2019 Accredited Online Special Education Degrees

Quick Facts
Accreditation: CAA and CAEP
Degree Levels: Associate, Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral, and Certificate
Avg Tuition: $23,990
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.

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Comprehensive List of Accredited Online Schools - Special Education Degrees ( 245)

Partner School
Partner School
Full List Accreditation Annual Tuition Recommend Rate
Full List (245)
Adams State University HLC $20,456 100% (1 review)
40 Programs, 2 in Special Education (view all)
  • Endorsement in Special Education Generalist
  • Master of Arts in Special Education
Albany State University SACS COC $16,136 Add Review
46 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
19 Programs, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Certification in Education (PreK-8 and 7-12)
American Public University System HLC $6,880 71% (141 reviews)
417 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)
61 Programs, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • MA in Special Education - Learning Disabilities
Appalachian State University SACS COC $22,109 100% (1 review)
41 Programs, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • MA in Special Education
Arizona State University HLC $15,691 - $27,372 68% (81 reviews)
208 Programs, 5 in Special Education (view all)
  • Grad Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Grad Certificate in Gifted Education
  • M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction: Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction: Gifted Education
Arkansas State University HLC $14,778 33% (3 reviews)
61 Programs, 7 in Special Education (view all)
  • Ed.S. in Director of Special Education
  • Ed.S. in Gifted and Talented Director
  • Gifted, Talented Director Certificate
  • Gifted, Talented, and Creative Teachers Certificate
Ashford University WASC WSCUC $10,632 - $13,400 67% (638 reviews)
146 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)
114 Programs, 7 in Special Education (view all)
  • Ed.S. in Special Education
  • M.Ed. in Collaborative Teacher Special Education
  • M.Ed. in Collaborative Teacher Special Education - Alternative Degree
  • M.Ed. in Early Childhood/Elementary Special Education
Auburn University at Montgomery SACS COC $17,140 Add Review
25 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
6 Programs, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Education - Special Populations
Austin Peay State University SACS COC $23,153 50% (2 reviews)
54 Programs, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Education Curriculum and Instruction - Special Education
Ball State University HLC $25,942 100% (4 reviews)
125 Programs, 17 in Special Education (view all)
  • Gifted and Talented Education License and Certificate
  • Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Graduate Certificate in Autism
  • Graduate Certificate in Disabilities for Post-Secondary Settings - Autism
Bethel University - MN HLC $36,210 100% (1 review)
70 Programs, 8 in Special Education (view all)
  • License in Director of Special Education
  • MA in Education K-12: Special Education Concentration
  • Master of Arts in Education K-12 - Special Education Concentration
  • Master of Arts in Special Education
Biola University WASC WSCUC $38,448 Add Review
32 Programs, 5 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Education - Special Education
  • Master of Arts in Teaching - Special Education
  • Master of Science in Special Education
  • Special Education Certificate
Boise State University NWCCU $22,642 100% (1 review)
48 Programs, 4 in Special Education (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Early Childhood Special Education
  • Graduate Certificate in Instructional Interventions and Supports
  • Master in Teaching in Special Education
  • Master of Education in Early and Special Education
Bowling Green State University-Main Campus HLC $18,593 83% (6 reviews)
49 Programs, 5 in Special Education (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Assistive Technology
  • Graduate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
  • Master of Education in Special Education - Assistive Technology
  • Master of Education in Special Education - Autism Spectrum Disorders
Brenau University SACS COC $28,510 Add Review
91 Programs, 2 in Special Education (view all)
  • Education Specialist - Special Education
  • Master of Education in Special Education
Buena Vista University HLC $32,854 100% (2 reviews)
33 Programs, 10 in Special Education (view all)
  • Endorsement in Mild to Moderate Needs 5-12
  • Graduate Teacher Endorsement in Significant Support Needs - Behavior
  • Graduate Teacher Endorsement in Significant Support Needs - Cognitive
  • Graduate Teacher Endorsement in Special Education - Comprehensive
California Baptist University WASC WSCUC $32,256 80% (5 reviews)
84 Programs, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Science in Education - Disability Studies
California State University-Fullerton WASC WSCUC $18,730 100% (2 reviews)
45 Programs, 2 in Special Education (view all)
  • Autism Added Authorization
  • Clear Education Specialist Credential
California University of Pennsylvania MSCHE $15,326 79% (14 reviews)
