Those in special education (SpEd) teach and provide supportive services to students with physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral disabilities. At most public elementary and secondary schools, these teachers instruct students with special needs in dedicated classrooms.
BLS data indicates that 51% of special education employees hold a master's degree, while only 33% have only a bachelor's.
Many students require full-time special education support, while others spend most of their time in a standard classroom to 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, working with them to overcome educational obstacles related to their disability. SpEd teachers also meet regularly with the parents of their students to discuss academic progress or behavioral problems. In some cases, special education teachers also work with exceptionally gifted students.
In the U.S., special education teachers at public schools must earn a state-issued teaching license; many private schools also require licensure. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a bachelor's degree serves as the minimum requirement for jobs in special education. However, most prospective SpEd teachers earn a master's degree in special education. Some pursue a master's 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 earn their master's degree in special education online rather than on campus. The flexible format inherent in online learning proves 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.
Choosing a Program
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 can 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 work around a 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 can often 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 qualifies graduates for most entry-level SpEd teaching positions, although candidates for public school jobs also need a teaching license in the state where they plan to work. In addition to teacher training, the best online special education master's programs also prepare students for their state's licensure exam and online special education certification requirements.
WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE MASTER'S IN SPECIAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS?
Finding the right program can prove 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 U.S. Those considering obtaining a master's in special education online should consider these programs.
Accredited Online Master's in Special Education Programs
|1||University of Florida Gainesville, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 43%||
Located in Gainesville, FL, the University of Florida offers two online special education master’s degrees, Teach Well and Live Well. The Teach Well Online Education master’s degree is a 36-credit advanced program designed for individuals with or without a background in education. In this inclusion-focused program, students can choose from a general track or a specialization in autism, disabilities in society, early childhood studies, or education and healthcare transition. Live Well is a 30-credit degree that focuses on the policies and legislation surrounding disabilities and is designed for professionals who wish to connect their gained knowledge to a career outside of teaching. Live Well graduates and those who specialize in disabilities in society are eligible to receive a graduate certificate in Disabilities in Society in addition to a master’s degree.
|2||University of Washington Seattle, WA||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 8%||
A multi-campus college in Washington state, the University of Washington ranks as one of the preeminent research institutions in the world. The master of education in special education: applied behavior analysis prepares special education professionals to take the Behavior Analyst Certification Board exam. The program teaches professionals how to instruct students with moderate to severe disabilities, educate students with autism, apply behavioral principles, and conduct behavioral measurement and assessment.
During a remotely supervised intensive practicum, learners spend about 25 hours per week working with individuals with developmental disabilities. This totals to approximately 750 hours of experience. Master’s candidates also complete a capstone project in which they apply behavioral principles to positively influence their students' behavior. The accelerated master's degree in special education online uses synchronous learning and may be completed in one to two years of part-time study. Applicants must submit proof of a bachelor's degree, school transcripts, and GRE scores.
|3||University of South Florida Tampa, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 34%||
The University of South Florida offers a 36-credit special education master's program online designed for those who have a background in education, special education, or a related field. Students can specialize in behavior disorders, learning disabilities, or intellectual disabilities. Within each specialization, they can work toward receiving endorsements in autism, severe and profound disabilities, gifted education, or reading, as well as take elective classes in applied behavior analysis, mental health, or counseling. Students enrolled in this exceptional program utilize a master's portfolio system to demonstrate their learned expertise, which serves as a final comprehensive exam.
|4||Texas A & M University-College Station College Station, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 15%||
Texas A & M University at College Station offers a flexible online master’s in special education that can be completed in two years. Designed for current general and special educators, counselors, clinicians, and therapists, this 36-credit online program includes a final research project. However, the university also offers a Master of Science in Special Education for those interested in a thesis option. Texas A & M University partnered with the Quality Matters Program, a peer-review based leader in online quality assurance to create a program with high-tech virtual classroom learning environments. Professors have expertise in autism, behavior disorders, and severe disabilities. Students interested in autism and other challenging behaviors can pursue an 18-credit graduate certificate in applied behavior analysis as well.
|5||North Carolina State University at Raleigh Raleigh, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 31%||
North Carolina State University at Raleigh conducts in-depth research across all disciplines, including education.The hybrid 33-credit master of arts in teaching in special education prepares students to earn initial state license to teach K-12 special education. Students acquire pedagogical skills and learn how to apply them. Core courses for the online master's degree in special education cover topics such as how to develop and interpret assessments, how to conduct classroom action research, and how to manage behavior.
The speciality curriculum includes study of instructional strategies for students with disabilities. Teacher candidates learn to teach life skills, intervene for behavior problems, and educate students with exceptionalities. All students complete a 10-week full-time supervised student teaching internship. Students may enroll full-time or part-time. Distance learners that live in North Carolina or a nearby state may attend some classes on campus. For admission, the school requires a bachelor's degree, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and GRE scores.
|6||American University Washington, DC||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 20%||
Students at American University choose a personalized curriculum that blends theory and practical learning. Located in the nation’s capital, AU offers a number of teacher preparation programs, including the 32-credit master of arts in special education. Taught by renowned faculty, the program boasts a 100% placement rate for graduates. Learners may enroll full-time or part-time. The curriculum prepares students to work with children and adults living with or at risk of learning disabilities. Graduates are eligible for licensure in DC, Virginia, and Maryland, with reciprocity in more than 40 states.
