Believe it or not, but the field of special education is relatively new, with only a history of about 50 years. After the United States was founded in the late 1700s, rights for students with special needs did not exist, and many children were denied education. The first advocacy groups were made up of parents whose children had been discriminated against. It wasn’t until the 1970s when many legal landmarks allowed the beginning of special education programs to be nationalized. Although the field of special education has a long way to go, the many successes and improvements over the years are thanks to dedicated educators and parents who wanted to make a difference.
A Master’s in Special Education degree is the perfect degree for future advocates and educators who believe that all students should receive a quality education, regardless of difference in learning needs. This is an advanced degree ideal for students who already have some knowledge of teaching and experience in working with children. These programs are designed to not only increase knowledge of different needs, but to help create passionate and empathetic leaders.
What type of Master’s in Special Education should you get?
Although the most common degree in this field is the Master of Education degree, throughout this ranking you will see schools that offer a Master of Science or a Master of Arts degree instead. What are the differences?
An MEd is primarily for already licensed teachers who want to move up in their career or obtain additional licensure in a specialized area. An MA degree may be for students who have a background in education, but may not necessarily have the teaching credential. Finally, an MS degree is more research-based, meaning a thesis will most likely be required. An MS is ideal for those wishing to get their PhD or pursue a more research/policy-related career in education.
Interested in getting your Master’s in Special Education degree online? Check out our picks of the Best Online Master’s in Special Education.
How much money do people make with a degree in Special Education?
According to PayScale, those who hold an MEd in Special Education make an average salary of $53,000. Those who work as a special education teacher at a preschool, kindergarten, or elementary school make slightly less than teachers in middle or high school. Directors of special education programs or institutions make an average salary of $72,679. The top ten percent in this field, regardless of specific job title, earned an average salary of $90,260.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that careers in special education are expected to experience a growth of six percent from 2012 to 2022. Due to better screening and knowledge of students with different learning needs, special education jobs have slowly been increasing as the years go by. As demand increases, salaries can also expect to rise. Location, years of experience, and type of school or institution (i.e. public, private, government-funded) are all factors that affect salary.
What can you do with a degree in Special Education?
Most Master’s degrees in this field prepare graduates to work in elementary or secondary schools with students who have physical or mental disabilities. In most programs, students will either choose the “Generalist Specialization” meaning that they will learn about all students from K-12, or will only choose one group such as K-6. Some programs even have concentrations in specific disabilities, such as autism.
In working with these students, job titles include but are not limited to teacher, aid, counselor, program advisor, or administrative worker. Special education workers work full-time and receive benefits like any other teacher or faculty member of a school. Graduates of this degree will be prepared to work with a variety of students from different cultural backgrounds.
What are the requirements for a degree in Special Education?
When applying to these programs, students should check to see if a teaching credential is required. While some programs do require it, others may only require a Bachelor’s degree in education; these degrees usually pave the way for students to obtain state licensure. Students should submit transcripts, letters of recommendations, and any graduate test scores that are required.
During the program, students will most likely need to complete a practicum or internship. These are supervised programs designed to expose students to what a future career would look like serving special needs children. Placements are usually local and have partnerships with the college or university. For more research-focused programs, a capstone or thesis will be required before graduation.
What are the best Master’s in Special Education degrees?
College Choice has compiled a ranking of the 35 Best Master’s degrees in Special Education. These schools were chosen based on a variety of factors, such as overall student success and institutional excellence. We looked at statistics on endowment size, graduation rate, student-to-faculty ratio, average starting salaries, and institutional reputation. Data came from the U.S. News & World Report, individual college websites, PayScale, and the National Center for Education Statistics’ IPEDs database.
See our rankings methodology page.
College Choice Score: 100
Average Net Price: $23,150
Vanderbilt University is a private research university that is located in Nashville, Tennessee. The school was founded thanks to a generous donation by Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt. The school underwent several changes since its founding in 1873, originally beginning as a male-only school. Today Vanderbilt is consistently ranked among the top 20 best universities in the nation by the U.S. News & World Report. The Master’s in Special Education degree is also nationally ranked as one of the best of its kind.