105 Programs, 8 in Special Education (view all)
  • Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Certificate in Board Certified Behavior Analyst Preparation
  • Gifted Endorsement
  • Master of Education - Special Education - Dual Pre-K-4/K-8 Certification
Campbellsville University SACS COC $25,400 50% (2 reviews)
64 Programs, 8 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Education - Teacher Leader - Gifted Education Endorsement
  • 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% (571 reviews)
234 Programs, 2 in Special Education (view all)
  • MS - Special Education Teaching
  • PhD - Special Education Leadership
Carlow University MSCHE $28,596 Add Review
23 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)
Central Methodist University HLC $5,760 - $23,770 100% (1 review)
35 Programs, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Bachelor of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis
Central Michigan University HLC $23,670 67% (3 reviews)
102 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 - Learning Disabilities
Central Washington University NWCCU $22,010 100% (1 review)
43 Programs, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Education in Special Education
Chaminade University of Honolulu WASC WSCUC $24,514 100% (1 review)
36 Programs, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Teaching - Special Education with Licensure (Kindergarten to 12th grade)
City University of Seattle NWCCU $16,920 54% (28 reviews)
83 Programs, 3 in Special Education (view all)
  • Bachelor of Arts in Education - Special Education
  • Bachelor of Arts in Education - Elementary Education and Special Education
  • Bachelor of Arts in Education - Special Education
Clarion University MSCHE $15,636 100% (3 reviews)
56 Programs, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Science in Special Education
Coastal Carolina University SACS COC $25,872 Add Review
14 Programs, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • M. Ed. in Special Education
Colorado Christian University HLC $30,370 56% (9 reviews)
101 Programs, 9 in Special Education (view all)
  • BA in Special Education with Licensure
  • BA in Special Education without Licensure
  • BA Special Education, K-12 Generalist (Licensure)
  • BA Special Education, K-12 Generalist (Non-Licensure)
Columbus State University SACS COC $16,920 20% (5 reviews)
47 Programs, 2 in Special Education (view all)
  • MEd in Special Education - General Curriculum
  • MEd Special Education General Curriculum
Concordia College - New York MSCHE $31,600 100% (1 review)
11 Programs, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • M.S. in Childhood Education - Special Education/Inclusion
Concordia University - Nebraska HLC $31,000 0% (1 review)
39 Programs, 4 in Special Education (view all)
  • Early Childhood Special Education Endorsement
  • M.Ed. in Early Childhood Special Education
  • Master of Education in Special Education
  • Special Education Endorsement
Concordia University - Portland NWCCU $30,270 54% (46 reviews)
53 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)
40 Programs, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Education in Special Education
Concordia University - Wisconsin HLC $28,600 67% (3 reviews)
109 Programs, 2 in Special Education (view all)
  • MS in Education - Special Education
  • MS in Special Education - Learning Disabilities
Dakota State University HLC $12,077 100% (1 review)
44 Programs, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Bachelor of Science in Education - Elementary Education/Special Education
Dallas Baptist University SACS COC $27,480 Add Review
109 Programs, 3 in Special Education (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Special Needs Children's Ministry
  • Master of Arts in Children's Ministry - Special Needs Children's Ministry
  • Master of Arts in Family Ministry - Special Needs Family Ministry
Delta State University SACS COC $6,859 0% (2 reviews)
32 Programs, 2 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Teaching: Special Education
  • Master of Education in Special Education
Drexel University MSCHE $52,002 60% (5 reviews)
296 Programs, 23 in Special Education (view all)
  • Certificate in Collaborative Special Education Law and Process
  • Certificate in Integrated Nursing Care of Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Certificate in Special Education
  • Certificate in Special Education - 7-12
Drury University HLC $27,015 Add Review
36 Programs, 2 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Education in Gifted Education
  • Master of Education in Special Education
East Carolina University SACS COC $23,420 100% (4 reviews)
148 Programs, 2 in Special Education (view all)
  • Bachelor of Science in Education - Special Education
  • Master of Arts in Education - Special Education
Eastern Illinois University HLC $13,868 Add Review
28 Programs, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Science in Education in Special Education
Eastern Kentucky University SACS COC $18,250 33% (3 reviews)
88 Programs, 4 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Education - Gifted Education
  • Master of Arts in Education - Special Education - Deaf and Hard of Hearing
