Are you passionate about creating inclusive and safe classrooms? Can you envision yourself developing curriculum programs that are both effective and inventive? Do you want to enact change among students who may have diverse special needs?
Then an advanced degree in special education is just for you!
What kind of Master’s in Special Education degree should you get?
No special education degree is the same. While some of these programs expect you to already be a licensed teacher, others do not require prior certification.
Likewise, while some provide licensure, others are research-based and do not end in certification. If you want to teach, make sure you find a program that will license you if aren’t already. But if you want to work in research, administration, or advocacy, you do not need to enroll in a licensure program.
Despite the differences in programs and their respective structures and requirements, all of the programs on this list – MA, MS, and M.Ed alike – can be earned fully online. Distance education is not only a flexible way to advance your career, it’s affordable too. For that reason, be sure to check out College Choice’s Best Online Colleges and Universities.
How much money do people make with a Master’s in Special Education degree?
It’s not a secret that teachers are the among the least paid professionals in the country. However, the news isn’t all bad. On average, special education teachers make around $58,980 a year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But that number doesn’t reflected added specialization and experience, which a Master’s in Special Education will surely provide. According to Payscale, special education teacher’s with advanced experience can make upwards of $74,450 a year.
What can you do with a Master’s in Special Education degree?
While most assume a graduate degree in special education will prepare you for the classroom – and it definitely does – the degree is actually much more versatile.
Those with an MS in Special Education degree find that many career doors open for them. From advocacy and policy change to administration, the options are numerous and diverse.
Additionally, many of the programs on our list offer specialized certification in an array of areas, from Autism Spectrum Disorders to Applied Assessment Behavior. Added certification will prepare you for work in consultation, research, and curriculum design.
What are the requirements for an online Master’s in Special Education degree?
Most of the programs on our list require between 30 and 36 completed credit hours. Many of these courses first provide a fundamental introduction to topics such as child development, curriculum design, and classroom management. From there you will take specialized courses in your focus area. These courses may fulfill certification or specialization credit.
While many full master’s degrees require two years of coursework, some can be earned in even less time. Indeed, it’s possible to earn your master’s in under 12 months.
Finally, some programs require field practicums. This will give you real-world, hands-on experience in the classroom if you don’t have it. We’ve been sure to note which programs require field work.
What are the best online Master’s in Special Education degrees?
While some of these programs are offered through large research universities and others through small liberal arts college, they all share one thing one common: they are the 35 Best Online Master’s in Special Education programs in the country.
To determine the best special education programs we first looked at each program in the country that offers the degree online. From there we investigated the academic reputation of each school then critically examined retention rates, a sign of student satisfaction. Finally we factored in affordability and the early salaries of graduates.
After such extensive research, we determined the best programs in the nation that prepare special education teachers. Our figures and information come from the university and colleges’ websites, PayScale, and nationally recognized U.S. News & World Report and The National Center for Education Statistics.
See our rankings methodology page.
College Choice Score: 100
Average Net Price: $11,693
When you earn an online Master’s of Education in Special Education degree at Purdue you will learn how to exhaustively plan and implement special education curriculum. Additionally, you will learn how to create safe and thriving classrooms while meeting the needs of your exceptional children. There are many ways to earn this degree, with some granting licensure, but all tracks include core classes such as:
- Applied Behavior Analysis for Teachers
- Identification, Evaluation, and Assessment of Exceptional Individuals
- Intervention Strategies and Research
- Social, Legal, and Ethical Issues in Special Education
Purdue is ranked #60 nationally by U.S. News & World Report and it was recently ranked #63 in the world by the Academic Ranking of World Universities. In addition to its academic accolades, Purdue is a green darling with its LEED-certified buildings, a sustainability council, and several conservation research labs and facilities.
Saint Joseph's University
College Choice Score: 98.70
Average Net Price: $36,058
When you earn an MS in Special Education at Saint Joseph’s you can get certified in applied behavior analysis, the Wilson Reading System, or in Autism Spectrum Disorder. However you decide to earn your degree and specializations, this program will equip you to be a highly trained, compassionate, and insightful instructor. Core classes for all students include:
- Diagnostic Assessment and Progress Monitoring
- Students with Emotional/Social and Behavioral Disorders
- Literacy, Written, and Oral Language, and Reading in the Content Areas
- Students with Low Incidence Disabilities
Saint Joseph’s is well-ranked by Princeton Review, Forbes, and U.S. News & World Report. Not only is it well ranked as a whole, several of its individual departments and schools are considered among the best of their kind, including the education, business, and security programs.
