SPECIALIZATIONS

When it comes to choosing where you’ll earn your master’s degree in special education, you have hundreds of options. Get started here.

Whether you’re an experienced teacher looking to elevate your practice or you’re transitioning into education from another field, one of these master’s degrees can provide you with the skills and qualifications you need for your next step.

What are the options for a master’s degree in special education?

An on-campus program offers the chance to form personal connections with faculty members, to take advantage of professional development and enrichment opportunities hosted by the university, and to engage in face-to-face conversation with classmates and peers. Many learners find that traditional, on-campus programs are the perfect fit for their learning style.

However, if flexibility or budget is a top priority in your search for a graduate program, an online degree could be a better choice. Take a look at our ranking of the Most Affordable Online Master’s in Special Education Degrees for more options in distance education.

What can you do with a master’s degree in special education?

Many graduate degrees in special education can provide you with the licensure to teach in a special education classroom, or to work with special needs students in a general curriculum classroom. Some programs lead to add-on endorsements for certified teachers, while others lead to initial licensure for students who have never held teaching certification.

A graduate degree can prepare you to work in a specific area of special education, such as Deaf or Hard of Hearing, Visual Impairment, Autism Spectrum Disorders, or Vocational Education.

Classrooms aren’t the only place you can work with a master’s degree in special education. After graduation, you may also find a job in a mental health care facility, public or private educational agency, or nonprofit organization that serves children and youth with disabilities.

How much can you earn with a master’s degree in special education?

As a special education teacher, experience will be a major factor in how much you earn. PayScale reveals the average yearly salaries of special education teachers, broken down by career phase:

  • Entry level: $40,947
  • Mid-career: $45,055
  • Experienced: $51,170
  • Late career: $58,008

Don’t plan to become a teacher? Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the median salaries for some other common job titles held by special education graduates:

  • Instructional coordinator: $63,750
  • Recreational therapist: $47,680
  • Social and community service manager: $64,100

What are the requirements for a master’s degree in special education?

The requirements for any specific degree will depend on the focus of the program. If you’re pursuing initial teaching licensure through one of these degree paths, expect to spend at least a full semester in a student teaching placement.

If you already have a teaching license but are seeking an endorsement or add-on licensure, you’ll likely complete a practicum experience where you apply what you’ve learned with K-12 special education students. In many cases, you’ll be able to complete the practicum in the school or classroom where you work.

Programs with another focus—such as an emphasis on research or community service programs—may require another type of culminating experience, such as a thesis or action research project.

What are the best master’s degrees in special education?

Individual college websites, PayScale, and the National Center for Education Statistics’ IPEDS database provide us with the information for our rankings. Using these sources, we evaluate each school for factors such as student return on investment, student-faculty ratio, and student satisfaction.

We also incorporate a metadata analysis using other ranking publications such as U.S. News & World Report.

This handcrafted methodology allows us to bring you the following: a comprehensive ranking of the very best graduate programs in special education.

1. Johns Hopkins University

Overview

The School of Education at Johns Hopkins University was named to number 15 in the 2018 World University Rankings from Times Higher Education. More than 2,400 students are enrolled in the School of Education, learning from and working with approximately 130 expert faculty members. Johns Hopkins offers nationally acclaimed master’s degree programs in Reading, Gifted Education, Special Education, and many other facets of education.

Program Features

The Master of Science in Special Education features three available areas of emphasis: Mild/Moderate Disabilities, Early Childhood Special Education, and Severe Disabilities. Candidates for this degree will complete two 10-week supervised internships. This program leads to Maryland State Certification in special education. The Mild/Moderate Disabilities emphasis requires 39 credit hours and includes courses such as:

  • Legal Aspects, Service Systems, and Current Issues in Special Education
  • Instructional Planning and Management in Special Education
  • Educational Assessment of Students with Mild to Moderate Disabilities: Elementary/Middle
  • Spoken and Written Language: Methods for Students with Mild to Moderate Disabilities

Notables

The Mild/Moderate Disabilities track focuses on learning disabilities, mild emotional disabilities, and mild intellectual disabilities. Students may choose to concentrate on either the elementary or secondary level. The Early Childhood Special Education track focuses on working with children from birth through third grade. The Severe Disabilities track emphasizes autism spectrum disorders and significant intellectual disabilities.

2. Vanderbilt University

Overview

Located in Nashville, Tennessee, Vanderbilt University is home to 10 academic schools, including the internationally recognized Peabody College of Education. Vanderbilt’s Department of Special Education within Peabody College is known for impactful research, aimed at developing innovative practices and methods. The Master of Education in Special Education at Vanderbilt is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the nation’s top special education programs.

Program Features

The program at Vanderbilt offers concentrations in Early Childhood, High Incidence (focusing on reading and math disabilities and persistent behavior problems), and Low Incidence. Within the Low Incidence concentration, students may choose to focus on either Severe Disabilities or Visual Disabilities. For the Early Childhood Special Education concentration, the following coursework is required:

  • Management Procedures for Academic and Social Behavior
  • Screening and Assessment in Early Childhood Special Education
  • Recommended Practices in Early Elementary Grades for Students with Disabilities
  • Characteristics of Students with Intellectual and Multiple Disabilities

Notables

This program offers an optional add-on specialization in Applied Behavior Analysis. All candidates for the M.Ed. degree will complete a capstone project or master’s thesis and take a comprehensive examination. Among recent graduates of this Special Education program, 100 percent were employed or pursuing further study within four months of graduation.

3. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Overview

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is ranked 14th among all public universities by U.S. News & World Report. The University enrolls more than 47,000 students representing over 100 countries worldwide. At U of I, educators may choose from a number of rigorous programs that can prepare them for licensure in several areas of special education.

Program Features

The Infancy and Early Childhood Special Education program is available as an M.Ed., which does not require a thesis, and as an M.S., which does include a thesis requirement. For both degree tracks, students can choose to specialize in Infancy (birth through age three), Early Childhood (ages three to six), or both (birth through age six). Available special education coursework includes:

  • Leadership in Early Childhood Special Education
  • Administration and Supervision in Special Education
  • Legal Aspects of Disabilities
  • Atypical Development: Birth to Six

Notables

The Infancy concentration does not require students to hold a teaching license. Students applying to the Early Childhood concentration must hold an Illinois Professional Educator License. U of I also offers a Learning and Behavior Specialist I (LBSI) program leading to initial special education teacher licensure. The Learning and Behavior Specialist II (LBSII) in Multiple Disabilities M.S. program is available for students who already hold special education certification.

4. University of Georgia

Overview

Established in 1785, the University of Georgia is considered the birthplace of public higher education in America. As the state’s flagship institution, UGA is one of the nation’s “Public Ivies,” emphasizing globally engaged research, experiential learning, and extensive local and regional outreach. With more than 4,500 students, UGA’s College of Education is one of the largest and most diverse public colleges of education in the country.