The 20-month curriculum covers topics such as learning and the brain, learning disabilities, foundations of special education, and language development. Students engage in year-long internships at the district's renowned Lab School of Washington. The internship allows teacher candidates to hone their abilities and deliver multisensory hands-on education. Admission to the online special education master's requires a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA, the GRE, and Praxis CORE scores.
|7||Michigan State University East Lansing, MI||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 24%||
Michigan State University offers an online master’s degree in special education with optional endorsements in learning disabilities (LD) or autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Both endorsements prepare graduates to work with individuals in K–12 school settings (pre-K for ASD). The 18–36-credit LD endorsement can be completed in 1–2 years, while the 31–36-credit ASD endorsement typically takes 1.5–3 years, depending on prospective students’ backgrounds, education, and previously earned endorsements. An optional graduate certificate in applied behavior analysis is available as well, but requires three additional courses. The program is heavily research, practice, and evidence based. Students learn how to assess behavior, provide social skills training, and work with assistive technology with the goal of creating inclusive settings for those with special needs.
|8||Mississippi College Clinton, MS||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 34%||
The oldest college in the state, Mississippi College provides learners with a curriculum that integrates academics and faith-based learning. MC offers a 30-credit fully online master of education in special education for licensed educators seeking to teach mildly to moderately handicapped children. One of the best online master's in special education programs, the program leads to special ed mild/moderate K-12 endorsement and the Class AA license upgrade. The curriculum covers areas such as curriculum development, individual programming for students, current education and psychological testing procedures, and teaching students with moderate learning problems.
A course on diagnostic and prescriptive reading explores the causes and symptoms of reading problems, reporting practices, and remediation or corrective techniques. Teacher candidates learn the psychology of exceptional children in a course that examines the diagnosis and etiology of exceptionality and how to administrate special education courses. Potential students must hold a bachelor's degree and a standard teacher license.
|9||George Washington University Washington, DC||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 30%||
George Washington University’s Master’s in Special Education for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners provides advanced training for current teachers who want to dive even deeper into improving the education of individuals with special needs. Graduates are eligible to receive a K–12 teaching certification as well as an 18-credit graduate certificate. The 33-credit online master's program in special education incorporates a theory-to-practice approach and a teaching internship, while focusing on the diverse cultural, linguistic, social, and learning needs of elementary and secondary students. With the goal of staying current with the latest instructional techniques and cutting-edge research methods, this program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation and can be finished in just 18 months.
|10||Brandman University Irvine, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 72%||
Brandman University accommodates distance learners with a hands-on curriculum and flexible ways to learn. The California-based school offers several special education master's programs online, including the 30-36 credit master of arts in special education behavior analysis. The program prepares special ed teachers to design behavior interventions, implement behavior change procedures, and evaluate students' progress.
The curriculum facilitates understanding of the factors that influence behavior and explores strategies for experimental design. Teacher candidates learn how to use evidence-based practices and educational technology to assess behavior and address students' needs. The program is aligned with standards established by the Council for Exceptional Children. Distance learners may choose a fully online or hybrid format. The program concludes with a capstone experience. To apply, educators must demonstrate at least part-time employment in a field that uses applied behavior analysis. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA, GRE scores, and a valid special education teaching license.
|11||Western Governors University Salt Lake City, UT||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 100%||
Nineteen governors established Western Governors University in 1997 to reinvent the model of higher education. Instead of a traditional semester schedule, students complete each course at their own pace and finish each class by demonstrating competency in the subject matter. The college delivers boasts a suite of teacher education programs, including the master of science in special education (K-12). Designed for certified teachers, the program trains educators to aid K-12 students with mild to moderate disabilities.
Developed by education experts, the curriculum focuses on topics such as research fundamentals, instructional models and design, behavior management and intervention, and special education law and legal issues. Educators complete 240 hours of student-teaching. At the end of the program, students create a teacher work sample, which includes a written project and an oral defense. To graduate, teachers must pass a Praxis subject assessment. Tuition is a flat rate for each student regardless of how many classes they take in a given six-month period. Applicants should hold a bachelor's degree and teacher certification.
|12||Loyola Marymount University Los Angeles, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 6%||
A top-ranked Jesuit college located in California, Loyola Marymount University emphasizes transformative academic and professional development. The school administers a state-authorized master of arts in special education with accreditation by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. The 36-credit curriculum gives educators the knowledge and skills to teach students with mild to moderate disabilities. The hybrid program features small class sizes for one-on-one attention from instructors.
Students choose one of two pathways, an intern option and a traditional pathway. The intern option allows certified K-12 special ed teachers in California to complete the degree in one year. The two-year traditional pathway uses the same curriculum and leads to teacher credentialing in California. The curriculum focuses on research and theory, teaching methodologies, and student teaching. Admission requirements for the master's in special education online include a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and a proficiency exam.
|13||Texas Tech University Lubbock, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 41%||
Texas Tech University offers a master's in special education online in which students can choose from eight interesting specializations: applied behavior analysis, educational diagnostician, deaf and hard of hearing, autism, dual sensory impairment, generic special education, orientation and mobility, and visual impairment. Admission into the deaf education, educational diagnostician, and visual impairment programs require initial teaching licenses. Students can opt for a 30-credit program that includes a master's thesis or a 36-credit program with a comprehensive evaluation exam rather than a thesis. Developed with standards and guidelines from the Council for Exceptional Children, Texas Tech’s program utilizes Blackboard Learn 9.1 and Worldwide eLearning to support students.
|14||George Mason University Fairfax, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 20%||
The 30-credit online master’s in special education at George Mason University, located in Fairfax, VA, can be completed in 18 months. Admission into this program requires prospective students to enroll in the 18-credit applied behavior analysis graduate certificate program. Students can also pursue a 42-credit option that includes a 12-credit internship and enables graduates to sit for the behavior analyst certification examination. Students who secure an appropriate classroom setting to work in can do supervised independent fieldwork in place of the internship. Based on the Behavior Analyst Certification Board guidelines, this program’s coursework focuses on the design and implementation of behavioral treatment and training programs with the goal of improving and supporting the overall quality of life of individuals with special needs and disabilities.
|15||The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 38%||
The state's flagship college, the University of Alabama is located on a 1,200-acre campus in Tuscaloosa. The school offers a 36-credit master of arts (MA) in special education and 45-48 credit alternative master of arts in special education through its Bama by Distance online learning platform. Both master's in special education online programs provide the professional training for collaborative 6-12 certification.
