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Academic Programs

Early Childhood Special Education/Dual Degree with Columbia University School of Social Work


  • Program Overview

    You can earn in this unique and comprehensive program a master’s degrees both in education from Bank Street College, and in social work from Columbia School of Social Work for fewer total credits than if you were to earn the degrees separately.

    You will discover creative ways to help young children learn and grow in the Early Childhood Special Education Certification Program.

    • Learn to carefully observe children and use that knowledge to guide and inform your teaching.
    • Engage all young children in play, learning and interaction.
    • Develop skill in engaging with young children of varying development and need in meaningful ways.

    In this certification program you become well grounded in child development and its variation. This program will support your understanding that learning develops through play, social interaction, and sensory experiences. You will learn to implement strategies based in current research of inclusive and special education practices.

    This program is for you if:

    • You are seeking your permanent teaching certification.
    • You want to work with children birth through grade two in general, inclusion, and/or special education settings.
    • You also have an interest in earning a degree in social work.

    For more information on the program at Columbia School of Social Work, contact Cheiku Camara at

    This program culminates in a Master of Science in Education or Master of Education (for those students with a prior master’s degree in education), requiring 32 credits, and a Master of Social Work (with additional course requirements for the social work degree from Columbia), requiring 48 – 54 credits.

    Graduate instructor teaching a science class

  • Admissions Requirements

    In addition to the main admissions criteria, there are additional requirements needed to apply for this program:

    • Applicants must already hold a valid New York State certification in General Education at the Early Childhood or Childhood level. If you are certified at the Childhood level, there may be additional Early Childhood tests you need to take to become certified in working with Students with Disabilities (birth-2nd grade).
    • Applicants must also apply separately to Columbia’s program and be admitted into both.
  • Coursework

  • Supervised Fieldwork/Advisement

    Central to a Bank Street education is the integration of coursework and field experiences as you engage and educate children based on a solid grounding in what makes children tick. You will:

    • Participate in a weekly collaborative conference group with your advisor and 5-7 other graduate students. You will have an opportunity to engage in ongoing in-depth conversations about teaching and learning.
    • Benefit from individual meetings with your advisor twice each month.
    • Attend periodic three-way meetings with your Bank Street advisor and with the cooperating teacher.

    There are three ways students work in classroom settings: as a student teacher (3 days each week), as a full-time assistant, or as a head teacher.

    • Student teachers complete one semester in an inclusive or special education setting.
    • Working teachers and assistants (in approved settings) may use their own classrooms for their fieldwork setting. These students may need additional experience through placement in a summer supervised fieldwork/ advisement during a July (summer 2) term.
  • Career Opportunities

    Your degree will provide you with a range of career opportunities:

    • Teach in early childhood general education, special education, or inclusion classrooms in public, charter or independent schools.
    • Work as an early-interventionist in social service or education-based agencies, as well as in hospitals or daycare settings.
    • Work one-on-one as a Special Education Itinerant Teacher (SEIT) in home and classroom and daycare settings.
    • Work as a school social worker.
    • Work as a psycho-therapist in private practice.
  • Faculty

  • Certification

    Upon graduation from Bank Street, you will be eligible for New York State certification in Teaching Students with Disabilities, birth to grade 2, provided you complete all other State certification requirements.

    See the Columbia University School of Social Work catalog for additional information.