2019 Accredited Online Special Education Degrees

Quick Facts
Accreditation: CAA and CAEP
Degree Levels: Associate, Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral, and Certificate
Avg Tuition: $24,590
Avg Salary: $60,702

Online special education programs are available at the associate, bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and certificate levels. Teachers who earn degrees or certifications in special education will work with students with physical or mental disabilities or other types of learning differences. Every state has different requirements for teacher licensing, so it is important for students to find out what those requirements are to make sure that their educational program is meeting state standards. In addition to our comprehensive list of accredited online special education degrees, we highlight the best online colleges offering master's degrees in special education, ranked based on tuition rates and alumni salaries provided by PayScale.

Prospective students of online special education degrees should make sure that the school they are looking to attend is regionally and programmatically accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Accreditation through this body ensures that the education students will receive has been held to standards that assure quality and supports continuous improvement to strengthen P-12 student learning.

Find an Online Degree:

Comprehensive List of Accredited Online Schools - Special Education Degrees ( 253)

Partner School
Partner School
Full List Accreditation Annual Tuition Recommend Rate
Full List (253)
Albany State University SACS COC $16,136 Add Review
2 Programs, 2 in Special Education (view all)
  • Associate of Science in Teacher Education - Special Education
  • Master of Education in Special Education
Alvernia University MSCHE $33,640 Add Review
2 Programs, 2 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Education with Special Education Certification
American Public University System HLC $6,880 71% (146 reviews)
2 Programs, 2 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Education in Teaching - Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • Master of Education in Teaching - Special Education
American University MSCHE $46,615 100% (2 reviews)
1 Program, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • MA in Special Education - Learning Disabilities
Arizona State University HLC $15,691 - $27,372 71% (88 reviews)
5 Programs, 5 in Special Education (view all)
  • Grad Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Grad Certificate in Gifted Education
  • M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction: Gifted Education
  • MA in Special Education: Applied Behavior Analysis
Arkansas State University HLC $14,778 50% (4 reviews)
6 Programs, 6 in Special Education (view all)
  • Certificate in Gifted, Talented, and Creative Teachers
  • Certificate in Special Education Director
  • Ed.S. in Director of Special Education
  • Ed.S. in Gifted and Talented Director
Ashford University WASC WSCUC $10,632 - $13,400 67% (646 reviews)
2 Programs, 2 in Special Education (view all)
  • MA/Education - Special Education Specialization (non-licensure)
  • MA/Special Education
Auburn University SACS COC $29,640 100% (2 reviews)
8 Programs, 8 in Special Education (view all)
  • Ed.S. in Special Education
  • Graduate Certificate in Intervention for Students with Autism & Developmental Disabilities
  • M.Ed. in Collaborative Teacher Special Education
  • M.Ed. in Collaborative Teacher Special Education (Alternative Degree)
Auburn University at Montgomery SACS COC $17,140 Add Review
2 Programs, 2 in Special Education (view all)
  • Education Specialist in Special Education, Collaborative 6-12
  • Education Specialist in Special Education, Collaborative K-6
Augustana University - SD HLC $31,960 Add Review
4 Programs, 4 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Education - Special Populations
  • Master of Arts in Special Education
  • Master of Arts in Special Education - Early Childhood
  • Master of Arts in Special Education - K-12
Austin Peay State University SACS COC $23,153 50% (2 reviews)
2 Programs, 2 in Special Education (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Special Education Endorsement
  • Master of Arts in Education - Curriculum and Instruction - Special Education
Ball State University HLC $25,942 100% (4 reviews)
29 Programs, 29 in Special Education (view all)
  • Bachelor of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis - Autism
  • Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education - Early Childhood Special Education
  • Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Graduate Certificate in Autism
Barry University SACS COC $29,850 Add Review
1 Program, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • MS Exceptional Student Education
Bethel University - IN HLC $28,030 Add Review
1 Program, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Special Education Licensure
Bethel University - MN HLC $36,210 100% (1 review)
3 Programs, 3 in Special Education (view all)
  • Bachelor of Arts in Special Education
  • Director of Special Education License
  • Master of Arts in Education K-12 - Special Education
Biola University WASC WSCUC $38,448 Add Review
7 Programs, 7 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Education - Special Education
