higher
    • Successfully complete college exams (e.g., CLEP, DSST, DANTES, etc.)
    • Successfully submit course waivers for approval from Rasmussen College
    • Submit credits transcribed by the American Council of Education (ACE)
    • Submit a military transcript
  • Transfer all general education courses from your previously earned Associate's or Bachelor's degree, regardless of course of study

*The School of Education at Rasmussen College is not accredited by NAEYC.
Graduates of Early Childhood Education programs at Rasmussen College are not eligible for licensure as a teacher in an elementary or secondary school. A Bachelor’s degree and a state teaching license are typically required to work as a teacher in a public school and some private school settings. States, municipalities, districts or individual schools may have more stringent licensing requirements. Students must determine the licensure requirements in the state and school in which they intend to work.
Child care facilities and the states in which they are located establish qualifications for staff that work with children, and often implement guidelines regarding age, education, experience, and professional development. Students must determine the licensure requirements in the state and facility in which they intend to work.