Ball State University
College Choice Score: 98.53
Average Net Price: $13,369
Ball State University provides many opportunities for acquiring an advanced degree in special education. You can earn an MA in Special Education with licensure in one of four areas: early childhood special education, mild interventions, severe interventions, or administration. Or, instead of becoming licensed, at Ball State you can pair the general degree with certification in:
- Applied Behavior Analysis
- Disabilities for Post-Secondary Settings with an Emphasis on Autism
- Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
- Response to Intervention
Ball State University is well ranked by Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, and Washington Monthly. On top of its academic recognitions, Ball State University is known for its Immersive Learning program. Students who participate in this interdisciplinary program have the opportunity to complete internships, work across departments, and more. This program has been consistently praised for its innovation, student-centric approach to education.
University of Arkansas
College Choice Score: 96.80
Average Net Price: $15,411
UA offers an online MEd in Special Education degree. Whether or not you seek licensure, this program can serve your interests and career goals. You will learn how to create effective classrooms and curriculum. And you will have several certification opportunities as well, in everything from behavior analysis to autism.
- Nature and Needs of the Gifted and Talented
- Curriculum Development in Gifted and Talented
- Historical Foundations of Modern Education
- Life-Span Human Development
The University of Arkansas is a well-decorated school, boasting a variety of awards and recognitions. For example, U.S. News & World Report ranks it among the “Best Southeastern Colleges.” Similarly, UA is also one of the “100 Best Public Colleges” in the country.
Texas A&M University
College Choice Score: 96.61
Average Net Price: $15,455
At TAMU you can earn either an MEd or MS in Special Education degree. Both are offered online and both will prepare you to engage in effective behavioral interventions. You will study both low and high functioning disabilities while also gaining practical skills in areas such as curriculum creation. Some of the classes you’ll have the opportunity to take at TAMU include:
- Early Literacy for Students with Diverse Instructional Needs
- Bilingual Special Education
- Educating Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Consultation in Special Education
U.S. News & World Report ranks TAMU among the top 70 best schools in the nation. Likewise, TAMU is ranked among the top 50 best valued schools. Its online programs boast similar accolades and rankings.
Indiana University–IU Online
College Choice Score: 96.61
Average Net Price: $12,621
Indiana University is a renowned school with more than 40,000 students. It is a flagship university with strong programs in the arts, education, and sciences. With its primary campus in Bloomington, IU also has a number of campuses throughout the region plus its highly regarded online college.
Through IU’s online college you can earn an MSEd in Special Education that is especially field-based. In addition to coursework complimenting your emphasis area in either autism, behavior disorders, early childhood education, or instructional strategies, you will complete a common core consisting of:
- Families, School, and Society
- Classroom Management and Behavior Support
- Collaboration and Service Delivery
- Assessment and Remediation of the Mildly Handicapped
A Public Ivy and a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, IU is a top-ranked school. In addition to its national and global rankings, several of its colleges and schools are among the best in the nation, including its School of Education.
Michigan State University
College Choice Score: 95.65
Average Net Price: $14,970
Michigan State University is located in East Lansing, Michigan. It is a research-based university that was first founded as an agricultural school. Though today MSU offers more than 200 academic programs across all degree levels.
Through MSU’s renowned College of Education you can earn an MA in Special Education. While earning your degree you will become either an expert in Autism Spectrum Disorders or Learning Disabilities. There is also the option of supplementing your program with a graduate certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis. Whichever route you go, you can anticipate classes such as:
- Collaboration and Consultation in Special Education
- Assessment of Students with Mild Disabilities
- Policies, Practices, and Perspectives in Special Education
- Classroom and Behavior Management
Michigan State University is nationally and globally ranked by Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, Times Higher Education, and much more. It is considered a Public Ivy with strengths in the areas of criminal justice, political science, and communications.
College Choice Score: 93.27
Average Net Price: $39,021
Drexel University is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is known for its specializations in the areas of science, technology, education, and industry. Drexel offers more than 150 academic programs and has over 26,000 students. It is perhaps best known for its co-op program that gives students the opportunity to acquire paid experience while earning their degrees.