Program Features

UGA’s Master of Education in Special Education offers concentrations in four areas: General Curriculum, Adapted Curriculum and Autism, Birth through Kindergarten/Preschool, and Early Childhood Special Education (preschool through grade five). All tracks can lead to certification in the corresponding area of special education. The Adapted Curriculum and Autism track may include courses such as:

  • Clinical Assessment in Special Education
  • Advanced Applied Behavioral Analysis
  • Behavioral Methods of Instruction
  • Instructional Design for Elementary Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Notables

Candidates for this degree will have the opportunity to participate in formal research as part of their final applied project. This M.Ed. program is designed for students who received an undergraduate degree in an education field and already hold a teaching license. Students who do not have a background in education can pursue UGA’s Master of Arts in Teaching for Special Education degree.

5. Boston University

Overview

With more than 10,000 faculty and staff members and 33,000 undergraduate and graduate students, Boston University is a vibrant global community of scholars. The School of Education at BU was founded in 1918 and today offers more than 20 master’s and doctoral degree programs. The Special Education program at BU prepares students to design strategies using applied behavior analysis, to implement social-emotional learning curricula, and to be an effective instructor for students with autism, Down syndrome, and dyslexia.

Program Features

The M.Ed. in Special Education offers pathways to licensure in Moderate Disabilities, Severe Disabilities, Special Education Administration, and more. This program requires a minimum of 36 credit hours, although additional coursework and fieldwork is required for students seeking licensure. Depending on which track a student chooses, coursework may include:

  • Cognition, Learning, and Behavior
  • Assessment in Special Education
  • Reading Development, Assessment, and Instruction
  • Performance-Based Educational Leadership

Notables

Students may start this program in any term (spring, summer, or fall). For candidates who are not seeking certification, the degree can be earned in as little as two semesters of full-time study. Boston University also offers a dual degree program leading to an M.Ed. in Special Education and a Master of Social Work.

6. The Ohio State University

Overview

As a land-grant institution, The Ohio State University has a main campus in Columbus and additional campuses and research centers around the state. The 2018 edition of “America’s Best Colleges” from U.S. News & World Report ranks OSU 16th among all public universities. The multifaceted Special Education program at OSU can prepare professionals for a range of certification options and career tracks.

Program Features

The M.A. in Educational Studies: Special Education program requires at least 34 credit hours. This includes three credit hours in foundational coursework, at least three credit hours in multicultural and diversity coursework, three credit hours in research methods, 22 to 25 credit hours in specialization courses, and three credit hours in a thesis. Candidates for this degree may take courses such as:

  • Communication Skills for Children with Moderate-Intensive Disabilities
  • Educational Intervention for Young Children with Disabilities
  • Delivering Effective Services to Enhance the Inclusion of Students with Special Needs
  • Reading Instruction for Children with Disabilities and Severe Reading Deficits

Notables

Applicants with an undergraduate GPA below 3.0 will be required to submit GRE scores. The Applied Behavioral Analysis specialization in this program prepares graduates to sit for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board exam. Students must already hold a teaching license to apply for the specializations in Early Childhood Intervention Specialist, Mild-to-Moderate Intervention Specialist, and Moderate-to-Intensive Intervention Specialist.

7. University at Albany, SUNY

Overview

The University at Albany, SUNY is home to the top-ranked graduate school of education among all SUNY institutions. Alumni of UAlbany’s School of Education are contributing to the local, national, and global community as administrators, researchers, counselors, policymakers, and more. The Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology within the School of Education offers a highly acclaimed degree program for students seeking professional certification in special education.

Program Features

The program at UAlbany leads to a Master of Science in Special Education and Inclusion. This program requires 30 credit hours, and students may choose to enroll on a part-time or full-time basis. The degree path includes a small research project in education as the capstone experience. Coursework may include:

  • Developing Reading Comprehension and Content Knowledge for Students with Disabilities
  • Math and Inquiry Instruction for Students with Disabilities
  • Teaching Students with Severe and Multiple Disabilities
  • Interagency Collaboration for Working with Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

Notables

Students applying to this program should have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or above. This program is designed for students who already hold initial certification in Teaching Students with Disabilities at the Childhood Level and in Childhood Education (grades one through six). Upon graduation, students will be eligible for Professional Certification in these areas.

8. University of Pittsburgh

Overview

Founded in 1787 as the Pittsburgh Academy, the University of Pittsburgh is now a nationally ranked institution serving over 26,000 undergraduates and 9,000 graduate and doctoral students. Pitt is one of just 60 institutions selected for membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities. U.S. News & World Report places the University of Pittsburgh at number 27 among the nation’s best graduate schools of education.

Program Features

The Master of Education in Special Education requires a minimum of 36 credit hours. Students will complete 12 credit hours in one or several specialty areas, including Applied Behavior Analysis, Special Education Teacher Preparation, Students with Visual Impairments, Early Intervention for Children with Disabilities, and Supervision of Special Education. Another 12 credit hours will be earned in elective coursework, which may be selected from within or outside the School of Education. Available coursework for degree candidates includes:

  • Psychology of Learning and Development for Education
  • Development: Conception Through Early Childhood
  • Educational and Psychological Measurement
  • Evidence-Based Health Program Planning

Notables

Students will be required to submit three letters of recommendation as part of the admissions process. An undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale is required. At the end of their program, degree candidates will be required to successfully pass a comprehensive exam.

9. University of San Diego

Overview

The University of San Diego sets the national standard for contemporary Catholic universities. USD is one of just 41 universities worldwide to earn a designation from The Ashoka U as a Changemaker Campus. This distinction reflects the University’s commitment to developing ethical and responsible leaders committed to the common good. Through the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, students can enroll in a socially conscious, intellectually rigorous program in Special Education.

Program Features

The program at USD culminates in a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction, an Education Specialist Credential, and either a Preliminary Multiple Subject Credential (for teaching at the elementary level) or Single Subject Credential (for teaching at the secondary level). This cohort-based program can be completed in less than three years. Required coursework will include:

  • Methods of Teaching English Language and Academic Development in Crosscultural Contexts
  • Healthy Environments and Inclusive Education in a Global Society
  • Positive Behavior and Instruction Management in Special Education
  • Collaboration with Families and Professionals

Notables

Applicants to this M.Ed. program are encouraged, but not required, to have experience in teaching. Graduates of the program will be qualified to teach in special education classrooms and to co-teach in general education classrooms that include special education students.

10. University of Missouri

Overview

Established in 1867, the College of Education at the University of Missouri has been a leader in educational research and teacher preparation for more than 150 years. The College operates outreach initiatives in every county in Missouri, including both rural and urban school districts. Mizzou offers top-ranked graduate programs in Special Education through on-campus and online tracks.

