Most Affordable Online Master’s in Special Education Programs

Most Affordable Online Master’s in Special Education Programs

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Special Ed Teaching Degrees

Schools need compassionate special education teachers. These educators need a bachelor's degree to practice. However, a master's degree in special education can help them better serve their students. Learners who pursue online master's in education degrees benefit from the flexibility of completing coursework from anywhere.

This page lists the most affordable online master's in special education degrees. Read on for costs, common courses, and benefits of online learning.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Special Education Degrees

trueQ. What can you do with a master's in special education?

Graduates can work as lead special education instructors or special education administrators. Some degree holders work as career and technical education teachers.

trueQ. What do you learn in a master's in special education program?

Degree-seekers study common physical, mental, and emotional disabilities. Enrollees explore how these disabilities impact students' learning processes. Special education majors discover best practices for helping these learners meet educational milestones.

trueQ. How long does it take to get a master's degree in special education?

Full-time enrollees can earn a master's degree in about two years. Part-time students take longer. Learners can explore accelerated master's in special education programs to graduate sooner.

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Why Get a Master's in Special Education?

Online master's in special education degrees train enrollees to work with students with diverse needs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for special education teachers to grow 8% from 2020-2030. This amounts to about 38,600 new jobs annually during this time.

Students who pursue online master's in special education degrees benefit from convenience. They do not need to commute to campus and can attend the most affordable programs without relocating. Many online programs run asynchronously, allowing learners to complete coursework around other responsibilities.

How Much Does a Master's in Special Education Cost?

Tuition costs vary by school and program length. According to EducationData.org, master's degrees cost an average of $30,000-$120,000. Students can save money by enrolling in a public, in-state school. Some online colleges charge distance learners flat tuition, regardless of residency.

Students pursuing an MA in special education can apply for financial aid such as scholarships and grants to help pay for their degrees. These financial aid types do not require repayment.

Additional Online Student Fees

Online learners do not pay for campus housing or meal plans. However, they should plan for extra expenses, such as books and class materials. Degree-seekers can save money by renting textbooks or choosing digital versions.

Some programs charge fees for virtual classroom management software. Others charge graduation fees. Learners should also budget for certification exam fees. These fees vary by state.

How Much Do Special Education Majors Make?

Special education teachers with a master's degree earn an average of $56,000 annually, according to November 2021 PayScale data. Teachers with less than one year of experience earn an average of $42,000. Those with more than 20 years of experience earn an average of $61,000.

Courses in a Master's in Special Education Program

Master's in special education programs teach aspiring educators about common disabilities. Enrollees study theories that influence alternative instruction methods. Coursework covers Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and how to implement them.

Courses follow lecture-based formats. Online students read case studies and engage in discussion boards. Most online programs require a practicum, dissertation, or thesis.

See below for three common courses in online master's in special education programs. Keep in mind that course titles and descriptions vary by program.

  • Individualized Education Programs and Measurable Goals

    Enrollees learn how to create IEPs. They discover how to set realistic, measurable goals. Coursework covers research that influences IEP best practices. Students read case studies about diverse learners and practice creating research-backed IEPs.
  • Research Methodology

    This course prepares students to conduct thorough and ethical research surrounding special education. Learners choose a theory to test. This theory usually relates to a student's thesis. Students research their theories and write papers on their findings. They can submit their research to scholarly journals for publication.
  • Thesis

    For a thesis, learners select a research question or theory they want to test in the special education field. Several professors work on thesis committees to provide feedback and evaluate the thesis. Learners write a thesis containing 40-80 pages. They may present their thesis at industry conferences.

How to Become a Teacher

Teachers can take different paths to become licensed educators. They first need an undergraduate degree. Most teachers earn a bachelor of education, which requires student teaching. Educators who further their knowledge with a master's degree may increase their salary potential.

Learners can become teachers without an undergraduate degree in education. Instead, they can earn a teacher certification online. Licensure requirements vary by state.

Licensure for Teachers

Prospective teachers can review states' teacher certification requirements. All states require bachelor's degrees and certifications before taking licensure tests. Each state requires a specific licensure exam. Most states require Praxis® tests. The Educational Testing Service provides these exams.

Special education teachers must complete continuing education hours to maintain licensure. Educators who move to a new state may need to take an additional licensure test. States with similar licensure requirements often participate in reciprocity agreements. This means some teaching licenses transfer to other states.

Most Affordable Online Master's in Special Education

  1. University of the Cumberlands
    Location

    Williamsburg, KY

    Tuition

    $5970

    The University of the Cumberlands is located in Williamsburg, Kentucky, and offers an online master's in special education.

    The program's 42-credit curriculum includes courses in research methods, special education assessment and evaluation, classroom behavior management for special student populations, and educational psychology. Graduates qualify for teaching licensure in Kentucky. Out-of-state students must check reciprocity agreements to determine if this program qualifies them for licensure in their home state.

    Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA. Applicants must also submit three letters of recommendation and GRE or Praxis CASE scores. Cumberlands allows students to transfer in up to nine credits from an accredited graduate program.

    Cumberlands is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The special education program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

  2. Texas Woman's University
    Location

    Denton, TX

    Tuition

    $8587

    Texas Woman's University is the nation's largest women's college, operating campuses in Denton, Houston, and Dallas. TWU offers a variety of on-campus and online programs, including a master of education in special education.

    TWU's 30-credit online master's in special education offers a concentration in interventions or leads to educational diagnostician certification. In both cases, the curriculum covers instructional interventions for students with disabilities, collaborating for effective intervention, and legal and administrative issues of special education programs. Students pursuing certification must complete a 160-hour supervised practicum.

