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Severe Disabilities - Online/Distance


Teacher working with a childAbout the Program

Significant Disabilities Distance Program Overview

The department of Special Education and Rehabilitation offers a new severe distance degree and licensure program.  This program prepares graduates to work with students who have low-incidence disabilities, such as intellectual disabilities, physical disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, traumatic and acquired brain injury, and multiple disabilities.

Graduates typically teach academic and life skills in a K-12 classroom or in a post-secondary setting (students age 18-21).

Program Structure

Courses are delivered through a combination of online and interactive broadcast sessions, which allows students to interact with their instructors and fellow classmates, with extensive use of the Internet for delivering course materials, providing student feedback, and engaging in class projects.

Students complete the program as members of a two-year cohort group.

Designed to provide students with hands-on experiences in teaching individuals with severe disabilities.

Students are placed in approved practicum and student teaching settings in their local communities to apply new skills they learn throughout their courses. In each practicum, students implement teaching techniques and have the opportunity to teach several subjects over a period of time.

This program is only available at selected sites.  Please contact Darcie Peterson (darcie.peterson@usu.edu), the Program Advisor, for inquiries and additional information.


Program Requirements

Meeting with Advisor

Current students are required to meet with the Program Advisor each semester. The advisor can help you determine the most effective way to complete the degree. A listing of current appointments is available on the Site Visits calendar.

Field Experience Requirements

Each semester students are required to spend at least five to six hours a week in a K-12 special education setting. These classroom-based experiences are designed to provide program participants hands-on opportunities related to program coursework. These placements must be approved by the Program Coordinator and local school districts.

Student Teaching

Student teaching applications are due the semester prior to student teaching. The deadline for Fall Semester is February 1. The deadline for Spring Semester is October 1. The fee for student teaching will be included in your semester fees (paid with tuition) the semester you student teach. The current fee for student teaching is $300 but may change.

Support Services

A mentor's primary responsibility is to provide opportunities for emotional and academic support outside of class time.  Site mentors also serve as the liaison between the Program Director and local school district personnel.  If you are interested in getting to know the site mentor for your locality, please contact Dr. Nancy Glomb at nancy.glomb@usu.edu.

Students with Disabilities

If a student has a disability that will likely require some accommodation by the instructor, the student must contact the instructor and document the disability through the Disability Resource Center (DRC) (797-2444), preferably during the first week of the course. Any request for special consideration relating to attendance, pedagogy, taking of examinations, etc., must be discussed with and approved by the instructor. In cooperation with the Disability Resource Center, course materials can be provided in alternative format, large print, audio, diskette, or Braille. For more information, visit the DRC website . 

Praxis Exam

Effective July 1, 2005, the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) now requires all graduates of teacher education programs to submit test score documentation of a USOE approved content-area exam in order to satisfy USOE Level I educator licensure requirements. Click the following link to learn more about the Praxis Exam Information.

This program is only available at selected sites.  Please contact Darcie Peterson (darcie.peterson@usu.edu), the Program Advisor, for inquiries and additional information.


District Resources

Utah school districts are one of this program’s greatest resources. Because students in the distance program will be actively involved in classrooms in local school districts, this page has been designed to provide administrators with information about working with students in the Mild Moderate Distance Education program.

Practicum and Student Teaching Experiences

All students who participate in the program are required to complete two practicum experiences and one student teaching experience in USU approved settings. For students working full-time, placements will be outside of their current employment settings. The program coordinator collaborates with the student and the employer to arrange for placements that will be the least disruptive to their teaching duties. Students who work full-time are instructed to communicate with their employer regarding this requirement. Distance education students who participate in these experiences receive supervision from local school district staff who have been trained by USU program staff. Students may also be supervised by USU faculty via webcams and web conferencing software.   

On the Job Student Teaching

If you are considering hiring a student involved in the program, please contact the program coordinator to discuss if whether this choice is in the best interest of the district and the student. For more information about student teaching on the job, click on the links below:

Support Services

Graduates of the program within each broadcast region are employed through the Significant Disabilities Program at USU to serve as site mentors to distance program students.  A mentor's primary responsibility is to provide opportunities for emotional and academic support outside of class time.  Site mentors also serve as the liaison between the Program Director and local school district personnel.  If you are interested in getting to know the site mentor for your locality, please contact Dr. Nancy Glomb at nancy.glomb@usu.edu

If you are a Utah school district administrator and have questions or comments about the program, please contact Heather T. Weese, M.S.

This program is only available at selected sites.  Please contact Darcie Peterson (darcie.peterson@usu.edu), the Program Advisor, for inquiries and additional information.