Special education teachers support learners with physical, emotional, mental, and learning disabilities. They develop individualized education programs and help their students transition to life after school. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 3% growth for special education teaching positions from 2018 to 2028, which translates to 13,600 new occupations. Substantial teacher shortages often lead government agencies and schools to expand incentives as a means of recruiting and retaining qualified educators. Education students enjoy distinct scholarship opportunities and federal financial support, including the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program.

Best Online Master's in Special Education Programs:

  1. University of Washington -Seattle, WA
  2. University of Florida - Online -Gainesville, FL
  3. North Carolina State University at Raleigh - Raleigh, NC
  4. University of South Florida - Tampa, FL
  5. Texas A & M University-College Station - College Station, TX
  6. Western Governors University - Salt Lake City, UT
  7. George Washington University - Washington, DC
  8. Florida International University - Miami, FL
  9. Brandman University - Irvine, CA
  10. Michigan State University - East Lansing, MI

While students can become licensed teachers with a bachelor's degree, educators who earn their master's in special education enjoy greater employment opportunities and better salaries. According to a National Council on Teacher Quality survey, 88 out of 100 of the largest school districts in the U.S. offer additional pay to teachers who hold master's degrees. These educators earn nearly $2,800 more in their first year of employment than teachers with baccalaureate credentials. Educators may further bolster their career prospects by obtaining specialty certificates and doctoral degrees.

2019's Best Accredited Online M.Ed. Programs in Special Education

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, more than 30% of U.S. college students pursue some type of remote education. About 20% of learners at both public and private higher education institutions enroll in fully online programs, taking advantage of affordable tuition and flexible learning formats. The abundance of distance education options provides a greater degree of individual freedom but can overwhelm students as they search for the right master's in special education online programs.

The following rankings help students find the best online school by providing information on degree options and program structure. Distance learners may use the profiles to compare costs, financial aid availability, and student services. The best online special education master's programs feature dedicated academic counseling and career resources, like internship placement programs and resume-writing workshops. Each school's profile also details application requirements. If students want to discover additional information about a certain program, they should contact the institution's admissions specialists.

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

University of Washington

Seattle, WA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 84%

The University of Washington offers an online special education master's from its campus in Seattle. Studying part time, students can earn their master of education in special education: applied behavior analysis in two years, fully prepared to sit for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) exam upon graduation.

UW's online program consists of two parts: 27 credits within the BACB verified course sequence -- which prepares students to become a board certified behavior analyst -- and an additional 18 credits for students who want to earn their master's in special education.

Course highlights include educating students with autism and a tiered approach to inclusive instruction. To meet BACB requirements, students must complete an intensive practicum experience -- 750 hours in an environment that applies behavior analytic methods in special education. The program also requires each student to complete a capstone project, culminating in an in-person presentation at UW's annual Student Capstone Conference held in the spring.

Each BACB and master's degree course in UW's applied behavior analysis program adheres to a synchronous learning format, which requires all students to login weekly at a set time to participate in lectures, class discussion, and group activities. New programs start each fall semester. To apply, prospective students must submit GRE scores, a current academic/professional resume, two letters of recommendation, transcripts, and a statement of purpose. Applicants may also need to complete an interview and/or supply writing samples.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Education in Special Education: Applied Behavior Analysis
Credit Requirements: 45
Program Length: 1-2 years

Delivery
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction Style: Asynchronous and synchronous
At least 2 letters of recommendation

Admission Requirements
Standardized Tests: GRE
Work experience: 6 months

Contact
Phone: (206) 543-5489
Email: abainfo@uw.edu
Social Media Accounts: Instagram, Facebook

2

University of Florida - Online

Gainesville, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 88%

Through its Teach Well Online Academy, the University of Florida offers flexible special education master's programs online that feature several specialization or track options: autism, disabilities in society, dyslexia, and early childhood studies. Designed for part-time enrollment, the 36-credit program offers a completion time of two years if students take two classes each spring, summer, and fall semester.

Twelve credit hours fulfill the Teach Well Core required of every student. The remaining 24 credits come from specialization courses. Students may fulfill the 24-credit requirement either by completing a single specialization track of four courses (five in the dyslexia track) or by selecting a combination of courses from multiple tracks. Specialization courses offer a sophisticated study of topics, including social perspectives on disability, dyslexia intervention methods, and the nature of autism.

All classes deliver material in an asynchronous online format. Students never need to come to campus. Although nonresidents of Florida pay a few additional flat fees per credit hour, both resident and nonresident students receive the same base tuition rates. UF accepts applications to this program on a rolling basis.

