Graduate Programs

Special Education

The multicategorical special education program prepares candidates to pursue positions as P-12 special education teachers, special education coordinators, and/or private practitioners. Completion of the degree leads to the Illinois Type 10 LBS-1 teaching certificate.

SXU's special education program is unique. It is a master's level program, and it is NCATE approved as well as approved by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). Its multicategorical approach prepares teacher candidates to work in a variety of settings with students who have disabilities that are mild, moderate or severe/profound. It includes basic foundations of the discipline and courses in diagnostic assessment, language, curriculum adaptations and modifications, behavior management, learning strategies and more.

Field experiences accompany each course, leading eventually to practicum and student teaching. The weekly class format allows working adults to work on their degree programs while attending to their other responsibilities at home and/or in the workplace. The program is flexible and responds readily to any revised state or federal regulations.

A faculty member notes: "Special education is my passion because it is challenging, rewarding and diverse. A highly qualified educator proficient in subject matter and pedagogy may nonetheless be unable to reach a learner with reduced intellectual potential, emotional barriers, disorders of reading or math, or sensory deficits. Special education is a problem-solving mission which is the educational equivalent of 'CSI' investigation to identify the barriers to learning! Special educators not only "solve" the puzzle but also design lessons, implement strategies and evaluate the results. It is never dull!"


Outlook Employment for special education teachers is expected to grow by 17 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Growth is expected because of increasing enrollment and continued demand for special education services (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Special education is identified as a "high-need field" by the TEACH grant program (a federal program which also may be a source of funding for candidates seeking teacher preparation in special education).


There are prerequisite courses for candidates who are not already certified teachers.


Margaret (Meg) Kelly Carroll, Ed.D., is professor of education at Saint Xavier University, teaching courses in special education and instructional methods. Carroll earned her Ed.D. in curriculum and instruction at Loyola University of Chicago with minors in special education, reading, higher education, and philosophy of education (1985). With a master's degree in learning disabilities from Chicago State University (1981) and a bachelor's degree in elementary education and special education from University of Illinois in Urbana (1977), Carroll has taught early childhood, elementary and secondary students in general and special education. She has published five books and more than 25 articles. A frequent conference (over 150) and staff development (over 1,000) presenter, Carroll also acts as a consultant for several Chicago area public and private elementary, middle and high schools. She is a board member and newsletter editor for the Learning Disabilities Association of Illinois and is on the board of Our Lady of Tepeyac High School in Little Village. Research interests have been in the areas of effective instruction, school collaboration with families, cultural diversity, and students with disabilities.

Ellen D. Lilly is an assistant professorial lecturer, teaching courses in special education and curriculum and instruction. Ellen earned a doctorate in educational leadership from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University (1993), a C.A.S. in educational administration (1982) and M.Ed. in special education/educational therapy (1973) from National-Louis University, and the A.B. in English/elementary/secondary education from Immaculata University (1968). She has taught both general and special education, and has worked as a director of special education in several west and north suburban school districts. She has been executive director of a private day school, assistant clinical professor of special education at Illinois State University, adjunct instructor, dissertation committee member and dissertation chair at Argosy University, Schaumburg, Ill., and a consultant in special education, teacher evaluation and new administrator induction. Research and consulting interests have focused on the legal aspects of special education, the effect of adversarial proceedings on the parent-school relationship, the integration of special and general populations, academic accountability with special sub-populations, cultural diversity and Response to Intervention (RtI).