Top Online Master’s in Special Education Programs 2021

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Special education refers to academic instruction designed to meet the unique learning needs of students with disabilities. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), public institutions throughout the United States must deliver special education services at no additional cost to parents or students. IDEA assures stakeholders that special education is available at the preschool, elementary, middle, and high school levels.

Special education instructors need specialized training and knowledge. These teachers must also possess creativity, patience, clear communication skills, and compassion. States typically require special education teachers to hold certification and at least a bachelor’s degree in the field. Many employers prefer special education instructors with a master’s degree.

Many accredited colleges and universities offer both on-campus and online master’s in special education programs. Online programs feature the same curricula, rigor, and degree requirements as on-campus options. Graduates of online special education master’s programs qualify for the same career opportunities as graduates of in-person programs.

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Top 5 Online Master’s in Special Education Programs 2021


  • What is special education?

    Special education is a subfield of education. Special education professionals deliver academic services tailored to meet the needs of students with varying types of disabilities.

  • How long does it take to earn a master's in special education?

    Learners typically earn their master’s in special education in 1-3 years. Graduation time depends on factors such as enrollment status and program requirements.

  • Can I earn a master's in special education online?

    Several accredited four-year institutions offer online special education programs at the master’s and doctoral levels.

  • What level of degree do I need to get started teaching in special education?

    Some states require special education teachers to hold only a bachelor’s degree in the field and certification. Other states require these professionals to possess a master’s degree in special education.

Career and Salary Outlook for Special Education Teachers

Special education teachers typically spend most of their time in classrooms. These educators work directly with students, develop individualized education programs, and create safe and nurturing learning environments for students with various disabilities. Some graduates of special education programs work as counselors or behavior analysts for children with developmental or physical disabilities. Many professional roles in special education require a master’s degree in the field.

Career Top 10% Median Annual Salary Bottom 10%
Special Education Teachers Less than $40,730 $61,030 More than $98,530

Source: BLS

Accreditation for Special Education Degrees

Accreditation indicates that a school offers high-quality academic programs. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education oversee the accreditation process in the United States. These two organizations ensure that accrediting agencies adhere to established standards.

Nonprofit, degree-focused institutions typically seek regional accreditation. Career-oriented and for-profit schools often receive national accreditation. Online schools and institutions offering at least 51% of programs online can receive accreditation from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission.

The Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation evaluates teacher education programs, including special education programs. Aspiring educators should choose an accredited school and program to ensure they qualify for teaching licensure or certification after graduation.

Licensing for Special Education Teachers

Special education teachers must hold state licensure to practice. Licensure requirements vary by state. They typically include a bachelor’s or master’s degree from an accredited institution, completion of a state-approved teacher preparation program, and a passing score on a skills and knowledge test. Most states require candidates to pass the Praxis exam, a criminal background check, and a drug test.

For example, Massachusetts educators can apply for three types of licenses, depending on their educational and professional background. Bachelor’s degree-holders who have not completed a teacher preparation program can obtain a five-year preliminary license. Candidates who have completed a state-approved teacher preparation program can qualify for the initial license. Initial license-holders with at least three years of classroom experience and a master’s degree can apply for a professional license.

Some states participate in reciprocity agreements, which allow teachers licensed in another state to obtain a temporary license without retaking exams.

Courses in a Special Education Master’s Program

A school’s on-campus and online master’s in special education programs typically follow the same curriculum. However, colleges may not offer all specialization options online. Special education programs typically include courses in research methodology, intervention strategies, and applied behavioral analysis.

Special education students develop critical thinking and analytical skills, along with effective teaching techniques. Learners also gain a broad understanding of various learning disabilities and methods for developing individualized learning plans.

Although specific degree requirements vary by program, many in-person and online master’s in special education programs include the following courses.

  • Assessment of Student Performance

    Students in the class learn how to interpret various types of assessment data and to use data to develop effective instruction techniques. Learners become familiar with assessment and monitoring tools such as standardized tests, curriculum-based measures, performance tasks, and criteria checklists.