  • Master of Arts in Education - Special Education (Mild/Moderate) Credential
  • Master of Arts in Teaching - Special Education
  • Master of Arts in Teaching - Special Education (Mild/Moderate) Credential
Boise State University NWCCU $22,642 100% (1 review)
4 Programs, 4 in Special Education (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Early Childhood Special Education
  • Graduate Certificate in Instructional Interventions and Supports
  • Master of Education in Early and Special Education
  • Master of Teaching in Special Education
Boston University NECHE $52,082 100% (2 reviews)
1 Program, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Education in Curriculum & Teaching - Special Education
Bowling Green State University-Main Campus HLC $18,593 83% (6 reviews)
6 Programs, 6 in Special Education (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Graduate Certificate in Assistive Technology
  • Graduate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
  • Master of Education in Special Education - Assistive Technology
Brenau University SACS COC $28,510 Add Review
4 Programs, 4 in Special Education (view all)
  • Autism Endorsement
  • Education Specialist - Special Education
  • Master of Arts in Teaching - Special Education
  • Master of Education - Special Education
Buena Vista University HLC $32,854 100% (2 reviews)
12 Programs, 12 in Special Education (view all)
  • Graduate Endorsement in Significant Support Needs - Behavior
  • Graduate Endorsement in Significant Support Needs - Cognitive
  • Graduate Endorsement in Special Education - Comprehensive
  • Graduate Endorsement in Special Education: Mild to Moderate Needs 5-12
California Baptist University WASC WSCUC $32,256 80% (5 reviews)
1 Program, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • MSEd: Specialization in Special Education
California State University-Fullerton WASC WSCUC $18,730 100% (2 reviews)
12 Programs, 12 in Special Education (view all)
  • Autism Added Authorization
  • Clear Education Specialist Credential
  • MS in Education in Special Education - Collaborative-Consultation (Project Option)
  • MS in Education in Special Education - Collaborative-Consultation (Thesis Option)
California University of Pennsylvania MSCHE $15,326 80% (15 reviews)
9 Programs, 9 in Special Education (view all)
  • Certification Preparation in Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Gifted Education Endorsement
  • Graduate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Master of Education in Special Education with 7-12 Certification
Campbellsville University SACS COC $25,400 50% (2 reviews)
8 Programs, 8 in Special Education (view all)
  • Advanced Level Certificate in Moderate & Severe Disabilities
  • Master of Arts in Education - Teacher Leader - Special Education Emphasis
  • Master of Arts in School Improvement - Rank I: Director of Special Education
  • Master of Arts in School Improvement - Rank I: Gifted Education Endorsement
Capella University HLC $14,250 65% (582 reviews)
4 Programs, 4 in Special Education (view all)
  • MS - Special Education Teaching
  • MS in Education - Special Education Teaching
  • PhD - Special Education Leadership
  • PhD in Education - Special Education Leadership
Carlow University MSCHE $28,596 Add Review
3 Programs, 3 in Special Education (view all)
  • Certificate Endorsement in Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Master of Education with PA Certification in Special Education (7-12)
  • Master of Education with PA Certification in Special Education (Pre-K-8)
Carson-Newman University SACS COC $27,400 Add Review
1 Program, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction - Special Education
Central Michigan University HLC $23,670 67% (3 reviews)
3 Programs, 3 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Special Education
  • Master of Arts in Special Education - Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Master of Arts in Special Education - Specific Learning Disability
Central Washington University NWCCU $22,010 100% (1 review)
1 Program, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Education in Special Education
Chaminade University of Honolulu WASC WSCUC $24,514 100% (1 review)
2 Programs, 2 in Special Education (view all)
  • Bachelor of Science in Special Education
  • Master of Arts in Teaching - Special Education with Licensure (Kindergarten to 12th grade)
Clarion University MSCHE $15,636 100% (3 reviews)
3 Programs, 3 in Special Education (view all)
  • Certificate in Assistant Applied Behavior Analyst and Competent Learner Model
  • Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analyst and Competent Learner Model
  • Graduate Certificate in Gifted and Talented Education
Cleveland State University HLC $13,829 Add Review
1 Program, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction - Gifted and Talented Learners
Coastal Carolina University SACS COC $25,872 Add Review
1 Program, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Education in Special Education
The College of Saint Scholastica HLC $36,212 100% (2 reviews)
1 Program, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Graduate Special Education Licensure
Colorado Christian University HLC $30,370 60% (10 reviews)
7 Programs, 7 in Special Education (view all)
  • BA Special Education, K-12 Generalist (Licensure)