Prospective students must submit materials including a resume, transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and GRE scores. Students interested in the disabilities in society track, dyslexia track, or early childhood education track must submit a certificate admissions application in addition to UF's graduate application.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Education, Education Specialist Degree in Special Education
Available Concentrations: Autism, disabilities in society, early childhood studies, education and health care transition
Tuition: $448.73/credit
Credit Requirements: 36
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact
Email: contact-tw@coe.ufl.edu
Social Media Accounts: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter

3

North Carolina State University at Raleigh

Raleigh, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 79%

Students looking for online special education master's programs with licensure preparation in North Carolina need look no further than the master of arts in teaching-special education (MAT) at North Carolina State University. Offered in hybrid form, students complete the 33-credit degree plan through a mix of online and face-to-face classes on campus.

Designed for students without teaching certification, NC State's MAT program caters to aspiring teachers with a bachelor's degree outside the education field. Graduates earn an initial North Carolina teaching license along with their master's degree.

During the program, students complete six core courses and six speciality courses, including teaching functional and life skills to students with disabilities, intervention for behavioral problems of students with disabilities, and a seminar in special education literacy. After students complete at least 21 credit hours, they can begin the program's teaching internship, which requires a minimum of 10 consecutive weeks of full-time work in an elementary, middle school, or secondary school classroom.

Applicants must possess at least six college credit hours in each of the following content areas: English, social studies, math, and science. Those who do not meet content area requirements can complete them as a non-degree student at NC State prior to admission. Additional application requirements include a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution and a 3.0 minimum GPA. Students with a GPA below 3.0 must submit GRE scores.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Arts in Teaching - Special Education
Tuition: $437 per credit in-state/$1,245 out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 33
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0
Standardized Tests: GRE (if undergraduate degree is below 3.0)

Contact
Email: ejsaborn@ncsu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Instagram, Facebook

4

University of South Florida

Tampa, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 71%

Students don't need to be on the ground in Tampa to pursue a degree at the University of South Florida. USF offers an accredited online master of arts in exceptional special education. Specializations include behavior disorders, learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, and exceptional student education.

In this customizable master of arts, students complete several common core courses, including instructional approaches for exceptional populations and management and motivation of exceptional and at-risk students. Then, they select a specialization, each of which consists of one advanced theory course and two electives -- excluding the exceptional student education focus, which requires three theory courses.

Finally, students earn credit hours from a required independent study course and practicum. Before graduation, students must complete a comprehensive exam to ensure mastery of the program's learning outcomes.

To apply, prospective students must possess a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and supply a letter of recommendation and statement of purpose. They must also indicate their likelihood to succeed in the program by fulfilling one of the following criteria: a previous graduate degree, an undergraduate GPA of 3.0, completion of nine previous graduate credit hours in special education with a 3.0 GPA and faculty endorsement, or adequate GRE scores (154 verbal, 143 quantitative, and 4.5 in analytical writing).


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Arts in Education - Exceptional Student Education
Available Concentrations: Autism, severe and profound, gifted education, reading
Credit Requirements: 32-40
Program Length: 1-2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0
Standardized Tests: GRE
Work experience: Optional

Contact
Phone: (813) 974-1398
Email: edoone@usf.edu
Social Media Accounts: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter

5

Texas A & M University-College Station

College Station, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 82%

TAMU offers two options for individuals looking to earn an online master's degree in special education: a master of education and a master of science. Each degree plan requires the completion of at least 36 credit hours, allows students to complete all requirements entirely online, and fulfills the coursework requirements needed to pursue certification from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board.

In addition to more unique courses like bilingual special education, TAMU courses cover core concepts like behavior management, assessment, and adolescent literacy. Each sequential class in the program adheres to a strict, synchronous format that requires students to attend online lectures and activities at set times, typically three hours per week per class in the evenings.

Master of education candidates must successfully complete a comprehensive exam before qualifying for graduation. Generally, students complete curriculum components in two years, but learners who decide to pursue a master of science must complete a thesis in addition to all standard coursework, which may increase overall degree length.

Prospective students do not need teaching certification, but the admissions department highly prefers applicants with previous teaching and/or work experience with individuals with disabilities. New cohorts begin the program each summer, requiring applicants to submit all materials for consideration no later than TAMU's spring semester. Applicants do not need to provide GRE scores, but candidates must submit college transcripts, a candidate statement, letters of recommendation, and, if desired, other supplemental documentation such as a resume.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Education/Master of Science in Special Education
Tuition: $156.25/credit in-state, $531.66/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 36
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum: 3.0

Contact
Phone: (979) 845-1831
Email: skallina@tamu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter

6

Western Governors University

Salt Lake City, UT Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 38%

A private institution based in Salt Lake City, Utah, Western Governors University offers a master of science in special education K-12 online for educators who already possess their teacher certification. Completing this master of science offers a direct path to special education roles, training educators to teach and work with K-12 students who experience disabilities.

