Best Online Master’s in Special Education Programs

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Special education (SpEd) is a field dedicated to teaching and providing supportive services for students with physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral disabilities. At most public elementary and secondary schools, these teachers instruct special-needs students in dedicated classrooms. Many students require full-time special education support, while others will spend most of their time in a standard classroom and then receive supplemental SpEd instruction for one or two periods per day. In addition to class instruction, SpEd teachers must prepare independent education profiles for each student they teach and regularly work with them to overcome various educational obstacles related to their disability. SpEd teachers also meet regularly with the parents of their students to discuss academic progress, behavioral problems, and other important issues. In some cases, special education teachers may also work with exceptionally gifted students.

In the United States, special education teachers at public schools are required to earn a state-issued teaching license; many private schools also require licensure, as well. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a bachelor’s degree is generally considered the minimum requirement for jobs in special education. However, most prospective SpEd teachers go on to earn a master’s degree in special education. Some pursue a master’s that is specifically dedicated to special education studies, while others follow a degree track in elementary or secondary education with a specialization in special education.

Many of today’s students choose to earn their master’s degree in special education online, rather than on-campus. The flexible format inherent in online learning is especially convenient for students who must balance their schoolwork with other commitments, such as childcare or a full-time job. Below, you can learn more about online master’s degrees in special education and the career opportunities available to graduates in the field.

WILL AN ONLINE MASTER’S IN SPECIAL EDUCATION PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?

Students trained in special education are prepared to teach, provide therapy, and develop programs for students with special needs. Intensive graduate-level courses introduce students to curriculum design, assessment and communication techniques, and classroom management strategies for students with learning and behavioral disabilities. Many programs emphasize teaching strategies for students with specific disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorder, ADD/ADHD, and mental retardation. Special education master’s programs also include onsite practicum components, allowing students to receive supervised training from established SpEd teachers in real-world classrooms.

WILL AN ONLINE MASTER’S IN SPECIAL EDUCATION WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?

Online master’s programs in special education are designed to work around the student’s schedule. Most curricula follow an asynchronous timetable, allowing students to complete course requirements on their own time from the comfort of their home. Current technology also allows them to study away from their desk using a laptop, tablet, smartphone or other device with Wi-Fi accessibility. For added convenience, online students are usually able to coordinate practicum courses at local schools near their current residence.

WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY MASTER’S IN SPECIAL EDUCATION?

A master’s degree in special education will qualify graduates for most entry-level SpEd teaching positions, although candidates for public school jobs will also need to obtain a teaching license in the state where they plan to work. In addition to teacher training, the best online special education master’s degree programs also prepare students for their state’s licensure exam and other certification requirements.

WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE MASTER’S IN SPECIAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS?

Finding the right program is difficult, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school’s strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online master’s in special education programs in the United States. Our ranking is based on the courses schools offer, available specializations, student outcomes, career support services, and other criteria used to determine academic excellence. If you are considering obtaining master’s in special education, and are interested in studying online, be sure to take a look at these top programs.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1

University of Florida

 2/587.51%Gainesville, FL

campus_University_of_FLorida

In Florida's master's in special education online degree program, students must complete 36 credits. Students can pursue three tracks: a general track, an autism track, and an educational and health care transition track. Regardless of their focus, all students take 12 credits as part of the Teach Well core curriculum. An additional 24 credits will come from their track, although students do have some flexibility in determining their course load. Core classes cover the design of inclusive classrooms, transition services for disabled students, and teaching strategies. Students are expected to complete a final project as well as oral and written exams.

This program is designed primarily for part-time students, and students can graduate in two years by taking two courses per term. Admissions are based on a rolling deadline, and successful applicants are expected to have a GRE score of 147 for both the verbal and quantitative portions.

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2

Michigan State University

 3/578.86%East Lansing, MI

campus_Michigan_State_University

MSU offers an online master's in special education with endorsements available in learning disabilities or autism spectrum disorders. Students can also pursue a certificate in applied behavioral analysis. Distance learners must complete 30 credits to graduate; endorsements require an additional six credits. The learning disabilities program emphasizes empirical and theoretical approaches to constructing a curriculum and teaching. Courses explore how to assess students, technology and literacy instruction, behavioral management, and classroom policies. Both endorsements require a hands-on practicum where students interact with special-needs children under faculty supervision.