  • BA Special Education, K-12 Generalist (Non-Licensure)
  • MEd in Special Education - Emphasis in Alternative Licensing
  • MEd in Special Education - Endorsement in Special Education Generalist
Columbia University in the City of New York MSCHE $57,208 Add Review
1 Program, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Development Disabilities
Columbus State University SACS COC $16,920 20% (5 reviews)
1 Program, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Education in Special Education - General Curriculum
Concordia University - Portland NWCCU $30,270 55% (49 reviews)
4 Programs, 4 in Special Education (view all)
  • M.Ed. in Advanced Study in Special Education
  • M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction: The Inclusive Classroom
  • M.Ed. in Special Education
  • M.Ed. in Special Education OR/WA Endorsement
Concordia University - Texas SACS COC $30,600 100% (1 review)
1 Program, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Education in Special Education
Concordia University - Wisconsin HLC $28,600 67% (3 reviews)
5 Programs, 5 in Special Education (view all)
  • Licensure in Cross Categorical Special Education
  • Licensure in Early Childhood Special Education
  • Master of Science in Education - Special Education
  • Master of Science in Education - Teaching and Learning - Gifted and Talented Licensure
Dakota State University HLC $12,077 100% (1 review)
1 Program, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Bachelor of Science in Education - Elementary Education/Special Education
Dallas Baptist University SACS COC $27,480 Add Review
2 Programs, 2 in Special Education (view all)
  • Advanced Graduate Certificate in Special Needs Children's Ministry
  • Master of Arts in Children Ministry - Special Needs Children's Ministry
Delta State University SACS COC $6,859 0% (2 reviews)
1 Program, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Education in Special Education
Drexel University MSCHE $52,002 60% (5 reviews)
30 Programs, 30 in Special Education (view all)
  • Bachelor of Science in Education - Special Education
  • Certificate in Collaborative Special Education Law and Process
  • Certificate in Special Education
  • Certificate in Special Education - 7-12
Drury University HLC $27,015 Add Review
2 Programs, 2 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Education in Special Education
  • Master of Education in Special Education (Drury Alternative Track in Special Education)
East Carolina University SACS COC $23,420 100% (4 reviews)
2 Programs, 2 in Special Education (view all)
  • Bachelor of Science in Education - Special Education: Adopted Curriculum
  • Bachelor of Science in Education - Special Education: General Curriculum
Eastern Illinois University HLC $13,868 Add Review
1 Program, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Science in Education in Special Education
Eastern Kentucky University SACS COC $18,250 33% (3 reviews)
8 Programs, 8 in Special Education (view all)
  • Certification Preparation in Special Education - Deaf and Hard of Hearing
  • Certification Preparation in Special Education - Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education
  • Certification Preparation in Special Education - Learning and Behavior Disorders
  • Certification Preparation in Special Education - Moderate and Severe Disabilities
Eastern New Mexico University-Main Campus HLC $11,788 100% (3 reviews)
6 Programs, 6 in Special Education (view all)
  • Alternative Licensure Certificate in Special Education
  • Endorsement in Gifted Education
  • Master of Education in Pedagogy and Learning - Gifted Pedagogy
  • Master of Education in Pedagogy and Learning - Special Education Pedagogy
Eastern Oregon University NWCCU $19,682 80% (5 reviews)
2 Programs, 2 in Special Education (view all)
  • MS in Education - Special Education
  • Special Educator Endorsement
Eastern University MSCHE $32,145 Add Review
3 Programs, 3 in Special Education (view all)
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder Endorsement
  • Certification in Special Education (PreK-8 or 7-12)
  • MEd in Special Education
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania MSCHE $14,668 100% (2 reviews)
5 Programs, 5 in Special Education (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders Endorsement
  • Master of Education in Special Education
  • Master of Education in Special Education - Autism
  • Master of Education in Special Education - Behavior Management
Emporia State University HLC $19,918 Add Review
4 Programs, 4 in Special Education (view all)
  • Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Master of Science in Special Education
  • Master of Science in Special Education - Gifted, Talented, and Creative
  • Master of Science in Special Education - High Incidence
Florida Gulf Coast University SACS COC $25,162 100% (1 review)
1 Program, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • MEd in Special Education
Florida International University SACS COC $18,954 90% (10 reviews)
1 Program, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Science in Special Education - Autism Endorsement
Fontbonne University HLC $25,460 Add Review
2 Programs, 2 in Special Education (view all)
  • Bachelor of Science in Special Education - Paraprofessional Pathways To Teaching (SM)
  • Master of Arts in Teaching - Paraprofessional Pathways to Teaching (SM)