WGU charges tuition by term, not by credit hour, meaning all students pay the same amount, and students can save money by completing their degree in a timely manner. Average degree completion times range from 9-26 months.

The program's 12 courses cover subjects in special education, instructional design, and research. Before graduation, students must also complete a practicum experience, a teacher work sample, and a Praxis Subject Assessment. The practicum requires 240 hours of in-class supervised teaching of special education students. A successful teacher work sample includes a written project and oral defense. The Praxis Subject Assessment application takes roughly two hours to complete and requires a fee.

WGU holds classes asynchronously, allowing students to login at any time to complete course components. To provide further flexibility to its students, WGU accepts applications on a rolling basis for all online programs and offers class start dates on the first of every month. Applicants to the special education master's program must supply undergraduate transcripts verifying receipt of a bachelor's degree and a copy of a valid teaching license.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Science in Education (K-12)
Tuition: $270/credit
Credit Requirements: 12 courses
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.5

Contact
Phone: (866) 225-5948
Social Media Accounts: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter

7

George Washington University

Washington, DC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 81%

George Washington University's master of arts in education and human development in special education for culturally and linguistically diverse learners boasts a variety of developed skills and learning outcomes. One of only eight programs like it in the country, this standout master's in special education online offers a pathway to roles in special education for currently employed teachers with initial certification.

The 33-credit program offers completion times in as few as 1.5 years. It emphasizes a theory-to-practice curriculum to prepare educators to work closely not only with students from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, but also students facing social or learning disabilities. The core curriculum features classes including the development of language and literacy, linguistic applications in English as a second language, and the academic and psychosocial assessment of culturally and linguistically diverse students.

Graduates possess the experience of a full-time, field-based teaching internship and can sit for the ESOL Praxis and SPED Praxis exams. Students complete their flexible degree in a cohort, with asynchronous access to lectures and course materials and the ability to connect to professors and peers in real time.

GW accepts new candidates into its special education master's program in the summer and fall, requiring applicants to adhere to firm admission deadlines. Prospective applicants must possess a bachelor's degree, submit an online application, and provide materials including a resume, statement of purpose, two letters of recommendation, and unofficial transcripts detailing previous undergraduate and/or graduate education.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master’s in Special Education for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners
Tuition: $1,090/credit
Credit Requirements: 33
Program Length: 1.5 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact
Phone: (202) 994-1509
Email: dgresham@gwu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter

8

Florida International University

Miami, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 57%

Featuring specialization courses leading to a Florida Autism Endorsement, Florida International University's master of science in special education-autism endorsement online provides professionals with the tools and knowledge required to work with students on the autism spectrum and with culturally and linguistically diverse learners. Consisting of six accelerated terms lasting eight weeks each, this 36-credit program offers a rapid completion time of only one year. FIU offers program start dates in the fall and summer.

Among the program's 12 required courses, students study advanced theory and research in special education, nature and needs of students with autism spectrum disorder, and working with families of students with disabilities through collaborative approaches. Students can complete all course components in an online environment. However, program candidates must retain access to an academic setting and a group of K-12 students or K-12 teachers throughout the program in order to complete a required action research project.

To qualify for admission, applicants must possess a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 minimum GPA in upper-division coursework and provide a current resume, three letters of recommendation, official college transcripts, and either a valid teacher certification in exceptional student education or a valid letter of eligibility confirming a passing score on a teaching certification exam in exceptional student education.

Whether a Florida resident, nonresident, or international learner, all accepted students receive the same low tuition cost and may qualify for an additional online academic merit scholarship.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Science in Special Education: Autism Endorsement
Tuition: $508.33/credit
Credit Requirements: 36
Program Length: 1 year

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0

Contact
Phone: (855) 767-2055
Social Media Accounts: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter

9

Brandman University

Irvine, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 79%

Brandman University offers five special education master's programs online, with concentrations in advanced methodology, autism, behavior analysis, teaching and learning, and early childhood special education.

Each program requires the completion of 30-36 credits: 18 credits of core coursework and 12-18 credits of electives related to the student's emphasis. As part of the special education core, students must also complete a capstone course, offering students a variety of project options to study, present, and discuss evidence-based practices and their own professional development.

