Why This Matters

  • MANY STATES HAVE EXPERIENCED SHORTAGES OF SPECIAL ED TEACHERS

    From 1998-2018, multiple states throughout the U.S., including California, Florida, New York, and Texas, experienced chronic shortages of special education teachers, more than any other type of educator.

  • EARN UP TO $100,000+ PER YEAR

    While the average special education teacher earns $61,820, there’s the potential to make much more — the top 10% of workers in this field earn more than $100,040.

  • SPECIAL ED JOBS WILL GROW 4% IN THE NEXT DECADE

    Special education teachers are needed for all age groups. However, the need is highest – up 8% by 2031 – for teachers in preschool settings, thanks to earlier detection and diagnosis of learning and developmental disabilities.

Our Research

This list features some of the best online Master’s in Special Education programs at top colleges across the country. Each school featured is a nonprofit, accredited institution — either public or private — with a high standard of academic quality for post-secondary institutions. Many of the schools on our list have been accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs, which assesses the objectives, quality, and overall effectiveness of counseling-related programs.

We evaluated each school’s program on tuition costs, admission, retention and graduation rates, faculty, and reputation as well as the student resources provided for online students. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

Next, we compared this comprehensive list of online Master’s in Special Education programs to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications like the U.S. News & World Report among others to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

The Top 49 Master’s in Special Education Programs

Best Master's in Special Education Programs 2023
01
Intelligent Pick
FSU College of Education
01
Most Customization
Ball State University
01
Best Public Institution
University of Kansas
01
Best for Early Childhood Studies
UF College of Education
01
Best for Dyslexia Studies
Saint Joseph's University
01
Best Hands-On Curriculum
Indiana University
01
Best Scholarships
Drexel University
01
Most Affordable
Arizona State University
01
Most Start Times
Liberty University
01
Best for Visual Impairment Studies
University of North Dakota
01

Michigan State University College of Education
01

George Mason University
01

The University of Arizona
01

UVA School of Education and Human Development
01

West Virginia University
01

Penn State World Campus
01

Purdue University
01

University of Kentucky
01

Texas A&M University at College Station
01

Southern New Hampshire University
01

North Carolina State University at Raleigh
01

Campbellsville University
01

University of Arkansas
01

Clemson University
01

Kentucky State University
01

Minot State University
01

Kansas State University
01

University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
01

Xavier University
01

University of Missouri
01

Touro College
01

Fort Hays State University
01

Valdosta State University
01

Averett University
01

University of South Alabama
01

Indiana State University
01

Gwynedd Mercy University
01

Bemidji State University
01

University of Houston at Victoria
01

Eastern Kentucky University
01

Pittsburg State University
01

Eastern Illinois University
01

University of Maine
01

University of West Alabama
01

Texas Tech University
01

UW Professional & Continuing Education
01

Boise State University
01

University of Houston
01

Drury University

What You Should Know About This Degree

Despite the urgent need for more special education teachers, there are a few important points to consider before pursuing this degree.

You will likely need daytime availability at some point during the program. Although each state sets its own requirements, some type of fieldwork, such as student teaching, is common in special education programs. Individuals who are already teachers may be able to use their regular work hours to fulfill these requirements. However, if you have no prior teaching experience, you will likely need to spend at least one semester in a classroom during daytime hours, so it’s important to consider how this time commitment will fit into your schedule and lifestyle.

Working with and advocating for special needs students can be very rewarding, but special education teachers should also be prepared for responsibilities that go beyond common classroom duties. Special education teachers develop and implement Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) for each student in their classroom, and they meet regularly with students, parents, and other staff to discuss progress and make adjustments. Additionally, working with students with physical disabilities or emotional/behavioral disorders can be physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing. Compassion, calmness, organization, and the ability to juggle multiple tasks are key qualities for special education teachers.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching Master’s in Special Education programs:

  • Am I eligible for this program? Some master’s programs in special education require students to have an undergraduate degree in education and/or professional teaching experience. When researching programs, be sure to look at their eligibility requirements to confirm that you have the necessary educational and professional background.
  • Will I be eligible for licensure after completing this program? As mentioned above, the requirements and procedures for teaching licensure vary by state. If you are planning to obtain a teaching license after completing your master’s program, it’s important to select a program that will make you eligible for licensure in the state in which you plan to teach.

You should also research the application requirements and deadlines for the programs to which you plan to apply. This can make your admissions process easier and less stressful. This information is typically available on the school’s website, or you can contact the admissions department directly.

Financing your graduate education is another important consideration. Some employers provide tuition assistance for employees who are going back to school. You should also look into loans, scholarships, and assistantships.