For those who want a career improving the lives of children and youth who are differently-abled, an MEd in Special Education offered at Vanderbilt may be the program for you.
- Fully-funded grants available from the U.S. Department of Education
- Associated with the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development, a national research center for intellectual and developmental disabilities
- Leads to the Office of Teacher Licensure
100 percent of graduates from this program were employed or receiving further education within four months of graduation.
Johns Hopkins University
College Choice Score: 90.54
Average Net Price: $27,352
Johns Hopkins University is one of the nation’s leading research universities. Founded by a 19th century philanthropist, Hopkins believed in improving public health and education. The school was opened in 1875, with Daniel Coit Gilman as its first president, who believed that teaching and research go hand in hand. With over 140 years of history, JHU has not strayed from its mission. The Johns Hopkins School of Education, which offers its Master’s in Special Education degree, is ranked the #15 best graduate school of education in the world by the 2017 Times Higher Education World University Rankings.
Whether you are an experienced or aspiring teacher, the MS in Special Education degree at JHU will give you the skills you need:
- Certification option
- Two Program Areas: Mild/Moderate Disabilities, Severe Disabilities
- Two supervised internships
Graduates are eligible for Maryland State Certification, which they will then be able to be employed as special educators in 47 states.
University of Texas at Austin
College Choice Score: 87.74
Average Net Price: $16,010
The University of Texas at Austin was established when the state’s Congress wanted to create an institution to meet the state’s higher education needs. Classes began in 1883, with only 221 students. Today, UT Austin is a renown research university, with over 51,000 students. It is repeatedly ranked for its teaching and affordability, being the #8 best on Kiplinger’s 2017 Best-Value Public Colleges ranking. UT Austin’s College of Education is also consistently ranked among the top five public graduate schools according to the U.S. News & World Report.
UT Austin’s Master’s program with a concentration in Early Childhood Special Education prepares graduates to be scholars in the field.
- Med, Med with Report, and MA degree available
- Prepares graduates to be Board Certified Behavior Analysts
- Two Tracks: Behavior Analyst Certification, Classroom Practitioner Track
This program is designed to be completed over one calendar year of full-time enrollment (fall, spring, and summer sessions).
University of Georgia
College Choice Score: 87.49
Average Net Price: $14,956
As the #13 best public university in the country for 2019, the University of Georgia is a top research institution that is committed to teaching and serving students of a historically marginalized background. UGA was established in 1801, but was incorporated by an act of the General assembly in 1785. Today, it has seventeen colleges and schools, with the College of Education tracing its history back to 1908. The college is dedicated to providing students with hands-on experiences for their careers, with almost 3,500 activities held in the 2016-2017 school year.
UGA offers an extensive Master’s program in Special Education, with several different degree types and concentrations to choose from.
- MEd Specializations: Adapted Curriculum and Autism, Birth Through Kindergarten/Preschool Special Education, General Curriculum
- Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degrees offered with same specializations as the MEd
- MA in Education with a specialization in Special Education
While all degree types overlap in learning content, an MEd degree is more suitable for those going into research or education policy. An MAT is primarily for teachers to gain licensure. Lastly, this MA is a standard degree that goes over education principles in general with a focus in Special Education.
University of San Diego
College Choice Score: 84.41
Average Net Price: $38,596
The University of San Diego is a private Catholic research institution that was founded in 1949. It is a nationally ranked university with more than 7,800 students. With its roots in the Catholic faith, students are encouraged to learn more about their heritage while pursuing their studies. However, students of all faiths are welcomed and included. USD is currently ranked as the #6 most beautiful campus in the nation according the Princeton Review.
USD’s Master’s in Education degree is designed to teach students how to work with students who have mild to moderate disabilities from kindergarten to age 22.