Students normally take two courses per semester, and the program can be completed in two years. Successful applicants are required to maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0. They are also encouraged to submit GRE scores as part of their application.

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3

Texas A&M University

 2/579.34%College Station, TX

campus_Texas_A&M_University

Texas A&M's online master's in special education program is a 36-credit offering. Students complete the degree in about two years, and they also graduate with an applied behavior analysis certificate. Introductory courses in this cohort program cover evidence-based consultation and bilingual special education, before moving on to literacy, behavior management, and more. Distance learners also learn to develop support systems for students with challenging behavioral issues, and they'll receive insight on how to help students with disabilities transition from school to work. The curriculum culminates with a research project on student behavior and a final exam.

Special education courses are offered both synchronously and asynchronously in the fall, spring, and summer. The application deadline is February 15th. Forty students are granted admission into the program; five more are waitlisted. Texas A&M also values strong GRE scores and letters of recommendation when assessing applicants.

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4

Indiana University – Bloomington

 3/577.64%Bloomington, IN

campus-indiana-university-bloomington

Indiana’s online master's in special education is a comprehensive 36-credit program. Students can pursue one of five available course tracks. These include autism, behavior specialists, early childhood, instructional strategies, and intense interventions. Students can customize their curriculum by combining courses from different tracks. Course content introduces students to research and teaching methods in the field, and prepares graduates to develop inclusive learning environments for children with special needs. Previous experience in the field is required, and students are expected to find a mentor and a practicum site in their first year of study. A capstone or thesis project is required to complete the degree.

This program begins in the fall. Students register and complete courses in a cohort to encourage a collaborative and communal atmosphere. Most students finish this program in two years.

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5

Ball State University

 2/559.45%Muncie, IN

campus_ball_state_university

Ball State's master's in special education online degree program allows students to focus in one of eight subfields, most of which can be completed entirely online. The online-only focuses are:

  • Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Autism
  • Director of Special Education/Exceptional Needs
  • Response to Interventions
  • Severe Interventions

The accelerated program can be completed in just 18 months. Students take 16-week courses in the fall and spring and 10-week classes in the summer. Most courses are offered asynchronously, though a handful of classes may require students to adhere to a more rigid schedule. Applicants should have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75; prospective students with a lower GPA may qualify for probationary admission. Application deadlines are April 15th, July 10th, and November 15th for the summer, fall, and spring semesters respectively.

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6

University of Louisville

 2/553.53%Louisville, KY

Louisville's online master's in special education offers specializations in assistive technology, moderate and severe disabilities, and autism. All three focus areas require students to complete 36 credits to graduate. The moderate and severe disabilities emphasis is available only to students with a teaching certificate. The remaining focus tracks do not require prior certification, and students will not receive any licensure for completing the program. All three focus tracks do require students to take some residential courses, though at least 80% of classes are available exclusively online.

Online courses are offered synchronously through webcam from 4:30 to 7 PM Eastern on select weekdays. Successful applicants will have an undergraduate GPA exceeding 2.75, two letters of recommendation, and a combined pre-2011 GRE score of at least 800. Up to six credits may be transferred from an accredited institution pending faculty approval.

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7

Florida State University

 2/579.13%Tallahassee, FL

FSU's online master's in special education requires students to complete at least 11 classes. Distance learners are required to observe, assess, and develop intervention programs for students with disabilities. They work closely with faculty members to learn collaborative, empirical methods for analyzing and educating students. Regardless of specialization, students must take 21 credits on general special education subjects. The remaining courses will cover one of the five specializations that students can pursue. These include:

  • Autism
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Severe Disabilities
  • Transition
  • Literacy and Response to Intervention/Differentiated Instruction/High Incidence Disabilities

Most coursework can be accessed asynchronously, though some activities will require coordinated participation. Applicants must have graduated with a 3.0 GPA or better. As part of their application, they should also submit two letters of recommendation and have a cumulative GRE target score of 286 or better.

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8

Virginia Commonwealth University

 3/559.18%Richmond, VA

VCU’s master's in special education online degree program allows students to specialize in three different subfields. These include early childhood education, general education, or severe disabilities. Those specializing in severe disabilities must complete 42 credits, while the general education and early childhood concentrations need 37. Core classes cover classroom management, curriculum construction, and relationships with family. Each focus requires an externship, where students gain valuable first-hand teaching experience, and a capstone portfolio. Students must earn a C+ grade or higher to receive credit for a class; students earning a C or below in more than one course will be dismissed from the program.