When you earn an MS in Special Education through Drexel’s online program, you will gain a sturdy foundation in special education fundamentals. This means learning how to create and maintain an inclusive classroom, how to enact literacy and skill development, and how to provide emotional and behavioral support. You can even specialize in one of seven ways, including:
- Special Education Leadership
- Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Collaborative Special Education Law and Process
- Technologies for Special Education
The School of Education is one of the oldest within Drexel, having been founded before 1900. It is well-ranked, much like the rest of the University. Drexel is not only ranked among the top 100 best schools in the nation, but it is consistently listed among the country’s top 20 “Most Innovative Schools.”
Western Carolina University
College Choice Score: 93.23
Average Net Price: $13,646
Western Carolina University is located in Cullowhee, North Carolina. It is part of the larger, renowned University of North Carolina System. Around 11,000 students attend WCU, enrolled in one of the five undergraduate colleges or the graduate school.
At WCU there are three ways to earn an advanced degree in special education. You can get an MA in Education, an MA in Teaching, or you can go through the Academically or Intellectually Gifted licensure program. Whichever program best suits your needs and goals, you can anticipate a core curriculum covering:
- Child and Adolescent Development
- Assessment for Instruction
- Teaching Exceptional Learners in Inclusive Classrooms
- Foundations of Teacher Leadership in a Diverse Society
WCU was first founded to bring accessible education to the people in the Appalachian Mountain areas. The university still maintains that heritage, with a number of research and cultural centers housed on campus. Among them are the Mountain Heritage Center in addition to the Center for the Support of Beginning Teachers.
University of Kansas
College Choice Score: 92.75
Average Net Price: $15,411
The University of Kansas is based in Lawrence, Kansas with nearly half a dozen other campuses and branches located around the state. KU itself is organized into over ten separate colleges, including the education school. Over 28,000 students attend KU.
At KU you can earn your Master’s in Special Education degree in as few as two years. You will take ten courses, each of which lasts just eight weeks. During this time you will learn teaching strategies and methods for effective classroom models. This program emphasizes transitions through classes such as:
- Career Development for Youth
- Blending Academics and Transition
- Work-Based Learning
- Interagency Services for Transition to Adulthood
KU is nationally and globally ranked by Washington Monthly, U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, and Times Higher Education, among others. It is well-known for its education programs generally, but the special education program at the University of Kansas is ranked second in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.
The University of Arizona
College Choice Score: 91.91
Average Net Price: $16,466
The University of Arizona is a large research institution located in and around Tucson, Arizona. UA was the first university founded in the state way back before the Twentieth Century. But today it enrolls nearly 45,000 students in one of its 19 colleges.
At UA you can earn an MA in Special Education online. There are three tracks to choose from – behavioral support, deaf and hard of hearing, and disabilities – and even more concentrations (listed below). However you design your program, you will learn how to work with children and adults with specialized learning needs.
- Challenging Behavior
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Sensory Impairments
- Gifted Students
With its main campus designated as an arboretum, the University of Arizona is known for much more than just its academics. Though those are worth mentioning too! UA is ranked among the top 100 best schools in the nation by ARWU and Washington Monthly.
Texas Tech University
College Choice Score: 90.24
Average Net Price: $15,235
Texas Tech University is located in Lubbock and is a flagship university. It was founded as Texas Technological College, and still maintains its specialization in STEM programming. But today TTU provides more than 150 academic programs through its 13 colleges and schools.
When you earn a Master’s in Special Education at TTU you will become a teacher highly specialized in visual impairment, transition, orientation and mobility, educational diagnostician, autism, deaf education, and much more. At TTU you can expect a diverse curriculum covering a range of subjects. For example, some classes you may take include:
- Problems and Trends in Special Education
- Instructional Strategies for Teaching Students with High Incidence Disabilities
- Child and Youth with Low Incidence Disabilities
- Development in Education
Consistently ranked among the top 125 best colleges in the Western US by The Princeton Review, TTU’s academic accolades are many. U.S. News & World Report, for example, includes the university among the top 100 best public schools in the nation. Wall Street Journal, PayScale, Carnegie, and more all heap praise on TTU.
College Choice Score: 89.73
Average Net Price: $24,794
Liberty University is located in Lynchburg, Virginia. It is a large, conservative religious university known for having some of the best and biggest online programs. Indeed, more than 110,000 students are enrolled either on campus or through one of Liberty’s many online degree programs.
