Society learns more about developmental disabilities every day, and with more knowledge comes a higher demand for special education professionals who can develop and share innovative ideas. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), the growth rate for special education teachers is an impressive 8%, keeping pace with growth in other careers.
Professionals have the chance to better the lives of those with developmental disabilities by understanding disorders and practicing constructive techniques. Some of the best special education master's programs allow students to specialize their degree according to their career goals. Students should explore different job opportunities in the field to determine which programs suit their goals and interests.
Should I Get a Master's in Special Education?
The ideal candidate for a master's in special education program is passionate about helping individuals with a variety of disabilities. When making the decision to pursue the degree, students need to evaluate if they are better suited for an online or on-campus program. Online master's programs are great for working professionals with limited free time or individuals looking for a career helping others, whereas on-campus programs are ideal for students coming straight from an undergraduate program. On-campus programs also tend to cost slightly more than the online counterparts due to the costs of room, board, and transportation.
The benefits of a master's in special education degree include a large job pool and access to a wider network of special education professionals. The best time for networking is while you are enrolled in school. Once students get closer to graduation, connections made through networking can help with job or internship applications and placement. Professional organizations also provide networking and job opportunities in special education.
What Can I Do With a Master's in Special Education?
Professionals with their special education master's degree have many job opportunities available to them. Students in the field often pursue careers as special education teachers. Depending on their interests, special education teachers can focus their efforts on preschool, elementary, middle school, or high school students. Each grade level presents its own set of challenges and features. Some teachers, depending on the school, may be able to teach multiple grade levels at a time. Aside from teaching, many master's in special education graduates pursue careers in counseling or social work.
- Elementary Special Education Teacher
Elementary special education teachers work with educationally and physically handicapped students. They also work with hearing and visually impaired students and teach students academic and life skills. Though special education teachers at this level are only required to have a bachelor's degree, a master's in special education increases job opportunities and may lead to higher salaries.
Median Annual Salary: $58,600
Projected Growth Rate: 8%
- Secondary School Special Education Teacher
Secondary school special education teachers work with high school students who have a physical or mental disability. They review different tools and resources helpful to their students' development.
Median Annual Salary: $60,180
Projected Growth Rate: 8%
- Preschool Special Education Teacher
Preschool special education teachers focus their efforts and offer their support to preschoolers. They understand how early childhood development and disabilities interact and explore different techniques to help every child learn.
Median Annual Salary: $53,640
Projected Growth Rate: 8%
- Middle School Special Education Teacher
Middle school special education teachers teach students who are in middle school and who are physically or intellectually handicapped. Since students are between elementary and high school, these teachers focus on the most appropriate tools and tactics to prepare students to advance from one grade level to another.
Median Annual Salary: $59,510
Projected Growth Rate: 8%
- Social Worker
Social workers in the special education field manage the wellbeing, development, and care of special needs people and clients. They work in a variety of settings, including rehabilitation centers, homes, schools, and hospitals.
Median Annual Salary: $47,980
Projected Growth Rate: 16%
Best States for Special Education Educators
Special education teachers work with students from preschool age through young adulthood, providing specialized educational services. Special educators may focus on various in-demand areas, including early childhood education, autism spectrum disorders, and visual impairment. In many states, special education teachers earn salaries above the average for teaching positions.
With special education teaching shortages in nearly every state, these educators enjoy high demand for their skills and expertise. According to Dr. K. Lynn Boyer, director of the National Clearinghouse for Professions in Special Education at the Council for Exceptional Children, "The demand for special educators is expected to grow at about a 35% rate over the next 10 years."
This list ranks the best states for special education educators based on several factors, including salary, educational assistance programs, and job openings.
In ranking the best states for special education teachers, we considered factors such as salary, employment numbers and job openings, and teacher support services. Some states, for example, offer recruitment programs for special education professionals, scholarship assistance programs for students earning special education licenses, and professional development resources for special education teachers. Statistics on the number of special education students in each state come from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), which creates the National Assessment of Educational Progress on an annual basis. Salary and employment information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
With strong salaries and support from the state's Department of Education, Connecticut is the top state for special education teachers. Special education teachers in Connecticut earn some of the highest salaries in the country, according to the BLS. At the elementary level, special education teachers earn an annual mean wage of $83,110, and high school special education teachers earn $79,350 on average. The state's preschool special educators earn above-average salaries at $75,180 a year. Connecticut employs over 6,000 special education teachers.