Program Features

The M.Ed. degree in Special Education requires at least 30 credit hours, while the M.A. requires a minimum of 33 credit hours (including at least three credit hours in thesis or project development). Emphasis areas are available in Autism, Behavior Disorders, Cross-Categorical with Certification, Early Childhood and Autism, Early Childhood Special Education, Gifted Education, and Learning Disabilities. Candidates for this degree may take courses such as:

  • Literacy Instruction for Exceptional Students
  • Diagnosis and Remediation of Mathematics Problems
  • Social Competency for Students with Autism
  • Assessment and Evaluation in Special Education

Notables

Students applying to this program should have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or above. Additionally, applicants should have a GRE score (Verbal + Quantitative) of at least 291. Degree candidates must take a comprehensive examination at the end of their program. Mizzou also offers an on-campus program leading to a doctorate in Special Education.

11. The University of Texas at Austin

Overview

Offering over 230 graduate and doctoral degree programs, the University of Texas at Austin is an internationally renowned institute of higher learning. In the 2018 World University Rankings from Times Higher Education, UT Austin came in at number 49 globally. UT Austin’s College of Education offers highly respected graduate programs in several fields of special education.

Program Features

Graduate students can pursue programs in Autism and Developmental Disabilities and in Early Childhood Special Education. Both of these programs are available as a Master of Education (which does not require a thesis) and as a Master of Arts (which does require a thesis). Within the Early Childhood Special Education program, students can choose between a behavior analyst certification track and a classroom practitioner track. For the classroom practitioner track, coursework may include:

  • Instruction and Intervention in Early Childhood Special Education
  • Cultural and Linguistic Diversity in Special Education
  • Advances in Understanding and Treatment of Autism
  • Positive Behavior Support and Classroom Management

Notables

Both of the Early Childhood Special Education tracks can be completed in one year of full-time study. Additional programs are available leading to an M.Ed. in High Incidence Disabilities (available as a degree-only track and as a certification track) and an M.Ed. in Rehabilitation Counselor Education.

12. University of Minnesota

Overview

The Twin Cities campus of the University of Minnesota has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, a distinction that highlights UMN’s outstanding community and civic engagement. UMN offers world-class programs in a comprehensive array of academic disciplines, ranging from health sciences to engineering to education. Among all special education graduate programs, the program at UMN is ranked by U.S. News & World Report at number five nationwide.

Program Features

The Master of Arts in Special Education requires a minimum of 32 credit hours. Core coursework will include at least three credits in statistics, three credits in measurement and evaluation, three credits in learning and cognition, and three credits in social psychology or personality theory. Students will have numerous options to fulfill these foundational requirements. Available coursework within these core areas includes:

  • Advanced Psychological and Educational Measurement
  • Qualitative Methods in Educational Psychology
  • Reading for Meaning: Cognitive Processes in the Comprehension of Texts
  • Developmental Psychology: Social and Emotional Processes

Notables

Students who submit their applications by the December 1 deadline will automatically be considered for Graduate School fellowships and departmental awards, which are granted according to academic achievement. Degree candidates may choose between a thesis track and a non-thesis track. The Special Education program offers an optional concentration in Applied Behavior Analysis.

13. University of Arizona

Overview

According to the National Science Foundation, the University of Arizona ranks 22nd in research and development expenditures among all U.S. public institutions of higher learning. A commitment to discovery and innovation is emphasized in all of UA’s academic programs, including those offered by the College of Education. The College has an enrollment of 1,800 undergraduate students and 900 graduate students, pursuing some of the nation’s top-ranked programs in special education.

Program Features

On-campus students can choose from three specializations within the Master of Arts in Special Education: Mild-Moderate Disabilities, Severe and Multiple Disabilities, and Visual Impairment. All of these programs lead to Arizona teaching certification in the corresponding area of special education. The Mild-Moderate Disabilities track requires 38 credit hours, which students will earn through courses such as:

  • Special Education Law and Policy
  • Cultural and Linguistic Diversity in Special Education
  • Language Development for the Exceptional Child
  • Consultation and Collaboration in Special Education

Notables

Students applying to the on-campus Special Education program are not required to hold a bachelor’s degree in an education field, but they are encouraged to have experience working with children and youth. UA offers an online M.A. in Special Education program with specializations in Behavioral Support, Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and Disabilities. These online programs do not lead to teacher certification.

14. University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Overview

Chartered in 1869, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is a top-tier research institution with a global vision. UNL is classified by the Carnegie Foundation as an R1: Doctoral University with Highest Research Activity, and it’s also been ranked as a “Best Buy School” by the Fiske Guide to Colleges. The Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders at UNL offers graduate programs in Speech-Language Pathology, Sensory Disabilities, and Special Education.

Program Features

Students will complete a minimum of 36 credit hours to earn the Master of Education in Special Education. Within this program, students may choose to specialize in Deaf and Hard of Hearing Education, Early Childhood Special Education, or Visual Impairments. Coursework for M.Ed. candidates may include:

  • Effective Instruction for Learners with Special Needs
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs): Effective Assessment and Intervention
  • Characteristics of Emotional and Learning Disorders
  • Braille Codes and Material Adaptations for Students with Visual Impairments

Notables

All candidates for this degree will choose either one or two minors. If students choose to earn one minor, they will complete 18 credit hours in the Special Education major and nine credit hours in the minor. Students earning two minors will complete at least 15 credit hours in the major and at least nine credit hours in each minor. This program does not require a thesis.

15. Utah State University

Overview

Washington Monthly has ranked Utah State University as the fifth best public university in the nation. Including the University’s main campus in Logan and numerous regional campuses, USU serves more than 27,000 students. The Master of Education in Special Education is presented by USU’s acclaimed Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services.

Program Features

This M.Ed. program is suitable for classroom teachers as well as other special education professionals who work in community and clinical settings. The curriculum for this degree features 36 credit hours. All candidates for the degree will complete a creative project as their capstone experience. Available coursework for students in this program includes:

  • Policies and Procedures in Special Education
  • Children with Combined Vision, Hearing Loss, and Multiple Disabilities
  • Job Analysis, Development, and Placement for Persons with Disabilities
  • Concepts and Principles of Behavior Analysis in Education

Notables

Applicants are required to hold a bachelor’s degree in special education. This program offers an optional Administrative/Supervisory concentration. Students applying to this concentration must have a minimum of two years of experience as a certified educator. Coursework for the degree is offered at numerous regional USU campuses, including Logan, Beaver, Brigham City, Ephraim, Kanab, Moab, Nephi, Orem, Salt Lake, St. George, Tooele, Wendover, and many more.

16. University of Delaware

Overview

First established in 1743, the University of Delaware has grown into a research-focused institution enrolling more than 23,000 students. In a 2018 publication, U.S. News & World Report placed UD at number 33 among all national public universities. The Exceptional Children and Youth program at Delaware is available through an on-campus track and an online track.

