Are you an educator or professional looking to transition into special education? If so, pursuing an online master's in special education is an affordable way to get you there. A master's in special education gives teachers advanced qualifications to work with students with a range of disabilities, and opens doors for a number of high-need careers in administration, local and state agencies, residential facilities, community centers, and other related special needs settings. Online graduate education programs are designed with flexible schedules and coursework, allowing busy educators and other professionals the ability to continue working full-time and balance other priorities, including education and family.
While many online colleges advertise cheap online master's in special education programs, it's important that students look for schools that offer both high-quality and affordable online master's in education programs. Many online programs offer lower tuition rates than those on-campus or offer students in-state rates; however, this isn't the only factor to consider when assessing affordability. Other important elements to look for include length of program (many are offered in an accelerated format); flexible payment schedules and loan programs; and graduate-level scholarship, grant, and other financial aid opportunities.
What are the most affordable special education programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:
|1||University of Florida||Gainesville, FL|
|2||University of Washington||Seattle, WA|
|3||Purdue University||West Lafayette, IN|
|4||Indiana University Bloomington||Bloomington, IN|
|5||Florida International University||Miami, FL|
|6||North Carolina State University||Raleigh, NC|
|7||Michigan State University||East Lansing, MI|
|8||Oakland University||Rochester Hills, MI|
|9||University of Houston||Houston, TX|
|10||University of Nebraska-Lincoln||Lincoln, NE|
Below, you'll find our list of the most affordable online master's in special education programs in the country. Factoring in a variety of metrics, our College Affordability Score has identified the best online programs in special education. If you're thinking about returning to school for your degree, and are interested in taking classes online, be sure to take a look at these top programs.
2020 Most Affordable Accredited Online Master's in Special Education Programs
University of Florida
|Gainesville, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 90%||
The University of Florida maintains facilities in all 67 state counties, as well as an online division. Students may choose from more than 300 traditional and online graduate, undergraduate, and certificate programs across 16 academic colleges.
UF's 36-credit master's in special education can be completed online. This program offers tracks focused on autism, disabilities in society, dyslexia, and early childhood studies. Students may earn an autism endorsement or certificates in other track options.
Students can enroll in this program through the Office of Distance Learning at the beginning of any semester. Each online course spans 16 weeks. The program requires applicants to submit their GRE scores.
University of Washington
|Seattle, WA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 84%||
With locations in Seattle and around the state, as well as an online division, the University of Washington enrolls more than 54,000 students and oversees nearly 200 graduate, undergraduate, and certificate programs.
UW offers an online master of education in special education with an emphasis in applied behavior analysis (ABA). The curriculum explores topics like concepts and principles of ABA, evidenced-based instructional strategies in ABA, and methods of ABA research. The program culminates in a capstone project, and students must also complete a supervised practicum.
Graduates qualify to pursue licensure as board-certified behavior analysts by sitting for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board exam. Students begin the program as part of an online cohort in the fall. UW utilizes synchronous course delivery, and students can graduate in 2-3 years.
|West Lafayette, IN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 81%||
Purdue University has graduated more than 130,000 online students. Learners at the school may choose from more than 250 online graduate, undergraduate, and certificate programs in more than a dozen disciplines.
Purdue's online master's in special education offers six concentration options, including licensure and non-licensure tracks. Students in licensure programs may need to complete a practicum and/or student teaching to earn their degree. All participants must complete a course in foundations of online learning.
Admission requires a regionally accredited bachelor's degree. Students complete online courses asynchronously. Graduates of credentialing programs qualify for teaching licensure in Indiana. Purdue charges the same tuition rate for online graduate coursework, regardless of a student's home state.
Indiana University Bloomington
|Bloomington, IN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 78%||
In addition to its flagship campus, Indiana University Bloomington oversees six other campuses and two regional centers across the state, as well as an online division. Students may choose from more than 550 graduate and undergraduate programs, including one of the top online master's in special education.