  • Classroom and Behavior Management

    Degree-seekers prepare to create classroom environments that foster learning and reduce negative behaviors, such as tantrums and disobedience. The course presents behavior theories and introduces effective evidence-based strategies. Students examine positive behavioral interventions and preventive measures to remain in control of the learning process.

  • Expressive Language Skills and Writing

    The course explores foundational skills teachers can use to help learners with special needs improve their writing abilities. Coursework draws on the latest research findings in the field. Students learn how to develop practical teaching strategies and create supportive learning environments. Degree-seekers prepare to help children with language-based learning difficulties express themselves through writing.

  • Reading Interventions for Students with Language-Based Learning Disabilities

    The course provides an overview of research-based reading interventions for students with dyslexia and other language-based learning disabilities. Degree-seekers learn how to craft and implement solutions that help students with special needs develop sound-symbol relationships and phonemic awareness.

  • Social-Emotional Competencies for Students with Language-Based Learning Disabilities

    Enrollees study strategies to help students with language-based learning disabilities develop essential social and emotional skills, which they can use to communicate their needs and feelings. The course emphasizes the role of social and emotional learning (SEL) in the overall development of students with disabilities. Learners prepare to create classroom environments based on SEL practices.

Financial Aid

Undergraduate and graduate students can submit the FAFSA form to determine their eligibility for federal financial aid. Both on-campus and online learners can qualify for federal funding. Students can download the form beginning in early October.

Colleges and universities throughout the United States base their scholarship and grant allocations on students’ FAFSA information. Additionally, many private organizations and nonprofits use applicants’ FAFSA results to administer scholarship funds.

Graduate students can often apply for fellowships and research grants. These opportunities may involve teaching responsibilities, and learners may need to study a certain field. Students in online graduate programs can often work full time while earning their degree, which can ease the financial burden of graduate studies.

Scholarships for Special Education

Many colleges and universities offer generous scholarships and grants to attract students to the special education field. Special education majors can also apply for financial aid from professional associations and nonprofits. The list below details a few opportunities for learners in online special education master’s programs.

Bishop Charles B. Greco Graduate Fellowship

Who Can Apply: The Knights of Columbus administers the scholarship for full-time master’s students who plan to pursue careers teaching individuals with intellectual disabilities. Applicants enrolled in a Catholic graduate school receive preference.
Amount: Up to $500 per semester for four semesters

Inspire Our Future Scholarship

Who Can Apply: offers the scholarship for students pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree in education. Applicants must submit a 500- to 700-word essay in response to a prompt.
Amount: $500

Future SPED Teacher Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Students preparing to teach learners with special needs can apply for this scholarship from SPEDxchange. Learners enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program can apply.
Amount: $1,000


Who Can Apply: The federal grant supports current and future educators pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in the field. Recipients must commit to serving in a high-need area after graduation.
Amount: Up to $4,000 per year

Top Online Master’s in Special Education Programs 2021

The ranking below includes some of the most affordable special education master’s online programs. In addition to affordability, factors influencing the ranking include accreditation status, internship and classroom shadowing opportunities, and practice-based coursework. Prospective students can use this list as a starting point when researching the best academic options for their needs.

#25 – Florida International University

Online Master’s in Special Education



The online master’s program at Florida International University (FIU) lasts just one year. Students complete four courses during each 16-week semester, with each course lasting eight weeks and two courses running at a time. By graduation, students have completed 36 credit hours of coursework on special education issues.

The core special education curriculum at FIU covers both research and practice in special education. The program covers working with families and other school personnel to address the needs of learners with disabilities, current issues in the field, and outreach for culturally and linguistically diverse learners. It also looks at the principles of education research as a whole, as well as research topics specific to special education.

This program also covers autism spectrum disorders in great detail. Two courses provide information on appropriate instruction practices and ways to set learning goals for these learners. Others teach future teachers how to best support them, including both behavior management techniques and appropriate use of technology.