- Nationally recognized by the Council for Exceptional Children
- Completion Time: 2 years
- Degrees: MEd in Dual Elementary and Ed Specialist, Med in Secondary and Ed Specialist
Teaching candidates can choose either a multiple (elementary) or single (secondary) subject credential plus the education specialist credential.
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
College Choice Score: 83.77
Average Net Price: $16,242
The University of Minnesota is a public research university with its main campus located in the Twin Cities. Its diverse student body encourages a well-rounded educational experience. With amazing research opportunities, UMN is the #8 public research university in the nation, spending more than $900 million annually. It is also a vital part of the state’s economy, being the sixth largest employer. It is estimated UMN generates an annual economic impact of $8.6 billion.
Through UMN’s MA in Special Education program, students will build their career as an educator and researcher.
- 32 credit-hours
- Graduate fellowships available
- Sample Courses: Mathematical Cognition, Professional Ethics for Counselors and Psychologists, Education of the Gifted and Talented
In 2018, the U.S. News & World Report ranked this program the #5 best special education graduate program in the country.
The Ohio State University
College Choice Score: 83.36
Average Net Price: $17,971
The Ohio State University located in Columbus has been a place for academic achievement and innovation for 148 years. As one of the largest and best public universities in the nation, OSU offers an affordable, high-quality education. The College of Education and Human Ecology, which was founded over 100 years ago, aspires to create new teachers and leaders in their field. There are currently over $1.5 million scholarships available in this college that benefit students every year.
OSU’s MA in Educational Studies, Special Education degree program is for those who wish to advance in their careers.
- Research-based program
- Sample Specializations: Mild-to-Moderate Intervention Specialist, Applied Behavior Analysis, Early Childhood Intervention Specialist
- Field experience required
Many graduates become behavior specialists, certified teacher, or continue on to their PhD.
College Choice Score: 83.19
Average Net Price: $31,539
Boston University is a private research university with over 33,000 students enrolled. Its diverse enrollment boasts a student body from over 130 countries. BU is a global university, with partnerships around the world. Not only does the school send people overseas to study abroad and conduct research, but its curriculum is designed to create a global consciousness among its students. In 2017, the U.S. News & World Report ranked BU among the top 50 best universities in the globe.
BU’s MEd in Special Education degree prepares students for a career that is in high-demand right now.
- Sample Specializations: Teacher of Students with Moderate Disabilities, Special Education Administration, General Special Education
- Program leads to the Massachusetts Department of Education licensure
- Required field experience
This program offers one-on-one mentorship, where a faculty member will help students choose a specific set of courses to match his/her career goals.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
College Choice Score: 80.30
Average Net Price: $16,683
The University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign is a land-grant institution that has become a leader in research, teaching, and public engagement. It was founded in 1867 and is located in the twin cities of Urbana and Champaign. The university has 15 colleges, with their Master’s in Special Education being offered in the College of Education. Urbana – Champaign is currently the #13 best ranked public university in the country according to the U.S. News & World Report’s 2018-2019 rankings.
Urbana – Champaign’s Infancy & Early Childhood Special Education degree is for those who wish to work with young children with disabilities and their families.
- MEd or MS degree
- Free tuition and fees for families who make under $61,000
- Sample Courses: Economics of Education, School and Community Experience, Sociology of Education
While the MS does require research and a thesis, the MEd does not and is more hands-on focused.
University of Oregon
College Choice Score: 78.52
Average Net Price: $15,355
The University of Oregon is a renown public institution that is known for research and teaching. It is located in the beautiful city of Eugene. It is the #1 public university in the state and is ranked as a Tier 1 research institution. At UO, faculty are also engaged in research and other learning activities while they teach. In 2015-2016, the university was awarded with $114.5 million worth of competitive research funds, making a huge impact on the state’s economy and innovation.
At UO, students can earn either an MS, MEd, or MA in Special Education.