Core courses in Brandman's master's programs include the in depth study of leadership and policy in special education, program development and organization in special education, and collaboration in special education. Electives primarily consist of lecture courses to develop enhanced skills and knowledge within the emphasis area. Exceptions include the early childhood special education emphasis -- which gives students the option to take a field experience course -- and the behavior analysis emphasis, which requires students to retain at least part-time employment in the field while using behavior analysis.

Each special education master's program at Brandman adheres to the same general admission requirements. Students must provide a completed application, two letters of recommendation, and official transcripts; they must also meet minimum GPA requirements and hold a special education teaching credential. Applicants without the latter credential may complete a course on collaboration for inclusive schooling. All students pay the same per-credit tuition rate regardless of state residency.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Arts in Special Education
Tuition: $650/credit
Credit Requirements: 30
Program Length: 1-2 years

Delivery
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction Style: Combination asynchronous and synchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 or 2.5 with qualifying GRE/GMAT scores
Standardized Tests: GRE/GMAT (if GPA is less than 3.0)

Contact
Phone: (877) 516-4501
Social Media Accounts: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter

10

Michigan State University

East Lansing, MI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 79%

Michigan State University offers an online master of arts in special education with emphases in learning disabilities and autism spectrum disorders. If desired, students can also pursue a separate, six-course graduate certificate in applied behavior analysis during their time at MSU. Each online course in the department of education caps at 25 students to ensure personalized interaction with professors. Graduates develop the knowledge and skills required to successfully educate K-12 students with disabilities.

To graduate from this master of arts program, students must complete 30-36 credits of core, specialization, and elective courses. MSU's curriculum emphasizes evidence-based practice and research-validated instruction, offering study of important concepts including classroom and behavior management, content area instruction for students with mild disabilities, and technology and literacy for students with mild disabilities. Before graduation, each master's candidate completes a comprehensive examination and a field experience practicum requiring up to 180 contact hours, depending on chosen emphasis.

MSU accepts new students into its program once a year in the spring. Applicants must submit a goal statement, three letters of recommendation, transcripts, and a copy of valid teaching certification. Although the program does not require GRE or MAT tests, applicants may supply these scores if desired.

The department reminds applicants that special education endorsements earned with this degree adhere to Michigan state requirements only. It remains the responsibility of the individual to investigate varying requirements and validity if he/she plans to teach in another state.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Arts in Special Education
Available Concentrations: Autism spectrum disorders, learning disabilities
Tuition: $863/credit
Credit Requirements: 30-36
Program Length: 1-2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0

Contact
Phone: (517) 355-1855
Social Media Accounts: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter

11

Texas Tech University

Lubbock, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 59%

Choose from eight areas of specialization when you enroll in an online master's degree in special education at Texas Tech University. Students select from focus areas in autism, applied behavior analysis, deafblindness, deaf/hard of hearing, educational diagnostician, general special education, orientation and mobility, and visual impairment.

The 36-credit program offers start dates every semester, requires no hard application deadlines, and accepts up to six transfer credits for students with previous graduate-level coursework. For their culminating degree experience, students can either complete a comprehensive exam or a thesis.

Specific program requirements and courses vary depending on the concentration area a student selects. Required core courses may focus on vital areas, including student assessment, issues in special education, human development, instructional strategies for teaching students with low incidence disabilities, or collaborative problem-solving in special education.

The applied behavior analysis specialization meets the verified course sequence requirements of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, increasing students' eligibility to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst Examination. All master's degree candidates in the school of education must complete an internship in a field-based setting requiring at least 350 contact hours supervised by a faculty member.

Required application materials vary, but they typically include a 3.0 minimum GPA minimum, teaching service records, and submission of a copy of a valid Texas teaching certificate, a resume, an applicant statement, and two letters of recommendation. Note that the education diagnostician concentration limits admission to Texas residents.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Education in Special Education
Available Concentrations: Autism, applied behavior analysis, deafblindness, deaf/hard of hearing, educational diagnostician, generic special education, orientation and mobility, visual impairment
Tuition: $397/credit
Credit Requirements: 36
Program Length: 1-2 years

Delivery
Format: Online and/or hybrid
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0
Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact
Phone: (806) 853-5153
Email: elearning@ttu.com
Social Media Accounts: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter

12

Purdue University

West Lafayette, IN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 78%

Offering completion times as brief as 20 months, Purdue University's master of science in education in special education online prepares graduates to plan and implement special education curriculum, create a safe and productive classroom environment, and meet the needs of all students in their care.

