There is a critical shortage of qualified special education teachers, and the need seems to grow bigger each year. Over 80% of the nation’s special education teachers report a considerable gap between the needs of students with disabilities and the trained professionals capable of meeting them. For future teachers seeking an online special education degree, there is a built-in guarantee that their newfound skills are highly sought-after after in the field.
If it is not possible to travel to campus, students can earn an online degree in special education. Many schools have incorporated this specialization in their education departments. Depending on the institution and the student’s individual career goals, special education can either be the central degree focus or incorporated into the broader scope of the curriculum.
The following ranking represents the top 5 online bachelor’s degrees in special education. These schools were selected through research focused on the critical elements of a high-value special education online degree. For more general information regarding distance learning programs see our ranking of top online colleges.
In determining the order of this ranking, we awarded points based on:
- Range and versatility of special education curriculum (1-5 points)
- Quality of online classroom portal and learning resources (1-5 points)
- Experiential learning and student-teaching opportunities (1-5 points)
- Flexibility of online courses and degree pace to accommodate working adults (1-4)
- An additional point was awarded for noteworthy features that made it a top college for non-traditional students
In the event of a tie in points, the school with the lower net price appears higher in the ranking.
Tuition and enrollment data was sourced from College Navigator.
The following list of ranked colleges represents the top 5 online bachelor’s degrees in special education.
Featured Online Schools
Drexel University is a globally respected institution that draws the best in instructor faculty and career-driven students. Drexel Online provides the same challenging academic programs, one of which is a B.S. in education; this 180-credit track also includes an emphasis in special education. The online education bachelor of science degree is taken over the course of 10 terms, and students complete these terms within 2.5 years. Among Drexel’s special education curriculum are inclusionary practices for exceptional students, special education referral and assessment, and atypical child development.
For over 50 years, the University of West Florida has maintained a community-centric learning environment, encouraging each student to mold their individual career goals. UWF has brought this approach to the global campus, with a growing number of degrees and specializations. West Florida’s award-winning online degree programs include a bachelor’s in teacher education and educational leadership; this online special education degree prepares graduates for long-term careers as principals, teachers, or other educational leaders. UWF education graduates are considered “highly qualified” with regard to the standards of the No Child Left Behind Act.
Mayville State University is a small college with a 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio and 98.2% employment rate for recent graduates. Mayville online is a reputable academic opportunity that has earned accolades for its value, faculty, and range of student services. MSU’s online B.S.ED. in special education is a rigorous degree program for career-oriented future teachers; this program delivers curriculum in social and emotional development, special education law, special needs in early childhood education, home and community relations, alternative communications, among other topics relevant to the population.
Florida’s St. Petersburg College is a student-centered, low-tuition school with a wide spectrum of degree options. For future educators seeking an online degree is special education, SPC’s distance-learning division has a bachelor of science in exceptional student education; this undergraduate program focuses on the K-12 classrooms, primarily for children with mild to moderate disabilities. SPC’s online special education BS offers major core courses in classroom management, nature and needs of exceptional students, learning principles, and much more. Additionally, St. Petersburg College coordinates promising internship options for experiential preparation in classroom leadership.
The University of South Carolina is a globally respected and award-winning institution, consistently at the top of academia’s most trusted rankings. USC is an enormous college network, now with eight campuses in addition to its online opportunity. USC’s online bachelor of arts in special education is framed in the K-12 classroom setting; this program fosters both personal and professional growth, and graduates are prepared to lead their future classrooms with confidence. The online special education BA has flexible degree pace options, particularly for those who need more than two years to complete their degree; students in this program also have the option of further specializing their degree with add-on certifications in special education.
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