  • Master of Arts in Education - Special Education - Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education
  • Master of Arts in Education - Special Education - Learning and Behavior Disorders
Eastern New Mexico University-Main Campus HLC $11,788 100% (3 reviews)
64 Programs, 6 in Special Education (view all)
  • Alternative Licensure Certificate in Special Education
  • Gifted Education Endorsement
  • 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)
46 Programs, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Graduate Endorsement in Special Education
Eastern University MSCHE $32,145 Add Review
21 Programs, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder Endorsement
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania MSCHE $14,668 100% (2 reviews)
36 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 Spectrum Disorders
  • Master of Education in Special Education - Behavior Management
Emporia State University HLC $19,918 Add Review
85 Programs, 3 in Special Education (view all)
  • Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • MS in Special Education - Gifted, Talented, and Creative
  • MS in Special Education - High Incidence
Florida Gulf Coast University SACS COC $25,162 100% (1 review)
14 Programs, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • MEd in Special Education
Florida International University SACS COC $18,954 88% (8 reviews)
117 Programs, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Science in Special Education - Autism Endorsement
Fontbonne University HLC $25,460 Add Review
18 Programs, 2 in Special Education (view all)
  • Bachelor of Science in Special Education - Paraprofessional Pathways to Teaching
  • Master of Arts in Teaching - Special Education Paraprofessional PathwaysSM
Frostburg State University MSCHE $22,262 100% (1 review)
13 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
59 Programs, 10 in Special Education (view all)
  • Applied Behavior Analysis Certificate
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder Certificate
  • Graduate Certificate in Assistive Technology
  • Graduate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders
The George Washington University MSCHE $53,518 75% (4 reviews)
151 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
16 Programs, 7 in Special Education (view all)
  • Gifted Education (P-12) Endorsement
  • Master of Arts in Education with Certification in Learning and Behavior Disorders
  • Master of Arts in Education with Certification in Learning and Behavior Disorders and Moderate to Severe Disabilities
  • Master of Arts in Education with Certification in Moderate and Severe Disabilities
Georgia College & State University SACS COC $28,060 Add Review
33 Programs, 3 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Teaching - Special Education
  • Master of Education in Special Education
  • Specialist in Education - Special Education
Georgia Southern University SACS COC $17,142 Add Review
55 Programs, 7 in Special Education (view all)
  • Education Specialist in Special Education - Adaptive Curriculum
  • Education Specialist in Special Education - General Curriculum
  • Educational Specialist in Special Education
  • Educational Specialist in Special Education - Adaptive Curriculum
Georgia State University SACS COC $23,971 0% (1 review)
33 Programs, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Associate of Science in Special Education
Grand Canyon University HLC $17,050 53% (407 reviews)
220 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
21 Programs, 2 in Special Education (view all)
  • Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders Additional License
Indiana State University HLC $19,452 88% (8 reviews)
83 Programs, 2 in Special Education (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Gifted and Talented
  • Master of Science (M.S.) in Special Education
Indiana University - Bloomington HLC $34,845 100% (1 review)
108 Programs, 4 in Special Education (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Preparing Educators of Students with Autism
  • Graduate Certificate in Preparing Educators of Students with Autism (PESA)
  • M.S.Ed., Special Education
  • Master of Science in Special Education
Indiana Wesleyan University Online HLC $25,980 47% (17 reviews)
129 Programs, 3 in Special Education (view all)
  • Certificate in Special Education - Exceptional Learners Mild Intervention Additional Licensure Program (Indiana)
  • Certificate in Special Education - Exceptional Learners Mild Intervention Additional Licensure Program (Ohio)
  • Master of Education in Special Education
Indiana Wesleyan University Online - Adult Education HLC $25,980 29% (7 reviews)
152 Programs, 4 in Special Education (view all)
  • Graduate Teaching Certificate - Exceptional Learners (Indiana Licensure)
  • Graduate Teaching Certificate - Exceptional Learners (Ohio Licensure)
  • Master of Education - Special Education
  • Ohio Teaching Certificate - Exceptional Learners Mild Intervention
Jackson State University SACS COC $18,314 Add Review
23 Programs, 2 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Science in Education in Special Education
  • Specialist in Education in Special Education
Jacksonville State University SACS COC $15,582 100% (1 review)
50 Programs, 4 in Special Education (view all)