The master's program consists of a 31-credit plan. Featured core courses include introduction to educational research; identification, evaluation, and assessment of exceptional individuals; and social, legal, and ethical issues in special education. All courses adhere to an asynchronous delivery format.

To enhance program flexibility, Purdue students may elect to pursue the master's alone or choose from additional licensure options: initial special education licensure or mild and/or intense intervention licensure. Each licensure track requires students to complete practicum experiences in the field. The state of Indiana currently possesses reciprocity agreements with 42 other states, meaning select nonresident students can earn licensure through this program and qualify to teach in their home state.

For admission consideration, applicants must participate in a phone interview with an admissions adviser and provide materials including a resume, official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and a personal statement of at least 500 words. Prospective students may receive a waiver for GRE submission requirements if they possess a 3.0 GPA in undergraduate work or already hold an advanced degree with a 3.0 GPA. For details regarding application deadlines and program start dates, prospective students can reach out to an admissions adviser.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Science in Education - Special Education
Available Concentrations: Intense intervention
Tuition: $447.85/credit
Credit Requirements: 31 credits
Program Length: 1-2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Standardized Tests: GRE (if GPA was below 3.0)

Contact
Phone: (877) 497-5851
Social Media Accounts: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter

13

Mississippi College

Clinton, MS Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 59%

Chartered in 1826 as Hampstead Academy, Mississippi College began as one building on five acres of land in central Mississippi. The academic edifice, as the building was called, housed four rooms that were large enough to accommodate 150-200 boys and girls. It attained college status in 1830 and today enrolls more than 5,000 students from all over the country and 43 nations.

U.S. News & World Report ranks Mississippi College as 32nd on the Best Regional Universities South Rankings and 16th on its Best Value Schools list. The college offers a master's in special education online through the School of Education, comprising 30 credits. An accelerated program, students can complete coursework in 10 months, with each term lasting seven weeks. Students can earn the degree completely online and graduates can apply for a special education mild/moderate K-12 endorsement on their license. Graduates are eligible for a class AA license upgrade as well.

The curriculum comprises 10 courses and covers topics such as organizational procedures for special education, diagnostic/prescriptive reading, and curriculum development. M.Ed. applicants must hold a current, five-year renewable standard teaching license in elementary, secondary, or K-12 education. Students take a comprehensive exam upon completion of all coursework; students with a 3.75 GPA are exempt from the test. The School of Education is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Education in Special Education
Tuition: $365/credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 1-2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0
Standardized Tests: Program entrance exam (if GPA is less than 3.75)

Contact
Phone: (844) 351-6654
Email: khallman@mde.k12.ms.us
Social Media Accounts: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter

14

The University of Alabama

Tuscaloosa, AL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 68%

At its formal inauguration in 1831, the University of Alabama enrolled 52 students. In 2018, the university enrolled more than 38,000 students worldwide. U.S. News & World Report ranks University of Alabama as 80th on the Best Value Schools list, and 129th among 312 schools in the National Universities Rankings.

The university offers two special education master's programs online: master of arts in special education (collaborative 6-12 certification) and master of arts in special education (gifted and talented certification). The collaborative 6-12 master's degree requires 36 credits and follows a blended delivery system. It adheres to the university's regular course calendar and accepts applications every semester.

The gifted and talented special education program comprises 30 credits, is offered primarily online, and accepts applications year-round. The program requires students to attend a four-week summer enrichment workshop during the final summer semester. The university hosts special accommodations on campus for students attending the workshop.

The University of Alabama offers both programs through the Special Education and Multiple Abilities Department of the College of Education. Applicants need a bachelor's-level teaching certificate, an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0, and a minimum score of 300 on the Miller Analogies Test. Both programs require students to undergo a practicum experience and pass a comprehensive exam prior to graduation.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Arts in Special Education
Available Concentrations: Certification in the gifted and talented
Tuition: $394/credit
Credit Requirements: 30-36
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online/hybrid
Instruction Style: Synchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0
Standardized Tests: GRE/MAT

Contact
Phone: (205) 348-1444
Email: jnewman@ua.edu
Social Media Accounts: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter

15

George Mason University

Fairfax, VA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 71%

Founded in 1949 as the Northern Virginia University Center in Arlington, George Mason University began as a branch of the University of Virginia. In 1966, it moved to Fairfax, and by 1972, the university became an independent institution. George Mason University now enrolls around 34,000 students from more than 130 countries and operates five campuses, including one in the Songdo region in South Korea.