Designed for teachers who hold baccalaureate-level teacher certification, the standard MA leads to Alabama Class A certification. The curriculum delves into topics such as advanced behavior management, academic methods-secondary, teacher consultant models, mild and severe disabilities, and how to diagnose exceptional children and youth. The alternative MA provides a route for Class A certification for those with a non-education bachelor's or without initial certification/licensure. Students study a similar curriculum to those in the standard program but must also address undergraduate deficiencies in subjects such as English, math, and science. Students in the alternative program must also participate in an internship.
|16||James Madison University Harrisonburg, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 22%||
Set in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, James Madison University provides a close-knit learning community to 22,000 students. The school offers a 30-credit master of education in special education with a concentration in K-12 gifted education. The program does not meet initial teacher licensure requirements for Virginia. Instead, it prepares already licensed teachers for careers such as program specialist or behavior specialist in exceptional education programs. Students planning to pursue non-teaching careers working with individuals with exceptionalities may also find the program ideal.
The core curriculum focuses on inquiry in education and learning theories and practice. The concentration examines the needs of gifted learners, trends and issues in gifted education, and curriculum design and instructional methods. Students complete either a portfolio or research project. Applicants should submit proof of a bachelor’s degree and GRE scores.
|17||Webster University Saint Louis, MO||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 45%||
Webster University administers a 34-credit master of arts in special education, a program that examines the many dimensions of special education. Students choose one of several areas of emphasis: applied behavior analysis, mild/moderate disabilities, severe developmental disabilities, inclusive education, emotional and behavioral disorders, or positive behavioral interventions and supports. The program does not lead to initial teacher certification.
Core coursework for this online master's in special education covers collaborative practice, research and inquiry, assessment and evaluation, program development and organization, professional and ethical practice, and global citizenship and teacher leadership. Graduates are able to design educational programs for special needs students and advocate for ethical special education policy. Some areas of emphasis require students to already hold teacher certification. Students may transfer up to six graduate credits. Potential students should hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA.
|18||Saint Joseph's University Philadelphia, PA||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 74%||
Saint Joseph’s University offers a research-based 36-credit online Master of Science in Special Education. Designed for general educators who already possess a Level 1 certification in early childhood development, elementary education, or secondary education, students can focus on primary or secondary special education. Graduates of this online master's degree in special education are eligible to receive a Pennsylvania special education certification and become creative and intuitive educators who focus on student achievement. An optional response to intervention-based program can be taken in conjunction with an endorsement in autism spectrum disorders, which focuses on diagnosis, skills development, and behavioral modifications. Students can also pursue a Wilson reading certification; this is one of the only online training programs that offer this option.
|19||University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus Norman, OK||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 36%||
Founded in 1890, the University of Oklahoma offers 170 majors on three campuses, at locations overseas, and through the school's virtual arm. The hybrid or fully online 33-credit master of education in special education uses coursework, independent study, and applied practice to develop special education knowledge and competencies. Through specialized plans of study, the program prepares graduates to become educators, behavioral analysts, and special education administrators.
The program may lead to certification depending on the concentration. Students may choose a concentration in secondary education transition, applied behavior analysis, and non-traditional certification in special education (mild-moderate disabilities). All three online special education master's programs share a common core with study of special education instructional methods; applied behavior analysis in school settings; collaboration, accommodations and modifications; and research and evaluation in education. Classes are synchronous. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA.
|20||Liberty University Lynchburg, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 96%||
Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, Liberty University offers a 36-credit master of special education online program. With an emphasis on Christian principles and worldviews, this program prepares graduates to work in K–12 Christian, public, or private schools. In this program, a teaching practicum is not mandatory except for students pursuing the autism certification. Rather than a practicum, students can take an optional seminar in which they deeply examine case studies and discuss the current trends and issues in the field of education. Liberty University is the largest private, nonprofit online university in the United States and is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Education Preparation.
|21||Appalachian State University Boone, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 29%||
Situated in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian State University offers a comprehensive education to 19,000 students. The 36-credit master of arts in special education provides mostly on-campus learning with occasional online coursework. The part-time program gives educators holding North Carolina Class A licensure or the equivalent from another state the training necessary to work with students with intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, or emotional and behavioral disorders.
All three plans of study require courses in classroom management and special education law and leadership. Educators in each specialization must also take a research class. In a teaching research course, educators examine a particular area of interest and solve a specific problem they face in the educational setting. In so doing, teachers improve their professional practice and develop a better understanding of research challenges. Applicants to the special education master's degree online should have a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Potential students should also submit GRE or MAT scores.
|22||University of St Thomas Saint Paul, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 17%||
Minnesota's largest private college, the University of St.Thomas offers 60 graduate degrees rooted in the school's Catholic intellectual tradition. The master of arts in special education offers both licensure and non-licensure tracks. Delivered online using asynchronous and synchronous models, the program accommodates educators with Minnesota teaching license, those pursuing initial licensure, and professionals not seeking licensure.
The school offers six special education licensure programs, each with its own plan of study: academic behavioral strategist (K-21); autism spectrum disorders (birth to age 21); developmental disabilities (K-21); early childhood special education (birth to age 8); emotional behavioral disorders (K-21); and learning disabilities (K-21). Students in all six master's in special education online programs take common courses examining exceptionality, behavior management, and collaboration skills for school professionals. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Some specializations have additional requirements.
|23||Ball State University Muncie, IN||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 74%||
Nationally recognized by the Council for Exceptional Children, Ball State University boasts a wide variety of options for a master of special education online degree, in which students can essentially design their own program of study. Students can focus on one of five specializations, including certificates in applied behavior analysis (approved by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board), autism, or response to interventions. Additionally, they can focus on earning a license to be a director of special education and exceptional needs or licensure in severe interventions--all of which are offered entirely online. Blended programs include licenses in deaf education and hearing impairment, early childhood special education, and mild interventions. Ball State also offers an accelerated track option, which enables students to complete their programs in fewer than 18 months.