Program Features

This M.Ed. program is available for licensed teachers and for those seeking initial teaching certification. Available concentrations for this degree include Elementary Special Education, Secondary Special Education, Autism/Severe Disabilities, and Special Education Technology. All tracks require a shared core of 18 credit hours plus 15 credit hours within the chosen concentration for a total of 33 credit hours. Coursework within the required core includes:

  • Applied Human Development in the Schools
  • Educational Evaluation: Exceptional Children and Youth
  • Techniques for Behavior Change and Positive Behavior Support
  • Collaborative Teaming in Special Education

Notables

Graduates of this program will be qualified to serve as classroom teachers as well as educational consultants and educational technology specialists. The University of Delaware also offers an M.A. in Leadership in Disability Services, an M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language, and an M.Ed. in Educational Technology.

17. University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Overview

Located in one of the nation’s fastest-growing cities, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas is a flourishing institution boasting remarkable success since its founding in 1957. The College of Education at UNLV is an integral part of the Las Vegas community, and has strong partnerships with the local school district (which is one of the largest in the United States). Almost half of all education and mental or behavioral youth professionals in Nevada received their degree from the UNLV College of Education.

Program Features

The Master of Education in Special Education from UNLV is available through a licensure track and through a degree-only, non-licensure track. All tracks for this program require a minimum of 36 credit hours. Students will be required to complete a comprehensive examination as their capstone activity. Candidates for this degree may take courses such as:

  • Diagnostic and Prescriptive Assessment for Diverse Learners
  • Advanced Oral and Written Language Instruction for Students with Disabilities
  • Parent Involvement in Special and General Education
  • Vocational and Career Education for Persons with Disabilities in Transition

Notables

This program can lead to an array of endorsements, including Autism, Early Childhood, Early Childhood Special Education, Generalist-Mild Disabilities, Gifted and Talented, Intellectual Disabilities, and Teaching English as a Second Language. An Applied Behavioral Analysis concentration is also available.

18. University of Vermont

Overview

With roughly 10,500 undergraduates and 1,500 graduate students, the University of Vermont is a top-ranked institution emphasizing experiential learning, campus diversity, and scholarly excellence. The University is located in Burlington, which is routinely ranked among the top college towns in the nation. The Special Education program at UVM allows degree candidates to gain experience in working with students who are culturally, economically, and linguistically diverse.

Program Features

Through the Master of Education in Special Education program, candidates can earn cross-categorical licensure for kindergarten through grade 12. This may be in the form of initial licensure or as an add-on endorsement for certified teachers. The degree is also available through a non-certification pathway. Available coursework for degree candidates includes:

  • Advanced Behavior Principles in Special Education
  • Curriculum and Technology in Special Education
  • Meeting Instructional Needs for All Students
  • Collaborative Consultation

Notables

Preference will be given to applicants with at least two years of teaching experience, or other relevant experience in special education. Courses for this degree are scheduled in the evenings to accommodate the schedules of working professionals. In addition to cross-categorical certification, experienced teachers may also earn Intensive Special Education Teacher certification, Special Education Consulting Teacher certification, and other advanced qualifications through this program.

19. California State University, San Bernardino

Overview

California State University, San Bernardino ranks in the top 4 percent nationwide for “value added” for graduates, according to the Collegiate Learning Assessment. With a student body of 20,000, CSUSB has the second highest African American and Hispanic enrollments among all California public universities. More than 70 undergraduate and graduate programs are available at CSUSB, including an array of credential and certificate options for educators.

Program Features

Three emphasis areas are available within the Master of Science in Special Education: Mild/Moderate Disabilities, Moderate/Severe Disabilities, and Early Childhood Special Education. A minimum of 48 credit hours is required to earn this degree. Students will have the opportunity to take courses such as the following:

  • Supportive Learning Environments for Students with Disabilities
  • Curriculum and Methods for Diverse Learners with Disabilities
  • Collaboration and Consultation in Special Education
  • Education of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Notables

Typically, students enrolled in this program are also enrolled in an Education Specialist credential program. Students who plan to pursue the degree without a credential must obtain permission from the Special Education Program Coordinator. For their culminating activity, students will choose between a thesis and a master’s project. Degree candidates who choose the thesis option will also complete a comprehensive examination.

20. Central Connecticut State University

Overview

Founded as a teacher training facility in 1849, Central Connecticut State University is now a comprehensive regional university. Enrolling roughly 11,800 students, CCSU is the largest of the four institutions in the Connecticut State Colleges and University system. The Carnegie Foundation recognizes CCSU as a Community Engagement Institution. The commitment to public service and community engagement is at the heart of CCSU’s programs in teacher education.

Program Features

The Master of Science in Special Education is available with a specialization for Special Education Teachers and a specialization in Inclusion and Transition. The Special Education Teachers track is intended for students who are already licensed in special education. The Inclusion and Transition track is designed to prepare general education teachers and professionals in related fields (such as psychology or social work) to develop inclusive environments for individuals with disabilities. Available coursework includes:

  • Universal Design, Inclusion, and Accessibility in Learning, Teaching, and Beyond
  • Positive Classroom Management for Students Receiving Special Education Services
  • Designing Classroom Environments for Creative Learning
  • Effective Leadership for Equitable and Inclusive Schools

Notables

The curriculum for both of the Special Education tracks aligns with the standards of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). CCSU also offers a Master of Arts in Teaching for Special Education (kindergarten through grade 12).

21. University of Northern Iowa

Overview

The Princeton Review has recognized the University of Northern Iowa as one of the best universities in the Midwest. UNI also appears in Washington Monthly’s ranking of the top 100 schools, both public and private, that offer the “Best Bang for the Buck.” This combination of outstanding academic quality and tuition value has made UNI’s College of Education a top destination for teachers, administrators, school psychologists, instructional technologists, and more.

Program Features

The Master of Arts in Education for Special Education features an emphasis on enhancing student access to the general education curriculum. This degree will require a minimum of 30 credit hours. Students will take courses focusing on integration into the community, interagency collaboration, and other key aspects of inclusion. Specific course titles may include:

  • Designing Curriculum and Instruction for Students with Intellectual Disabilities, K-12
  • Vocational and Transition Assessment of Individuals with Disabilities
  • Specialized Assessment and Instruction for Students with Disabilities
  • Qualitative Research in Special Education

Notables

Candidates for this degree will choose between a master’s thesis or research paper as their capstone activity. All degree candidates are required to pass a written comprehensive examination. One hundred percent of recent graduates from the UNI program in Special Education find teaching positions within a year of graduation.

22. University of Washington

Overview

In a 2017 Academic Ranking of World Universities, the University of Washington was named to 13th place. The UW offers a number of top-tier options for current and aspiring special education teachers to launch their careers or elevate their teaching practice. These programs have garnered national recognition for excellence: U.S. News & World Report ranks the Special Education programs at the University of Washington seventh in the nation.