Tuition Fee: $508 per credit hour

#24 – Emporia State University

Master’s in Special Education Online



Emporia State University offers multiple special education programs at the graduate level, including a high incidence concentration and a gifted, talented, and creative special education concentration. These programs target the needs of special educators in the state of Kansas, and while students do not need to be current Kansas teachers, those who are will benefit more from the program. Students not interested in a full master’s degree can instead take an abbreviated endorsement program.

The master’s degree programs at Emporia State University require 36 credit hours for completion. These courses teach students about research, student assessment, and ways to approach specific student populations.

Students must also complete a thesis or master’s project as part of the program. To start work on these requirements, they must first be accepted as degree candidates. This requires the completion of at least six hours of study, and must be completed before finishing more than 12 hours of study. Thesis option students must also submit to an oral examination to graduate.

Tuition Fee: $480 per credit hour

#23 – Bemidji State University

Online Master’s in Special Education



The Bemidji State University master’s degree in special education gives professional educators a background in behavioral, social, emotional, and learning disorders and disabilities. This program meets Council of Exceptional Children and Minnesota Special Education Licensure Standards. Courses in the program that do not focus on these requirements instead give students a background in research and project planning.

This program does not provide a direct pathway to education licensure of any kind. Applicants must already have a valid teaching credential, which they submit as part of the program application. Students can take three additional courses to receive autism spectrum disorder, emotional and behavioral disorders, and specific learning disabilities licenses.

Bemidji State University extends its in-state and reciprocity tuition rates to all graduate students. This can significantly reduce the financial burden of attending, though students attending from outside Minnesota should make sure the program meets their long-term professional goals.

Tuition Fee: $419.80 per credit hour

#22 – Indiana University – Bloomington

Online Master’s in Special Education



Indiana University Bloomington’s 36-credit master’s degree in special education can be completed primarily online. To graduate, students must attend an intensive topical workshop near the end of the program, but most coursework can be completed without setting foot on campus.

Mentorship serves as the cornerstone of the Indiana University program. All students must find a local mentor and practicum site during the first semester of the program. Those who already teach special education on an emergency license or provisional basis can use their current position as the practicum site, and can identify a teacher or administrator there as the mentor.

This program includes four specialty tracks: autism, behavior specialists, early childhood instructional strategies, and intense interventions. All students choose at least one track, which consists of four online courses. Courses may be combined to better suit an individual student’s professional needs.

Tuition Fee: $1301 per credit hour

#21 – University of St. Thomas

Online MA in Special Education



The master of arts in special education online offers both licensure and non-licensure tracks. Delivered online using asynchronous and synchronous models, the program accommodates educators with Minnesota teaching license, those pursuing initial licensure, and professionals not seeking licensure.

The school offers six special education licensure programs, each with its own plan of study: academic behavioral strategist (K-21); autism spectrum disorders (birth to age 21); developmental disabilities (K-21); early childhood special education (birth to age 8); emotional behavioral disorders (K-21); and learning disabilities (K-21). Students in all six master’s in special education online programs take common courses examining exceptionality, behavior management, and collaboration skills for school professionals. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Some specializations have additional requirements.

Although class time is all online, many courses have applied assignments to be completed in schools or community settings. Applicants need to either work in a school or have connections with several schools.

Tuition Fee: $790 per credit hour

#20 – Liberty University

Online Master’s in Special Education



Liberty University’s special education online master’s program brings together current best practices in special education with a Christian worldview. Unlike many online special education programs, Liberty University sets out a clear path to initial teaching licensure. Students can move on to teach in Christian, public, private, and homeschool settings.

Most courses in the online program last eight weeks. Students have flexibility in when they take these courses, as the program targets working professionals. Most complete the degree program in about 18 months, though students can choose to take longer if necessary.

Those interested in broadening their career opportunities can consider Liberty University’s dual endorsement programs. Completing some additional coursework beyond the special education degree can lead to an endorsement for elementary, middle, or high school education. Students need to work with admissions counselors and faculty advisors to plan a dual endorsement program, however.