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9

University of Kansas

 3/560%Lawrence, KS

Distance learners pursuing an online master's in special education at KU can concentrate in a number of programs. These include:

  • Secondary Special Education & Transition
  • High Incidence Disabilities
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Leadership in Special and Inclusive Education

The admissions deadline is May 2nd, and the program commences on May 16th. Successful applicants will have earned a 3.0 undergraduate GPA and submit three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose and a professional resume.

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10

University of Arkansas

 2/5N/AFayetteville, AR

Arkansas' master's in special education online degree program can be tailored for students seeking licensure as certified special education instructors, or certification in applied behavior analysis or autism spectrum disorders. The program is also suitable for students not pursuing certifications or teaching licensure. Regardless of your focus, students must complete 36 total credit hours to graduate.

All concentrations require students to take nine semester hours of core courses, three semester hours of cognate study, and 24 semester hours in special education. Core classes cover curriculum development, communicating with special needs students, behavior management, and developing creativity. Students seeking certification will be required to to pursue a practicum or internship to gain experience with special needs students in a classroom setting.

Applicants must have earned a 3.0 cumulative GPA during their last 60 hours of undergraduate instruction. They should also submit GRE minimum scores in the 49th percentile for the verbal portion and at the 54th percentile for the writing segment. Application deadlines are December 1st for the spring semester, April 15th for summer, and August 1st for Fall.

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11

Emporia State University

 2/538.74%Emporia, KS

Distance learners in Emporia’s online master's in special education program can concentrate in adaptive learning or gifted, talented, and creative students. Both programs require students to take 36 credits, including six electives; a 24 credit endorsement option is also available. The curriculum prepares students to work with K-12 students. Adaptive concentration students learn to identify and plan curriculums and classrooms for students with disabilities, while effectively monitoring behavioral patterns and collaborating with family members. The curriculum for gifted, talented, and creative students covers identifying gifted students, assessing their needs, and building creative environments.

Students are expected to maintain a 3.0 GPA, with no grade lower than a ‘B’ in core courses. Applicants to the adaptive concentration must have a 2.75 GPA in the last 60 hours of coursework, while applicants to the gifted, talented, and creative concentration are expected to have earned a 3.25 GPA or better over their final 60 credits.

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12

University of Nebraska at Kearney

 2/556.43%Kearney, NE

UNK's online master's in special education is a 36-credit program designed for teachers looking to work with special education students. Distance learners can obtain certification to teach special education, and those who already have special education licensure can become advanced practitioners. UNK also offers a concentration on gifted learners that instructs teachers on the best educational practices for talented students.

All students adhere to the same core curriculum, taking 12 credits in educational research, philosophy of education, and curriculum development, and assistive technology. The remaining 24 credits are concentration-dependent. Here, students can examine Behavior Intervention, Inclusive Collaboration, Functional Academics and Independent Living Skills, and Assistive. Each area of emphasis includes a final practicum. Students seeking licensure work closely with advisors to meet all requirements.

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13

University of Michigan – Dearborn

 3/550.06%Dearborn, MI

The online master's in special education at Michigan-Dearborn is a 30-credit program with three concentrations available. Students can focus on emotional impairments, learning disabilities, or mild disabilities, with endorsements and certificates available for all three. The emotional impairments and learning disabilities concentrations require students to attend some classes in-person; the mild disabilities program can be completed entirely online. Mild disabilities certification requires students to complete 10 total courses, covering a variety of topics including strategies for impairments and disabilities, classroom management, learning assessments, and collaboration.

Admissions are considered on a rolling basis, with courses commencing in the fall, spring, and summer. Students can transfer up to six credits from outside institutions towards their degree, pending faculty approval. Students must finish with a GPA exceeding 3.0 to graduate.

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14

University of Missouri – Columbia

 2/569.48%Columbia, MO

Missouri's online master's in early childhood special education is a 30 credit-hour program focusing on students eight years old and younger. Students may also pursue a special education degree with a focus on autism. Regardless of their emphasis, students receive comprehensive instruction on foundational special education topics ranging from collaboration with student families to appropriate classroom and behavior management. Distance learners must also complete a comprehensive final exam to graduate. Courses are semester-long and are based on weekly formats with interactive lectures, readings, and collaborative assignments. Summer classes are taught on an accelerated schedule.