In Connecticut, the Bureau of Special Education offers programs and services for the state's special education students and educators. Teachers benefit from the state's best practices resources, special education data collections, and updated bulletins on the state of special education in Connecticut. Special education teachers in Connecticut must complete a bachelor's program to earn a teaching license.
With an above-average number of special education students, the demand for special education teachers in Massachusetts remains high. According to the NCES, over 17% of Massachusetts students have individualized education programs. Compared to the national average of 13%, Massachusetts schools hire more special education educators, with nearly 16,000 special education teachers working in the state. Those teachers earn above-average salaries, according to the BLS. High school special education teachers earn an average salary of $70,080 a year, with elementary school teachers earning just under $70,000. The state's preschool special educators earn over $62,000 a year.
Massachusetts supports its special education teachers through the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's special education page, which offers policy guidance, technical assistance, and early childhood special education resources. Forbes recently ranked Massachusetts as the best state for teachers.
Home to over 6 million public school students, including over 700,000 special education students, California offers many opportunities for special education teachers. According to the NCES, more than 1,000 local school districts employ special education teachers in California, making it one of the states with the highest number of special education teachers. The BLS reports that over 15,000 special education teachers work in California. High school special education teachers earn the highest average wages, at $80,120 a year, while elementary special education teachers earn $77,370. California's preschool special education teachers make $52,760 on average.
The California Department of Education offers resources for special education teachers on its special education page. The site offers information on the state's special education advisory group, common core state standards for special education students, and a data collection resource to find or report special education information.
Special education teachers in Virginia receive support from the state in the form of tuition assistance programs. Combined with above-average salaries, this support makes Virginia one of the best states for special education educators. The BLS reports that over 15,000 special education teachers work in Virginia, with a mean salary around $70,000. Virginia's preschool special education teachers earn among the highest salaries in the country, at just over $70,000 on average.
The Teach Virginia site helps prospective educators identify colleges and universities that prepare special education personnel to earn endorsements on their teaching license. The program also lists tuition assistance programs to address a shortage of special educators in the state. With a high demand for teachers and financial support for students pursuing special education endorsements, Virginia offers many opportunities for special education teachers.
New York employs more special education teachers than any other state, according to the BLS, with over 50,000 special educators. New York special education teachers also earn some of the highest salaries, with elementary special education teachers earning around $75,000 on average, middle school teachers earning about $80,000, and high school teachers earning around $85,000.
The U.S. Department of Education granted New York its second-highest rating, labeling it a state that "needs assistance" to meet its special education goals, based on the state's compliance with special education laws and data on the academic performance of special education students. Of the 50 states plus the District of Columbia, 21 earned the higher "meets requirements" designation.
However, New York's high salaries and the strong community of special education teachers make the state one of the best places to work. New York also boasts one of the highest salaries for preschool special education teachers at just under $74,000, on average.
Home to over 11,000 special education teachers, Minnesota earns top marks from the U.S. Department of Education on its compliance with special education regulations and the academic outcomes for its special education students. Minnesota ranks among the top 21 states in the July 2018 data, earning a designation of "meets requirements," the highest category.
The state's special education teachers earn salaries above the state's average for all occupations, with elementary and high school special education teachers earning average salaries of around $63,000 a year. The state's preschool special education teachers earn around $62,000, above the national average of $58,000.
The state's Department of Education provides resources for special education professionals and administrators, including accessible educational materials, information on assistive technologies, and special education training. Minnesota also offers recruitment and retention programs to support the state's special education teachers and recruit new educators.
Alaska combines high ratings for their special education programs with above-average salaries. In 2018, the U.S. Department of Education granted Alaska its highest mark for special education compliance, which includes students' academic outcomes. The BLS reports that Alaska special education teachers at the elementary level earn an average salary of over $78,000, with middle school and high school special education professionals averaging around $75,000. The state's preschool special educators earn a slightly lower salary of $68,000.