- Minimum 45 credit-hours
- Made for current teachers
- Capstone project or thesis
Candidates interested in the MA degree must be proficient in another language. Candidates getting the MEd must already have a teaching license and one-year teaching experience.
Minot State University
College Choice Score: 77.90
Average Net Price: $9,987
Minot State University is a public school located in North Dakota. It is the third-largest university in the state, offering both undergraduate and graduate degrees. It was founded in 1913 as a normal school that primarily offered degrees in the liberal arts. Today MSU is a member of the North Dakota University system. It has been repeatedly recognized for its online programs, with its online Master’s in Special Education degree being ranked #17 in the nation.
For those seeking state licensure in North Dakota, an MS at Minot State in Special Education may be a good program.
- Online program available
- Sample Concentrations: Deaf/Hard of Hearing Education, Specific Learning Disabilities, Early Childhood Special Education
- Sample Courses: Intro to Disability Services, Clinical Practice, Stat in Special Education
Although this program is technically not a 100 percent online one, the majority of the core requirements are delivered online.
College Choice Score: 77.83
Average Net Price: $31,823
Founded in 1860, Syracuse University has always been ahead of its time. It is known for its official color, orange, which has become a symbolism for the strong community-feeling on its campus. Syracuse is a private research university that is located in New York and has 13 schools and colleges. Over the years the university has won numerous awards, having recently been ranked as being the #16 best school in the nation for education majors for salary potential according to PayScale.
As a top-ranked program in the nation, Syracuse’s MS in Early Childhood Special Education degree will prepare future teachers to work effectively with children who have special needs.
- Completion Time: 12-16 months
- Certification in New York in Early Childhood and Students with Disabilities (Birth through Grade 2)
- 25 percent tuition reduction through the High Needs Scholarship
Students can either take this program full or part-time. There is also a required student teaching component in the program.
University of Washington-Seattle Campus
College Choice Score: 77.65
Average Net Price: $10,068
The University of Washington is a premier public research university that has three campuses and a medical center. Its Master’s in Special Education is offered on its Seattle Campus through the College of Education. UW is known globally for its excellence in research and worldwide partnership. In the 2017 Academic Ranking of World Universities, UW was ranked #13. Likewise, the College of Education also boasts impressive research and excellence in teaching statistics. The U.S. News & World Report ranked the school #9 in its 2019 rankings.
In UW’s MEd in Early Childhood Special Education program, students gain teaching experience by working in a variety of settings.
- 45 credit-hours
- Completion Time: 2 years
- Three Degree Options: Initial Teaching Certification, Special Education Endorsement, Master’s Only
Students in the past have completed their fieldwork experience in places such as preschools, kindergartens, or in birth to three programs.
University of Missouri
College Choice Score: 77.21
Average Net Price: $16,317
The University of Missouri, commonly known as Mizzou, was founded in 1839. It was the first public university west of the Mississippi River, and is currently the state’s largest university. Over 300 degree programs are offered at Mizzou at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate level among its 16 different colleges. The university’s annual research budget in 2016 was $248.3 million.
Mizzou offers an MEd and an MA degree in Special Education to prepare future leaders in the field.
- Online program available
- Sample Emphases: Behavior Disorders, Gifted Education
- Training sessions co-sponsored by the college
Assistantships and fellowships are available for qualifying students at the graduate level to help pay for tuition.
University of Vermont
College Choice Score: 76.39
Average Net Price: $17,816
The University of Vermont is a public Ivy school and a top 100 research university. Located in the city of Burlington, UVM is ranked as the #1 college town in the nation according to Travel + Leisure magazine. The university was chartered in 1791, the same year Vermont became a state. Currently over 1,500 graduate students are enrolled at UVM.
UVM’s MEd in Special Education degree offers pathways to earn your state licensure to teach students with special needs.
- Non-licensure path available
- Community-based learning with field experiences
- Research opportunities
For students who meet the requirements, additional endorsements may be earned such as the Intensive Special Education Teacher certification.