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15

Saint Joseph’s University

 5/573.13%Philadelphia, PA

Saint Joseph's online special education program was designed based on the Response to Intervention program, a research-based strategy used to measure and monitor student performance. This 36-credit program focuses on Pre K-12 students; distance learners can pursue concentrations in autism studies or the Wilson Reading System. Regardless of your area of focus, the core curriculum covers diagnostic assessment and progress monitoring, inclusive classrooms, emotional and behavioral disorders, and family collaboration.

Most students will complete this program in about two years. While GRE scores are not required for admission, about 98% of applicants submit them. The application deadline is rolling and students can enroll in the summer, spring, or fall semesters. Saint Joseph's offers a military tuition discount for any prospective students who have served.

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16

The University of Arizona

 3/560.26%Tucson, AZ

Students in Arizona's online master's in special education program can pursue three areas of emphasis as part of the program: behavioral support, deaf and hard of hearing, or disabilities. The disabilities program can be further concentrated on particular student needs, such as autism spectrum students, gifted students, or students with challenging behavior. All these programs require 36 credit hours for graduation, and with so many course options available, the curriculum can be customized to suit a student's particular needs and preferences. All students are required to conduct in-person research and gain hands-on experience in an appropriate educational setting. Students also complete a master's report.

Applicants must have earned a 3.0 undergraduate GPA over their last 60 hours of coursework. They should also submit three letters of recommendation and have completed the prerequisite foundations of special education and rehabilitation course. GRE scores are not required.

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17

West Virginia University

 2/557.25%Morgantown, WV

The online master's in special education program at West Virginia allows students to concentrate in one of six specializations: autism, early childhood, gifted, visually impaired, multicategorical education, or severe/multiple disabilities. Each concentration leads to endorsements, certificates, or licensure. Students are required to undertake field research and complete a practicum to gain professional experience working with disabled students, regardless of their chosen area of emphasis.

WVU's online classes are taught synchronously and some courses feature interactive video lectures. Students can be admitted for the spring, summer, or fall term, and all students qualify for in-state tuition regardless of where they live. Applicants should have obtained a 3.0 undergraduate GPA or better and an 850 or better on the GRE.

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18

University of North Dakota

 2/555.49%Grand Forks, ND

UND's online master's in special education program requires students to complete at least 32 credit hours; some students graduate in just 18 months. There are nine concentrations available, including autism, visual and hearing impairment, intellectual and learning disabilities, emotional disturbance, and early childhood special education. Each concentration requires distance learners to take four or five specific courses, and they round out their schedule with related electives. Students in all concentrations are required to complete a thesis and a final project to demonstrate their understanding of class materials. These curriculums can be tailored for students seeking certifications, licensures, or endorsements, though this will require additional courses.

Courses are offered online, and students receive lectures and assignments each week. All students qualify for in-state tuition regardless of where they live.

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19

Old Dominion University

 2/551.58%Norfolk, VA

Old Dominion's online master's in special education program requires students to complete 30 credits and a practicum. The school also offers concentrations and certificate programs for students looking to narrow their focus. Application deadlines for summer, fall, and spring terms are March 1st, June 1st, and November 1st respectively. ODU requires applicants to have earned a 291 on the GRE and a 4.5 on the analytical writing section. Courses are delivered both asynchronously and synchronously, with some course materials and activities requiring live participation.

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20

Washington State University

 3/567.24%Pullman, WA

WSU's online master's in special education is designed for licensed teachers striving to work in PreK-12 special education. The program requires students to complete 37 credit-hours of coursework, and the curriculum includes all courses needed for the Washington State Special Education Teaching Endorsement. Course content covers assessment and curriculum development, secondary education, early childhood education, inclusion strategies, and reading disabilities. A directed study course or a final examination are also prerequisites for graduation. Classes are taught asynchronously, though some specific assignments may require live participation. Most students will finish this program in two years.

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21

Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

 2/567.45%Slippery Rock, PA

Slippery Rock offers four different master's degrees in the field of special education, all conducted exclusively online. Two of these programs focus on specific age groups, birth to eighth grade and seventh grade through high school. A third option in school supervision is geared toward teachers and specialists who want to pursue leadership roles. The final special education master's concentrates on methods for instructing and assisting students with autism. Students may be able to complete any of these master's programs within one academic year. Courses explore innovative teaching techniques, classroom collaboration strategies and other theory-based methods for educating students with special needs.