The university's College of Education and Human Development offers an online special education master's program that comprises 30 credits. The 100% online degree is only offered on a part-time basis. Most students continue to work full time while earning the degree. Students can choose between two graduate certificate tracks: an autism spectrum disorders certificate, which is 15 credits, or an applied behavior analysis certificate, which is 18 credits. The school offers both certificates independently of the M.Ed. program. The M.Ed. follows a rolling admissions policy.

Coursework consists of synchronous and asynchronous classes. Regardless of the graduate certificate track a student selects, all students must take four core courses: computer applications for special populations, introduction to special education, universal design for learning (UDL), and special education research. The UDL course may require students to undergo a field experience where they observe UDL practices in the classroom or prepare lesson plans for a student population. Students must complete a capstone project to graduate.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Education - Special Education
Available Concentrations: Autism spectrum disorders and applied behavior
Tuition: $775/credit
Credit Requirements: 30
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0

Contact
Phone: (703) 348-5006
Email: online2@gmu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter

16

Saint Joseph's University

Philadelphia, PA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 82%

Established in 1851, St. Joseph's University is a Jesuit institution in Philadelphia. Although it began as an all-male school with just 30 students, the university became fully coeducational in the fall of 1970 and reached university status eight years later. Today, St. Joseph's University enrolls more than 8,000 students and offers 55 undergraduate majors, 52 graduate programs, and more than 30 certificate and degree-completion programs. St. Joseph ranks 12th in the U.S. News & World Report Best Regional Universities North Rankings.

The university offers an online master of science degree in special education (MSE) that combines advanced training with professional certification. Students can add one or more of the following certificates to their degree:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorders Endorsement (39 credits)
  • Wilson Reading System Certification (37 credits)
  • Special Education Certification (36 credits)

Alternately, students can pursue a concentration in applied behavior analysis (36 credits).

Students pursuing the special education certification need a bachelor's degree in education and Level 1 teacher certification. Students who choose the applied behavior analysis concentration are qualified to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst Examination after completing coursework. The MSE requires 24 core credits, except for applied behavior analysis students who enroll in 12 core courses, 21 concentration courses, and an elective. Core courses cover topics such as diagnostic assessment and progress monitoring, research-based models and procedures, and foundations and current issues in special education.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Science in Education - Special Education
Available Concentrations: Applied behavior analysis, autism spectrum disorders, disorders endorsement, certification in the Wilson Reading System
Tuition: $765/credit
Credit Requirements: 36
Program Length: 3 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Synchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.8

Contact
Phone: (866) 758-7670
Email: online@sju.edu
Social Media Accounts: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter

17

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Lincoln, NE Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 68%

Established in 1869, the University of Nebraska - Lincoln boasts a 2018 enrollment of 25,820 undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries. UNL has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission since 1913.

The university's College of Education and Human Sciences offers two online master's degrees in special education: master of arts in special education and master of education in special education. Both degrees offer three optional specializations: deaf and hard of hearing education (pre-12), early childhood special education (birth to age 5), and visual impairments (pre-12). The visual impairment specialization requires onsite attendance during summer terms.

Most students seeking special education endorsements opt for the M.Ed., which comprises 36 credits. Students completing a major and minor must complete at least 18 semester hours in the major. Students who choose one major and two minors must complete at least 15 semester hours in the major. The M.Ed. does not require a thesis. Students who pursue the MA complete 30 or 36 semester hours, depending on the track. MA students can write a final thesis if it supports their educational and professional objectives.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Arts in Special Education and Communication Disorders/Master of Education in Special Education
Available Concentrations: Early childhood education, education of the deaf and hard of hearing, visual impairments.
Tuition: $356/credit in-state, $722.50/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 30-36
Program Length: 3 years

Delivery
Format: Hybrid
Instruction Style: Synchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0
Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact
Phone: (402) 472-2141
Email: jill.england@unl.edu
Social Media Accounts: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter

18

Ball State University

Muncie, IN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 62%

Four years after founding the Indiana State Normal School Eastern Division in 1918, the Indiana General Assembly changed the name of the school to Ball Teachers College to acknowledge the generous donation of the Ball brothers to the school. In 1965, the school underwent another name change -- Ball State University -- to reflect its growth. U.S. News & World Report includes the university in the National University Rankings as 171st out of 312 schools. The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission through 2024.

Ball State University offers a master's in special education online with nine focus areas and coursework that leads to a graduate certificate or license. The program comprises 30 credits and allows students to pursue graduate-level certificates in applied behavior analysis, autism, disabilities for postsecondary settings with an emphasis on autism, emotional and behavioral disorders, and response to intervention.

Alternately, students can enroll in courses that lead to one of five license options: director of exceptional needs, early childhood special education, deaf and hard of hearing, intense interventions, and mild interventions.