Program Features

Students can pursue a Master of Education in High-Incidence Disabilities, Low-Incidence Disabilities, or Early Childhood Special Education. All of these programs are open to students who are seeking their first teaching certification. The Early Childhood Special Education degree track requires a minimum of 45 credit hours. Coursework for this degree may include:

  • Collaborating with Families and Educational Teams
  • Curriculum and Assessment for Young Children with Disabilities
  • Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities and Other Special Needs
  • Planning Comprehensive Behavioral Interventions

Notables

The Early Childhood Special Education program features a significant fieldwork component. Degree candidates will have the opportunity to work with children and families in early intervention (birth to age three), preschool, and elementary school. The UW also presents an M.Ed. in Applied Behavior Analysis. This program is available on campus as well as online.

23. Indiana University Bloomington

Overview

As the flagship campus of IU’s eight locations across the state, Indiana University Bloomington is a national leader in research, the arts, and teacher education. Bloomington is ranked the number one city in the nation for work-life balance, according to Forbes, and College Ranker places Bloomington at number six among “Best College Towns to Live In Forever.” The IU School of Education at Bloomington is responsible for the preparation of one-third of Indiana’s teachers.

Program Features

The 36-credit hour program requires 12 courses and leads to an M.S.Ed. in Special Education. Through this program, teachers who are licensed at the elementary or secondary level can add certification for “mild” or “intense” intervention. Students typically complete this degree over the course of six semesters (including summer semesters). Required coursework includes:

  • Assessment and Remediation of the Mildly Handicapped
  • Families, School, and Society
  • Classroom Management and Behavior Support
  • Collaboration and Service Delivery

Notables

Students in this program will take 12 credit hours in a specialization. Options for the specialization include Autism, Behavior Disorders, Early Childhood Education, and Instructional Strategies. Students can work with their advisor to create another area of emphasis based on their career goals. All candidates for this degree will take three credit hours in either an independent research project or a master’s thesis.

24. University of Oregon

Overview

Serving approximately 23,000 students, the University of Oregon is one of just two universities in the Pacific Northwest to be selected as a member institution of the elite Association of American Universities. UO is home to more than 300 degree and certificate programs and 30 research centers, institutes, and facilities. Headed by nationally renowned faculty members, the College of Education at UO embraces its mission of “Making Educational and Social Systems Work for All.”

Program Features

The Special Education program at UO is available as a Master of Arts degree, a Master of Science degree, and a Master of Education degree. The M.A. degree requires students to have a proficiency in a second language, while the M.Ed. requires that students already hold a teaching license and have at least one year of teaching experience. Other candidates will enroll in the M.S. track. Available coursework from the Special Education and Clinical Sciences Department includes:

  • Behavior and Classroom Management
  • Early Literacy for Diverse Learners
  • Assessment in Special Education
  • Law and Special Education

Notables

These degree tracks can lead to certification (either initial teaching licensure or an add-on endorsement) for Birth through Kindergarten or Kindergarten through Grade 12 Special Education. UO also offers master’s degree programs in Educational Leadership and in Communication Disorders and Sciences.

25. Syracuse University

Overview

Located in the heart of New York State, Syracuse University has a student body of almost 15,000 undergraduates and 5,000 graduate students. In a 2018 ranking from College Factual, Syracuse came in second nationwide among the Best Special Education Colleges in the U.S. At Syracuse, students can pursue initial teaching certification through programs in Inclusive Special Education (Grades One through Six, Grades Seven through 12 Generalist, or Severe/Multiple Disabilities) and Early Childhood Special Education.

Program Features

The M.S. in Early Childhood Special Education requires a minimum of 58 credits. After successfully completing this program, students will be New York State-certified in both Early Childhood and Students with Disabilities (Birth through Grade Two). Students in this program will complete coursework such as:

  • Child and Family in Cross-Cultural Perspective
  • Positive Approaches to Challenging Behavior
  • Developmental Therapy for Children with Disabilities
  • Augmentation of Communication in Inclusive Classrooms

Notables

No prior teaching certification or background in education is required for the Early Childhood Special Education program. However, candidates are encouraged to have experience working with children in formal or informal capacities. Candidates for this degree will be eligible for a 25 percent reduction in tuition through the School of Education’s High Needs Scholarship.

26. Pennsylvania State University

Overview

With 24 campuses and over 17,000 faculty and staff, Pennsylvania State University is a world-class institution of higher learning. The College of Education at Penn State recently tied for 38th place in U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 ranking of the best graduate schools of education. Penn State offers two distinct tracks in Special Education: The Master of Science track and the Master of Education track.

Program Features

The M.S. degree program is strongly oriented towards research, and is ideal for candidates who plan to pursue doctoral study and an academic career. Meanwhile, the M.Ed. degree program is designed to help students develop advanced teaching ability. Candidates for the M.S. are required to complete a master’s thesis and pass a comprehensive examination. The curriculum for the M.S. is flexible, and students can choose to take courses such as:

  • Developing and Interpreting Assessments in Special Education
  • Problems in the Education of the Emotionally Disturbed
  • Grant-Proposal Development in Special Education
  • Infants and Toddlers with Special Needs

Notables

As a 4+1 program for Penn State undergraduates, the M.Ed. track allows students to earn a bachelor’s degree with initial teaching certification, a master’s degree in Special Education, and special education teacher certification within five years. The M.Ed. in Special Education is also available fully online.

27. George Mason University

Overview

The 34,000 students of George Mason University make up a vibrant, dynamic community representing 130 countries around the world. In fact, Mason was recently named by U.S. News & World Report as the most diverse university in Virginia. The university-wide commitment to diversity, inclusion, and social justice is a key feature of Mason’s programs in education and teacher training.

Program Features

The M.Ed. in Special Education is available in face-to-face, online, and hybrid formats. The degree track features a total of 30 credit hours, including 15 credit hours in required coursework and 15 credit hours of electives. Within the 15-credit hour core, students will have numerous options to fulfill foundational requirements. Options for the 15 credit hours of core coursework include:

  • Foundations of Language and Literacy for Diverse Learners
  • Supporting Communication and Literacy for Individuals with Autism
  • Collaborative Teamwork to Support Students with Significant Disabilities
  • Ethical and Professional Conduct for Behavior Analysis

Notables

Through this flexible program, students can pair their master’s degree with a graduate certificate in a number of specific areas. Mason offers graduate certificates in American Sign Language, Applied Behavior Analysis, Visual Impairments, and more. A graduate program in Special Education Leadership is also available.

28. University of Northern Colorado

Overview

The Carnegie Foundation has awarded the University of Northern Colorado a Community Engagement Classification. Northern Colorado is widely recognized as a leading institution for teacher education: Almost one-third of the Colorado Department of Education’s recent Teachers of the Year are graduates of UNC. Presented by the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, the M.A. in Special Education at UNC emphasizes diversity, engagement, and flexibility.