This special education program requires 36 credits of major and emphasis area coursework, a field practicum, and a thesis or capstone project. Students select an emphasis area, choosing from options like autism, early childhood education, and behavior disorders. The program also offers optional certifications in mild or intense intervention.
Students who want to earn this online master's degree in special education must complete prerequisite coursework in introduction to special education for graduate students. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree and a GPA of at least 2.75. Students may begin the program in the fall, spring, or summer, completing work online as part of a cohort group.
Florida International University
|Miami, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 58%||
Among the nation's largest providers of online education since 1998, Florida International University enrolls more than 42,000 distance learners each year. Students may choose from more than 100 graduate and undergraduate programs and thousands of courses offered online.
FIU offers an online master's in special education. This program comprises 36 credits and covers subjects like assistive and instructional technology, nature and needs of students with autism, and behavioral management and positive behavioral supports.
Students may start this online program in the fall or summer semester. Faculty deliver classes through six eight-week terms, enabling students to graduate in one year. Graduates qualify for autism endorsement in Florida.
North Carolina State University
|Raleigh, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 81%||
Founded as a land-grant institution, North Carolina State University currently ranks among the top research colleges in the nation and enrolls more than 34,000 students. NC State offers more than 300 graduate and undergraduate programs across 65 departments — on campus and online.
NC State's master's in special education comprises 30 credits of required special education and special education methods coursework. Requirements include seminars in special education literacy and teaching numerical concepts, as well as an internship in special education. The online program suits students who aspire to lead high-incidence special education classrooms.
Full-time students can complete the program in roughly 1.5 years. Applicants should possess a GPA of at least 3.0 and provide excellent recommendations from professors and employers.
Michigan State University
|East Lansing, MI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 80%||
With a campus in East Lansing and an online division, Michigan State University enrolls nearly 50,000 students from around the world. Students can choose from more than 200 graduate, undergraduate, and certificate programs.
MSU's online MA in special education comprises 30-36 credits, including a practicum and an internship. Students may choose an emphasis in autism spectrum disorders or learning disabilities. Additionally, students pursuing their online master's in special education may concurrently earn a certificate in applied behavior analysis. They also earn an endorsement in their emphasis area.
This online master's program suits aspiring special educators in K-12 classrooms. Most students take two classes per semester and complete the program in two years.
|Rochester Hills, MI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 55%||
Oakland University enrolls nearly 20,000 students online and at its campus in Rochester Hills, Michigan. Students may choose from more than 260 graduate, undergraduate, and certificate programs across seven schools and colleges, including 15 online programs.
OU's online master's in special education includes a concentration in autism spectrum disorder. The curriculum comprises 44 credits and covers topics related to learning, instruction, and development of education for special populations. Students must also complete a field practicum.
Most students earn their online master's degree in special education in 24-36 months. OU charges in-state tuition rates for distance learners enrolled in eligible online programs, regardless of their state of residence. The university offers academic advising, career services, and disability support services to online learners.
University of Houston
|Houston, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 59%||
One of four schools in the city's university system, the University of Houston comprises four physical campuses, several extension learning centers, and an online division. UH enrolls over 46,000 students and oversees more than 250 graduate, undergraduate, and certificate programs on campus and online.
UH offers an online master of education in special populations. Students may choose an online emphasis track in special education or gifted and talented. The program also offers three hybrid tracks: special education certification, educational diagnostician certification, and special education leadership.
Each track culminates in a comprehensive final exam. Applicants with a GPA of at least 2.8 may waive the GRE requirement for admission consideration.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
|Lincoln, NE||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 69%||
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is one of four locations that make up the UN system. The university offers hundreds of graduate, undergraduate, and certificate programs, including more than 100 online options.
UNL's online master's in special education comprises 36 credits of core and elective coursework, including a student teaching experience. Students may choose to pursue an MA or M.Ed. in special education, each with a specialization in early childhood education. The program also offers an optional early childhood special education endorsement pathway.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA and a current teaching license or certificate. The program requires GRE scores for admission consideration and accepts applications on a rolling basis. Students complete most online courses asynchronously.