At Liberty you can earn a MEd in Teaching and Learning with emphasis on Special Education fully online. This highly flexible program allows students to work at their own pace through an eight-week course model. Liberty will equip you in everything from intervention strategies to technology integrated-curriculum. Classes include:
- Technology and Diversity
- Characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorder and Assessment
- Collaborating for Successful Inclusive Classrooms
- Foundations of Exceptionality
Liberty is consistently ranked among the top 10 most conservative schools in the nation. This isn’t surprising considering it was founded by televangelist Jerry Falwell. However, Liberty is also regionally ranked by U.S. News & World Report.
University of North Dakota
College Choice Score: 89.64
Average Net Price: $14,693
Located in Grand Forks, the University of North Dakota is the oldest university in the state. It was founded as a small liberal arts college but has grown into the massive research institution it is today. In fact, the Carnegie Foundation rates it as having some of the highest research activity in the nation.
You can earn a Master’s in Special Education through UND in as few as one-and-a-half years. Through UND you will learn how to diagnose exceptionalities, plan curriculums, and deliver effective instructional programs. Plus, the specialization areas are many (see below), giving you the opportunity to hone your skill sets in a marketable way.
- Intellectual Disabilities
- Special Education Strategist
- Visual Impairment
- Early Childhood Special Education
- And much more
UND is nationally and globally ranked by an array of publications, from U.S. News & World Report to Washington Monthly. Its graduate programs are especially regarded and strong in the areas of education, economics, social work, and public administration.
North Carolina State University at Raleigh
College Choice Score: 89.50
Average Net Price: $13,066
North Carolina State University is located in Raleigh and is part of the larger University of North Carolina System. As a land, sea, and space-grant institution, NC State is known for its research contributions. In fact, it is part of the prestigious Research Triangle along with Duke University and the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
NC State’s MA in Teaching with a concentration in Special Education degree prepares students to work in the K–12 setting. Through this program you will gain sure footing in pedagogy as well as intervention strategy. Mostly, you will learn how to cultivate a culturally diverse, inclusive, and technology-enhanced classroom. Classes include:
- Principles of Developing and Interpreting Assessment
- Exploring Diversity in Classroom and Community
- Inquiry and Professional Development
- Resource Teaching in Special Education
NC State is ranked among the top 100 best universities in the nation. But it is known not only for its academic programs; Kiplinger’s has praised the University for its affordability. and NC State’s scholarship programs have earned it a reputation for being student-centric.
West Virginia University
College Choice Score: 89.41
Average Net Price: $10,814
West Virginia University is easily one of the biggest research universities in the state. It is located in Morgantown and has around 30,000 enrolled students. WVU is comprised of 15 colleges and schools and offers nearly 200 academic and professional programs.
At WVU you can earn an MA in Special Education degree that will prepare you to work with both children and adults who have special needs in a range of areas. WVU allows students to pursue licensure and certification, or you are free to earn just the general degree. At WVU you can concentrate in one of many ways, including in:
- Gifted Education
- Multicategorical Special Education
- Severe/Multiple Disabilities
- Early Childhood Special Education
- And more
WVU is designated a highly active research university by Carnegie Foundation. It is known for its many research labs, facilities, and institutes as well as its academic rankings. WVU is nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, and Washington Monthly.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
College Choice Score: 89.01
Average Net Price: $16,462
The University of Nebraska in Lincoln is the leading member within the broader UN System. In fact, it is the flagship university and the oldest university in the state of Nebraska. More than 25,000 students attend UNL.
The University of Nebraska in Lincoln offers a MEd in Special Education online through its College of Education and Human Sciences. This is an ideal program for those who are seeking teaching endorsements, of which UNL offers four (see below). And regardless of specialization, all students graduate equipped to create effective, inclusive, and innovative classrooms.
- Deaf and Hard of Hearing
- Visual Impairments
- Early Childhood Special Education
- Inclusive Early Childhood Education
UNL is a member of the elite Big Ten Academic Alliance. It is therefore ranked well by a range of publications, from U.S. News & World Report to Washington Monthly and Forbes. In addition to its academic reputation, UNL is also known for its emphasis on sustainability and its many research institutions, labs, and libraries.
Loyola Marymount University
College Choice Score: 88.59
Average Net Price: $40,946
Loyola Marymount University is a Catholic school and a member of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. Located in west Los Angeles, LMU is one of the largest Roman Catholic schools on the West Coast with nearly 10,000 combined graduate and undergraduates.