Program Features

The program at UNC requires between 33 and 45 credit hours. Students may choose to enroll in this program through a traditional, residential program on the main UNC campus in Greeley, or through a hybrid program on the Denver campus. Students may also pursue this degree fully online. Required coursework includes:

  • Learning Environments and Cultural Considerations
  • Assessment, IEP Development, and Instructional Planning
  • Mathematics and Content Area Learning for Students with Disabilities
  • Educating Students with Significant Support Needs

Notables

Class size is limited for this program, so prospective students are encouraged to apply at least 60 days before the start of their first semester. Applicants are required to have a minimum GPA of 3.0 on the most recent 60 hours of undergraduate coursework. If students are accepted to the M.A. program without a teaching license, they will be required to enroll in the separate Professional Teacher Education Program to earn initial certification.

29. University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Overview

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa enrolls roughly 12,000 undergraduate students and 4,000 graduate students. According to Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings, UH Mānoa is among the top 70 universities in the U.S. and the top 1 percent of higher education institutions worldwide. The Special Education program at UH Mānoa is suitable for classroom teachers as well as professionals who work with individuals with disabilities in other settings, such as nonprofit organizations and child-serving behavioral health agencies.

Program Features

The M.Ed. in Special Education is available with tracks in Literacy Specialist and in Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Students who do not choose one of these specializations will be able to use 15 credit hours in electives to create their own area of emphasis, such as Early Intervention, Autism, Mild/Moderate Disabilities, Severe Disabilities, Instructional Specialist, or Assistive Technology. Core coursework for all students pursuing this degree includes:

  • Special Education Laws and Compliance
  • Seminar in Issues in Special Education
  • Seminar on Applied Research in Special Education
  • Research Practicum in Special Education

Notables

Much of the coursework for this degree is offered through online, synchronous classes. Typically, class meetings are scheduled during the early evenings. This program does not lead to initial teaching licensure, but can lead to a Literacy Specialist license or certification in behavior analysis.

30. University of Alaska Fairbanks

Overview

Established in 1917, the University of Alaska Fairbanks is located on a 2,250-acre campus on the banks of the Chena River in the heart of Alaska. Fairbanks, a city of approximately 32,000, is easily accessible from campus via car, bus, or bike. U.S. News & World Report ranks UAF the only Tier One National University in the state. The acclaimed Special Education program at UAF prepares K-12 educators with advanced training in educational assessment, interventions strategies, and current special education law.

Program Features

For certified teachers pursuing an endorsement in special education, the Master of Education in Special Education requires a minimum of 36 credit hours. For candidates seeking initial certification, the degree program requires a minimum of 39 credit hours. For both certified teachers and pre-service teaching candidates, the following coursework is required:

  • Assessment of Students with Exceptionalities
  • Curriculum, Management, and Strategies: Low Incidence
  • Teaching Mathematics to Special Learners
  • Special Education Law: Principles and Practices

Notables

Students applying to this program are expected to have an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0. A non-certification program is available for students who are already licensed in special education, or for those who work with individuals with disabilities outside of a traditional classroom setting.

31. Kent State University at Kent

 

Overview

With 10 colleges and more than 280 academic programs, Kent State University is a world-class, multi-campus institution with eight Ohio campuses and six other U.S. locations. Over 29,000 undergraduate and graduate students are currently enrolled at Kent State, and the University boasts a global alumni network of 241,000. Kent State is home to an active student chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), which provides students with abundant professional development and community service opportunities.

Program Features

The M.Ed. in Special Education from Kent State requires at least 33 credit hours. This program offers a range of concentration options, such as American Sign Language/English Interpreting, Deaf Education, Early Childhood Intervention Specialist, Mild/Moderate Educational Needs, Moderate/Intensive Educational Needs, Transition-to-Work, and General Special Education. Students in the General Special Education track will have the opportunity to take courses such as:

  • Pharmacological Interventions in Special Education
  • Consulting in the Helping Professions
  • Foundations In Early Childhood Services
  • Single Subjects Research Methods

Notables

Applicants to this program are not required to hold a bachelor’s degree in an education-related discipline. Graduates will be prepared to continue onto a doctoral program, to serve in leadership roles in educational settings, or to pursue a career in advocacy and systems change.

32. Washburn University

Overview

Located in Topeka, Kansas, Washburn University is a public institution serving over 7,500 students. Washburn promotes a commitment to affordability: Residents of Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas will pay the same tuition as Kansas residents. U.S. News & World Report has cited Washburn for its exceptionally low student debt upon graduation. At Washburn, students can pursue a degree-only program, a licensure-only program, or a degree-plus-licensure track in Adaptive Special Education.

Program Features

Within the Adaptive Special Education program, students can choose between certification options in Kindergarten through Grade Six (elementary) and Grades Six Through 12 (secondary). Typically, students will earn a special education endorsement at the level (elementary or secondary) for which they hold a general education license. Core coursework for the Master of Education in Adaptive Special Education includes:

  • Learning and Behavior Problems
  • Curriculum Development and Evaluation
  • Conferencing and Consulting in Special Education
  • Individual and Group Management

Notables

Candidates for this M.Ed. degree will have five options for their capstone experience. Choices include a traditional master’s thesis, a written comprehensive exam, a comprehensive paper, an action research project, and a portfolio. Students who choose to complete the portfolio will also need to pass an oral exam with their three-member faculty committee.

33. Boise State University

Overview

Boise State University is Idaho’s largest university and its fastest-growing research enterprise. The graduate programs at Boise State’s College of Education are ranked among the top three in the Northwest, according to U.S. News & World Report. The Special Education program at Boise State emphasizes collaboration and teamwork in both classroom and clinical settings.

Program Features

Housed in the Early and Special Education Department, this program culminates in a Master in Teaching (M.I.T.) in Special Education degree. Successful graduates of the program will earn initial teaching certification in Exceptional Child, Generalist for kindergarten through grade 12. This degree track requires a total of 37 credit hours, which students will earn through courses such as:

  • Intensive, Individualized Behavior Support
  • Disability/Special Education and the Law
  • Evidence-Based Practices for Students with Support Needs
  • Universal Design and Assistive Technology

Notables

Applicants to this program will be required to submit two letters of recommendation from professionals who can speak to the applicant’s ability to work with children with disabilities. Once accepted, students typically complete this program over the course of four semesters. This program allows students to undertake clinical experiences with the support of supervisors and peers both from the University and from local schools and districts.

34. Portland State University

Overview

The mission of Portland State University is to “let knowledge serve the city,” reflecting a close relationship between PSU’s innovative academic initiatives and its outreach programs for the surrounding community. U.S. News & World Report has named Portland State to its list of the nation’s top 10 “most innovative” colleges for three consecutive years. The emphasis on community engagement and local impact is a driving force behind PSU’s graduate programs in Special Education.