Tuition Fee: $415 per credit hour

#19 – University of Oklahoma

Online Master’s in Special Education



The University of Oklahoma offers a modular special education master’s program online that can target students’ specific professional goals. All students take the same 15-hour core, which covers applied behavior analysis, assessment, collaboration and accommodations, contemporary issues, research, and instructional methods. Students with no special education background must also take a course introducing them to understanding and accommodation development for these students.

Those who want to specialize within special education can pursue three concentrations. One covers certification in instruction for students with mild to moderate disabilities, another focuses on applied behavior analysis, and a third looks at secondary transition education. The applied behavior analysis and secondary transition education concentrations can also be combined into a dual concentration.

Students not interested in pursuing concentrations can instead take graduate courses that support their professional research interests. At least half of these electives must be special education courses, but others can come from other departments.

Tuition Fee: $610.80 per credit hour

#18 – Auburn University

Online Master’s in Special Education



Auburn University’s Early Childhood/Elementary Special Education (P-6) online master’s degree prepares teachers to serve infants and toddlers (0-2 years), children in preschool (3-5 years), and students in K-6 settings. Graduates are prepared to implement evidence-based practices at an advanced level to support families and the development of young children who have or are at risk for developmental delays and disabilities and elementary-aged students with disabilities.  Our program is offered online and on campus.

The program has courses like Advanced Assessment in Special Education, Curriculum and Teaching in Specialization (Learning Strategies), Research in Specialization, Clinical Residency,  Curriculum in Severe Disabilities and Rehabilitation Assistive Technology.

Tuition  Fee: $630 per credit hour

#17 – University of Cincinnati

Online Master’s in Special Education



While it best suits special education teachers, classroom instructors and advocates can also benefit from the University of Cincinnati master’s program in special education. It equips professionals with the skills necessary to teach both adults and children with special educational needs. It also teaches them how to handle group work, problem solving, and individualized instruction for groups of these learners.

This program consists of 30 credits of coursework. Students choose a specialization, which can be autism spectrum disorder, advanced studies, transition to work, or behavioral disorders, but the specialty chosen does not change the number of credits required to graduate. While each program has some overlap with the others, most courses taken hone in on the specifics of that area of the field.

This program can be completed in approximately 20 months. Each semester of coursework lasts 14 weeks, and the program requires a total of six semesters.

Tuition Fee: $724 per credit hour

#16 – James Madison University

Online Master’s in Special Education



The school offers a 30-credit master of education in special education with a concentration in K-12 gifted education. The program does not meet initial teacher licensure requirements for Virginia. Instead, it prepares already licensed teachers for careers such as program specialist or behavior specialist in exceptional education programs. Students planning to pursue non-teaching careers working with individuals with exceptionalities may also find the program ideal.

The M.Ed. is, at the minimum, a 30 credit hour program with 13-16 core credit hours.  College of Education and Exceptional Education courses comprise the core courses.  The remaining credits are split between a selected concentration and electives that meet specific individual needs and career objectives.

The M.Ed. includes field experiences integrated into courses, which may occur as a formal placement by the university or as a result of supervised employment. All candidates complete a final portfolio OR an action research project, which serves as their comprehensive assessment.

Tuition Fee: $1,231 per credit hour

#15 – University of Alabama

Online Master’s in Special Education



The school offers a 36-credit master of arts (MA) in special education and 45-48 credit alternative master of arts in special education through its Bama by Distance online learning platform. Both master’s in special education online programs provide the professional training for collaborative 6-12 certification.

Designed for teachers who hold baccalaureate-level teacher certification, the standard MA leads to Alabama Class A certification. The curriculum delves into topics such as advanced behavior management, academic methods-secondary, teacher consultant models, mild and severe disabilities, and how to diagnose exceptional children and youth. The alternative MA provides a route for Class A certification for those with a non-education bachelor’s or without initial certification/licensure. Students study a similar curriculum to those in the standard program but must also address undergraduate deficiencies in subjects such as English, math, and science. Students in the alternative program must also participate in an internship.