College Choice Score: 75.79
Average Net Price: $11,604
Located in the heart of Topeka, Kansas, Washburn University is an urban public university that sprawls across 160-acres. An education at Washburn is affordable and personal – in fact, the U.S. News & World Report has recognized them for the low student indebtedness after graduation. Washburn is also heavily involved with the community, offering students internship opportunities with local institutions and businesses. Students in the Master’s in Special Education program will have many chances to work with residents of Topeka directly.
Through Washburn’s Master’s Special Education program, students can earn their degree and/or licensure to work with students who have disabilities at the elementary through high school level
- Practicum experience
- Licensure-only program available
- Sample Courses: Individual and Group Management, Learning and Behavior Problems, Educational Planning
This program is ideal for candidates who already hold licensure to teach elementary school or secondary school.
Utah State University
College Choice Score: 75.63
Average Net Price: $13,037
Utah State University is a research university located in the Northern Utah mountains. What began as a small-town college in 1988 became a nationally-recognized institution, having been rated the #5 public university in 2017 by the Washington Monthly. USU has three regional campuses located in Brigham City, Tooele, and Uintah Basin. As of 2017, almost 28,000 students are enrolled at USU, with just over 3,000 graduate students.
USU’s MEd in Special Education and Rehabilitation covers a variety of issues in teaching such as cultural diversity, management practices, and legal requirements.
- 36 credit-hours
- Administrative/Supervisor concentration available
- Teacher license preparation
In order to gain the state license, students are required to participate in supervised teaching, in addition to pass the Utah State Office of Education content test.
Northwest Missouri State University
College Choice Score: 74.38
Average Net Price: $11,262
Northwest Missouri State University was founded in 1905 when Thomas Gaunt’s daughters, former president of Northwest, donated his property that would become the university’s campus. NW Missouri began as a small teacher’s college, but eventually began adding other degree programs. Today it is a four-year public institution that offers quality academics throughout its 127 undergraduate and 40 graduate programs.
An MS in Education: Special Education degree at NW Missouri will prepare graduates for the challenging career ahead of working with students with various needs.
- Online program available
- Subject field research component
- For certified teachers
For those who already hold a special education certification, the program can be completed with less credit-hours.
Pennsylvania State University
College Choice Score: 73.61
Average Net Price: $25,055
Pennsylvania State University is the only land-grant institution in the state. Over 100,000 students are enrolled across its 24 campuses. Collaboration in research and teaching is a major characteristic of Penn State. In the past four years, total research expenditures have exceeded $860 million, making them one of the nation’s leading research universities. In this coming fiscal year, it is expected to exceed a record $927 million. Currently Penn State’s College of Education, which offers its Master’s degree in Special Education, is the #38 best school of its kind in the nation according to the U.S. News & World Report.
Penn State’s MEd in Special Education degree is a 4+1 program for students who have already completed the undergraduate teacher certification program.
- Special Education teacher certification recommendation upon graduation
- Two supervised practicum experiences
- Online summer coursework
Interested students should apply for this program in their senior year. If accepted, they will immediately start the online summer classes.
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
College Choice Score: 73.46
Average Net Price: $16,462
The University of Nebraska – Lincoln was charted in 1869 as a land-grant institution. This institution is dedicated to the ideal of “generalized diffusion of knowledge,” meaning that all students no matter their background are accepted and welcome. UNL is a school of many “firsts,” such as being the first institution west of the Mississippi River to award doctoral degrees. UNL’s Master’s degree in Special Education is offered through College of Education and Human Science’s Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders.
UNL’s MEd in Special Education program is perfect for professionals who want to specialize in their career as educators.
- Minimum of 36 credit-hours
- Declaration of one or two minors required
- Funding opportunities available
A graduate education at UNL is considerably more affordable than its peer institutions.