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22

Arizona State University-West

 2/559.18%Glendale, AZ

ASU West offers master's degrees in special education concentrated in two distinct areas. A pathway focused on students with autism/spectrum disorders is held completely online, while the program in applied behavior analysis combines online coursework with supervised on-site practicum sessions in accordance with requirements of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. Additionally, ASU West students may obtain a specialized master's degree in teaching gifted students; the program explores early intervention techniques and classroom management strategies for this equally demanding student population.

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23

University of Alabama

 2/565.66%Tuscaloosa, AL

Bama's master's in special education program is available in a convenient weekend format, allowing students to earn all 33 required credit hours outside the work week. Three specializations are available with the master's credential: 'Gifted and Talented'; 'Early Childhood B-8'; and 'Collaborative K-12'. The curriculum stresses faculty collaboration and diverse instruction as two critical aspects of effective special education, so enrollees should expect a fair amount of group assignments and project work. A rolling admission deadline allows students to sign up and begin their coursework throughout the academic year.

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24

University of Nebraska at Omaha

 2/544.62%Omaha, NE

Nebraska's Omaha branch is home to an online Master of Science in Special Education program concentrated in the field of behavior intervention. Courses delve into topics like child abuse/neglect, behavior disorders and classroom management; the coursework will be supplemented with an on-site internship at a nearby education center. Students explore various strategies for establishing rules, as well as rewarding and disciplining students using these standards. Those who complete the program's 36 credit hours will meet the requirements for a Pre-6 or 7-12 endorsement by the Nebraska Department of Education.

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25

Arkansas State University

 2/539.3%Jonesboro, AR

Arkansas State's Master of Science in Education for special education professionals is geared toward K-12 teachers. This 36-credit program can be completed in 16 months. Additionally, the university offers a Master of Science in Education for 'gifted, talented and creative' students. Although 30 credits are required for this credential, most students require at least 18 months to complete the coursework. Both programs require supervised, on-site practicum sessions at a local learning institution; additionally, the MSE for gifted students culminates in a capstone project.

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Timeline
2 to 3 years
Program costs (when available)
$20,000 to $30,000 for full tuition
Concentrations
Elementary Education, Secondary Education, Early Childhood Education, Applied Behavior Analysis, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Mild to Moderate Disabilities, Severe Disabilities, Gifted Students, Special Education Technology, Special Education Curriculum Technology, Special Education Curriculum and Instruction
Accreditation
National Commission for the Accreditation of Special Education Services (NCASES)
Additional Considerations
Many master’s degree programs include primary studies in elementary education, secondary education or another related field with a special education concentration or specialization.

Master vs Bachelor of Special Education

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), master’s degrees in special education are conferred to students in the U.S. at nearly double the rate that bachelor’s degrees are awarded in the same subject. However, a relatively low number of master’s recipients go on to earn a Ph.D. or doctoral degree in special education. Consequently, master’s degree-holders are much more common in special education positions than employees with other college degrees. The latest BLS data indicates that 51% of special education employees hold a master’s degree, while only 33% have a bachelor’s.

Special education teachers with a master’s degree also enjoy favorable employment rates. Georgetown University’s ‘From Hard Times to Better Times’ report notes that special education teachers with a bachelor’s degree and some professional experience have a 4.9% unemployment rate; that figure drops to 1.8% for experienced special education teachers with a master’s degree. In the table below, you can see how unemployment rates for master’s-holding SpEd teachers measure up against other education professionals.

Profession Unemployment Rate for
Experienced College Graduates
Unemployment Rate for
Experienced Graduate Degree-Holders
Special Needs Education 4.9% 1.8%
General Education 4.2% 2.9%
Elementary Education 3.7% 1.6%
Physical and Health Education Teaching 3.9% 2.7%
Miscellaneous Education 3.6% 2.3%

Source: From Hard Times to Better Times’ by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce

As the table shows, experienced special needs educators with a graduate degree enjoy the second-lowest unemployment rate, behind elementary educators.

Earning a Living

In addition to job security and lower unemployment rates, SpEd professionals who obtain a master’s degree will likely earn higher salaries than their bachelor’s-holding counterparts. The BLS found that special education teachers with a master’s earn a median annual salary of $52,000 — roughly 24% more than special education teachers with a bachelor’s degree. The following table uses data from the latest PayScale College Salary Report to show the expected annual earnings for special education master’s- and bachelor’s-holders at two key career stages.