|24||University of Nebraska-Lincoln Lincoln, NE||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 31%||
The University of Nebraska online master's in special education is a 36-credit degree with a specialization in early childhood special education (birth through 5 years old). Optional endorsements include early childhood special education, preschool disabilities, and early intervention specialist. Those who wish to pursue the early interventionist endorsement must complete a minimum of 160 supervised hours with young children as part of a 7-week practicum. This program’s coursework covers a wide breadth of topics, including autism, behavior and emotional disorders, learning disabilities, transitions, and mild, moderate, and severe disabilities. Designed for teachers, specialists, and early interventionists who have previously earned 18 credits of early childhood special education credits, graduates are eligible to pursue a Nebraska Department of Education teaching endorsement in special education. Other programs, such as deaf and hard of hearing education and visual impairments (Pre-K–12), are also available online.
|25||Indiana University-Bloomington Bloomington, IN||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 27%||
A member of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, Indiana University at Bloomington offers a 36-credit online master’s degree in special education which focuses on students with mild to moderate disabilities. The school also offers electives in the management of severely emotionally disturbed individuals and early support for at-risk children. Students can choose a complementary specialization in autism, behavior disorders, early childhood education, or instructional strategies. Coursework covers assistive technologies, transition across the lifespan, and classroom management. In order to graduate, students must complete a capstone research project or a master’s thesis and attend a culminating intensive study workshop in special education.
|26||Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania Slippery Rock, PA||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 73%||
Slippery Rock University boasts multiple online special education master's programs, a few of which can be completed in just 12 months. Concentrations in grades 7–12 (intended to be the fifth year of study after the completion of an undergraduate degree) and birth through grade 8 are available, as well as an option for those interested in studying autism. Busy professionals with over five years of teaching experience can pursue the supervision program, which prepares graduates to receive a certificate and become leaders in school administration. Those who opt for the program in autism must either have an undergraduate degree in special education or previous experience with individuals with autism. All programs are aligned with the Council for Exceptional Children and the Council for the Accreditation of Education Preparation.
|27||Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 51%||
Nova Southeastern University’s 36-credit online master’s programs in special education are designed for either certified teachers or individuals who work in a related field and want to become teachers or disability service providers. Students can customize their curriculum with coursework on autism, developmental and intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, emotional and behavior disorders, pre-K, or gifted studies. An additional certificate is available of those who wish to pursue Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) or reading endorsements. In order to graduate, degree candidates must complete an applied professional experience project, in which students provide details about the process and evaluation of their research. Upon graduation, students are eligible to receive exceptional student education teacher certifications or licensure in Florida.
|28||University of Northern Iowa Cedar Falls, IA||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 39%||
The University of Northern Iowa oversees the state's largest teacher training program. The 30-credit master of arts in education in special education prepares students for teacher licensure in Iowa. Future educators learn how to work with culturally diverse students, develop competencies in instructional methodologies, teach in a collaborative environment, and understand current disability policies and legislation.
The online curriculum covers topics such as educational management, best practices in inclusion, and issues and applications in special education. A comprehensive course on designing a curriculum for K-12 students with intellectual disabilities focuses on instructional methods, assessments, and an inclusive classroom. Students hone pedagogical skills with a supervised special education internship. The program culminates with a thesis paper and take a comprehensive exam. Potential students should hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants to the special education master's online do not need to submit GRE or GMAT scores.
|29||University of Nebraska at Kearney Kearney, NE||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 96%||
Intended for certified teachers, the University of Nebraska at Kearney offers three special education master's programs online, including general special education, an advanced practitioner program, and a gifted education degree. The 36-credit general education program is designed to help graduates pursue a K–6 or 7–12 certification in special education in Nebraska. Within the advanced practitioner program, students can specialize in behavior intervention, inclusive collaboration, assistive technology, or functional academic skills and independent living. Prospective students must hold a previously earned teacher certification in special education. Accredited by the Nebraska Department of Education, required coursework focuses on assistive technology, legal issues, teaching social skills, and a hands-on practicum.
|30||University of Arkansas Fayetteville, AR||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 38%||
Awarded a $32 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to establish a program that provides paid work experiences for teenagers with disabilities (PROMISE), the University of Arkansas offers an online special education master's program that prepares individuals to work with K–12 students with learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, autism, and physical disabilities, as well as the gifted and talented. Students can opt to pursue graduate certificates in autism spectrum disorders or applied behavior analysis (approved by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board), all of which include field experience in public schools and supervised clinical opportunities. This 36-credit master's program typically takes two years to complete and has been recognized by the Council for Exceptional Children and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.
|31||University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 53%||
The University of North Dakota offers a 32-credit online master’s degree in special education designed for both certified teachers and noncertified individuals. Focusing on mild to moderate disabilities, this Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation-accredited program offers several specializations, including autistic spectrum disorders, early childhood special education, emotional disturbance, general special education, gifted and talented, intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, and visual impairment, as well as a board certified behavior analyst option. Those who opt for the autism specialization will dive deep into a wide breadth of autism-related information about children, adolescents, and adults, while most of the other programs focus on children and adolescents. The school offers an additional option to pursue a special education strategist concentration, which covers intellectual disabilities, emotional disturbance, and learning disabilities.
|32||Arkansas State University-Main Campus Jonesboro, AR||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 76%||
Arkansas State University offers a 36-credit online special education master's program with a K–12 instructional specialist concentration and a 30-credit program with an emphasis in gifted, talented, and creative education. The instructional specialist program prepares students to receive K–12 special education teacher licensure in Arkansas and can be completed in just 16 months. The gifted, talented, and creative program includes a 7-week capstone research project and can be finished in just a year and half. Accredited by the Council for Exceptional Children and the Council for the Accreditation of Education Preparation, these master’s programs require prospective students to secure a mentor for the duration of their studies. Admission requires written commitment from an administrator who will serve as a mentor.
|33||Concordia University-Chicago River Forest, IL||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 72%||
Concordia University-Chicago remains one of the most affordable liberal arts colleges in the Midwest. True to the school's Lutheran heritage, programs focus on students' academic, intellectual, and ethical development. The 30-credit master of arts in special education leadership provides licensed educators with a path to leadership in special education. Graduates are qualifies to take a test that adds the director of special education endorsement on their existing certificate/license.
