What is Exceptionality & Disability?

Many professionals work with persons with disabilities in a variety of venues other than schools and do not require the same pedagogical knowledge base expected of special education teachers. However, to effectively advocate for and work with individuals with disabilities, it is imperative that professionals have a solid background in a variety of topics central to the provision of supports for individuals with disabilities.

Disability and Advocacy Degree(s)

Disability and Advocacy, BAE

Completion of this major results in a BA in Education. Students who complete this major typically seek employment in non-school settings, such as health and human services and non-profit organizations; they do not qualify for a teaching certificate.


Jeff Hart, Director of E&D
Jeffery.Hart@wwu.edu | 360-650-3724

Teacher Education Admission, Woodring College of Education
TeacherEd.Admission@wwu.edu | 360-650-6161

Exceptionality & Disability at Western

Completion of the Exceptionality and Disability major results in a Bachelor of Arts in Education (BAE) but graduates do not qualify for a teaching certificate. Students who complete this major typically want to work with individuals with disabilities in a variety of non-school settings, such as health and human services, behavioral support clinics, government agencies, and non-profit organizations.

Interested in working with individuals with disabilities, but not quite sure? Please feel free to contact someone in the Department of Special Education and Education Leadership. You might even be interested in our GUR course, EDUC 205 Disability, Diversity and Media.

The Department of Special Education and Educational Leadership is part of Woodring College of Education.

Explore courses

Examples of coursework include:

  • SPED 310 - Education, Culture, and Equity
  • SPED 472 - Behavior Assessment & Intervention
  • SPED 474 & 478 - Supporting Individuals with Complex Needs I & II

To learn more about this program, including grade requirements, a course listing, how to declare the major, and more, see the Program of Study Details.

Student Experiences

Internships and Scholarships

Practicum Placements

The college faculty coordinate a wide range of school and community based practicum placements strategically placed throughout the program. This provides frequent opportunities to interact with young children while developing your teaching skills.

Professional Development

Candidates may opt to participate in professional development activities outside of the classroom setting. These activities are varied and may include events such as professional development alongside practicing teachers/professionals in the local schools/community or attendance as selected informational talks or workshops.

Compass 2 Campus

The State of Washington mentoring initiative at Western is designed to increase opportunities in higher education by providing mentoring for 5th – 12th grade students from traditionally underrepresented and diverse backgrounds in Whatcom and Skagit counties. For more information on the program, visit this website.

What can you do with Exceptionality & Disability?

A major in Exceptionality and Disability provides foundational knowledge to professionals who interface across a variety of settings, including non-certified school programs, homes, agencies, and community. Career options include working in behavioral support clinics, advocacy law agencies, adaptive recreation settings, community engagement, and government agencies supporting individuals with disabilities. Graduate studies include certification as a BCBA, a Master's of Special Education, a Master's of Applied Behavior Analysis, Pre-Law, etc.

Exceptionality & Disability careers

  • Supported Employment Provider
  • Supported Living Supervisor

  • Advocate

  • Community Recreation Specialist

  • Various Positions with Nonprofit Agencies