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Washington State University
College of Education

SPED Add-On Endorsement

The 26-credit Special Education Endorsement Program at Washington State University provides the skills and knowledge required for those who want to teach students with special needs in grades P-12.

In order to earn the add-on special education endorsement, students must be enrolled in or have completed another endorsement (such as elementary education, English language arts, mathematics, etc.). Candidates must apply for admission to Washington State University and the College of Education’s add-on endorsement program prior to enrolling in courses.

Complete Add-On Endorsement Application

All but two endorsement courses (SPEC_ED 301 and 499) are conjoint — that is, offered at both graduate and undergraduate levels. For example, students enrolled in SPEC ED 404/504 at any one time may be taking the class for graduate or undergraduate credit. The instructor for each conjoint course outlines the requirements for completing the course at each level. All of the courses are offered in an online-only, asynchronous format. Students can access the lessons and do the assignments when it is convenient to them; there is no designated time that students have to be online in a given week.  Students do not need to relocate to a WSU campus but do need U.S. student status. They can take classes in their current location if they have access to a reliable internet connection. Check the schedule of courses offered at each campus for current course delivery options.

The requirement to complete an evidence portfolio (SPEC_ED 499) versus a practicum (SPEC_ED 490/590) is determined by the student’s physical location. If the student is near Pullman, Tri-Cities, or Vancouver (e.g., within 30 minutes), then the student will complete SPEC_ED 490/590. If the student is more than 30 minutes outside of the Pullman, Tri-Cities, or Vancouver campuses, then they will complete the SPEC_ED 499 portfolio. WSU students enrolled through the Global Campus will enroll in SPEC_ED 499 and complete an evidence portfolio.  The portfolio will align their out-of-school experiences (e.g., Special Olympics coach) with students with disabilities to the state special education competencies.  In this way students can demonstrate that they have had experiences working with children and youth with disabilities, and they demonstrate positive and productive skills in that experience.

Students admitted through Pullman, Spokane, Tri-Cities or Vancouver will complete four total credits of SPEC_ED 490/590.  The two credit practicum experience consists of 90 hours of experience in a special education classroom or setting (usually 6 hours per week, for 15 weeks).  Requirements are outlined in the practicum handbook. Students not certified in Washington must complete a background check before enrolling in practicum credits. School placements will be made by campus placement personnel; students should not coordinate their own placements.

The WSU Special Education Endorsement Program is designed to meet state and national standards and is accredited by PESB (Professional Educator Standards Board).

Pre-Endorsement Authorization (formerly Pre-Endorsement Waiver prior to September 1, 2023):  A teacher who has completed sixteen semester credit hours of the required special education course work is eligible for pre-endorsement authorization which will allow that teacher to be employed as a special education teacher. This is a district-initiated process; additional information and the application can be found on the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s website.  WSU requires students to complete the courses listed in bold below before signing the Verification of Teacher Program Enrollment form (SPI 1534).  The remaining credits and all endorsement requirements must be completed within three years of service as a special education teacher (WAC 392-172A-02090).

Students can begin courses in any semester, if they have met all the prerequisite coursework. To find out more, contact one of the people below.

  • Greater Vancouver Area: Casper Menson, WSU Vancouver’s Education Academic Coordinator (; 360-546-9673).
  • Tri-Cities area: Niamh O’Leary, WSU Tri-Cities’ Education Academic Coordinator (; 509-372-7394)
  • Pullman and Online: Staci Bickelhaupt, WSU’s Certification Coordinator (; 509-335-8146)

If a course does not meet minimum enrollment it may be cancelled.

Course Offerings and Schedule

Title Fall Spring Summer*
SPEC_ED 301 – Education of Exceptional Children
Prereq: none
SPEC_ED 401/501 – Teaching Students with Disabilities
Prereq: SPEC ED 301 or concurrent enrollment, or SPEC ED 420 or concurrent enrollment
SPEC_ED 402/502 –Assess & Curric for Students w/ Disab.
Prereq: SPEC ED 301 or concurrent enrollment, or SPEC ED 420 or concurrent enrollment
SPEC_ED 403/503 – Sec. Ed. for Students w/ Disabilities
Prereq: SPEC ED 301 or concurrent enrollment, or SPEC ED 420 or concurrent enrollment
SPEC_ED 404/504 – Professional Skills in Spec Ed.
Prereq: SPEC ED 301 or concurrent enrollment, or SPEC ED 420 or concurrent enrollment
SPEC_ED 409/509 – Early Childhood Special Education**
Prereq: SPEC ED 301 or concurrent enrollment, or SPEC ED 420 or concurrent enrollment
SPEC_ED 421/521 – Inclusion Strategies for Sp. Ed. Teachers
Prereq: SPEC ED 301 or concurrent enrollment, or SPEC ED 420 or concurrent enrollment
X  X
SPEC_ED 471/571 – Assess and Instr in Reading
Prereq: SPEC_ED 301 or 420 or instructor permission
SPEC_ED 490/590 – Practicum in Special Education***
Prereq: SPEC_ED 301 or 420; SPEC_ED 404 OR SPEC_ED 499 – Evidence Portfolio


Courses listed in bold are required for pre-endorsement authorization.

*Summer course offerings may vary. Check with the campus contact person for current schedules of course offerings.

**SPEC_ED 409/509 is strongly encouraged for teachers endorsed in secondary content prior to applying for pre-endorsement authorization.

***A minimum of two credits of SPEC_ED 490/590 or 499 must be completed before WSU will sign off on a teacher’s pre-endorsement authorization paperwork.