Coursework in the master's in special education online includes study of special education finance; differentiation and learning theory; schools, families and community partners; instructional strategies for students with disabilities; and how to supervise programs for children with disabilities. Educators complete two practicums and seminars in special education leadership. Students can graduate from the online program in 24 months. To be admitted, applicants must have experience in special education as a teacher, school social worker, school psychologist, or speech-language pathologist.
|34||Endicott College Beverly, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 57%||
A college education at Endicott incorporates both academic instruction and hands-on career preparation. The school offers multiple programs that prepare educators to teach students with disabilities, including the online 48-credit master of education in special education and ABA, severe program and 48-credit master of education in special education and ABA, moderate program.
Both programs focus on initial licensure requirements in the respective area of emphasis. Courses for the online master's programs in special education delve into language development, functional curriculum development, and diagnosis and assessment. Students prepare to sit for an exam to become a board certified behavior analyst. The programs develop students' aptitude in curriculum and instruction; the collection, analysis, and application of measurement data; and knowledge of development and exceptionalities in children. Future educators also learn how to engage with the families of special needs children. Both programs culminate in a practicum. Applicants should submit transcripts.
|35||The University of Texas at Tyler Tyler, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 78%||
Part of the prestigious University of Texas system, the University of Texas at Tyler houses seven academic colleges. The college boasts one of the best TExES licensure pass rates in the state. The 36-credit master of education in special education with diagnostician certification prepares licensed teachers for the state diagnostician certification. Students can graduate from the program in 24 months.
The plan of study for the online master's in special education includes learning theory, educational strategies, assessment in special education, administrative and legal issues, developmental testing, and behavior disorders. A seminar on learning and neurological disabilities delves into the motor and behavioral characteristics of impaired students. A special education practicum gives teachers clinical experience as they participate in educational programs involving students with disabilities. Admission requires a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.2 GPA, Texas teacher certification in any field, and teacher service records. Some applicants may have to submit GRE scores.
|36||University of North Carolina at Charlotte Charlotte, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 26%||
Designed for experienced K–12 teachers who currently have a teaching license (minimum of a Standard Professional 1 or initial teaching license), the University of North Carolina at Charlotte offers an online master's in special education that emphasizes academically or intellectually gifted students. Graduates are eligible for a Standard Professional 2 teaching license upon completion of this 33-credit, academically rigorous master’s program. Featuring writing-intensive courses and no electives, students are required to complete field experience in public or private school classrooms as well as a graduate capstone research project. As part of its distance education endeavor, the university participates in the Southern Regional Education Board's electronic campus.
|37||University of Missouri-Columbia Columbia, MO||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 29%||
A member of the Teacher Education Accreditation Council and the Commission on Higher Learning of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, the University of Missouri offers two special education master's programs online, both of which focus on early childhood education, with one specializing in autism. Both programs are designed for early childhood special education teachers, practitioners, early interventionists, and anyone interested in learning more about children with challenging behaviors. The 30-credit programs prepare graduates to work with and support young children from birth through 8 years old (birth through 5 years old for the autism specialization). Students who opt to focus on autism learn how to identify and understand characteristics from the entire spectrum, including high-functioning children and those with Asperger syndrome. In order to successfully complete this program, students must take a comprehensive exam (M-1).
|38||Xavier University Cincinnati, OH||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 25%||
A Jesuit college in Ohio, Xavier University offers real-world education for the betterment of society. The college provides two online programs in special education: the master of science (MS) and master of education (M.Ed.). The non-licensure MS prepares professionals to work with people with disabilities in fields such as social work and criminal justice. Licensed teachers with a master's who seek to move into administration may also enroll in the online master's in special education.
The M.Ed. also does not provide licensure. The program is open to special educators or other teachers seeking to enhance their special education knowledge. Both degrees share the same concentration courses but have different core requirements. The curriculum features a Jesuit Catholic framework. Students in either program learn how to teach gifted students, how to apply the best practices in disability services, how to address behavior disorders, and how to facilitate students' transition to work. Applicants should submit proof of a bachelor's degree, minimum 3.0 GPA, GRE or MAT scores, and teacher licensure or graduate degree.
|39||Georgia College and State University Milledgeville, GA||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 76%||
Known as Georgia’s public liberal arts university, Georgia College was founded 125 years ago as a public college for women. Today, the coeducational school offers several elearning options, including the hybrid 45-credit master of arts in teaching (MAT) in special education and hybrid 36-credit master of education (M.Ed.) in special education. The MAT leads to initial teacher certification in special education and includes study of language development, behavior management, classroom research, curriculum and methods. MAT students also undergo three supervised internships in special education classrooms.
Educators who hold Georgia T4 certification may enroll in the M.Ed. This program delves into modes of inquiry, research on behavioral issues, applied behavioral analysis, and advanced classroom management techniques. During the capstone experience, students examine the quantitative and qualitative methods used in the analysis and dissemination of school improvement data. Admission requirements for the online master's in special education programs include a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA and GRE or MAT scores. Students seeking admission to the M.Ed. must also hold level four Georgia teacher certification.
|40||West Virginia University Morgantown, WV||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 34%||
West Virginia offers an online master’s in special education. All courses are available online, and students are expected to participate in scheduled, live interactive lectures. Distance learners can pursue one of six concentrations as part of the program. Those include autism spectrum disorders, early childhood special education, gifted education, low vision/blindness, severe/multiple disabilities, multicatigorical special education. Applicants are welcome to apply at any time, and can begin classes in the fall, spring, or summer terms. Distance learners learn how to work with special education students from a variety of backgrounds, and they leave school with a thorough understanding of how to empathetically teach their students. The program meets the state of West Virginia’s standards for special education certification; students from other states should check with their state’s accreditation board to ensure that WVU’s offering is compatible with state requirements.