Program Features

The Department of Special Education, housed within the Graduate School of Education, offers both a Master of Science and a Master of Arts degree in Special Education. Students applying to the M.A. degree track must pass a foreign language proficiency exam. Both degree tracks require 73 quarter credits. Candidates for either degree may take courses such as:

  • Specialized Techniques for the Inclusive Elementary Educator
  • Planning and Instruction for Students with Special Needs
  • Collaborative Teaming and the Special Education Process
  • Functional Assessment for the Inclusive Elementary Educator

Notables

Depending on whether they enroll on a part-time or full-time basis, students can complete licensure requirements in either one or two years through this program. The curriculum features more than 700 clock hours of experience in local K-12 classrooms.

35. Plymouth State University

Overview

Founded in 1871, Plymouth State University is located in central New Hampshire at the gateway to the White Mountains. The 170-acre campus is renowned for the beauty of the surrounding landscapes, while the University’s innovative experiential learning model has garnered widespread acclaim for promoting academic excellence. The Special Education program offers numerous concentrations to suit each student’s individual career goals.

Program Features

The curriculum of Plymouth State’s M.Ed. in Special Education is aligned with the standards of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). Degree candidates may choose to pursue concentrations in K-12 General Special Education Certification or K-12 Administrator Certification. The degree is also available through a non-certification, degree-only track. For the K-12 General Special Education program, the following coursework is required:

  • Working with Families and Children: Legal and Ethical Issues
  • Theories of Learning and Cognitive Development
  • Classroom Intervention and Special Education Strategies
  • Collaboration, Consultation, and Leadership in Special Education

Notables

Applicants to this program must have a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or above. Students who earned their bachelor’s degree in a teacher certification program or an education-related field can pursue the K-12 General Special Education Certification through the One Year Intensive track. This program combines a prescribed sequence of coursework with an internship in a special education setting.

36. Eastern Michigan University

Overview

Eastern Michigan University was established in 1849 as a small teachers college. Today, the University offers more than 200 undergraduate programs and 150 graduate programs for its 21,000 students. Although EMU’s academic options have expanded greatly since it was founded as the first teachers college west of the Alleghenies, it remains one of the nation’s largest producers of educational personnel.

Program Features

The Master of Arts in Special Education requires between 33 and 37 credit hours. This program is designed for students who already hold a teaching license. Students who have not yet earned initial certification will be expected to complete additional requirements. Required coursework for all degree candidates includes:

  • Classroom Management and the Development of Social Competence in Students with Special Needs
  • Models and Skills for Special and General Education Collaboration
  • Assessment and Advanced Diagnostic Prescriptive Programming for Students with Disabilities
  • Integrated Curriculum in Special Education: Math and Motor Skills Development

Notables

Degree candidates have the option of completing either an independent study project or a master’s thesis as their culminating experience. Students in this program can choose from numerous tracks leading to specific endorsements, including Emotional Impairment, Cognitive Impairment, Physical Impairment and Other Health Impairment, Visual Impairment, and Hearing Impairment. The Special Education program is available at an EMU off-campus location or fully online.

37. Minot State University

Overview

Serving more than 3,200 students, Minot State University is the third largest university in North Dakota. The University is known for its active learning environments and commitment to public service. Minot State offers a number of graduate programs in education-related fields, including a Master of Science in Communication Disorders: Speech-Language Pathology, an Education Specialist degree in School Psychology, and a Master of Science in Special Education.

Program Features

Students in the Special Education program can choose a concentration in Deaf or Hard of Hearing, Early Childhood Special Education, Special Education Strategist, or Specific Learning Disabilities. Depending on the concentration and specific coursework that a student chooses, the degree track will require between 32 and 45 credit hours. The Special Education Strategist emphasis is designed to prepare graduates to become special education generalists. Coursework for this concentration includes:

  • High-Intensity Support Methods
  • Assistive Technology
  • Methods of Teaching in Early Childhood Special Education
  • Classroom Management and Positive Behavior Support

Notables

Each of the concentrations for the M.S. in Special Education degree is also available as a stand-alone graduate certificate. The majority of coursework for all of the graduate Special Education tracks is offered online. All candidates for this M.S. degree will complete a thesis as their capstone experience.

38. Tennessee State University

Overview

As an urban, land-grant institution, Tennessee State University proudly operates two campuses in Nashville. One is the 500-acre main campus along the Cumberland River, and the other is the downtown campus in Nashville’s vibrant business and government district. TSU has been featured in U.S. News & World Report’s “Guide to America’s Best Colleges” for over a decade. TSU offers 38 undergraduate degrees and 24 graduate degrees, including a renowned program in Special Education.

Program Features

The M.Ed. in Special Education at TSU requires a minimum of 33 credit hours. Students applying to this program must be certified to teach. Graduates will be prepared to serve in public school classrooms as well as in hospitals, group homes, mental health centers, and public and private community service agencies. Available coursework includes:

  • Technology in Special Education and Rehabilitation
  • Psycho-Educational Diagnosis of the Exceptional Child
  • Learning and Behavior Disabilities
  • Education and Psychology of Exceptional Children

Notables

To meet unconditional admission requirements, students must have a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.5 or higher. Students with a lower GPA may be admitted on a provisional basis. However, their GRE or MAT scores must be correspondingly higher. (For example, the minimum GRE score for a GPA of 2.5 is 290. The minimum GRE score for a GPA between 2.25 and 2.49 is 293.)

39. The University of Montana

Overview

Located in Missoula in the western part of the state, the University of Montana offers world-class academic programs in the humanities, biomedical sciences, law, business, journalism, and more. The acclaimed Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences is home to five academic departments and the Institute of Educational Research and Service. The College offers a unique Special Education program that can complement a number of M.Ed. degree programs.

Program Features

UM offers a pathway for graduate students to earn an endorsement in pre-kindergarten through grade 12 special education. This program is offered as a minor for candidates pursuing a Master of Education. Students will declare a major in another M.Ed. program (such as Curriculum Studies, General Curricular Studies, or Advanced Early Childhood Education). Coursework for the Special Education minor may include:

  • Curriculum Design, Implementation, and Evaluation
  • Computer and Other Technological Applications in Education
  • Literacy Assessment, Diagnosis, and Instruction
  • Special Education Law, Policy, and Practice

Notables

Teacher certification is a graduation requirement for this program. Candidates for the Special Education minor who do not already hold a teaching license will be required to concurrently enroll in an initial certification program (either in kindergarten through grade eight or a content area for secondary education).

40. St. Cloud State University

Overview

Forbes ranks St. Cloud State University among the top 1 percent of the most affordable of “America’s Top Colleges.” SCSU serves roughly 15,000 students on its 100-acre campus, located on the Mississippi River between the Beaver Islands and downtown St. Cloud. SCSU’s School of Graduate Studies offers Master of Science degrees in Applied Behavior Analysis, Educational Administration and Leadership, and Special Education.