The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development provides special education resources, including statewide special education data, a performance report, and an improvement plan to strengthen special education. With a low cost of living and high salaries, Alaska represents one of the best states for special education educators.
Home to multiple colleges and universities that offer special education teacher training, New Jersey boasts above-average salaries for special education professionals. With over 27,000 special education teachers working in the state, according to the BLS, New Jersey ranks as one of the states with the most special education professionals. High school special education teachers in New Jersey earn an average salary of over $75,000, while elementary special education teachers earn just under $70,000 a year.
The NCES reports that 16.5% of New Jersey students receive special education services, above the national average of 13%. The state's Department of Education funds Learning Resource Centers, which provide professional development resources on implementing high-quality services for preschool and school-aged children with disabilities, assessing individual rights, and helping students transition from school to adulthood.
With state resources and high salaries, Oregon ranks among the best states for special education teachers. Oregon special education professionals earn salaries above the national average, according to the BLS. Middle school and high school special education teachers earn just under $80,000 a year on average, while elementary school special education educators earn around $75,000. Preschool special education teachers earn average salaries of nearly $77,000, which is well above the national average of $58,000.
While the state employs just over 4,000 special education teachers, demand may be increasing across the state. To support special education professionals and families, the Oregon Department of Education offers a special education page with special education publications, best practices, and early intervention resources.
With over 21,000 special education professionals, Illinois appeals to special education teachers. According to the BLS, Illinois special education educators earn above-average salaries, with high school special education teachers earning an average of over $68,000 a year, and elementary school special education teachers earning around $65,000 a year. Of the state's over 2 million students, nearly 300,000 qualify for special education programs, the National Report Card reports.
The Illinois State Board of Education offers resources for special education teachers, including transition services, class size requirements, and a teacher loan forgiveness program. The program offers up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness for qualifying special education teachers who work for five years in a Title I school. The combination of above-average salaries plus a generous teacher loan forgiveness program makes Illinois one of the best states for special education teachers.
Washington state's above-average salaries and over 30 colleges and universities that offer approved teacher education programs make it one of the best states for special education teachers. Washington also has a shortage of special education educators, making the position in high demand. To address the state's shortage of special education teachers, Washington offers pre-endorsement waivers, letting teachers work as special educators if they completed at least part of the required coursework to earn an endorsement.
The BLS reports that special education professionals in Washington earn just over the national average. Preschool special education teachers earn just under $61,000, over the national average of $58,000, while elementary special education teachers earn over $63,000 a year. The over 130,000 special education teachers in Washington receive support from the state, including a Special Education page with annual performance reports, funding information, and data on program reviews.
While Wyoming represents one of the smallest states that employs special education professionals, with just under 1,300 working in the state, according to the BLS, the state earns top marks for its programs. In 2018, the U.S. Department of Education ranked Wyoming in its top category, "meets requirements," on special education compliance and academic performance. Wyoming's teaching licensure process does not require a graduate degree to earn the special education endorsement.
The National Report Card reports that Wyoming special education teachers work with 13,000 students across the state. These special education professionals earn salaries around the national average, with elementary, middle, and high school special educators earning an average salary of just under $60,000. The state's 70 preschool special education teachers earn a slightly higher salary at $65,000. With rural farmland and the Rocky Mountains, many special education teachers find Wyoming one of the best places to work.
Iowa offers salaries in line with the national average and a program to help professionals with a bachelor's degree change careers to become teachers. Three Iowa universities let students complete an accelerated program to earn a teaching license, including prospective special education teachers. The Regents Alternative Pathway to Iowa Licensure accepts candidates with bachelor's degrees seeking a career change. The 18-month program includes one academic year of coursework followed by nine months as a salaried teacher at an Iowa school.
The BLS reports that Iowa's 3,500 special education teachers earn salaries close to the national average. Elementary special education professionals average just over $56,000 a year, while middle school special education teachers earn just under $60,000. The Iowa Department of Education offers special education resources, including a newsletter, information on assessments, and services offered through the program.