|41||West Chester University of Pennsylvania West Chester, PA||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 40%||
West Chester University's 33-credit online master's in special education offers a unique concentration in assistive technologies. In addition to a master’s degree, students can pursue a certificate in universal design for learning and assistive technology, which prepares professionals, parents, and other community members to work with children who rely on adaptive technologies for learning. A certificate in autism is also offered. Designed for anyone with a bachelor’s degree, this research-heavy master’s of education program boasts a cohort model to encourage student collaboration, includes coursework on the integration of various assistive technologies, legal issues and communicative disorders, and is recognized by the Council for Exceptional Children.
|42||Hofstra University Hempstead, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 12%||
Hofstra University offers a fully online master of science in education in special education: international perspectives that incorporates the goals of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Graduates of the program are able to work as leaders in special education in countries that have agreed to the Convention. The 31-credit program does not lead to teacher licensure in New York.
Teachers receive preparation in how to educate early childhood and adolescent children with varying disabilities. Areas of study include how to manage behavior, use assessments and diagnosis to inform instruction, and develop evidence-based instructional strategies. Seven-week courses allow students to progress through the program at an accelerated pace. Students engage with peers and faculty through an online forum. Admission requirements for the online special education master's program include a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA.
|43||Emporia State University Emporia, KS||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 84%||
Emporia State University’s Teacher’s College offers a 36-credit online master's program in special education designed for individuals who currently hold or are eligible to receive a teaching license. Within this master’s degree, students can choose between a high-incidence concentration and a gifted, talented, and creative concentration. The high-incidence program requires prospective students to apply, be accepted, and complete a master’s capstone project to graduate. Both options prepare students to receive endorsements in grades K–6 and grades 6–12 after passing the Kansas state licensure exams. As part of the master’s degree, students can also pursue a 12-credit graduate certificate in autistic spectrum disorders.
|44||University of West Alabama Livingston, AL||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 93%||
The University of West Alabama strives to develop each student's unique skills while cultivating academic and career proficiencies. Current or future special education teachers may choose UWA’s 34-credit master of education in special education collaborative teacher, 6-12 or 34-credit master of education in special education collaborative teacher, K-6. Both programs are designed for educators who are either seeking master's-level certification in Alabama or career advancement in special education.
Both online master's in special education programs take one year to complete. The programs share a 16-credit professional core in the foundations of education, techniques of educational research, technology and education, and counseling multicultural populations. Students then complete an 18-credit concentration examining topics such as behavior management, teaching the severely and disabled, and the strategies used for special needs students. Admission to either program requires a bachelor's degree and initial teacher certification.
|45||University of Northern Colorado Greeley, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 40%||
The University of Northern Colorado was founded as a teacher training college in 1890. Students seeking to benefit from the school's rich heritage in teacher preparation can enroll in the 33-36 credit master of arts in early childhood special education. The fully online or hybrid program prepares educators to teach children birth to age 8. The curriculum includes initial endorsement preparation. Areas of study include special education foundations, curriculum and instruction, assessment and planning, and IEP development and instructional planning.
Alternately, licensed teachers may enroll in the 39-credit master of arts in educational leadership and special education administration. This program includes dual licensure as a principal and special education director. The MA can be completed online in less than three years. Teacher candidates study principalship, program planning and organization, parent and community engagement, and applied research and evaluation. Admission to the online special education master's programs requires a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants to the educational leadership program must hold a valid teaching certification with at least one year of experience.
|46||Fitchburg State University Fitchburg, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 30%||
Founded in 1894, Fitchburg State University integrates liberal arts and sciences into educational programs for teachers, specialists, and administrators. The Massachusetts college's master of education in special education program offers several tracks leading to initial state licensure and non-licensure. Students may choose a specialization in guided studies (individual, professional, and dyslexia specialist tracks), reading specialist (initial licensure and non-licensure tracks), or teaching (moderate disability or severe disability tracks).
All curriculums share common courses in disabilities and diversity; language development, differences, and disorders; curriculum, assessment, and strategies for math; differentiated instruction in inclusive classrooms; and behavioral, emotional, and autism disorders. The programs culminate in practicum, during which students hone skills and demonstrate competency in the licensure area. Admission requirements for all the programs include a bachelor's degree and school transcripts. Some tracks also require teacher certification.
|47||University of Hawaii at Manoa Honolulu, HI||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 16%||
A state college with global reach, the University of Hawaii at Manoa administers robust teacher preparation programs. The college of education features eight academic departments, including one specifically for special education. The 30-credit master of education in special education does not lead to teacher licensure, but prepares professionals to effectively provide services to individuals with disabilities. The synchronous online program includes two areas of emphasis: literacy specialist and board certified behavior analyst.
The core curriculum includes a seminar in special education issues and special education laws and compliance. Coursework in the literacy specialist track includes study of literacy coaching, language and literacy fundamentals, and classroom and school literacy assessment. The BCBA track covers topics such as behavior principles, positive behavior support, instructing students with severe disabilities, and language development and intervention. Admission requirements for the online special education master's program includes a bachelor's with a minimum 3.0 GPA and experience working with individuals with disabilities.
|48||University of Kansas Lawrence, KS||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 22%||
A major research college with five campuses, the University of Kansas houses a special education department nationally recognized for its academic rigor. Master's degrees include the 30-credit master of science in education (MSE) in secondary special education and transition and 36-credit MSE in special education with an emphasis in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Neither leads to teacher certification or endorsement in Kansas.
The MSE in special education transition prepares educators to help students and young adults with disabilities transition into adulthood. Areas of study include assessment for transition planning, career development for youth, and blending academics and transition. The ASD program advances the proficiencies of licensed educators and service professionals. Areas of study include methods for learners with ASD, family and interprofessional collaboration, and how to teach language and communication. Both master's degree in special education online programs can be completed fully online in two years. Applicants should hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA.
|49||Jacksonville State University Jacksonville, AL||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 63%||
Approximately 8,600 students attend Jacksonville State University on the Alabama campus and through Online@JSU. The school offers two online degrees that prepare educators for fifth-year teacher certification in special education. The 37-40 credit master of science in education in collaborative teacher/special education (K-6; 6-12 dual certification) includes study of collaborative reading and math strategies, characteristics of exceptionalities, and current trends in special education. Admission to the master's in special education online requires baccalaureate-level teacher certification in collaborative/special education.
