Best Special Education Degrees

Updated January 31, 2023

Special Education Courses. With a bachelor of science in special education, graduates gain pertinent knowledge and skills to pass their licensure exam. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Special education professionals have an affinity for equal education and strive to create innovative techniques or tools for students with mental, emotional, and physical disabilities.

Professionals often glean tremendous satisfaction from their work because daily duties allow disadvantaged children to succeed. Additionally, professionals get to positively impact other stakeholders in a child’s life including parents, teachers, or community members. As diagnoses continue to rise, the demand for highly qualified special education professionals has also increased. In fact, according to the BLS, this field should experience an 8% growth rate through 2026, indicating a steady demand for special education graduates.

Due to the sensitive nature of their work, pertinent personal characteristics, and specialized skills, special education majors often qualify for financial assistance through grants and scholarships. By offsetting school costs through assistance, this degree can be a great return on investment. The list below contains some of the best schools for special education degrees.

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What Are the Best Special Education Degrees?

To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of 23 of the best Bachelor’s of Science in Special Education degrees. Our ranking is based on several factors - we start with standard academic reputation rankings, then we weigh net tuition, early career earnings, and acceptance rates to come up with a composite score that reflects academic excellence and return on investment.

Also, all the schools on our list are regionally accredited, and most programs have additional accreditation from the main educational accrediting bodies: CAEP, TEAC, NCATE.


See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Vanderbilt University

    Nashville, TN



    Located in Nashville, Tennessee, Vanderbilt University, students who wish to help students struggling with disabilities can earn their bachelor of science from one of the best schools for special education. Vanderbilt offers multiple speciality areas including mild and moderate disabilities, multiple and severe disabilities, and visual impairment. Vanderbilt also allows special education majors to combine the degree with other relevant majors including child development or cognitive studies. This degree leads to K-12 licensure and requires an extensive field internship. The university follows traditional semesters and most students enrolled full-time complete their degree within four years.

  2. University of Wisconsin-Madison

    Madison, WI



    At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, aspiring special education professionals can earn their bachelor’s from one of the best schools for special education degrees that has nearly a 100% job placement record for their graduates. This program leads to middle childhood through early adolescence or early adolescence through adolescence level licensures. The University of Wisconsin-Madison also offers a dual major program allowing special education students to become certified elementary teachers. The standard B.S. special education requires 120 credits and 30 credits in field experience. Students considering the dual track may need to complete additional coursework.

  3. University of Texas at Austin

    Austin, TX



    The University of Texas at Austin offers a bachelor of science in applied learning and development through the university’s All-Level Generic Special Education Program, which allows graduates to teach K-12 children with varying disabilities. Students can also work toward certification in special education and early childhood through grade six. This five semester program includes 127 semester hours following traditional, 16-week semesters. Students must complete 1500 hours of field experience, which greatly surpasses the minimum state requirements. Special education students must also engage in a student teaching experience. The University of Texas at Austin also provides career services including cover letter and resume writing, mock interviewing, and job fairs.

  4. University of Maryland-College Park

    College Park, MD



    Regarded as one of the best schools for special education degrees, the University of Maryland-College Park strives to develop highly qualified teachers who can meet the needs of students struggling with disabilities. The University of Maryland-College Park offers a 121 credit hour B.S. in early childhood special education and a 120 credit hour B.S. in elementary and middle special education. Students can earn their degree within four years or less. Both programs prepare students to pass the Praxis II licensure exam and require field experiences throughout students’ junior and senior year. While graduates can obtain certification in Maryland, they also qualify for reciprocity in 49 states.

  5. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

    Minneapolis, MN



    At the Twin Cities campus of The University of Minnesota, students can earn a bachelor of science in special education. This program requires 120 credits, which most students complete within four years. While the university offers a preset graduation path, students can work with a counselor to customize their experience. However, students should note that any alterations may result in a longer program length. Special education graduates from the University of Minnesota qualify for licensure as an academic behavioral strategist, which allows them to work with people from early childhood through 21 years of age.

  6. University of Illinois

    Champaign, IL



    The College of Education at the University of Illinois offers one of the best on-campus special education degrees to undergraduate students. The University of Illinois values engaged candidates who can prove their commitment to helping individuals with disabilities. Therefore, students must have at least 50 hours of experiences to be enrolled into the program. This program requires 125 credit hours in addition to field experiences and a culminating student teaching experience. Additionally, this program leads to licensure in the state of Illinois. Semesters follow traditional semester schedules and most students earn their degree within four years.

  7. Ohio State University

    Columbus, OH



    The College of Education and Human Ecology at Ohio State University offers one of the best on-campus special education degrees to students interested in serving individuals with disabilities. With a bachelor of science in special education, graduates gain pertinent knowledge and skills to pass their licensure exam. Students may choose to focus in early childhood intervention, mild to moderate intervention, or moderate to intensive intervention. Students focusing in early childhood receive a license to work with students K-3, while the other two focuses lead to K-12 licenses. Special education students must engage in field based and student teaching experiences.

  8. Michigan State University

    East Lansing, MI



    The College of Education at Michigan State University boast their five-year bachelor of arts in special education, which leads to a K-12 endorsement and an elementary teaching license. Students graduate with more than 1000 hours of field experience. In the fifth year of the program, students engage in a rigorous internship experience, which allows graduates to enter the workforce fully prepared. Additionally, Michigan State University strives to fulfill their land-grant mission. Therefore, many faculty members work with local schools and communities, which provide students with valuable opportunities and mentorship.

  9. University of Georgia

    Athens, GA



    At the University of Georgia, students with an affinity for helping students with special needs can earn their bachelor of science in education (B.S.Ed) from one of the best schools for special education degrees. Student can choose from a B.S.Ed focusing in adapted curriculum and autism, birth through kindergarten, or a general curriculum. Despite the focus, students must complete a minimum of nine practicum hours and 15 student teaching hours. Additionally, students engage in field experiences every semester. Students also benefit from small class sizes and a cohort style format, which creates a supportive and collaborative environment.

  10. Brigham Young University

    Provo, UT



    The McKay School of Education at Brigham Young University strives to shape highly qualified special education professionals who can meet the needs students with disabilities. Students may choose from mild to moderate disability or severe disability emphasis areas. The mild to moderate program includes 63 credit hours, while the severe program requires 66 credit hours. Additionally, students must complete a six-week practicum during the summer and a student teaching internship. Brigham Young University also requires candidates to complete prerequisites. Students must complete multiple foundation courses and acquire at least 10 volunteer hours with mild to moderate disabled individuals and another 10 hours with individuals who have a severe disability.

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