Wisconsin's special education program earned the highest rating, "meets requirements," from the U.S. Department of Education in 2018. The assessment measured the state's compliance with special education rules and regulations, as well as the academic performance of students. Most of the state's 3,650 special education professionals earn salaries close to the national average, according to the BLS. Elementary and middle school special education teachers earn around $56,000 a year. Wisconsin's notable exception comes from preschool special education professionals, who earn just $38,500 a year on average, which is much lower than the national average of $58,000.
Special education professionals benefit from the resources offered by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, including consultations on assistive technology, occupational therapy, and co-teaching. The state also offers personnel development grants for educators. The Department of Public Instruction provides a job board with links to public and private teaching openings in the state.
With over 18,000 special education professionals, Pennsylvania ranks among the top employers in the field. In 2018, the U.S. Department of Education found that Pennsylvania's special education program met all requirements for special education compliance and academic performance. Pennsylvania received the highest rating granted by the review. With over 17% of Pennsylvania's 1.7 million students receiving special education services, the high rating speaks to the quality of the state's special education professionals.
In Pennsylvania, special education teachers earn salaries just above the national average, according to the BLS. Elementary and high school special education educators earn around $64,000 a year on average, while middle school special education teachers average over $66,000. The state's preschool special education teachers earn just under $55,000 a year, which is less than the national average. Pennsylvania boasts over 100 approved teacher education programs.
Maryland offers one of the highest concentrations of middle school special education teachers, along with some of the highest salaries, according to the BLS. Middle school special education professionals earn an average salary of over $70,000 a year. High school special education teachers earn over $67,000 a year, while preschool special education professionals earn just under $70,000 on average. Maryland is among the top five highest-paying states for preschool special education teachers.
In Maryland, special education teachers benefit from several support resources. The Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education offers professional development courses for special education professionals, including programs on collaboration and co-teaching and teaching diverse learners in a general education classroom. The Baltimore City Teaching Residency program helps prospective special education teachers earn a license as an elementary special education teacher or an English or math special education teacher.
Rhode Island offers competitive salaries and support for its special education teachers. Home to 2,000 special education professionals, the BLS reports that Rhode Island offers above-average salaries. Rhode Island high school special education teachers earn an average salary of just under $70,000, while elementary and middle school special education professionals average around $67,000. The state's preschool special education teachers earn just over $67,000, on average, which is significantly higher than the national average of $58,000.
With around 23,000 students receiving special education services, Rhode Island's student-to-teacher ratio in special education remains lower than its overall student-to-teacher ratio. The Rhode Island Department of Education provides information on the state's special education program, including regulations governing special education and resources on specific disabilities. The state currently approves 11 in-state educator preparation programs that meet the certification requirements for a teaching license.
Special education professionals in Delaware earn above-average salaries and benefit from the state's recruitment and retention efforts. According to the BLS, the state's middle school special education teachers earn an average salary of over $70,000 a year. With just 1,570 special education professionals working in the state, Delaware represents one of the smaller sectors for special education teachers, but teachers benefit from the state's recruitment efforts.
The Join Delaware Schools program helps the state recruit teachers by providing information on the licensure process and operating a job board with openings from around the state, including for special education teachers. The organization also hosts regular recruitment events, which provide networking opportunities and connect prospective teachers with information.
The U.S. Department of Education gave New Hampshire's special education programs its highest rating in the 2018 review of compliance with special education regulations and academic outcomes for special education students. The state's 2,300 special education professionals earn salaries around the national average, according to the BLS, with high school special education teachers earning just over $60,000 a year and elementary special education educators earning just under $58,000.
The New Hampshire Department of Education provides resources on special education, including educational materials, information on the New Hampshire standards for the education of children with disabilities, and data profiles by district. The Department of Education also provides a list of state-approved teacher preparation programs by endorsement area, which includes endorsements in blind and vision disabilities, deaf and hearing disabilities, and special education administration.
In 2018, Georgia's special education program received the highest rating from the U.S. Department of Education. The state earned a designation of "meets requirements," indicating compliance with special education regulations and learning outcomes for special education students that met or exceeded the state's targets. The BLS reports that Georgia special education professionals earn salaries slightly lower than the national average. High school special education teachers earn an average salary of around $58,000 a year, while elementary special education educators earn $55,000.
