Students applying to the Special Education program must choose one of the following emphases: mild/moderate or severe. Regardless of emphasis, students who fulfill all program requirements are recommended for licensure through the Utah State Board of Education and will be eligible to teach in elementary and secondary schools. Some secondary school placements may require additional certifications to become highly qualified in a specific content area.

  • Elementary school teachers focus on developing competency or remediating skills in reading, writing, math, and social behaviors.
  • Secondary teachers address similar academic skills, but also work to prepare their students to transition to vocations or post-secondary education.


Students who choose the mild/moderate emphasis work with students with specific learning disabilities, speech or language impairments, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (see Other Health Impairment on the chart), high-functioning autism,or intellectual disabilities.

Students with mild/moderate disabilities spend most of their time with their typically-developing peers in general education classrooms; some receive special education services in their general education classroom for a specific need (e.g., math or reading only) or come to a resource room for a brief, high-intensity intervention.


Students who choose the severe emphasis certify to teach students with intellectual disabilities, autism, visual/auditory impairments, health issues, or multiple disabilities.

These students may require functional academics (e.g., individualized curriculum and goals), significant modifications of the core curriculum, and/or life skills instruction (e.g., communication, social behavior, and daily living activities).

Due to the nature of the services necessary to support students with severe disabilities, many of these students are primarily taught in self-contained classrooms with only limited experience in general classrooms.