New Online Credential to Meet Growing Need for Special Education Teachers

Biola University is one of few Christian universities to offer special education credential online

Apr. 3, 2013 By Jenna Bartlo

Biola University’s School of Education is on the cutting edge of employment growth opportunities in education with the recent launch of a special education online credential program. Employment of special education teachers is expected to grow by 17 percent from 2010 to 2020 due to increasing enrollment and continued demand for special education services, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“For years we have known that our communities are experiencing disproportionate growth in our special needs population as compared to our traditional population,” said June Hetzel, dean of Biola’s School of Education. “It has been the School of Education's deep desire to meet this need for many years.”

Biola is now one of only a few Christian universities to offer this credential program online, after receiving approval from California’s Commission for Teacher Credentialing to start the program — officially titled the Preliminary Education Specialist Credential Program (Mild/Moderate) — in the fall of 2013. In an effort to extend Biola’s global reach, the online courses will allow those who live beyond reach of Biola’s La Mirada campus to receive an education and preparation to serve special education students within the state of California.

Students enrolled in K-12 in California who received special education services in 2011-12 totaled 685,817 individuals with varying disabilities, according to the California Department of Education.


“Biola will empower teacher candidates to serve these populations well,” said professor Robin LaBarbera, director of special education at Biola.

A new government study also found that U.S. schoolchildren are being diagnosed with some form of autism at a record rate of 1 in 50. The researchers, from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services, reported that the rate has risen to two percent from 1.2 percent reported in a similar survey in 2007.


Currently, there are widespread job openings in school districts in the area of special education as the population of students with learning disabilities has grown, Hetzel said.


“The shortage of well-qualified special education teachers has been documented for years, and I am delighted that Biola will begin to fill this need, stepping in to prepare Christian teachers to be better equipped to minister to students and families in need," said Hetzel.

Cultivating competent and courageous graduates in areas of need like this are just one of the aspirations of Biola’s 10-year University Plan.  While Biola has previously offered a certificate for special education since fall 2011, the new 36-unit credential program offers state certification and greater opportunities for employment. Learn more about the program.


Read more on California’s criteria for a Special Education (Education Specialist Instruction) Credentials and California’s requirements for teachers prepared for the Level I and II credentials.

Written by Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Specialist. For more information, contact Jenna at 562.777.4061 or




  • Pastor Roland Emmanule Omoh Apr. 30, 2013 at 4:38 AM

    Good Day Am a pastor from Afraca West Africa I want to study with your University I want to know how to go about for on line program That is why am making a requirements on how to go about it Please i deeply need your help in this matter Awaiting to hear from you God bless you Pastor Roland Emmanule Omoh

  • Doris Newton May. 4, 2013 at 3:53 PM

    I would like to know whether this creditial will beaccepted in other states like Ga. or IL. Please do respond.

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