Home to almost 14,000 special education professionals, teachers in the state benefit from the Georgia Project for Assistive Technology, which provides resources for special education teachers considering adopting assistive technologies. The state's Teach Georgia site provides recruitment services, including a job board with openings from across the state. The Department of Education also operates job fairs to recruit new teachers.
With high job demand and salaries near the national average, special education teachers find many opportunities in New Mexico. The 2017 New Mexico Educator Vacancy Report found that special education positions accounted for 46% of the state's teacher job openings. Home to over 3,000 special education professionals, New Mexico offers salaries in line with the national average for elementary and preschool special education teachers. At the elementary level, teachers earn around $61,000, while preschool teachers earn $60,000. High school special education teachers earn a slightly lower wage, at just under $57,000.
The New Mexico Public Education Department provides resources and services for special education educators through its Special Education Bureau. These resources include guidance on compliance with laws and regulations, technical manuals, and district data. The New Mexico Regional Education Applicant and Placement Program helps prospective special education teachers identify job openings, attend job fairs, and learn about opportunities at over 950 school districts and private schools.
Although Montana's special education teacher salaries lag behind the national average, the state reports a low cost of living and high demand for special education professionals. As the Billings Gazette reported in 2016, the state's schools report double the number of special education job openings compared to other subjects. The state's 1,800 special education professionals earn salaries below the national average, according to the BLS, with elementary special education teachers earning just under $54,000 and high school special education educators earning $43,000, on average.
The Montana Office of Public Instruction provides resources for special education teachers, including professional development support. The Montana Jobs for Teachers site helps special education professionals identify job openings in the state.
In 2018, Vermont's special education programs earned the highest rating from the U.S. Department of Education, indicating the state's compliance with regulations and positive academic outcomes for special education students. While the state only employs 1,700 special education professionals, these professionals benefit from salaries above the national average. The BLS reports that special education teachers at the K-12 levels earn average salaries between $62,000-$65,000. Preschool special education educators earn a slightly higher salary of just under $67,000.
Vermont's Agency of Education offers support to special education professionals by providing co-teaching information, alternate assessments, and instructional information. The state also provides a case study learning project centered on assisting special education students through transitions to meet proficiency standards. The Vermont Education Jobs site lists job openings around the state, helping prospective special education teachers identify opportunities.
Home to over 30,000 special education students, as reported by the National Report Card, Maine's special education professionals enjoy high demand. The Press Herald reported in 2016 that the state faces a special education teacher shortage. With over 30% of Maine teachers likely to retire in the next decade, teaching positions will likely increase. Because they work in one of Maine's teacher shortage areas, special education professionals can apply to the federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program, which offers up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness for qualified special education teachers.
Maine special education teachers earn salaries slightly below the national average, according to the BLS. Elementary and middle school special education teachers earn just over $52,000 on average, while high school special education educators earn an average salary of $51,000. Prospective Maine special education teachers can find job openings on the state's ServingSchools website.
With more than 6,000 special education teachers, South Carolina offers a community of professionals working to support special education students. South Carolina's special education professionals benefit from state resources, including a scholarship assistance program.
Known as the South Carolina Centers for the Re-Education and Advancement of Teachers in Special Education, or SC-CREATE, the program increases the number of qualified special education professionals in the state by offering financial assistance for students at any South Carolina college partnered with the program. Students pursuing initial licensure or an endorsement in special education benefit from tuition and textbook support.
South Carolina offers salaries just below the national average, according to the BLS, with elementary special education professionals earning just over $57,000 a year, on average, while high school special education educators earn just under that amount.
How to Choose a Master's in Special Education Program
Program length, characteristics, and curriculum should all cross a student's mind when deciding on a master's program. Students need to look at the length of the program, which may conflict with personal obligations, and whether full- or part-time enrollment or both are offered. Specialization opportunities are also important features to note. Not every program offers students the chance to pursue a specialization. If students want to tailor their degree to their interests or career goals, such as working with students with autism, they should research specialization options before committing to a program.
Another deciding factor for students is the overall cost of a program, including tuition, room and board, and books. Additionally, they will want to pay attention to the location, noting the cost of living and employment opportunities. These factors all impact the cost of the program which the student may or may not be able to afford.
