The Early Childhood Special (ECS) Education program prepares students to work with young children and their families in a variety of settings. The program focuses on child development with an emphasis on infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with special needs. This nationally accredited program features four years of intense, hands-on experiences. UMF faculty, working closely with nearby schools and agencies, provide real-world opportunities for students. Students draw on specialized campus resources such as UMF’s Children’s Programs and the Kalikow Curriculum Materials Center, which includes assistive technology resources, children’s literature, and early childhood curricula. ECS graduates work with young children, birth through age eight, with and without special needs and their families in a variety of settings.

Students in the ECS major can select from one of three options:

  • Option I (Birth to 5 certification): Coursework and field experiences leading to Maine Teacher Certification, Endorsement 282: Teacher of Children with Disabilities (Birth to School-age Five).
  • Option II (Birth to 5 and K-3 certification): Coursework and field experiences leading to Endorsement 282: Teacher of Children with Disabilities (Birth to School-age Five) and Endorsement 029: Early Elementary (Kindergarten through grade 3).
  • Option III: Coursework and field experiences leading to a degree in Early Childhood Special Education without teacher certification.

For a full description, visit the UMF catalog.

How do I explore Early Childhood Special Education at UMF?

There are many ways to explore a major. You could:

  • Review the webpage for this major.
  • Talk to faculty members in the major. Ask about their career path.
  • Sit in on a class in this major. Choose a class of interest and contact the faculty member to find out which day might be best to drop in on. If you have access to myCampus, click here to go to Schedule Planner to view classes.
  • Talk with upperclass students in the major. They can give you insights into the courses you will take and professors who will instruct you. Just remember, their reasons for liking a major may be different from your own. Ask your advisor, your CA or other UMF staff to help you find someone in the major.
  • Enroll in one of the following courses:
    • ECS 103 Introduction to Teaching Inclusive Early Childhood Special Education
    • ECH 150 Introduction and Observation in Early Childhood Education
    • PSY 225S Child and Adolescent Development
  • Get involved with a Club & Organization related to the major (for example, Council for Exceptional Children or Student Education Association of Maine (S.E.A.M.)).
  • Volunteer or intern with an organization that is aligned with this major. Contact Meghan Price at The Partnership for Civic Engagement, or Career Counselors Stephen Davis or Cyndi McShane to discuss opportunities.
  • Try a Job Shadow or Informational Interview. Contact Stephen Davis or Cyndi McShane for more information.
  • Make an appointment to talk to a Career Counselor (Steve or Cyndi) or Academic Advisor (Lori Soucie) about the major.

What can I do with this major?

Learn more about the major using this resource maintained by the University of North Carolina at Wilmington: http://www.uncw.edu/career/WhatCanIDoWithaMajorIn.html

Can I minor in Early Childhood Special Education? Are there related majors at UMF?

UMF has a minor in Special Education that is open to Early Childhood, Elementary, Secondary, or Community Health Education with School Health  Education concentration majors. There is also a Child and Adolescent Health minor available. Click here for more information. Majors related to Early Childhood Special Education include Early Childhood Education, Special Education, Elementary Education, Secondary/Middle Education, and Community Health Education/School Health.

What kind of jobs have UMF graduates obtained with this major?

Preschool teachers in inclusive or special purpose classrooms, Home visitors (working with infants, toddlers and their families), Service Coordinator, Disability Coordinator for Head Start, One-on-One Teacher, Kindergarten through 3rd grade Teachers, and others.

What other career paths can I pursue?

Other career paths include Preschool Teacher, Education Administrator, Education Technician, Social Worker, and many more. Talking to faculty in the major or a career counselor can provide you with more information about a variety of career paths associated with this major.

How do I declare this major?

The first step is to communicate with the contact person for this major:  Dr. Patricia Williams, patricia.h.williams@maine.edu, 207-778-7109.

To apply to the major, complete a change of major form (available in Merrill Center or any academic office) and include an articulate essay about why you want to work in early childhood special education.  You’ll need a grade of C or higher in English Composition, a minimum GPA of 2.75, and passing scores on the PRAXIS Core exams (for Options I and II only). [Please Note: PRAXIS is not required for Option III, non-certification program.]

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