Special Education/ Speech/ OT Therapy- College Major?

So I’ve always been interested in psychology, social work and I have a passion for working with people with disabilities. Recently, I’ve decided that I actually want to do that for my career. I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do in that field but I know I want to work in that area. A lot of colleges I’ve been looking into don’t have Sp. Ed as an undergrad major and there’s much less for speech pathology undergrad programs. Obviously, I would go on to do a Masters in whatever specialization I decide but I’m not sure what I should do for undergrad. What would be the best thing to major in if I want to go into the field of working with individuals with disabilities (whether that is in a classroom or therapy setting)? If you have any specific college programs you can recommend, that would be much appreciated (especially if they are in CA, but open to all).

My D has a masters in special ed. While in an UG education program, you would take classes in special ed related areas, the initial certification would be for grade levels. For instance, in NY, my D earned an UG certification in Birth through grade 2 and K through 6. Then, her masters was in special ed.

My D was a psych major undergrad and is currently getting a MS in speech pathology. One thing she did that might be helpful to you was to shadow people in different areas she was considering (she shadowed an OT, a PT, and a speech pathologist). Then you can make a more informed choice based on what seems to be the best fit for you. If you decide before you start college what path you want to pursue then look into some direct entry programs.

Psychology, speech therapy, applied behavioral analysis, occupational therapy are all good majors for working with those with disabilities. If your college or university has none of the others psychology is a good way to go. A specialty in Special Education is only good if you want to go into teaching really unless you have a masters. Psychology can get you into more. Grad school is a must for those who want to open their own therapy clinic or advance in in hospitals or schools. This area of concentration is in demand in many areas. Good luck

Some schools are the following but they are the tip of the iceberg.
San Diego State University has a major in Special Education and get a certificate in Applied Behavioral Analysis
San Jose State University has a great Occupational Therapy program but you need a masters so continuing is a must
University of Washington psych then behavioral therapy
University of Utah psychology with applied behavioral analysis, speech therapy majors
California State University Fullerton for Communication Science and Disorders for speech

My daughter entered college thinking she was going to go into physical therapy, then over several years it evolved first to “PT, OT, or speech”, then “OT or speech” and now as a senior she is planning to go into speech therapy. She majored in psychology but took enough classes that she had the prerequisites for OT or PT. Her college doesn’t have a communication disorders major so she needs to go do one year of post-baccalaureate coursework before applying to SLP programs (some schools do have 3 year programs where that 1st year is included but she’s planning to do that separately).

In CA a lot of the speech and education programs are at the Cal States rather than the UCs. San Jose State is one but I think quite a few of them have it. If you want to go slightly further, U of Oregon and Portland State U also have SLP programs and I think the undergrad program that goes with it.

SDSU, Fullerton, Northridge have very good programs but they are very competitive for admissions in those areas.

I am an SLP. I agree that shadowing different professions in a variety of settings is a good idea.

There are some who know while in high school… I want to be a nurse/PT/OT/ ST etc… and apply to direct entry programs for PT/OT ( speech is very slowly starting to go in that direction) and never look back. Others don’t know until their junior year… or later… and don’t have the prerequisites. When I was in grad school… when dinosaurs roamed the earth…I had friends like me who were straight out of college… I had friends who worked as school based clinicians and needed their masters… and I had friends in other fields such as advertising and public relations who were slowly taking the prerequisites and getting their degrees.

Speech is a very diverse field. You can do feeding in the NICU…or …you can work in broadcasting doing accent reduction… I worked with a SLP once who was also a professional singer and did many of our voice evals.

For those who do not have an undergrad major in communication disorders and sciences… I think special education, psychology, counseling, linguistics, and even theater ( you would be surprised) are very good undergrad majors.

You can shadow and volunteer regardless of your major. Good luck!