Students can transfer up to nine graduate credits towards their degree. The university only considers transfer credits for courses with a B grade or higher and completed within six years of the application date from an accredited institution. Most of the online courses at Ball State University follow an asynchronous delivery method.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Arts in Special Education
Available Concentrations: Applied behavioral analysis, autism, disabilities for postsecondary settings with an emphasis in autism, emotional and behavioral disorders, response to intervention
Tuition: $410/credit in-state, $616/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 30
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.75 overall, 3.0 for latter half of undergraduate studies
Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact
Phone: (765) 285-1581
Email: online@bsu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter

19

Liberty University

Lynchburg, VA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 47%

Liberty College in Lynchburg, Virginia began as a small liberal arts college in 1971 with 154 students. Today, it is known as Liberty University and comprises 17 schools and colleges, offers more than 600 programs, and educates 15,000 students. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges granted full accreditation to the university in 1980. The School of Education at Liberty University is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education through the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

The School of Education offers two special education master's programs online: master of arts in teaching - special education (MAT) and master of education in curriculum and instruction - special education. Both programs are 100% online and comprise 30 credits. Students can transfer up to 15 credits from graduate-level classes completed at accredited institutions.

Students take core courses in learning theory and behavior management, curriculum fundamentals, and education assessment and intervention. The MAT program prepares students for initial teaching licensure. The M.Ed. program focuses on teaching and curriculum development in a special education setting. Core courses cover topics such as technology and diversity, characteristics and assessment of autism spectrum disorder, and inclusive classroom creation. Online students can access various academic resources, including more than 750,000 electronic books and journals, an online writing center, and several online student groups.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Arts in Teaching - Special Education
Tuition: $415/credit
Credit Requirements: 36
Program Length: 1-2 years

Delivery
Format: Online or hybrid intensives
Instruction Style: Asynchronous, with synchronous intensives

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0

Contact
Phone: (800) 424-9595
Social Media Accounts: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter

20

University of North Dakota

Grand Forks, ND Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 54%

Six women and two men comprised the first graduating class of the University of North Dakota, an institution founded in 1883. The school consisted of a few acres of property and one building that housed the classrooms, offices, library, and student dormitory. Today, the University of North Dakota sits on 521 acres, consists of 240 buildings, and boasts a population of 15,000 students. UND is fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

UND offers two online special education master's programs through the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Professional Practice of the College of Education and Human Development. The master of education in special education is designed for students with an undergraduate degree in a non-education field. Coursework covers topics such as the psychological foundations of education, inclusive methods, and multicultural education.

Students with a bachelor's degree in an education field often pursue the master of science in special education. The curriculum includes courses in assessment and behavior change systems, progress monitoring, behavior management, and research methods in behavior analysis.

Both programs are 100% online and comprise 32 credits. Most students graduate in under two years. Students accepted to either program can choose from nine specializations, including applied behavior analysis, autism spectrum disorders, and early childhood special education. Students can complete a scholarly project or write a thesis to earn their degree.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Education in Special Education (Accelerated BS.Ed./M.Ed)
Tuition: $390/credit in-state, $555/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 84
Program Length: 2-3 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Synchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0
Standardized Tests: GRE/GMAT

Contact
Phone: (701) 777-3000
Email: UND.info@UNG.edu
Social Media Accounts: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter

21

Georgia College and State University

Milledgeville, GA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 66%

Georgia College and State University began as a two-year college in 1889. The all-women school, then known as Georgia Normal and Industrial College, followed a curriculum focused on teacher training and business skills. The college began admitting men in 1967. Georgia College now enrolls more than 6,600 undergraduate and graduate students and offers more than 40 majors. U.S. News & World Report ranked Georgia College 28th in the Best Regional Universities South Rankings. The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Georgia College offers two online master's degrees in special education: master of arts in teaching in special education (MAT) and master of education in special education. Both programs are partially online and follow a cohort learning model. The College of Education requires all applicants to take the Georgia College Graduate Writing Assessment and the GRE or the Miller Analogies Test. To graduate from either program, students must complete a capstone project.

Teachers with a Georgia Level 4 teaching certificate often enroll in the M.Ed. program. The degree comprises 36 semester hours and students must complete it within six years of initial enrollment. Courses include applied behavior analysis, advanced classroom management, legal issues in special education, and research on behavioral issues.