    Admission requirements include teaching licensure, at least two years of teaching experience, and a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants must submit a resume, a letter of intent, two professional letters of recommendation, and a copy of their teaching license.

    TWU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  3. Fitchburg State University
    Location

    Fitchburg, MA

    Tuition

    $3828

    Fitchburg State University's 60-acre campus is located in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Fitchburg State offers a variety of online programs, including a master's in special education.

    This graduate program offers several concentrations, some of which lead to initial licensure. Some concentrations offer a hybrid delivery method, while others eliminate all in-person requirements. Each option requires 36-39 credits, but curricula vary by concentration. The program typically takes two years to complete.

    Prospective students must submit official bachelor's transcripts, three letters of recommendation, a resume, and a one-page essay responding to one of several prompts. Applicants must have a minimum 2.8 GPA in previous college coursework.

    Fitchburg State is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

  4. University of Florida
    Location

    Gainesville, FL

    Tuition

    $19053

    Located in Gainesville, UF offers over 200 online, asynchronous programs, including an online master of education in special education.

    UF's unique 36-credit special education master's degree offers four tracks: autism, disabilities in society, dyslexia, and early childhood. The curriculum for each track includes the same four core courses: designing instruction for inclusive classrooms, families and transition for students with disabilities, teaching learning strategies, and collaborative practices in inclusive schools.

    Prospective students must submit GRE scores, a resume, three letters of recommendation (two must be from professional or academic sources), and official transcripts.

    UF is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  5. Wilmington University
    Location

    New Castle, DE

    Tuition

    $8636

    Located in New Castle, Delaware, WilmU offers a variety of online programs, including a master's of education in special education.

    Individuals pursuing this degree may select from five degree routes. Some routes lead to initial state licensure, while others cater to existing educators. Most options require 33-54 credits, and each route delivers all coursework asynchronously. The general curriculum includes courses in foundations of special education, instructional strategies, and advanced behavioral techniques. Some routes include a practicum or capstone requirement.

    WilmU uses an open, rolling admissions process, so individuals may apply at any time. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA and submit official transcripts and SAT, ACT, or Praxis Core test scores. Before enrollment, individuals must schedule a meeting with a program advisor and register for WilmU's MED 6102 e-folio courses.

    WilmU is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The special education program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

  6. Brandman University
    Location

    Irvine, CA

    Tuition

    $19450

    Brandman operates a central campus in Irvine, California, alongside 25 regional campuses throughout California and Washington. Brandman also offers an online campus with many online degrees, including a master's in special education. Students may complete this degree entirely online or through a hybrid format.

    Brandman's 36-credit online master's in special education includes courses in research and evaluation methods, leadership and policy in special education, advanced assessment and program evaluation, and collaboration in special education. The curriculum culminates in a capstone course and adheres to the Council for Exceptional Children’s Advanced Content Standards.

    Applicants must submit official transcripts and two letters of recommendation. To qualify for this program, individuals must have a current special education teaching license or complete Brandman's EDU 511 Collaboration For Inclusive Schooling course.

    Brandman is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission. The special education program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

  7. George Washington University
    Location

    Washington, DC

    Tuition

    $30834

    Located in Washington, D.C., GW provides experiential and flexible learning programs for individuals hoping to launch or advance their careers. To that end, GW offers several online programs, including an online master's in special education for culturally and linguistically diverse learners.

    The 33-credit program leads to K-12 certification. The curriculum includes courses covering the development of children with disabilities, quantitative research, the development of language and literacy, and academic and psychosocial assessment of culturally and linguistically diverse learners. Students must complete a supervised field-based internship to graduate.

    Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree, a resume, a statement of purpose, and two letters of recommendation. The program starts during the fall or summer term, but individuals may apply at any time.

    GW is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The special education program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

  8. Webster University
    Location

    Saint Louis, MO

    Tuition

    $13500

    Webster is a private, nonprofit university located in St. Louis, Missouri. Webster offers several distance learning programs, including an online master's in special education. Students in the program may select from one of seven concentrations to tailor the curriculum to their career goals.

    The program's 33-credit curriculum covers professional ethics, research, learner development, and teacher leadership. Notable courses include global issues in special education, assessment of learning and learning problems, disability and ethics, and planning for the inclusive classroom. This program serves working educators looking to advance their knowledge in current issues and trends in special education.

    Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA and a prerequisite course in the psychology of the exceptional students.

    Webster is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  9. Lamar University
    Location

    Beaumont, TX

    Tuition

    $9969

    Located in Beaumont, Texas, LU offers 139 programs, including an online master's in special education.

    The program requires 36 credits and typically takes 18 months to complete. The curriculum covers tests, measurement, and evaluation; educational psychology; special education law; reading and language arts for diverse learners; and models for change through collaboration.

    Applicants must have a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA, a teacher's license, and two years of teaching experience. LU accepts applications on a rolling basis and offers multiple start dates throughout the year.

    LU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  10. University of North Texas
    Location

    Denton, TX

    Tuition

    $9185

    Located in Denton, Texas, UNT offers a variety of accelerated online programs, including a master of education in special education with a concentration in autism intervention.

    The 33-credit program uses an eight-week course schedule for the fall and spring semesters and a choice of three-week, five-week, or 10-week sessions for the summer semester. Full-time students can complete the program in 15 months. The curriculum consists of 11 courses, including an introduction to educational psychology, special education law, and positive behavioral interventions in educational and related settings.

    Prospective students must submit official transcripts, two professional or academic letters of recommendation, a resume, a personal statement, and GRE scores. UNT waives the GRE requirement for applicants with a 3.25 undergraduate GPA.

    UNT is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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