College Choice Score: 72.89
Average Net Price: $12,621
Indiana University Bloomington is the flagship campus of the IU system. Founded in 1820, the university is known for its world-class research, innovation, and creativity in academia. Herman B. Wells, the school’s president and chancellor, helped to advance the field of higher education such as pushing for rights for African American students and promoting campus sustainability. IU Bloomington has been awarded numerous recognitions over the years, particularly for its outstanding programs. It is also a Kiplinger Best Value in Public College.
IU Bloomington’s MSEd in Special Education degree is for licensed teachers who wish to add an additional certification.
- Hybrid or Online program offerings
- Fellowships and travel awards available
- Sample Courses: Classroom Management and Behavior Support, Inquiry in Education, Assessment and Remediation of the Mildly Handicapped
Students will choose four classes to create an area of emphasis. Sample emphases include Autism, Early Childhood Education, or Instructional Strategies.
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
College Choice Score: 72.38
Average Net Price: $11,432
The University of Nevada, Las Vegas began as a small college in 1957. Today it is a thriving urban research institution in one of the nation’s most bustling cities. UNLV has over 5,000 enrolled graduate students. It is also known for its diversity, being ranked one of the most diverse campuses in the nation by the U.S. News & World Report. Its Master’s in Special Education degree is offered through the College of Education. This school is the largest education school in the state, preparing about 50 percent of the state’s future educators.
The MEd in Special Education offered at UNLV is for future licensed teachers or those who just want to become more adept at educating those with special needs.
- Minimum 36 credit-hours
- Fall, spring, and summer sessions
- Praxis exam
Students can choose a focus area which can lead to an endorsement by the Nevada Department of Education. Sample endorsements include Autism, Generalist-Mild Disabilities, or Gifted and Talented.
University of Arizona
College Choice Score: 72.02
Average Net Price: $16,466
Known as the Wildcats, the University of Arizona is always pushing the boundaries forward. Founded in 1885, UA is a land-grant university that is a global leader in higher education and research. It is ranked as the #22 best public university in the nation in research and development expenditure according to the National Science Foundation. UA also has a huge economic impact on the state, thanks to its many local projects that engage the community. It is estimated that UA benefits the state annually by $8.3 billion.
UA’s MA in Special Education allows students to focus on an area that suits their career goals.
- Sample Specializations: Severe and Multiple Disabilities, Visual Impairment, Mild-Moderate Disabilities
- Online program available
- Licensure upon graduation in the state of Arizona
Graduates of this program are currently employed in jobs such as teachers, counselors, school psychologists, or educators in rehabilitation.
University of Alaska Fairbanks
College Choice Score: 71.02
Average Net Price: $9,097
The University of Alaska Fairbanks is a place of diverse thought and innovation. The University of Alaska was founded in 1917 when the federal government officially decided to fund it. Today it has seven campuses across the state, with the Fairbanks campus located in the state’s second-largest city. UAF’s School of Education offers its nationally-recognized Master’s of Special Education degree. This school is the first to offer an online degree for this major.
The Med in Special Education degree program offered at UAF prepares K-12 educators to meet the needs of students with special needs.
- For certified and non-certified teachers
- Clinical practice component
- Sample Courses: Field Study Research Methods, Assessment of Students with Exceptionalities, Teaching Mathematics to Special Learners
Certified teachers will complete a minimum of 36 credit-hours, while non-certified students will complete 39 credit-hours.
Boise State University
College Choice Score: 69.90
Average Net Price: $11,711
Located along the banks of the Boise River, Boise State University is home to a diverse set of over 20,000 students. Although the university is located in a bustling city with many opportunities, students still receive a fun, small college town feel. At Boise State, students are encouraged to go beyond their major and pursue outside activities. Due to its convenient location, the university boasts several partnerships with local organizations and businesses. Boise State is also home to the state’s largest graduate school.
Through Boise State’s Master in Teaching degree in Special Education, students will gain quality experiences through clinical settings and collaboration.