Research curricula, final project, and thesis requirements to get a better picture of the cumulative program experience. Before making their decision, students should gather as much information about the curriculum as possible to determine if it is the right fit. Accreditation is extremely important. An accredited program allows students to transfer credits easily from previous college work. Students should also determine if they would like to attend online or on-campus courses, since not every master's program is offered online.
Programmatic Accreditation for Master's in Special Education Programs
Also referred to as specialized or professional accreditation, programmatic accreditation recognizes specific programs as exceptional in their fields. Programmatic accrediting agencies recognize what separates one program from another, such as an outstanding teaching staff, curriculum, or internship placement system. When a special education program has programmatic accreditation, it means that the program holds unique and impressive features above its peers.
Employers have a stronger interest in graduates of programmatically accredited programs because they understand that prospective employees received a quality education from an outstanding, prestigious program. It is very important that students earn their degree from an accredited institution, and it is even better if their program is programmatically accredited.
Master's in Special Education Program Admissions
The admissions process is different for master's in special education programs depending on the school. On-campus admissions often require students to meet a minimum GPA requirement, have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, and a current teaching license in the student's state of residence.
Online admissions calls for a more involved process, including but not limited to multiple letters of recommendation, a resume, and a personal statement. Since not everyone is suited to the rigors of online coursework, admissions tend to be more complicated. Admissions departments want to feel confident that the students admitted to online programs have the drive and commitment to working independently. High GRE scores, impressive GPAs, extensive experience, and solid references all indicate the independence required for online program coursework. Students often submit additional admissions materials beyond what the college requires. This can help set students apart and strengthens their chances of being admitted.
- Bachelor's Degree: To be admitted to a master's in special education program, students must first earn a bachelor's degree, which does not always have to be in special education.
- Professional Experience: Many special education master's programs programs require students to possess a current teaching license, and some programs ask for a number of years of experience.
- Minimum GPA: Minimum GPA requirements are typically between 2.5 and 3.0 and can sometimes be offset by test scores, professional experience, and personal statements.
- Application: Each college provides a unique application system easily accessible online. Students can access CommonApp to apply to more than 700 participating colleges and programs.
- Transcripts: Transcripts from your undergraduate program must be provided during the admissions process.
- Letters of Recommendation: Some programs ask students to submit letters of recommendation from professional or educational contacts that can vouch for their work ethic and qualifications for a master's program.
- Test Scores: The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is the most commonly requested test score for graduate admissions, but not all programs call for it.
- Application Fee: When students submit their application, they must pay an application fee, which averages around $60.
What Else Can I Expect From a Master's in Special Education Program?
To further specialize their degree, special education students may be able to choose a concentration depending on the program. Select a specialization that appeals to your personal interests and career goals.
|Applied Behavior Analysis||Students pursuing a concentration in applied behavior analysis address the variety of behaviors that arise in special education settings.||This concentration prepares students to pursue their Board Certified Behavior Analyst certification.|
|Autism Spectrum Disorders||An autism spectrum disorders specialization allows students to focus on how to accurately diagnose and understand students across the autism spectrum.||Students with an ASD concentration work with autistic children and adults in a variety of settings as occupational therapists, residential technicians, and assistants in autistic centers and classrooms.|
|Early Childhood||The early childhood concentration focuses on teaching young children with special needs who may have difficulty communicating.||Students with a master's in special education and an early childhood concentration often work with young children in a school, social work, or counseling setting.|
|Visual Impairment||In the visual impairment concentration, students learn how to help visually impaired students navigate a classroom, conceptualize objects, and use educational tools.||Many different classrooms and centers offer jobs for professionals with a visual impairment concentration along with their master's in special education.|
|Severe Disabilities||Students with severe disabilities often have a unique set of specific needs and accommodations. In the severe disabilities concentration, students will learn about different types of disabilities and methods they can use to effectively help, accommodate, and teach their students.||With a severe disabilities concentration, students are prepared to work with adults and children who struggle with a variety of different severe disabilities. These jobs exist in several settings including hospitals, schools, and mental health facilities.|
Courses in a Master's in Special Education Program
Students pursuing their master's degree in special education take courses that cover a variety of topics. They learn about different disorders on the autism spectrum, how to be an effective leader, and how to connect with students with a variety of developmental disabilities.