Tuition Fee: $1,113 per credit hour

#14 – George Mason University

Online Master’s in Special Education



The Master of Education in Special Education program at George Mason University encourages professionals to take a whole-life approach to the learning needs of those with disabilities. Coursework covers Universal Design for Learning, an evidence-based approach to learning that uses findings from cognitive neuroscience to inform teaching methods. Its final course, Special Education Research, requires the completion of a research project applying the lessons from its other courses.

This program requires students to choose one of two certificate tracks to improve their skills with specific populations. The autism spectrum disorders certificate requires 15 credit hours of study, requires no field experience, and emphasizes the unique challenges of autism spectrum disorders throughout one’s lifespan. The applied behavioral analysis specialization, meanwhile, requires supervised experiences, and meets the requirements to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. This track looks at verbal and functional behavior analysis for those with disabilities, including both children and adults.

Tuition Fee: $775 per credit hour

#13 – Texas Tech University

Master’s in Special Education Online



Texas Tech University’s online graduate special education program prepares students for many public and private positions working with individuals with disabilities. Common career trajectories for program graduates include public schools, private education, and higher education. Students must already have a bachelor’s degree to enroll in the program.

The Texas Tech program offers nine specializations for those who want to work with specific populations with disabilities. Some specializations cover physical disabilities, including deafblindness, deafness, mobility impairment, and visual impairment, while others cover mental issues like autism and applied behavior analysis.

This program requires 36 hours of study, with some certificates requiring additional coursework. While students can choose to complete a thesis, the program does have a non-thesis option.

This program does not confer educator certification in the state of Texas. Students must pass the TExES exam to receive certification.

Tuition Fee: $483 per credit hour

#12 – Western Governors University

Online Master’s in Special Education



This online special ed program from Western Governors University includes coursework, carefully designed assessments, and completion of a capstone project. While you’ll study and submit your coursework online, you’ll also complete a practicum of 240 hours of in-class supervised teaching with exceptional learners.

This online Master of Science in Special Education degree program provides you with the essential skills, knowledge, and field experience needed to become a special education instructor for students with mild to moderate disabilities. This degree program is nationally recognized by the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). The WGU special education master’s degree program was designed (and is regularly updated) with input from the experts on our Education Program Council. These experts know exactly what it takes for a graduate to qualify for a successful career teaching elementary school students with diverse learning abilities and styles.

The competencies you gain through this program will span these crucial topical areas:

  • Special education
  • Instructional design
  • Research fundamentals
  • Teacher work sample

Tuition Fee: $3190 per 6-month term


#11 – Loy0la Marymount University

Online Master’s in Special Education



Loyola Marymount University emphasizes transformative academic and professional development. The school administers a state-authorized master of arts in special education with accreditation by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. The 36-credit curriculum gives educators the knowledge and skills to teach students with mild to moderate disabilities. The hybrid program features small class sizes for one-on-one attention from instructors.

Students choose one of two pathways, an intern option and a traditional pathway. The intern option allows certified K-12 special ed teachers in California to complete the degree in one year. The two-year traditional pathway uses the same curriculum and leads to teacher credentialing in California. The curriculum focuses on research and theory, teaching methodologies, and student teaching. Admission requirements for the master’s in special education online include a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and a proficiency exam.

Tuition Fee: $1188 per credit hour

#10 – Brandman University

Online Master’s in Special Education



Brandman University accommodates distance learners with a hands-on curriculum and flexible ways to learn. The California-based school offers several special education master’s programs online, including the 30-36 credit master of arts in special education behavior analysis. The program prepares special ed teachers to design behavior interventions, implement behavior change procedures, and evaluate students’ progress.

The curriculum facilitates understanding of the factors that influence behavior and explores strategies for experimental design. Teacher candidates learn how to use evidence-based practices and educational technology to assess behavior and address students’ needs. The program is aligned with standards established by the Council for Exceptional Children. Distance learners may choose a fully online or hybrid format. The program concludes with a capstone experience. To apply, educators must demonstrate at least part-time employment in a field that uses applied behavior analysis. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA, GRE scores, and a valid special education teaching license.