- Completion Time: four academic semesters
- Culminates in teacher certification for the state of Idaho (Exceptional Child, Generalist K-12)
- Sample Courses: Positive Behavior Programs, Secondary Transition, Disability/Special Education Law
Teacher education scholarships are available for qualifying students. Interested applicants should view the requirements online
George Mason University
College Choice Score: 69.81
Average Net Price: $18,032
George Mason was founded after one of the founding fathers who drafted the Virginia Declaration of Rights. Located in the city of Fairfax, students at GMU are exposed to all that the city has to offer. There are currently over 34,000 students enrolled across its 10 schools; out of these students, over 130 countries are represented. Today GMU is the largest public university in the state. GMU also has an amazing return on investment, with more than 75 percent of graduates either continuing in school or employed within six months after graduation.
GMU’s online or on-campus MEd in Special Education degree is a highly hands-on program for motivated educators.
- 30 credit-hours
- 100 percent online or on campus/hybrid options
- LIFE graduate and research assistantships available
There is an accelerated Master’s program for those who already hold a BA or BS in any degree area. In this program, students can take up to six Master’s credits while an undergraduate student to count as future credit.
University of South Alabama
College Choice Score: 69.16
Average Net Price: $12,963
The University of South Alabama was established in 1963. At the time of its founding, the school did not even own a single building. After generous funding and donations thanks to the town’s city leaders, the school was able to build its own facilities. Today USA has nine colleges and two hospitals on its 1,200-acre campus. It is a place where people develop strong relationships, dive deeper in their knowledge, and prepare for their future careers.
An MEd in Special Education from USA us great for those with or without teaching experience.
- Leads to the Alabama Class A Professional Certification
- Internship/practicum during the final semester
- One-on-one advising
If seeking the certification, students can select programs in the area of Collaborative Teaching K-6 or 6-12.
University of Northern Iowa
College Choice Score: 66.47
Average Net Price: $14,831
The University of Northern Iowa has a longstanding history of emphasizing hands-on service. Founded in 1876, the school whose building was formerly an orphanage became the Iowa State Normal School for training the next generation of teachers. Today UNI has almost 12,000 students enrolled among its 160 majors. Other than pride in its community outreach, UNI is also known for its excellence in education. The U.S. News & World Report ranked UNI among the “Best in the Midwest” 2017 ranking.
For those who want to take on the challenge of serving many roles within the special needs community, an MA in Education degree with a specialization in Special Education at UNI will prepare you for the tasks ahead.
- Minimum 30 credit-hours
- Thesis or research paper
- Opportunity to add an endorsement to license
Graduates can earn the Endorsement 233 Supervision of Special Education or Endorsement 250 Special Education Consultant.
Tennessee State University
College Choice Score: 66.43
Average Net Price: $9,614
Tennessee State University is an urban land-grant university with both undergraduate and graduate degrees. As a historically black college, TSU has always strived to be a welcoming place. Students enrolled here have all the benefits of living in Nashville, the state’s capital and second-largest city. Currently about 9,000 students are enrolled in TSU’s 77 academic programs.
TSU’s MEd in Special Education offers the knowledge necessary for teachers to thrive in a multicultural setting
- Minimum 33 credit-hours
- Ability to transfer a maximum of 12 credit-hours
- For certified teachers
Upon completion of this program, graduates will be prepared to work in a variety of setting other than schools such as in hospitals, group homes or mental health centers.
McNeese State University
College Choice Score: 64.25
Average Net Price: $9,978
McNeese State University was established in 1939 as a community college. In 1950, McNeese became a four-year college, and eventually achieved university status in 1970. It is a member of the University of Louisiana System. Its main 121-acre campus is located in Lake Charles. McNeese has a long history of serving the Southwest Community through higher education and outreach programs. Students are encouraged to partake in meaningful community service. McNeese has been ranked one of the best regional universities in the South by the U.S. News & World Report for the past seven years.
The MEd degree in Special Education offered at McNeese is for certified teachers who want to specialize in a particular area.