- Applied Behavior Analysis
Students in this course learn about the philosophy and concepts of behavior analysis, which involves recognizing behavior problems in applied settings and situations. Applied behavior analysis also covers different behavioral intervention procedures.
- Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities
Autism and developmental disabilities have similarities and differences. This course will explore them all and teach students how to recognize signs of all types of developmental disabilities. They will learn different teaching methods and approaches depending on the disability and practice ways to approach various situations.
- Foundations, Trends, and Issues in Special Education Leadership
This course explores the different trends and issues that exist within special education leadership. They learn about the history of special education, its trends, and its evolution as a field.
- Collaboration and Teaming
In this course, students learn how to effectively work as a team in a special education environment. They share ideas and collaborate with others to deliver quality care and education to special education students.
- Autism Spectrum Disorders
Autism spectrum disorders have a significant range difficult to describe to people outside of special education. This course dives into the variance of people on the spectrum, teaching students specific characteristics associated with each end of the spectrum while also emphasizing each person's unique experience of ASD.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Master's in Special Education?
A master's in special education varies in length, but generally takes two years of full-time study to complete. Master's programs average around 35 credits total. Students can either enroll part or full time, and some programs can also be accelerated. Students can work with an adviser to choose how many credits and what courses they would like to take each semester.
How Much Is a Master's in Special Education?
The cost of a master's in special education depends on several factors. Colleges have different tuition rates depending on a student's residency status. Sometimes, colleges with online programs offer a discounted rate for online students or grant them in-state tuition rates.
Tuition for in-state students in special education master's programs can be around $400 per credit hour, or around $15,000 in total cost. For out-of-state students, tuition may be as high as $750 per credit hour or $26,000 for the total program cost.
Tuition is not the only thing to consider when figuring the cost of a master's in special education. Students must also consider room and board costs, which includes housing and a meal plan if living on campus. To plan for this, students should research the cost of living where they are planning to attend school. Consider parking and gas costs if you intend to live off campus. Both online and on-campus students pay for books, materials, and technology costs, which may include access to online materials, library services, and tutoring services. Students can review what fees exist for their program on the university's website or through an admissions counselor.
Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Special Education Prepares For
- General Teacher Certification
Each state has its own requirements for certification, but individuals need to complete a formal degree at an accredited learning institution to be eligible for certification, which includes passing a skills assessment.
- Special Education Credential Program
For students whose major in education, a special education credential program covers any missing coursework.
- Board Certification for Teaching Special Education
To get this certification, individuals must join the National Association of Special Education Teachers and pass a test through the American Academy of Special Education Teachers. The certification qualifies individuals to practice special education under a specific set of standards. State licensing is also required to earn a BCSE.
- Board Certified Behavior Analyst
BCBA certification qualifies individuals to work in applied behavior analysis to treat patients by anticipating troublesome behaviors and providing healthy alternatives. BCBA professionals must have a degree from an accredited institution, complete 1,500 hours of in-the-field experience, and have one year as a college teacher or a doctoral degree.
- Autism Certification
Autism certification allows individuals to teach autistic children. During the certification program, individuals learn about the different characteristics associated with autism, diagnosis, and available therapeutic methods.
Resources for Special Education Graduate Students
EducationCorner.com discusses inclusion in the classroom for special needs students and is a great resource for students enrolled in master's in special education programs.
Students can find many resources within the National Center for Learning Disabilities including articles, videos, tips, and strategies.
Facebook provides several discussion pages and private groups that master's in special education students can access to connect with other students and professionals in their field. Groups are a great place to ask questions, share tips, and make connections.
Learning Disabilities Online serves as a space students use to learn more about instructional strategies for teaching and information regarding learning disabilities and how to relate to students.
Students can access the website for the National Education Association to discover a variety of news and guides about special education.
Professional Organizations in Special Education
Joining a professional organization in the special education field benefits professionals in all stages of a special education career. Organizations offer networking opportunities through events, seminars, and conferences. Professionals can network with others in their field to learn more about different specialized areas of interest. Professional organizations also provide career services such as job boards and job fairs, giving members access to a variety of useful resources.