Degree Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (10+ Years)
Bachelor’s in Special Education $35,000 $51,500
Health and Physical Education Teaching $44,500 $60,000
Master’s in Early Childhood Special Education $44,600 $55,100

Source: 2015-16 PayScale College Salary Report

As the table indicates, graduates with a master’s degree in special education or early childhood education outearned their colleagues with a bachelor’s by roughly 27% at the entry-level mark and 7% to 17% at mid-career. Keep in mind that salaries for individual SpEd teachers will vary by the type of institution where they are employed, their location, and experience. The next table examines salary expectations for special education teachers at different grade levels.

Occupation Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (10+ Years) Median Annual Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 Years) Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ Years)
Special Education Teacher (Preschool, Kindergarten and Elementary) $39,973 $43,926 $49,929 $54,788
Special Education Teacher (Middle School) $41,000 $46,000 $50,000 $62,000
Special Education Teacher (Secondary School) $41,173 $46,640 $51,098 $63,699

Source: PayScale

As the table indicates, starting salaries are comparable for special education teachers at all grade levels. However, the earnings for middle and secondary school SpEd teachers grow more than for elementary educators. Preschool, kindergarten, and elementary SpEd teachers can expect their salaries to rise by roughly 37% over the course of their careers, while the average middle or secondary school SpEd teacher will see their salary climb more than 50%.

Career Opportunities

Students who graduate with an online master’s in special education and earn a state-issued license will qualify for dozens of jobs at public and private institutions. Your eligibility for specific jobs will depend on several factors, including your state of residence and degree specialization. Below, we’ve reviewed four common career pathways for graduates for graduates in the field.

Special Education Teachers: Special education teachers specialize in instructing and assisting students with physical or cognitive disabilities, as well as those with behavioral disorders and mental health issues. Most special education teachers maintain a private classroom at their school for special needs students. A teaching license is required in all 50 states for special education teachers who work at public schools.

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers: Teachers in kindergarten and elementary school classrooms help students build core skills in areas like reading, writing, and mathematics. Special education teachers at the elementary level often evaluate their students based on these core skills, and help them progress in areas where improvement is needed.

Middle School Teachers: Most middle school teachers instruct students in the sixth, seventh, eighth grades; some middle schools include ninth grade as well. Lesson plans for middle schoolers are designed to build on core elementary knowledge and skills, while also preparing them for the more advanced curriculum of high school education. Middle school SpEd teachers often evaluate students to measure their placement and needs level when they reach high school.

High School Teachers: In addition to leading lessons in core education in subjects like English, history, mathematics and science, high school teachers help students prepare for adult life after graduation. High school SpEd teachers provide additional support for students who struggle with certain subjects, as well as those with severe disabilities who may need to consider non-college alternatives in order to reach post-graduation success.

Occupation Median Annual Salary Projected Industry Growth (2014-24)
Special Education Teachers $56,800 6% (28,100 jobs)
Kindergarten and Elementary Teachers $54,550 6% (87,800 jobs)
Middle School Teachers $55,860 6% (36,800 jobs)
High School Teachers $57,200 6% (55,900 jobs)

Professional Organizations

Making professional connections and learning about different educational approaches is crucial to your success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you’ll find three of the country’s most prominent organizations established for special education professionals. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates.

  • National Association of Special Education Teachers: According to NASET’s mission statement, the organization strives to “render all possible support and assistance to professionals who teach children with special needs.” The long list of member benefits includes discounts on continuing education courses, complimentary online journal subscriptions, free webinars, and a comprehensive list of local and national conferences targeted toward SpEd professionals.
  • Council for Exceptional Children: Founded in 1922, CEC is an international organization that provides “advocacy, standards and professional development” for professionals working with gifted young people. Students receive a 20% discount on membership fees, while professionals currently living in developing countries may become members for only $50.
  • Autism Society of America:Special education teachers make up some of the more than 120,000 members belonging to this Maryland-based nonprofit organization. The ASA’s website features a wealth of academic and scientific resources related to autism spectrum disorders, as well as information about current advocacy projects and upcoming events.
Despite the relative affordability of online programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about your financial aid options.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today’s college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE COLLEGE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you’ll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn’t always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR WOMEN

Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We’ve curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family’s financial future. We’ve compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.