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Rockford University launches online grad program, expand access to special education teacher training

Opportunities for financial aid are available.
While the pandemic put many graduation ceremonies on pause, students at Rockford University...
While the pandemic put many graduation ceremonies on pause, students at Rockford University celebrated graduation in person on Saturday and walked across the stage to receive their degree.
Updated: Jun. 2, 2021 at 1:25 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Rockford University is expanding online access to its special education graduate program.

The move is being made to help address the need for special education teachers. Starting this fall, the university’s special education endorsement and master’s degree in special education will be offered fully online. It’s one of only three such online programs to be offered by Illinois-based institutions, according to the university.

Visit here or call 815-226-4040 for more information. Opportunities for financial aid are available.

“Expanding our special education training online makes the entire process more flexible for students who might not be able to attend classes in person every week, and it really opens the door to more people wanting to pursue a passion for special education,” Dr. Gina Braun, Rockford University’s director of special education said. “We’re making the training more convenient while still maintaining the personal connection to our highly engaged faculty who understand the unique challenges faced by Illinois teachers.”

Here’s how it works:

  • Special education teaching positions require a special education endorsement, and this portion of the program has been restructured so it can be completed in year one.
  • Students will then finish out their degree in year two in part by completing research and a thesis project in special education, with a goal to submit the work for presentation, publication or both.

The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the need for more special education expertise. Illinois has nearly 4,500 open teaching positions, according to the Illinois State Board of Education, and more than 600 of those openings are for special education teachers.

In addition to shifting the program online, Rockford University’s team is also working with local school districts and private schools to establish partnerships that will allow employees to complete endorsements and teaching degrees. A partnership with the Belvidere School District, for example, will result in nine additional special education-endorsed teachers by spring 2023.

Visit here or call 815-226-4040 for more information. Opportunities for financial aid are available.

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