Why This Matters

  • $61,420 ANNUAL SALARY

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that the median salary for special education teachers in 2020 was $61,420.


    The BLS projects that jobs for special education teachers will increase by 3% from 2019 to 2029. This will mean an extra 14,300 positions in preschool and K-12 special education classrooms, with the largest growth expected at the preschool level.


    New York, Texas, and California hire the most special education teachers, followed by Illinois and New Jersey.

Our Research

We found the most affordable online master’s in special education programs by looking at their estimated cost per credit. This was calculated using the program’s tuition cost and the total number of credits needed to graduate. Accredited programs with the lowest cost per credit made the list.

There are a number of organizations that accredit college education programs. We included degrees accredited by national organizations, such as the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). We also considered programs accredited by regional accreditation organizations, including the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSOC).

  • 51 hours to write this article
  • 100 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 190 education programs we compared

The Top 50 Affordable Online Master’s in Special Education Programs

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What You Should Know About This Degree

Cost can be a major factor for students who are considering whether to pursue an online master’s degree in special education. Tuition for graduate programs is often charged on a per-credit basis, so look at the number of credits the program requires and the tuition rate to get a picture of the overall cost.

As a graduate student, you may still have outstanding loans from your undergraduate degree and may wish to consolidate them before taking new loans for your graduate degree. There is a limit to the amount of money you can borrow through federal student aid, which may be an issue if you used federal loans for your undergraduate studies.

Online programs do allow you to continue working while you pursue further education, but it can be difficult to juggle study with work and other obligations. It’s important you have the self-motivation, time management, and organizational skills to keep up with studies, as well as access to reliable internet and electronic devices.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching online master’s in special education degree programs:

  • Am I eligible for this program? The admission requirements for an online master’s in special education can vary widely between schools, so it’s important to check with schools before applying. The minimum requirement is a bachelor’s degree, and for some programs, you also need a teaching license and experience.
  • Are courses offered synchronously or asynchronously? You can find online master’s of special education courses offered both synchronously and asynchronously. Asynchronous formats, which don’t require you to be online at a specific time for classes, are becoming more popular as students look for study options that fit around other responsibilities.
  • How long does it take to complete an online master’s in special education? The exact amount of time it takes to complete a master’s in special education differs depending on the school and the structure of the program. For most degrees, you need to complete at least 30 credit hours, and this takes 1-2 years for a full-time student.
  • What tests are required for an online special education program? Some schools ask for GRE scores when assessing applications. Check admission guidelines before applying to make sure you meet the school’s requirements.