The 40-43 credit master of science in education in early childhood special education (P-3) includes study of materials and methods, behavior and development in early childhood, individualization of education for young children, and teaching reading and writing in the early childhood classroom. Applicants should have baccalaureate-level teacher certification in early childhood education or any area of special education.
|50||Eastern University Saint Davids, PA||Cost: $$$$$||Enrolled Online: 39%||
A Christian college located in Pennsylvania, Eastern University administers one of the top private teacher preparation programs in the state. The 30-credit master of education in special education serves students hoping to become teachers or administrators. The fully curriculum incorporates the coursework required for special education certification in Pennsylvania. Areas of study include how to understand reading and learning differences, how to evaluate exceptional students, how to teach low incidence students, and how to work with families and agencies.
A course focused on autistic spectrum disorders explores learning traits, assessment strategies, classification systems, and interventions for students with autism. Students may also opt to earn either an autism endorsement or a certificate of advanced graduate studies in applied behavior analysis. Students engage in several field experiences, including a 10 hour experience with students with behavioral and emotional disabilities. Admission to the master's in special education online requires a bachelor's degree, school transcripts, and a current resume.
What Else Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Special Education Program?
- Elementary Education
Many students with disabilities are first assessed when they reach kindergarten or elementary school, which usually spans grades 1-6. Elementary-level special education teachers evaluate their students in order to create individual education profiles (IEPs) that the student's parents and future teachers use. Special education teachers often instruct students outside their normal classrooms in dedicated SpEd classrooms.
Careers This Concentration Prepares For: Special education teachers who plan to work with children in kindergarten and grades 1-6.
- Secondary Education
At the junior and high school levels students with disabilities continue to receive aid and support from teachers as they tackle more advanced learning subjects. Secondary-level special education teachers typically provide supplemental instruction for students with mild disabilities and primary instruction for those with severe disabilities. They may also provide resources to older students for attending college or finding post-graduation employment.
Careers This Concentration Prepares For: Special education teachers who plan to work with students in grades 7-12.
- Early Childhood Education
Special education intervention often benefits children with disabilities in the years leading up to kindergarten. Early childhood special education teachers specialize in assessing children younger than age five, often with limited communication skills. This specialization also prepares teachers to explain and work with parents of young children with disabilities.
Careers This Concentration Prepares For: Special education teachers who plan to work with pre-K students.
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
This concentration specifically addresses the different disorders that comprise ASD, including autism, Asperger syndrome, and childhood disintegrative disorder. Teachers learn how to evaluate children for ASD symptoms, which may be present at a very young age, and instruct students in an engaging, stimulating manner.
Careers This Concentration Prepares For: Special education teachers who plan to work at any grade level, along with curriculum developers.
- Special Education Technology
Special education technology concentrations introduce various tools, software programs, and other resources widely used in special ed classrooms. These platforms focus on different physical, emotional, and behavioral disabilities. In addition to the proper use and application of these programs, this specialization may also illustrate how to develop, design, and implement them.
Careers This Concentration Prepares For: Special education teachers at any grade level, curriculum developers, or educational software designers.
Curriculum for an Online Master's Degree in Special Education
- IEP Development and Implementation: This course prepares students to create and maintain IEPs for students at any grade level and tailor them to their respective disability category and severity. The course also covers the concept of cross-categorical inclusion, which proves fundamental to student success in special education.
- Instruction and Intervention with Special Populations: In this course, students learn about intervention practices and strategies for students with different disabilities, ranging from mild to severe. Case studies, statistics, reports, and laws governing special education illustrate the effectiveness of these different approaches.
- Special Education Administration: This course discusses both common challenges associated with integrating special education students into school classrooms and some of the required human and material resources. Students also learn about the duties and responsibilities of school administrators, along with the financial demands of special education.
- Social, Legal, and Ethical Issues in Special Education: This survey course covers the various standards and guidelines in place for students with different types of disability. Specific topics include past and current legislation, multicultural classroom management, special education funding, and ethical approaches to educating students with disabilities.
- Advanced Assistive Technology: Most special ed master's students take introductory courses in assistive technology as undergraduates. This course builds on the fundamentals by tackling both the concept of universal design for learning (UDL) and the methods of incorporating UDL principles in classrooms using low-tech and high-tech means.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master's in Special Education?
According to U.S. News & World Report, standard online MA special education programs span 36-40 credits. Students can complete the degree in roughly two years. However, many special ed master's online pathways fall outside these parameters. Accelerated master's in special education degrees consist of condensed courses that students can normally complete in 18 months or less. Alternatively, online special education master's programs with licensure generally take longer than two years due to practicum and student teaching requirements.
Other factors may also affect the completion time of online special education graduate programs. Some programs offer cohort-based learning, meaning that students begin their studies as a group and progress through courses together. These pathways tend to require more time than asynchronous or self-paced programs, which students can complete on their own timetable. Additionally, students who enroll full time typically graduate faster than those enrolled part time.
Accreditation for Online Master's in Special Education Degrees
Accreditation status serves as an important consideration for master's in special education online students. Accreditation refers to a comprehensive assessment process that colleges and universities undergo to demonstrate quality education and positive student outcomes. Schools that hold accreditation offer certain advantages to students who attend, such as eligibility for federal student aid and the ability to transfer credits to another institution.
Accrediting agencies perform the evaluations that lead to accreditation. Regional accreditation typically applies to four-year institutions that specialize in liberal arts and sciences programs. National accreditation, on the other hand, typically applies to professional and vocational schools. The third type of accreditation, programmatic, goes to individual schools at larger colleges and universities that specialize in certain subjects, such as education, nursing, or law.