Program Features

Students may choose to enroll in the M.S. in Special Education on a part-time or full-time basis. While earning their degree, students can simultaneously pursue certificates leading to licensure in Academic and Behavioral Strategist, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Developmental Disorders, Emotional/Behavioral Disorders, or Learning Disabilities. The thesis track for this degree requires 30 credit hours, while the non-thesis track requires 33 credit hours. Candidates may complete coursework such as:

  • Characteristics of Students with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
  • Advanced Methods and Interventions for Students with Mild-Moderate Disabilities
  • Individualized Assessment in Special Education
  • Behavior Theories and Practices in Special Education

Notables

Graduates will be qualified to pursue careers as a special education teacher, education specialist, vocational coordinator, or treatment program coordinator. This program holds accreditation from both the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

41. Frostburg State University

Overview

As one of 12 institutions in the University System of Maryland, Frostburg State University is ranked as a “Best Value College” by Money Magazine. Frostburg enrolls approximately 4,700 undergraduate students, 580 graduate students, and 80 doctoral students. The Special Education program at Frostburg prepares educators to diagnose educational difficulties and implement programs to meet the needs of individual children.

Program Features

The Master of Education in Special Education is designed for licensed classroom teachers. This degree can lead to special education certification in either grades one through eight or grades six through 12. Students may complete this program on campus in Frostburg or Hagerstown, or through an entirely online track. The curriculum features between 39 and 42 credit hours, including required courses such as:

  • Cultural and Technological Awareness in the Context of Global Education
  • Assessment, Diagnosis, and Evaluation of Exceptional Children
  • Managing Student Behavior and Social Interaction Skills
  • Communication and Collaborative Partnerships in Special Education Programs

Notables

Students may begin this program in the fall, spring, or summer semesters. Full-time students will complete more than 300 hours in the classroom through numerous fieldwork and practicum experiences. At the end of their program, degree candidates will complete an action research project as their culminating activity.

42. University of South Alabama

Overview

The 1,200-acre campus of the University of South Alabama is home to the Glenn Sebastian Nature Trail, which winds through three miles of native pine and oak woodlands, and the award-winning Gwin Sculpture Collection, which includes dozens of works of public art. South offers over 100 academic options to its 15,500 students. In 2017, the renowned College of Education and Professional Studies at South celebrated its 50th anniversary of promoting excellence in teacher training.

Program Features

Presented by the Department of Leadership and Teacher Education, the M.Ed. in Special Education requires a minimum of 30 credit hours. Degree candidates with a valid Class B teaching certificate in any area can earn certification in Collaborative Teaching for Kindergarten through Grade Six or for Grades Six through 12. Required coursework for this degree includes:

  • Methods for Special Needs Learners
  • Data and Behavior Management
  • Educational Research and Evaluation
  • Multicategory Practice Seminar

Notables

Students must maintain a GPA of at least 3.25 to graduate with this degree. A practicum or internship experience is required for this program. Candidates can choose to complete the practicum or internship in either of their last two semesters. South also offers M.Ed. programs leading to certification in Instructional Leadership, English for Speakers of Other Languages, Art Education, and more.

43. Norfolk State University

Overview

Located in Norfolk, Virginia, Norfolk State University has earned a coveted Military Friendly designation from G.I. Jobs. With five academic colleges and 49 degree programs, NSU is a public, doctoral-granting institution serving approximately 7,000 students. Norfolk offers an array of graduate programs in special education, allowing students to choose the program that perfectly aligns with their prior experience and their goals for the future.

Program Features

The Master of Arts in Special Education is available in four tracks: General Curriculum (mild disabilities) K-12, Adapted Curriculum (severe disabilities) K-12, General Curriculum—Non-Teaching (for students not seeking an educator license), and Rehabilitation Counseling. The General Curriculum K-12 track requires a minimum of 39 credit hours, and can be completed in five semesters. The following courses are required for this track:

  • Foundations of Special Education: Characteristics, Legal, and Ethical Aspects of Educating Exceptional Learners
  • Attributes and Medical Conditions Associated with Disabilities
  • Curriculum and Instructional Procedures for Teaching Students with Mild Disabilities
  • Collaboration, Inclusion, Transition, and Other Curricular Adjustments for Exceptional Learners

Notables

This degree program includes a semester-long student teaching placement. Norfolk also offers an endorsement in Vision Impairment for pre-kindergarten through grade 12. Other graduate programs in education include an online M.A.T. in Elementary Education.

44. Indiana University Northwest

Overview

Part of the eight-campus Indiana University system, Indiana University Northwest is located in Gary and serves the community throughout the northern region of the state. IU Northwest offers a number of graduate programs that affirm the University’s commitment to public service, including highly ranked programs leading to a Master of Social Work, a Master of Science in Clinical Counseling, and a Master of Science in Education.

Program Features

The Master of Science in Education for Special Education allows students to choose a concentration in either Elementary or Secondary Education. This program requires 33 credit hours. The curriculum is flexible, featuring only two courses required for all candidates and allowing students to choose their coursework for the other 27 credit hours from a large number of approved electives. Students in this program will have the opportunity to take classes such as:

  • Reading Assessment and Instruction in Special Education
  • Race, Class, and Gender Issues in Education
  • Education of the Socially and Emotionally Disturbed
  • Application of Instructional Media and Technology

Notables

The two courses that are required for all students in this degree program are Strategies for Educational Inquiry and Master’s Portfolio Preparation. The M.S.Ed. is also available with concentrations in general Elementary or Secondary Education, Educational Leadership, and Secondary Education: Urban.

45. University of Wyoming

Overview

The University of Wyoming offers over 80 undergraduate and 90 graduate academic programs through seven colleges and numerous interdisciplinary institutes. In addition to its academic programs, UW is also widely known for its scenic setting in the Rocky Mountains: Outdoor Magazine ranks the University as one of the nation’s top outdoor schools. The College of Education at UW has been nationally accredited by the CAEP (formerly NCATE) for over 60 years.

Program Features

The Master of Education in Special Education offers two options for a capstone experience: a thesis (Plan A) or a master’s project (Plan B). The thesis track requires 41 credit hours, while the project track requires 33 credit hours. Coursework for this degree may include:

  • Teaching Students with Severe to Low Incidence Disabilities
  • Positive Behavior Support and Management
  • Academic Instruction in General Education for Students with Disabilities
  • Collaboration/Professional Interdisciplinary Relationships

Notables

Program starts are available in both the fall semester and the spring semester. Students applying to this program must have a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.25 or above. A valid Wyoming teaching certificate is also required for admission. UW’s College of Education is home to the Literacy Research Center and Clinic, which is dedicated to transforming literacy education in Wyoming.

Rankings



Best Master’s in Special Education Degrees



Most Affordable Online Master’s in Special Education Degrees



10 Most Affordable Bachelor’s in Special Education



20 Best Online Bachelor’s in Special Education Degrees



25 Best Bachelor’s in Special Education

FAQs



What Do you Special Education Teachers Do?



What Degree Do You Need to Teach Special Education?



How Much Do Special Education Teachers make?



What Is the Difference Between Online and a Residential Bachelor of Special Education?



What Jobs Can I Get With a Bachelor’s in Special Education Degree?