The MAT program is designed for students seeking initial certification in special education. Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. The program consists of 42 semester hours and does not accept credits from another institution. The curriculum includes courses on behavior management, language development, literacy for special education, and literacy strategies and instruction.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Education in Special Education
Tuition: $316.58/credit
Credit Requirements: 30-36
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Hybrid
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.75
Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact
Phone: (478) 445-1383
Email: shanda.brand@gcsu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter

22

University of Houston

Houston, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 54%

The University of Texas started out as Houston Junior College in 1927. Initial enrollment consisted of 232 students under the tutelage of 12 faculty members. The school became a university in 1933 and, a year later, changed its name to the University of Houston. The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Houston 19th on the Best Online Graduate Education Programs report.

The university's College of Education offers a master of education in special populations with an emphasis on special education. The fully online special education master's degree comprises 30 credits and follows a cohort learning model. Full-time students usually earn the degree in two years. Students who are not seeking further certification typically graduate from the program by passing a written exam. Students seeking certification take the appropriate TExES Certification exam for their emphasis. Although the M.Ed. prepares students to take the exam, certificate candidates may need to enroll in specific courses to receive exam eligibility.

All students take three core courses: principles of human learning, students with disabilities, and introduction to educational and psychological measurement. The special education emphasis includes courses in instructional interventions, the psychological processes of reading, current technology in special education, and evidence-based instructional interventions.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Education in Special Populations
Available Concentrations: Special education, educational diagnostician, gifted and talented, special education leadership
Tuition: $427.75/credit in-state, $901/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 30-36
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction Style: Asynchronous (except hybrid)

Admission Requirements
Standardized Tests: GRE/GMAT

Contact
Phone: (713) 743-2255
Social Media Accounts: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter

23

Appalachian State University

Boone, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 73%

Founded as Watauga Academy in 1899, the school became a full-fledged university offering diverse undergraduate and graduate degrees in 1971. Appalachian State is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The school is ranked 8th in U.S. News & World Report Best Regional Universities South Rankings. Appalachian's graduate education programs ranked 77th on the Best Online Graduate Education Programs Rankings.

Although Appalachian's master's degree in special education is primarily a classroom-based program, it hosts online components and pre-arranged online class sessions. The 36-credit degree leads to licensure or certification for professionals practicing in North Carolina. Other states may hold additional licensure or certification requirements. Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university and test scores from either the GRE or Miller Analogies Test that are no more than five years old.

Students can choose from three concentrations: emotional/behavioral disorders, intellectual disabilities, or learning disabilities. Regardless of the concentration, all students take courses in product of learning, special education law and leadership, and classroom management for effective instruction. Students must also complete a research course. Students submit a professional portfolio as the final learning experience.

24

Webster University

St. Louis, MS Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 64%

Loretto College became Webster College in 1924 and Webster University in 1983, reflecting the school's growth. U.S. News & World Report ranks the university 23rd in the Best Regional Universities Midwest Rankings. Webster University has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission since 1925.

The university's School of Education offers a master's in special education online. The degree comprises 33 credit hours and six emphasis areas: applied behavior analysis, emotional and behavior disorders, inclusive education, mild/moderate disabilities, positive behavioral interventions and supports, and severe developmental disabilities. Core coursework covers topics such as global issues in special education, assessment evaluation, collaborative practice, and research and inquiry.

Students can transfer a maximum of six credits from another Webster University program as long as the credits were not applied toward the requirements of another degree. Generally, the school does not accept transfer credits from other institutions, although students can apply for a waiver on a case-by-case basis.

25

University of Missouri-Columbia

Columbia, MO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 68%

Founded in 1839, the University of Missouri was the first public university established west of the Mississippi River. MU's current roster of 30,000 students come from all 50 states and more than 100 countries. The university offers more than 300 degrees through 19 colleges and schools. U.S. News & World Report ranks MU 38th on the Best Online Graduate Education Programs Rankings.

MU's College of Education offers a special education master's program online without any on-campus requirements. The program consists of 33 credits, 27 of which must come from special education coursework. The curriculum includes courses such as introduction to applied statistics, assessment and evaluation in special education, research with exceptional children, and methods in cross-categorical special education. Students must pass a take-home exam to earn the degree. The exam covers all course content. Students have two weeks to complete the exam.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university and at least a 3.0 GPA in the last 60 hours of their undergraduate education. Applicants must submit GRE scores received no more than five years from the application date.

The online special education master's program guide helps students find the school that best suits their financial needs and professional goals. Candidates learn about the 25 best states for special educators and how to pick and apply to the right graduate program.

Online special education degree candidates should access this comprehensive career guide to learn about job opportunities and entry requirements (including how to earn state teaching licensure). The guide also contains an interview with a high school teacher, giving prospective students insight into the day-to-day challenges of this in-demand profession.