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Department of Educational Foundations & Special Education

College of Education

Educational Foundations & Special Education

Welcome to the Department of Educational Foundations and Special Education!


Welcome to the Educational Foundations and Special Education

          The Department of Educational Foundations and Special Education has curriculum that supports studies in other departments, graduate and undergraduate degrees in Special Education, 2 minors, and 1 certificate.

Educational Foundations is a program that offers a minor in Leadership which is an interdisciplinary program that can work with any major and a new graduate certificate in Leadership.  Additionally, Educational Foundations offers courses on the graduate and undergraduate level that support other education programs in the college of education.  Some of the topics include:

  • Philosophy in education
  • Educational research
  • Educational psychology
  • Current Educational Issues and Trends

Special Education is a program that prepares future teachers to teacher students with unique learning needs and disabilities that meet teacher licensure requirements in the state of Tennessee.


  •  Bachelor of Science degree in Special education (SPED) leads to initial teaching license in special education.
    • Concentrations are offered in:
      • Modified (high-incidence disabilities)
      • Comprehensive (low-incidence disabilities) 
  • Post-baccalaureatePrograms are provided for adding a special education endorsement to existing education licenses. Licensure areas in modified(K-12), comprehensive (K-12), and Early Childhood Special Education are available at this level.
  • Minor in Special Education shows an employer that a student has an understanding of individuals of differing ability and evidence-based learning strategies that can benefit all students/clients. Minors are great for students who are majoring in such fields as: social work, psychology, physical therapy, or early childhood.


  • Special Education, M.Ed is for candidates seeking licensure in special education enroll in graduate coursework that prepares the candidate for initial teaching licensure in both K-12 Modified Special Education (mild disabilities) and K-12 Comprehensive Special Education (severe disabilities) OR PreK-3 Early Childhood Special Education.
  • Advanced Practitioner Concentration is for individuals who are not seeking special education licensure, but who are interested in obtaining an advanced degree in special education may elect to earn a master's degree through the Master of Education in Special Education degree, Advanced Practitioner Concentration.
  • Advanced Practitioner Concentration is for teachers  who currently hold a valid Tennessee teaching license may add on an endorsement in the following areas
    • K-12 Modified Special Education (Mild Disabilities)
    • K-12 Comprehensive Special Education (Severe Disabilities)
    • Pre-K-3 Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE; infants  to children age 8 with disabilities, certification PreK- 8)

Department Spotlight!



Dr. Deb Harley

Meet Dr. Deborah Harley-McClaskey!

About Dr. Harley-McClaskey

Dr. Harley-McClaskey is considered to be an expert on leadership development in all workplace sectors. Excellence through leadership, service and civic engagement are personal passions. She served as a consultant to over 30 organizations on personal leadership development initiatives, including K & N Management’s 2010 Baldrige winning application.

As an Associate Professor and director of Academic Leadership Programs at East Tennessee State University, she developed the Minor in Leadership Studies and the Graduate Certificate in Community Leadership. She served as part of the team that developed the on-line master’s in strategic leadership for the state-wide E-Campus Program.

She is the author of the textbook, Developing Human Service Leaders, recently published by Sage in January of 2016.

Dr. Harley-McClaskey is leadership coach for Gallup specializing in the Strengths Finder assessment for teams and leaders. She is also a facilitator/mentor and trainer for the Franklin Covey Organization, and serves on their Higher Education Advisory Board, reviewing training materials to be used in Colleges and Universities. She is a leadership consultant for Pal’s Business Excellence Institute, 2015 Level 4 Winner of the Tennessee Quality Award.

She is active in the community having served as a board or task force leader for Create Appalachia, the Girl Scouts, Coalition for Kids, Second Harvest Food Bank, Johnson City Senior Center, Chamber of Commerce, Johnson City/Washington County Community Youth Leadership Program, and Tennessee Campus Compact.

Deborah holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from East Tennessee State University, a master’s in counseling and a bachelor’s in mathematics from the University of South Florida.

About Dr. Harley-McClaskey's New Book!!!

Dr. Harley-McClaskey has a new book entitled: “Developing Human Services Leaders." This book instructs students and professionals on the required skills and behaviors needed for managing their teams and organizations, as well as themselves. The book is now available for ordering from SAGE Publishing. Click here for the news release from the Johnson City Press!


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