Tuition Fee: $650 per credit hour

#9 – George Washington University

Online Master’s in Special Education



George Washington University’s Master’s in Special Education for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners provides advanced training for current teachers who want to dive even deeper into improving the education of individuals with special needs. Graduates are eligible to receive a K–12 teaching certification as well as an 18-credit graduate certificate.

In this certificate program, you will focus on the inter-relationships of school, home and community to improve the quality of education for children with diverse needs. A holistic approach to the curriculum utilizes the latest research, theory and data-driven best practices to prepare you to empower and improve the quality of learning for children with diverse needs.

The 33-credit online master’s program in special education incorporates a theory-to-practice approach and a teaching internship while focusing on the diverse cultural, linguistic, social, and learning needs of elementary and secondary students. With the goal of staying current with the latest instructional techniques and cutting-edge research methods, this program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation and can be finished in just 18 months.

Tuition Fee: $780 per credit hour

#8 – Mississippi College

Online Master’s in Special Education



Mississippi College’s master’s program in special education takes a comprehensive look at the needs of those with learning and developmental disabilities. The curriculum covers these students’ needs starting at preschool and continuing through high school. Graduates can apply for a Mild/Moderate K-12 endorsement on their teaching license as well as receive an upgrade to a Class AA license.

This program requires the completion of 10 courses, for a total of 30 credit hours of study. Each course lasts seven weeks. Courses cover issues like research development in special education, curriculum planning, and the psychology of exceptional children. The program goes over how to develop individualized programs for learners with special needs in great detail, spending two courses on this topic.

Mississippi College recognizes that special educators are busy professionals, and offers rolling admissions with five start dates each year. Prospective students must already be licensed elementary, secondary, or subject area teachers.

Tuition Fee: $365 per credit hour

#7 – Ball State University

Online Master’s in Special Education



Ball State University, at Muncie, Indiana offers online Masters in Special Education to those who want to add special education to their existing license. Students can choose from nine focus areas and make any one as their focus unit of study. Students can in a variety of ways design their own program of study and choose one of five specializations including graduate-level certificates in applied behavior analysis, autism, response to intervention, emotional and behavioral disorders, or disabilities for post-secondary settings with an emphasis in autism.

Distance learners also avail the benefits of subject tutoring, writing center assistance, library services, and around-the-clock technology support. Ball State offers admission in the fall, spring, and summer semesters and application for admission requires cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 but no GRE.

Tuition Fee: Residents – $410 per credit hour   |  Non-residents – $616 per credit hour

#6 – University of Washington

Online Master’s in Special Education



The University of Washington’s applied behavior analysis program prepares professionals to work with those with developmental disabilities. Applied behavior analysis uses psychological principles regarding behavior to encourage and improve behavior.

The full master’s degree program lasts two years. The first year covers the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) Verified Course Sequence, while the second brings students up to a sufficient credit total for a master’s degree in special education. After the first half of the program, students can sit for the BAC Exam and earn the Board Certified Behavior Analyst designation.

This program requires a practicum component for certification purposes. Students can use the University of Washington supervision option, but can also request to use a current workplace as a practicum site if it meets practicum requirements. A practicum must include at least 25 hours per week of work, and meet additional requirements regarding observation and video recording.

Tuition Fee: $927 per credit hour

#5 – Drexel University

Online Master’s in Special Education



The accredited online Master of Science in Special Education program equips teaching professionals with the fundamental skills, knowledge, and competencies needed to meet the needs of students with disabilities in multiple settings. The program is a flexible and convenient part-time graduate program that gives current teachers a comprehensive understanding of developing the potential of students with disabilities.

Drexel University offers its students high-quality one-of-a-kind Dual MS in Special Education and Applied Behavior Analysis program. This course is devoted to training students in the science of human behavior and special education to better serve the diverse needs of students who require special attention both in academic and life skills.

