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University HQ ranks special education degree at GHC one of the best in the country

The website University HQ recently ranked the Associate of Science in Special Education at Georgia Highlands College (GHC) as one of the top 10 best online special education programs in the country. 

Dean of the School of Social Sciences and Education Alan Nichols says earning an Associate of Science in Special Education from GHC produces many benefits, such as the ability to immediately work as a paraprofessional in a special education classroom upon graduation. With a bachelor’s degree, the opportunities grow. 

“Another benefit is that the Associate of Science in Special Education prepares students for a bachelor’s degree in the field, which is required for teacher certification,” Nichols said. “Northwest Georgia has a pressing need for special education professionals and we at GHC are proud to help meet this need.” 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment of special education teachers will grow 6% from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations. This growth is expected to be driven by increasing demand for special education services, as well as earlier identification and diagnosis of disabilities. 

In addition to serving as a paraprofessional with an associate degree, careers for holders of a bachelor’s degree in the field can work as special education teachers, early intervention therapists, art therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, educational diagnosticians, special education administrators, behavior analyst, social workers and more. 

For example, GHC alumnus Justin Shooks, who initially planned to become a middle school teacher as he earned an associate degree in middle education from GHC, went on to earn his bachelor’s and now serves as a counselor at Lindley Middle School.  

“The Associate of Science in Special Education is designed to prepare students for transfer to a four-year university to complete their bachelor’s degree in special education,” Nichols said. “It offers a strong foundation in the principles and practices of special education. Students will learn about different types of disabilities, how to differentiate instruction and how to meet the needs of all learners.” 

To help facilitate the transfer process, GHC has articulation agreements with several Georgia universities so students can seamlessly transfer their credits from GHC to these universities to continue their education. 

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