Friends University HLC $27,565 Add Review
1 Program, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Education in Special Education High Incidence (P-12)
Frostburg State University MSCHE $22,262 100% (1 review)
3 Programs, 3 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Education - Special Education
  • Master of Education - Special Education Grades 1-8 Specialization
  • Master of Education - Special Education Grades 6-12 Specialization
George Mason University SACS COC $34,370 Add Review
5 Programs, 5 in Special Education (view all)
  • Applied Behavior Analysis Certificate
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder Certificate
  • Graduate Certificate in Curriculum and Instruction - Gifted Child Education
  • Master of Education in Special Education, specializing in Applied Behavior Analysis
The George Washington University MSCHE $53,518 75% (4 reviews)
6 Programs, 6 in Special Education (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Brain Injury: Educational and Transition Services
  • Graduate Certificate in Special Education for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners
  • Graduate Certificate in Transition Special Education
  • MA in Education and Human Development in Interdisciplinary Secondary Transition Services
Georgetown College SACS COC $37,160 Add Review
14 Programs, 14 in Special Education (view all)
  • Endorsement in Gifted Education (P-12)
  • Endorsement in Moderate and Severe Disabilities (P-12)
  • Master of Arts in Education with Certification in Learning and Behavior Disorders - Certified Teachers
  • Master of Arts in Education with Certification in Learning and Behavior Disorders - Non-Certified Teachers
Georgia Southern University SACS COC $17,142 Add Review
6 Programs, 6 in Special Education (view all)
  • Education Specialist in Special Education - Adaptive Curriculum
  • Education Specialist in Special Education - General Curriculum
  • Educational Specialist in Special Education
  • Master of Arts in Teaching - Special Education
Georgia State University SACS COC $23,971 0% (1 review)
1 Program, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Associate of Science in Special Education
Grand Canyon University HLC $17,050 52% (416 reviews)
10 Programs, 10 in Special Education (view all)
  • BS in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education
  • BS in Elementary/Special Education (Dual Major)
  • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Special Education
  • MA in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Hamline University HLC $40,332 Add Review
2 Programs, 2 in Special Education (view all)
  • Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders Additional License
Hampton University SACS COC $25,441 Add Review
1 Program, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Management - Special Education
Indiana State University HLC $19,452 88% (8 reviews)
2 Programs, 2 in Special Education (view all)
  • Graduate Licensure in Gifted and Talented
  • Master of Science in Special Education
Indiana University - Bloomington HLC $34,845 100% (1 review)
2 Programs, 2 in Special Education (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Preparing Educators of Students with Autism
  • Master of Science in Education - Special Education
Indiana Wesleyan University Online - Adult Education HLC $25,980 29% (7 reviews)
3 Programs, 3 in Special Education (view all)
  • Graduate Teaching Certificate - Exceptional Learners
  • Master of Education - Special Education
  • Ohio Teaching Certificate - Exceptional Learners Mild Intervention
Jackson State University SACS COC $18,314 Add Review
2 Programs, 2 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Science in Education - Special Education
  • Specialist in Education in Special Education
Jacksonville State University SACS COC $15,582 100% (1 review)
2 Programs, 2 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Science in Education - Collaborative K-6, 6-12, Special Education
  • Master of Science in Education - Early Childhood Special Education (P-3)
James Madison University SACS COC $27,230 100% (1 review)
2 Programs, 2 in Special Education (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Undergraduate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorder
John Brown University HLC $26,144 67% (3 reviews)
3 Programs, 3 in Special Education (view all)
  • M.Ed. in Special Education
  • Special Education K-12 Licensure
  • Special Education Resource K-6 or 7-12 Endorsement
Johns Hopkins University MSCHE $52,170 Add Review
2 Programs, 2 in Special Education (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Education of Students with Autism and Other Pervasive Developmental Disorders
  • MS in Education - Gifted Education
Kennesaw State University SACS COC $8,066 - $17,329 75% (4 reviews)
5 Programs, 5 in Special Education (view all)
  • Endorsement in Gifted In-Field
  • Graduate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Graduate Certificate in Special Education
  • Graduate Certificate in Special Education - General Curriculum
Kent State University at Kent HLC $18,544 100% (1 review)
1 Program, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Education in Special Education - General Special Education
Kentucky State University SACS COC $19,638 Add Review
1 Program, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Special Education - Learning and Behavior Disorders (With Certification)
