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Colleges with Programs for Students with Special Needs


When it comes to compiling your list of colleges to apply to, fit is the most important decision factor. There are thousands of colleges in the United States, including many schools with programs tailored to students with neurodiversity and/or learning differences — though these programs often cost an additional fee. To pinpoint the choices that best align with your student’s unique learning and developmental needs, research is crucial. Keep reading to learn more about various colleges with special needs programs that might become best-fit options for your student.

American University (Washington, D.C.)

American has an intensive program for freshman called Learning Services Program (LSP). Students meet weekly with a program coordinator or counselor. They attend a special section of the freshman writing class and meet weekly with a writing coach for that course. Students in the program are paired with an upperclassman who is their LSP mentor.

Beacon College (Leesburg, FL)

Founded in 1989 by a group of parents, Beacon College is the first accredited college in the U.S. offering undergraduate programs designed around the needs of students with learning differences. They offer both bachelor and associate degrees in an environment specifically created to help students thrive and succeed. 

Bellevue College (Bellevue, WA)

Occupational and Life Skills Bellevue College (OLSBC) is an innovative associate’s degree program that gives adults with learning disabilities the opportunity to acquire an accredited college degree. The curriculum is occupational and life skills-based, and post-graduation employment rates for students in the program are well above the national average for workers with disabilities. 

Curry College (Milton, MA)

Curry’s Program for Advancement of Learning (PAL) is designed for students with diagnosed learning differences and executive functioning challenges. The faculty works with students individually and in small classes. Students take one credited PAL course each semester. The program focuses on reading comprehension, listening, writing, and organizational skills. For an extra fee, PAL has a summer program to help with the transition from high school to college.

Davis & Elkins College (Elkins, WV)

Students in the Supported Learning Program develop academic, social, and independent living skills. Each week, students in the program have a one-hour session with an SLP instructor, five hours of supervised study hall, and monitored peer tutoring and writing assistance. 

Dean College (Franklin, MA)

Dean’s Arch Learning Community supports students with learning differences by providing academic coaching, cohort classroom learning, and other resources that help them become independent learners. Students receive personalized career preparation and complete an internship before they graduate. 

DePaul University (Chicago, IL)

The Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD) is open to a variety of students dealing with cognitive and/or physical challenges. Students receive the support they need to achieve their academic goals and learn how to be more independent. CSD works across the university departments to provide reasonable accommodations and access to students in the program. 

Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA)

The Center for Autism and Neurodiversity is a student-centered program for current Drexel students with the goal of helping them build academic and social skills, advocate for themselves, and learn how to live independently. Students enrolled in CAN work one-on-one with coaches and advisors, participate in weekly study and social hours, and participate in planned social events. 

Hofstra University (Hempstead, NY)

The Program for Academic Learning Skills (PALS) serves Hofstra University students with learning differences. Students are paired with a learning specialist who meets with them one-on-one every week to work on learning strategies and executive functioning skills. PAL students must commit to one year in the program but have access to their learning specialist for the duration of their time at Hofstra. 

King’s College (Wilkes-Barre, PA)

The First-Year Academic Studies Program (FASP) provides structured one-on-one academic coaching to students with learning challenges. As students achieve more independence after their first year in the program, the support becomes less intensive. Students in the program work on study skills, time management, personal development, self-advocacy, and more. 

Landmark College (Putney, VT)

Landmark College caters specifically to students with dyslexia, ADHD, autism, and executive functioning challenges. Students have access to diagnosis-specific support, therapy dogs, athletic and recreational programs, and study abroad opportunities while they follow an educational path that accommodates their unique learning styles. 

Lesley University (Cambridge, MA)

Threshold at Lesley University is a two-year program that helps students acquire career training and skills for independent living. After completing their academic program, Threshold students can continue on to a Bridge Year or Transition Year program — each offering varying levels of support as students work toward independence.

Lynn University (Boca Raton, FL)

Students in Lynn’s Institute for Achievement and Learning (IAL) work with academic coaches to build learning and executive functioning skills. The program offers content and group tutoring, plus process tutoring to help with writing, speaking, and organization. Some courses at Lynn are taught by IAL fellows trained in different teaching strategies.