The dual course enables learners to develop tools and practices, which are applicable in various special needs settings. This program is divided into four 10-week quarters per year that enables students to take more courses in a shorter time period. Each semester credit is equivalent to 1.5quarter credits. Application for admission includes a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution with a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Tuition Fee: $949 per credit hour

#4 – Texas A&M University

Online Master’s in Special Education



The Texas A&M online master’s in special education best serves current educators, as well as related professionals such as counselors, clinicians, and therapists. The program lasts approximately two years, and requires 36 credit hours of coursework spread across 12 courses.

Prospective students need not have a teaching certificate or clinical experience, though Texas A&M does prefer students have some background in working with students with special needs before entering the program. The ideal student is interested in either pursuing a special education career or continuing their graduate-level training in the field after graduating from the master’s degree program.

Texas A&M University works with the Quality Matters program, a leader in online quality assurance, to ensure that its online offerings provide the same high quality as its on-campus programs. The Quality Matters program encourages regular evaluation of the school’s courses and recommends changes to ensure students receive excellent educations.

Tuition Fee: $945.00 per credit hour

#3 – University of Arkansas

Online Master’s in Special Education



U of A Online Fayetteville offers M.Ed. in Special Education programs to prepare teachers with a current license to work with students with disabilities. This 100% online course is delivered via the Internet, allowing students an opportunity to pursue their educational goals, which fits with their schedules of time and place. For their practicum students will need to attend the designated school.

The online M.Ed. in Special Education can have one of several focus areas, like the program in special education for those seeking advanced learning in special education without pursuing an additional license. The second is designed to meet the coursework requirements of an additional license program in Special Education Instructional Specialist (Grades K-12). The third focus is designed to meet the coursework requirements of a Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The fourth focus is designed for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) which, can lead to pursuing the Board Certification in Behavior Analysis. The fifth focus is on an endorsement for dyslexia therapy. The program prepares the teacher as Instructional Specialist in Special Education for grades K-12.

Application for admission requires cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher and a standardized core knowledge test, which could include the GRE, the ACT, or core PRAXIS. Most students complete the 36 credit hour requirements in two years by being full-time students.

Tuition Fee: $470 per credit hour

#2 – North Carolina State University – Raleigh

Online Master’s in Special Education



North Carolina State University at Raleigh with its special education program prepares students for instructional and pedagogical skills. Core course topics such as teaching, curriculum development, conducting classroom action research, behavior management and interpreting assessment helps students advocate for children and families with diverse learning backgrounds and needs.

The North Carolina State M.Ed. degree in special education has great flexibility as the courses are delivered in person, online, hybrid and through Distance Education. Mostly students complete the 30 credit hours requirement by being full time students in about 1.5 years while it takes a little longer for part-time students. For admission, the school requires a minimum 3.0 GPA in undergraduate study excellent recommendations from others (e.g., educators and employment supervisors) who have worked with the candidate.

This course is not only intended for people who currently possess a valid teaching license but also suited for students who want to pursue deep knowledge in special education but do not want to obtain a teaching license.

Tuition Fee: $452.88 per credit hour

#1 – University of Florida

Online Master’s in Special Education



The University of Florida, at Gainesville, offers Teach Well, a fully online graduate program for practicing teachers under its special education master’s degrees. Teach Well is especially designed to prepare teachers to serve students with special needs in an inclusive setting. It is a 36 credit hour program and all students are required to complete the Teach Well Core, which comprises of 12 credit hours. For the remaining 24 credit hours they can choose from tracks like Early Childhood Studies, General, Autism Focus, Disabilities in Society and Education and Health Care Transition.

These additional 24 credits can be taken through a specific track or in any combination. All Teach Well Online Academy courses are hosted under the Canvas Learning Management System (LMS). The Teach Well program is designed to suit part-time students who can earn their master’s in 2 years by taking two courses every fall, spring, and summer semesters.  Application for admission includes GRE scores and for International Applicants, it also requires acceptable scores in TOEFL, MELAB, or IETS

Tuition Fee: $635.46 per credit hour

This concludes our ranking of the Top Online Master’s in Special Education. Thanks for checking it out!

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