Lamar University SACS COC $18,274 60% (10 reviews)
3 Programs, 3 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Education in Special Education
  • Master of Education in Special Education - Educational Diagnostician
  • Master of Education in Teacher Leadership with specialization in Gifted and Talented
Lesley University NECHE $26,675 Add Review
2 Programs, 2 in Special Education (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorder: Allies and Advocates
  • Master of Education in Individually Designed Program for Educators - Autism Spectrum Disorder
Liberty University SACS COC $11,700 59% (247 reviews)
13 Programs, 13 in Special Education (view all)
  • BEd: Special Education (Licensure)
  • BS: Special Education: Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Ed.D. in Curriculum & Instruction/Special Education
  • Ed.S. in Curriculum & Instruction/Special Education
Lindenwood University HLC $16,960 Add Review
4 Programs, 4 in Special Education (view all)
  • Gifted Education (MO Cert)
  • MA in Education - Early Interventions in Autism and Sensory Impairments
  • MA in Education - Gifted Education
  • MA in Gifted Education
Loyola University Chicago HLC $43,078 Add Review
1 Program, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Director of Special Education Endorsement
Marian University - Wisconsin HLC $27,400 Add Review
2 Programs, 2 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Education - Special Education
  • Master of Arts in Education (With License) - Special Education
McNeese State University SACS COC $15,958 100% (1 review)
1 Program, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate - Academically Gifted Education
Mercer University SACS COC $36,000 Add Review
1 Program, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Endorsement in Autism
Messiah College MSCHE $34,160 Add Review
6 Programs, 6 in Special Education (view all)
  • Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Graduate Certificate in Online Special Education
  • M.Ed. in Special Education
  • M.Ed. in Special Education PA Teaching Certification (7-12)
Michigan State University HLC $39,406 100% (3 reviews)
4 Programs, 4 in Special Education (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis in Special Education
  • Master of Arts in Special Education
  • Master of Arts in Special Education - Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Master of Arts in Special Education - Learning Disabilities Endorsement
Midwestern State University SACS COC $10,644 75% (4 reviews)
1 Program, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Education in Special Education
Minnesota State University at Mankato HLC $16,216 Add Review
9 Programs, 9 in Special Education (view all)
  • Education Graduate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Education Graduate Certificate in Early Childhood Special Education
  • Education Graduate Certificate in Emotional/Behavioral Disorders
  • Education Graduate Certificate in Learning Disabilities
Minnesota State University-Moorhead HLC $15,878 Add Review
9 Programs, 9 in Special Education (view all)
  • Director of Special Education Licensure
  • Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction - Special Education
  • Master of Science in Special Education
  • Master of Science in Special Education - Autism Spectrum Disorders
Minot State University HLC $6,810 Add Review
10 Programs, 10 in Special Education (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Deaf/Hard of Hearing Education
  • Graduate Certificate in Early Childhood Special Education
  • Graduate Certificate in Learning Disabilities
  • Graduate Certificate in Special Education Strategist
Mississippi College SACS COC $17,392 Add Review
1 Program, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Education in Special Education
Mississippi State University SACS COC $22,358 0% (1 review)
2 Programs, 2 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Teaching - Special Education
  • Master of Science in Early Intervention
Missouri State University HLC $14,746 0% (1 review)
3 Programs, 3 in Special Education (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Education of Gifted and Talented Students
  • Graduate Certificate in Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
  • Master of Science in Education - Special Education/Blindness & Low Vision Emphasis
Morehead State University SACS COC $13,426 Add Review
4 Programs, 4 in Special Education (view all)
  • Director of Special Education Certification
  • Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Special Education
  • Post-Baccalaureate Special Education LBD (P-12) Certification
  • Post-Baccalaureate Special Education MSD (P-12) Certification
Morningside College HLC $30,490 100% (2 reviews)
1 Program, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Teaching - Special Education
Mount Vernon Nazarene University HLC $28,090 0% (1 review)
1 Program, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Education - Intervention Specialist (Advanced License)
New England College NECHE $36,954 38% (8 reviews)
1 Program, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Education - Special Education
New York University MSCHE $50,464 100% (2 reviews)
1 Program, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • MS in Communicative Sciences and Disorders