Marist College (Poughkeepsie, NY)

The Learning Disabilities Support Program at Marist pairs each student with a learning specialist. First-year students meet with their specialist twice a week to work on learning strategies and support with time management and organization. Students are become more independent as time goes on but are given the tools to discuss their learning issues and needs with professors.

Marshall University (Huntington, WV)

The College Program for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder provides students with the support they need to achieve success in college and prepare for a career. Students in the program receive help with social, communication, academic, leisure and personal living skills and can receive either individual or small group mentoring. 

Marymount Manhattan College (New York, NY)

Academic Access provides students with accommodations and multifaceted support through academic coaching, one-on-one sessions with a learning specialist, and personalized counseling for academic programs. Students in the program work with program staff to develop learning skills and behaviors that allow them to succeed in the classroom. 

McDaniel College (Westminster, MD)

Student Accessibility & Support Services (SASS) at McDaniel College offers support to all students with documented disabilities. Students have access to a variety of programs, mentorship opportunities, and social events — whichever resources cater to their unique needs.

Mercyhurst University (Erie, PA)

The Autism Initiative at Mercyhurst (AIM) is designed to enhance each student’s abilities academically and socially to help them build vocational and independent living skills. Students have access to peer mentors, specialized housing, social opportunities, a career path program, and more.

Misericordia University (Dallas, PA)

Misericordia University’s Alternative Learners Program (ALP) helps students with their regular university classes. Services include a learning strategies course, customized learning accommodations, course planning, writing assistance, and personalized support from a program coordinator.

Mitchell College (New London, CT)

Mitchell College offers two programs for students with learning differences. Thames is an on-ramp program designed to offer robust support and preparation to incoming college students. Through the Bentsen Learning Center (BLC) students work with a learning specialist on goal setting and learning strategies, and have access to assistive technology.

Muskingum College (New Concord, OH)

The PLUS Program at Muskingum offers four levels of support depending on the student’s needs. Services include one-on-one support from a learning coordinator and peer mentors to help with academics, career planning and preparation, executive functioning, self-advocacy, communication and social skills, and independent living.

Northeastern University (Boston, MA)

In the Learning Disabilities Program (LDP) at Northeastern, students work with a learning specialist for one hour, twice a week. These meetings focus on the student’s goals, coursework, and learning style and may address learning strategies, executive functioning, reading, writing, and use of accommodations.

University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ)

Students in the Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques (SALT) Center meet weekly with a student support specialist to focus on academic and personal goals. Other services include tutoring, workshops, psychological and wellness services, and access to assistive technology.

University of Connecticut (Storrs, CT)

Beyond Access (BA) offers academic support as well as help with personal growth and career readiness. Students in the program work with a strategy instructor to identify strengths and challenges, then create goals to help them achieve success. BA offers individualized support and group activities.

University of Denver (Denver, CO)

Students in the Learning Effectiveness Program (LEP) have access to a variety of resources to support their learning and personal growth. LEP provides academic counseling, tutoring, executive functioning support, social skills and events, and college transition support.

University of Iowa (Iowa City, IA)

UI REACH (Realizing Educational and Career Hopes) is a comprehensive transition program that focuses on helping students make the most of academics and campus life while also preparing them to transition to a career. Students have access to consultive services after graduation to assist with career development, finding employment, and living independently.

University of the Ozarks (Clarksville, AR)

The Jones Learning Center (JLC) is a comprehensive program that offers two tracks that are based on the level of support the student needs. Students work with an academic program coordinator on learning strategies and have access to writing specialists, tutors, small group study/lab sessions, and testing accommodations.

West Virginia Wesleyan College (Buckhannon, WV)

Students in the Mentor Advantage Program (MAP) have access to professional tutors several hours per week to assist with coursework and test prep. Additionally, students can work with an organizational mentor to help with academic planning, time management, organizational skills, and focus.

Every student’s needs, preferences, and goals are different, which is why it is so important to do your research and stay true to your own priorities. If you are beginning your college search and looking for advice on navigating the process as a student with learning differences, our team of college admissions experts can provide personalized guidance.


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