- 36 credit-hours
- Concentrations: Advanced Professional, Autism, Educational Diagnostician
- Sample Courses: Supervision of Student Teachers, Verbal Behavior, Test Theory
McNeese is the #3 best school in the state for average starting salary according to SmartAsset, a New York City finance company
University of Northern Colorado
College Choice Score: 63.26
Average Net Price: $13,065
The University of Northern Colorado is a four-year doctoral-granting university. Excellent teaching from professors who are passionate about their work make UNC stand out. UNC was founded as a normal school in the late 1880s when the local citizens pushed the state to create an institution to educate teachers. Today UNC harmonizes teaching and research to offer students the experience they need to thrive in their careers.
UNC’s MA in Special Education with a Generalist Emphasis is a program that will give you the skills necessary to work in this challenging education sector.
- Online or on-campus
- No previous teaching credential required
- No test scores required in application
During the final semester, students will take in a practicum where they will learn things such as community-based instruction, academic strategies, and transition services.
Frostburg State University
College Choice Score: 62.34
Average Net Price: $13,208
Frostburg State University was established as the State Normal School No. 2 in 1902. Over the years, the university began to add different disciplines and grow in size. It is now a constituent institution of the University System of Maryland and has more than 5,600 students enrolled. FSU is known nationally as an affordable school. In 2017, MONEY magazine included the university in their 2017 Best Value Colleges ranking.
FSU’s MEd in Special Education degree is a full-time program for future educators who wish to gain state licensure.
- Online or on-campus
- Specializations: Grades 1-8 or 6-12
- Sample Courses: Managing Student Behavior and Social Interaction Skills, Cultural and Technological Awareness in the Context of Global Education
Students are able to join the school’s Phi Delta Kappa chapter, which hosts and joins activities relating to education.
California State University, San Bernardino
College Choice Score: 61.83
Average Net Price: $6,444
California State University, San Bernardino was established in 1965 along the San Bernardino Mountains. A diverse student body, strong economic impact, and dedication to teaching are just some of the characteristics that CSUSB is known for. It is estimated that the university generates more than $536 million in spending annually. CSUSB also provides students with an affordable education, with 77 percent of its students receiving some sort of financial aid.
CSUSB’s MS in Special Education degree goes over advanced research methodologies within the field.
- 52 credit-hours
- Concentrations: Early Childhood Special Education, Mild to Moderate Disabilities, Moderate to Severe Disabilities
- In conjunction with the teacher credential program
Students can either choose to complete a special project or take an exam to finish off their degree.
Eastern Michigan University
College Choice Score: 61.83
Average Net Price: $14,268
Eastern Michigan University was founded in 1849 as a small teacher’s college. EMU has always been about helping students find their true passion, mixing a healthy balance of researching and learning in their curricula. The College of Education, which offers its Master’s in Special Education degree, currently has a little over 2,000 students enrolled. The college is a leader in the field and offers several programs to train future educators. Many programs offered through the school are nationally recognized.
EMU’s MA in Special Education degree is a flexible program designed for adult learners.
- 33-37 credit-hours
- Research and thesis component
- Sample Concentrations: Emotional, Cognitive, or Physical Impairment
Special graduate school scholarships are awarded based on talent, in addition to financial aid.
University of Delaware
College Choice Score: 61.60
Average Net Price: $15,894
The University of Delaware is one of the oldest universities in the nation, dating back to the mid-1700s. Since its beginning, the university has always had talented and exceptional students. Today, over 23,000 students are enrolled at its main campus in the city of Newark. UD is a global university, with partnerships around the world and being the first school to offer a study abroad program. Students at UD will get an affordable, well-rounded education that will help them in their future careers.
The MEd in Exceptional Children and Youth 4+1 Track: Elementary Special Education concentration degree is for undergraduate students who want to get their master’s in a timely fashion.
- Undergraduate and graduate coursework
- Eligible for teacher certification in special education upon graduation
- Nine-month internship placement
Interested applicants should apply their junior year and will be admitted into the program as seniors.