Online Special Education Degree Overview & Career Information

A bachelor's degree is the minimum amount of education required to become a special education teacher. Although associate degrees typically are not offered in this specific field of education, there are programs in related subjects, such as early childhood education, that can prepare individuals for future study at the undergraduate level or for certain entry-level jobs. A student graduating from a special education teacher-preparation program with a bachelor's degree is eligible to be licensed, while individuals who have a bachelor's degree that is not intended for licensure preparation, or a degree in a field other than special education, may need to undergo additional training as outlined by their state. Master's degree programs come in a variety of formats. Some are geared toward individuals with no prior teaching experience who want to make a career change, while others are for licensed teachers who wish to add to their skill set so that they are better suited to teach students with special needs. Doctoral programs are available to those who want to work in research, top leadership roles or teaching at the university level. Graduate certificate programs are also an option for teachers who want to gain skills in the area of special education but who do not want to commit to a full master's degree program.

View Special Education Programs View Special Education Programs

Online Associate Degrees in Special Education

There are a few online associate degree programs specifically in the special education field, but it is more common to find programs at this level in a general discipline such as early childhood education. This type of degree can prepare individuals to work in certain entry-level jobs in the childcare field, such as working in a daycare or as a teacher's aide. It can also provide a starting point from which to move on to more advanced study at the bachelor's level. Classes that students might take while earning their associate degree cover subjects such as early childhood education, child development, linguistically and culturally diverse learners, advocating for children with special needs, and how to create an inclusive classroom. An online associate degree program can be found at community colleges and four-year schools offering online education. Students will spend approximately two years on their studies and will complete as many as 67 semester hours of work. In order to be admitted, an applicant will need to have a high school diploma or GED.

View Associate Programs View Associate Programs

Online Bachelor's Degrees in Special Education

A bachelor's degree is typically the minimum amount of education required to become a licensed special education teacher. This type of program can be found at colleges and universities and usually takes four years to complete. Example courses that students will take include Special Education Assessment, Literacy Facilitation for All Learners, Foundations of Teaching and Learning, and Lifespan Development. There is also a required student teaching component. Those who are looking to become a certified teacher following the completion of a bachelor's degree should check to make sure that the degree they enroll in meets their state's licensure requirements, and that the program itself is designed to lead to teacher certification. Not all bachelor's degree programs in special education are intended to lead to certification, as some are more geared toward individuals who are planning on pursuing graduate-level work.

In addition to working as a public school teacher, a bachelor's program in special education will prepare an individual to work as a paraprofessional or teacher's aide in the private school system, or as a tutor to children with special needs. In order to be admitted to a program, applicants will need to have a high school diploma or GED. Other common requirements include a personal statement and SAT or ACT test scores.