  • Educational Specialist - Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  • Master of Science in Education - Collaborative K-6, 6-12, Special Education
  • 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)
13 Programs, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Graduate Level Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorder
Johns Hopkins University MSCHE $52,170 Add Review
370 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
Kaplan University HLC $11,581 - $16,246 56% (348 reviews)
204 Programs, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Postbaccalaureate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorder
Kennesaw State University SACS COC $8,066 - $17,329 75% (4 reviews)
96 Programs, 6 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)
102 Programs, 2 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Education in Special Education - General Special Education
  • Master of Education in Special Education: General Special Education concentration
Kentucky State University SACS COC $19,638 Add Review
8 Programs, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Special Education with Certification (LBD, P-12)
Lamar University SACS COC $18,274 67% (9 reviews)
42 Programs, 2 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Education in Special Education
  • Master of Education in Teacher Leadership with specialization in Gifted and Talented
Lesley University NECHE $26,675 Add Review
46 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 60% (240 reviews)
537 Programs, 9 in Special Education (view all)
  • BS: Special Education: Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Ed.D. in Curriculum & Instruction/Special Education
  • Ed.S. in Curriculum & Instruction/Special Education
  • GRAD CERT: Autism Education
Lindenwood University HLC $16,960 Add Review
72 Programs, 3 in Special Education (view all)
  • Gifted Education (MO Cert)
  • MA in Education - Early Interventions in Autism and Sensory Impairments
  • MA in Gifted Education
Marian University - Wisconsin HLC $27,400 Add Review
20 Programs, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Education - Special Education
McKendree University HLC $29,640 50% (2 reviews)
27 Programs, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Endorsement in Special Education
McNeese State University SACS COC $15,958 100% (1 review)
29 Programs, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate - Academically Gifted Education
Mercer University SACS COC $36,000 Add Review
47 Programs, 2 in Special Education (view all)
  • Endorsement in Autism
  • Master of Education in Early Childhood Education - Autism Endorsement
Messiah College MSCHE $34,160 Add Review
39 Programs, 5 in Special Education (view all)
  • Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Certificate of Graduate Studies in Autism Spectrum Disorders Endorsement (PDE, K-12)
  • M.Ed. in Special Education
  • M.Ed. in Special Education PA Teaching Certification (7-12)
Michigan State University HLC $39,406 100% (3 reviews)
110 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)
35 Programs, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Education in Special Education
Minnesota State University at Mankato HLC $16,216 Add Review
53 Programs, 10 in Special Education (view all)
  • Education Graduate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders - Licensure
  • Education Graduate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders - Non-Licensure
  • Education Graduate Certificate in Early Childhood Special Education
  • Education Graduate Certificate in Emotional/Behavioral Disorders
Minnesota State University-Moorhead HLC $15,878 Add Review
43 Programs, 9 in Special Education (view all)
  • Licensure in Director of Special Education
  • 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
33 Programs, 9 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
46 Programs, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Education in Special Education
Mississippi State University SACS COC $22,358 0% (1 review)
79 Programs, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Teaching - Special Education
Missouri State University HLC $14,746 0% (1 review)
48 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
51 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)
11 Programs, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Teaching - Special Education
Mount Vernon Nazarene University HLC $28,090 0% (1 review)
25 Programs, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Arts in Education - Intervention Specialist (Advanced License)
Murray State University SACS COC $23,820 Add Review
56 Programs, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Gifted and Talented Endorsement for Kentucky Teachers
National Louis University HLC $10,440 Add Review
71 Programs, 4 in Special Education (view all)
  • Director of Special Education Endorsement
  • Early Childhood Special Education Endorsement
  • Learning Behavior Specialist I Endorsement
  • Learning Behavior Specialist II Endorsement
New England College NECHE $36,954 38% (8 reviews)
85 Programs, 1 in Special Education (view all)
  • Master of Education - Special Education

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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