Special Education: Education of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing concentration Major Guide for 2014-2015

What is Special Education: Education of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing concentration

Education of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing (EDHH) is the field in which professionals work to provide education for children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Our teachers collaborate with the deaf community to meet the needs of deaf children. We provide EDHH teachers with the knowledge and skills necessary for providing access to the general curriculum in schools. Fluency in American Sign Language is a critical skill for teachers who work with deaf and hard of hearing students and is an important aspect of our training program. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires that special education services must be provided for students from preschool through high school and be provided for students with specific learning disabilities, speech or language impairments, cognitive disabilities, emotional disturbance, other health impairments, multiple impairments, hearing impairments, orthopedic impairments, autism, visual impairments, traumatic brain injury, developmental delay, blindness, and deafness, which makes teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing in demand.

Career Opportunities in Special Education: Education of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing concentration

There are not enough EDHH teachers to meet existing needs. Critical teacher shortages exist in all areas and at all levels: preschool, elementary, middle, and high school. At our annual Education Job Fair, recruiters from surrounding states offered moving expenses, and signing bonuses to our graduates.

Salary Trends in Special Education: Education of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing concentration

Teacher salaries vary according to levels of formal training (bachelor’s degree, master’s, educational specialist, and doctorate) and the number of years of experience. Salaries vary among states and school systems. Students graduating from the EDHH training program at UT typically complete their master’s degree before beginning teaching. Since they also complete a one-year graduate-level internship, they begin as a second-year teacher on the salary scale in the state of Tennessee public school systems. This places them two steps up on the pay scale— one for the advanced degree (M.S.E.) and one for the internship-teaching year, when employed by a Tennessee school system.

High School Preparation

Students must complete the basic college track programs to be admitted to the university. High school guidance counselors are familiar with UT’s admissions requirements. High school is a critical period for vocational exploration and preparation. Students considering EDHH teaching as a career should seek out opportunities that would expose them to deaf and hard of hearing individuals and to the professionals who serve this population. Any opportunity to learn American Sign Language would be valuable. Most high school programs serving students with severe disabilities actively recruit “peer tutors.” Participating in peer tutoring programs will result in the acquisition of direct instructional skills, plus important first-hand experience with students with disabilities. Also, students considering this profession should take advantage of opportunities to informally interview EDHH teachers within their own schools. Such teachers are valuable resources in selecting a university training program and would be able to describe the particular programs they completed. The most important preparation activity is working with special needs students, whether as a peer tutor, a babysitter, or in another context. Most of our students come with a rich history of such experiences.

How to Major in Special Education: Education of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing concentration

Prospective students should seek advising through the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences Office of Student Services (865-974-8194). Students apply for admission to the EDHH program after completing a minimum of 45 credit hours. They must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.7. Prospective students apply for admission by submitting written documentation and are subsequently interviewed by an admissions board consisting of EDHH faculty and professionals in the field. Students who are recommended for admission are then eligible to take education courses. Undergraduate coursework consists of a broad academic curriculum, with a balance of arts and sciences courses. Senior and internship coursework is highly specialized.

Requirements for Special Education: Education of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing concentration

A minimum GPA of 2.7 is required for admission to the EDHH program. The program leads to licensure to teach students who are deaf or hard of hearing in grades K through 12. Students pursue an undergraduate major in special education, with most of the education coursework and field experiences occurring during the junior and senior years. Students receive a B.S. in Special Education at the conclusion of the senior year. Students continue on with a 1-year internship in which they are mentored as first year teachers in both residential and public school settings. With an additional 12 hours of graduate work, students earn a Master of Science degree in Special Education.

Special Programs, Co-ops, and Internships

During the junior and senior year, students complete over 90 hours of field experience in residential and public schools, associated with their coursework. Students are placed in classrooms for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Students engage in activities ranging from assisting teachers with preparation of materials to accompanying classes on field trips to teaching lessons to small and large groups. Placements are made collaboratively with area school districts, including Knox and Blount Counties. In addition, some students opt for an earlier field experience, which affords them an initial exposure to real-school experiences. During the fifth (internship) year, students rotate through residential and public school placements.

Highlights of Special Education: Education of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing concentration

  • 5 year program with BS and MS degrees upon completion
  • Yearlong internship to include both a public school setting and a residential school for the deaf
  • Receive additional licensure in Elementary Education, Middle Grades Education or Secondary Education
  • Ability to receive hours equivalent to a minor in Educational Interpreting
  • Chance to become a mentor for a deaf student
  • Achieve intermediate competency in American Sign Language

Ready for the World

The Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing program at the University of Tennessee helps  prepare future educators to be “ready for the world” with coursework and applied experience in identifying and addressing the needs of diverse learners. Culturally fair assessment practices and universal design for learning principles are incorporated into coursework and practice.

Additionally, please note that The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, offers study abroad programs in Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, South America, and North America. Program lengths vary from mini-term trips to the entire academic year, and students may choose to fulfill general education requirements, study a foreign language, or take courses within their majors.

Consult an academic advisor early in your academic career about the best time for you to study abroad as well as what courses you may need to take. For more information about program options, the application process, and how to finance study abroad, please visit the Programs Abroad Office website.  Learn more about UT’s Ready for the World initiative to help students gain the international and intercultural knowledge they need to succeed in today’s world.

Academic Plan and Milestones

Universal Tracking (uTrack) is an academic monitoring system designed to help students stay on track for timely graduation. uTrack requirements only affect full-time, degree-seeking students who first entered Fall 2013 or later. uTrack does not apply to transfer students who enter prior to Fall 2015. In order to remain on track, students must complete the minimum requirements for each tracking semester, known as milestones. Milestones may include successful completion of specified courses and/or attainment of a minimum GPA.

To see a sample academic plan and milestones for this major, go to http://catalog.utk.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=16&poid=6496.

For More Information

College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences
Special Education Program Office
A411 Bailey Education Complex
Knoxville, TN 37996-3442
(865) 974-3435/974-8194


The information on this page should be considered general information only. For more specific information on this and other programs refer to the UT catalog or contact the department and/or college directly.