View Bachelor's Programs View Bachelor's Programs

Online Master's in Special Education

There are many universities that offer online master's programs in special education. There are programs available for those who have no prior teaching experience and who wish to become licensed special education teachers, as well as for teachers who work in another area and want to make a career change by moving into teaching children with special needs. Programs at this level take approximately two years to complete. To learn more about online master's programs in special education, see our master's overview which includes a list of the best programs.

View Master's Programs View Master's Programs

Online Doctoral Degrees in Special Education

Professionals working in the field of special education who want to advance their education through earning a PhD or doctoral degree can find online options through several universities. A doctoral-level program is an appropriate choice for someone hoping to work in top leadership positions within the field, such as director of a special education program. It is also appropriate for those who want to develop and implement educational policies, as well as for those who want to conduct their own research or teach the next generation of educators at the university level.

A doctoral program in special education will be made up of traditional coursework as well as research and a dissertation. Classes that a student might take include History of Special Education, International Special Education, Special Education Administration, and Special Education Law and Ethics for Leaders. In order to be admitted to this level of program applicants will need to have a master's degree and teaching experience. Other typical requirements include a resume, one or more writing samples, and GRE test scores. The length of time it takes to complete a doctorate will vary depending on the program and how long a student spends on their dissertation. Some programs may take as many as seven years to complete.

View Doctoral Programs View Doctoral Programs

Online Certificates in Special Education

Online certificate programs in special education are available at the graduate level, which means that an applicant will need to have a bachelor's degree in order to be admitted. Another common admission requirement is a teaching license, as this type of program is typically geared toward teachers who are already licensed and want to add to their skill set to better serve students with special needs. Students enrolled in a certificate program will take classes in areas such as teaching students with autism spectrum disorder, diagnostic assessment and progress monitoring, and current issues in special education. Many certificate programs will also require student teaching. A certificate in special education can usually be completed in about a year. Once the certificate has been earned, licensed teachers can continue on in their careers with a better understanding of how to teach students with special needs.

View Certificate Programs View Certificate Programs

Accreditation

One factor that individuals should keep in mind when deciding on an educational program is whether or not that program is regionally and programmatically accredited. When a school is regionally accredited, it means that an independent organization has evaluated that school as a whole and determined that it meets certain educational standards. Regional accreditation is important because credits transfer more easily between regionally accredited institutions. Furthermore, federal financial aid is not available to students enrolled in non-accredited schools.

Programmatic accreditation is given out by independent organizations that specialize in evaluating programs in specific subjects. For example, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) was the main accrediting body for teaching programs until it merged with the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) to form the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Education programs that have received CAEP accreditation are considered by the accrediting body to be quality programs that prepare students for their future teaching careers. Aspiring special education teachers should look for a training program that has this type of accreditation because that will provide them with the assurance that they are learning the most up-to-date skills and that they are receiving a rigorous training that will turn them into quality educators.

Special Education Teacher Requirements

In order to become a licensed special education teacher, an individual will need to earn a bachelor's degree at minimum. However, the bachelor's degree does not have to be specifically in special education. Elementary education is another degree that is common for special education teachers to earn. They may then specialize or minor in special education. It is also possible to become a special education teacher with a bachelor's degree in an unrelated subject, though additional training will be required, and these specific requirements will depend on the state in which the individual intends to teach.

Beyond a bachelor's degree, the requirements needed to become a special education teacher will vary from state to state. Typically, there is some type of examination that aspiring teachers must pass. Some states may require teachers to go on to earn a master's degree after they achieve their initial certification. Obtaining licensure also generally requires completing observed student teaching, which is a typical component of teacher training at all levels.

References

100% of users found this page helpful Was this page helpful?
This website offers school details to prospective students as an informational resource. The appearance of a school listing on this website should not be interpreted as an endorsement by the school of this site.
Recommendation rate refers to the percent of students who said they would recommend this school based on reviews submitted to our partner site, GradReports.com.
This indicates that a school has an annual tuition of $15,000 or less as reported to the National Center for Education Statistics or based on the school's website.