Master's in special education students should ensure that their school and their program hold full accreditation. Programmatic accrediting agencies for special education programs include the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council, Accreditation Committee, which both evaluate K-12 teaching programs including special education.
Two separate organizations recognize accrediting agencies and oversee the accreditation of colleges and universities nationwide. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) creates and administers education policies throughout the country, collects data for schools and student demographics, and coordinates federal student aid. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) specifically focuses on evaluating and providing accreditation to postsecondary institutions. The CHEA includes more than 3,000 colleges and universities. The ED and the CHEA maintain lists of fully accredited colleges and universities.
Employment Outlook for Master's in Special Education Graduates
Master's in Special Education Salary
According to PayScale, the median annual salary for special education teachers matches the earnings of regular teachers at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Directors of special education and other supervisory roles that require more experience typically earn higher salaries. However, earnings for special education teachers depend on several factors, including their experience level and the state, city, and district where they work. The table below lists median annual salaries for five occupations associated with the master's in special education degree, as well as their career salary growth over 20 years.
|Job Title||Overall Median Salary||Median Salary for Entry-Level||Median Salary for Mid-Career||Median Salary for Late-Career|
|Special Education Teacher||$45,823||$40,000||$43,000||$55,000|
|Special Education Teacher||$49,638||$42,000||$48,000||$63,000|
|Director of Special Education||$73,558||$63,000||$67,000||$84,000|
|Elementary School Teacher||$44,379||$39,000||$44,000||$56,000|
|High School Teacher||$48,613||$41,000||$47,000||$61,000|
Master's in Special Education Careers
Depending on their specialization, students who graduate with a master's in special education online may go on to pursue teaching roles at the elementary, middle, or high school level. In the U.S., public schools require teachers at all grade levels, including special education teachers, to hold licensure. With experience, special education teachers may advance to positions such as principal, instructional coordinator, or school counselor. Important skills for special education careers include communication, resourcefulness, and interpersonal effectiveness -- as well as patience and stress management. Like other teachers and school staff, special education teachers generally work roughly 10 months out of the year.
Special Education Teachers: According to BLS, 86% of special education teachers work for public schools and 7% work for private schools. Other potential employers include the student's residence, group homes, and medical facilities.
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers: Kindergarten and elementary teachers focus on foundational skills in subjects such as reading, writing, math, science, and art. They also work in tandem with special education teachers to assist students with disabilities and other exceptionalities.
Middle School Teachers: Middle school teachers lead intermediate classes in subjects such as English, history, math, science, and physical education. They normally teach individual classes with different groups of students throughout the day and work with special education teachers to integrate students with disabilities in classroom activities.
High School Teachers: High school teachers lead advanced courses in core academic subjects and prepare students for life after grade 12. Like middle school teachers, they lead different groups of students in individual classes. They also consult with special education teachers to ensure the inclusion of students with learning disabilities and emotional or behavioral disorders.
|Position||Median Annual Salary||Projected Industry Growth|
|Special Education Teachers||$58,980||8%|
|Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers||$56,900||7%|
|Middle School Teachers||$57,720||8%|
|High School Teachers||$59,170||8%|
Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below, you can find three of the country's most prominent organizations 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." Member benefits include 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" to 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.
Financing Your Online Master's in Special Education
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, students receive private grants and scholarships through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about your financial aid options.
Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education. Students can also receive help through grants and scholarships.
Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) proves a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown of the application process and answers several frequently asked questions.
Students attending online and on campus receive the same financial aid opportunities. Click the link to find out about opportunities available to online students.
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 scholarships specifically for women.
Online college programs offer a flexible, affordable option for single parents 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.
U.S. military personnel enjoy access to millions of dollars in free money. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.
- Best Online Master's in Special Education Degrees of 2017
Rank School Location 1 University of Florida Gainesville, FL 2 George Washington University Washington, DC 3 Texas A & M University-College Station College Station, TX 4 George Mason University Fairfax, VA 5 University of South Florida-Main Campus Tampa, FL 6 Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 7 Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL 8 Saint Joseph's University Philadelphia, PA 9 University of Nebraska-Lincoln Lincoln, NE 10 Florida State University Tallahassee, FL 11 University of Arkansas Fayetteville, AR 12 Ball State University Muncie, IN 13 Texas Tech University Lubbock, TX 14 University of Missouri-Columbia Columbia, MO 15 University of North Carolina at Charlotte Charlotte, NC 16 University of Nebraska at Kearney Kearney, NE 17 Indiana University-Bloomington Bloomington, IN 18 Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania Slippery Rock, PA 19 University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND 20 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA 21 Emporia State University Emporia, KS 22 West Chester University of Pennsylvania West Chester, PA 23 Arkansas State University-Main Campus Jonesboro, AR 24 Morningside College Sioux City, IA 25 West Virginia University Morgantown, WV
- Best Online Master's in Special Education Degrees of 2016
Rank School Location 1 University of Florida Gainesville, FL 2 Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 3 Texas A&M University College Station, TX 4 Indiana University - Bloomington Bloomington, IN 5 Ball State University Muncie, IN 6 University of Louisville Louisville, KY 7 Florida State University Tallahassee, FL 8 Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond, VA 9 University of Kansas Lawrence, KS 10 University of Arkansas Fayetteville, AR 11 Emporia State University Emporia, KS 12 University of Nebraska at Kearney Kearney, NE 13 University of Michigan - Dearborn Dearborn, MI 14 University of Missouri - Columbia Columbia, MO 15 Saint Joseph's University Philadelphia, PA 16 The University of Arizona Tucson, AZ 17 West Virginia University Morgantown, WV 18 University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND 19 Old Dominion University Norfolk, VA 20 Washington State University Pullman, WA 21 Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania Slippery Rock, PA 22 Arizona State University - West Glendale, AZ 23 University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL 24 University of Nebraska at Omaha Omaha, NE 25 Arkansas State University Jonesboro, AR