Loyola Marymount offers an MA in Special Education through which you can gain supplemental specialization in mild and moderate disabilities. Field work may be required depending on how you move through the program. Or you can take added classes in research and leadership development. Graduates have gone on to secure work as:
- Educational Diagnosticians
- Special Education Testers
- Rehabilitation Counselors
- Special Education Teachers
LMU is lauded by the likes of The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, and more. It is consistently ranked as being among “America’s Top Colleges.” Its individual schools and colleges are also well-ranked, specifically the business and education programs.
George Washington University
College Choice Score: 88.46
Average Net Price: $39,562
George Washington University is a private, research university located in Washington, DC. It is organized into over a dozen colleges and schools and has around 28,000 students systemwide. GWU is known for its research funding and facilities.
At George Washington University you can earn a Master’s in Special Education for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners. This is a great program for those who want to work with students with diverse needs, including English as a second language. You’ll gain real-world experience through field practicums while also building a foundation in the principles governing a modern classroom. For example, classes you’ll take include:
- Second Language Instruction
- Linguistic Applications in English as a Second Language
- The Development of Language and Literacy
- Teaching Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students with Disabilities
George Washington University is consistently recognized by The Princeton Review as being among the top ten universities in several distinctive categories: for being in one of the best college towns, for having the most politically active students, for having the best study abroad program, and more.
College Choice Score: 88.20
Average Net Price: $31,758
American University is also located in Washington, DC and is a private research university. It is organized into half a dozen schools and colleges. It is notably strong in the areas of education, public affairs, business, international services, and communications.
For those who want to devote their studies and careers to teaching students with learning disabilities, American University has the ideal program. They offer an MA in Special Education wherein students can specialize in learning disabilities. You’ll learn how to support children and adolescents with language-based learning difficulties through clinical training. Classes include:
- Theories and Methods in Diagnostic and Prescriptive Mathematics
- Learning the Brain
- Foundations of Reading: Diagnosis and Remediation
American University is consistently ranked among the top 100 best schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report as well as Forbes, Washington Monthly, and others. In addition to its academic accolades, American has been named one of the most affordable schools in the nation in relation to its elite reputation, according to Fiske Guide to Colleges.
Old Dominion University
College Choice Score: 88.15
Average Net Price: $15,218
Old Dominion University is a public research university based in Norfolk, Virginia. In addition to its primary campus, ODU also has several satellite campuses plus its renowned online college. Around 25,000 students currently study at ODU.
Old Dominion University offers an MEd in Special Education with two available tracks. One is in research and the other in general curriculum with a K-12 endorsement. While the former is ideal for those already licensed, the latter provides endorsement in mild disabilities. Both, though, equip students to advance their careers in special education. Graduates have gone on to become:
- Professional Development Trainers
- Educational Consultants
- Board Certified Behavior Analysts
- Multiply Certified Special Educators
As the sight of vibrant research activity, the ODU campus is marked by its many renowned research facilities, labs, and centers. Additionally, Old Dominion is ranked among the nation’s best providers of online and distance education. U.S. News & World Report notes it for having some of the best online graduate programs in the nation.
Western Governors University
College Choice Score: 87.94
Average Net Price: $9,115
Western Governors University is a private known largely for its online and distance education program. Indeed, all of its 80,000 students are enrolled online in one of WGU’s four colleges. Offering an array of programs, both professional and academic, WGU’s strengths lay in business, education, information technology, and health.
The MS in Special Education degree at Western Governors is in K-12 education. Through this program you will learn how to design effective curriculums and create dynamic classrooms. You’ll not only gain a theoretical foundation in teaching, but you’ll learn how to apply concepts to real-world classroom scenarios. Graduates have become:
- Literacy Specialists
- K-12 Educators
Known not only for its innovative teaching model, WGU’s tuition rates are among the most competitive in the country. Because of its unique specialization in distance education, the University is notably student-centric. It offers a variety of resources, services, and counseling to its students.
University of Cincinnati-Main Campus
College Choice Score: 87.45
Average Net Price: $19,978
The University of Cincinnati is part of the larger University System of Ohio. UC is a sprawling research institution known for its huge acquisitions of research funding each year, a number often exceeding $400 million. UC offers around 300 academic programs to its nearly 50,000 students.
The University of Cincinnati’s MEd in Special Education program seeks to develop advocates for innovative education. Therefore, UC students learn everything from individualized instruction to evidence-based teaching. At UC you will have the opportunity to concentrate in one of four areas:
- Advanced Studies
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Behavior Disorders
- Transition to Work
Nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, and more, many of UC’s individual programs and colleges share similar prestige and ranking. For example, the education, engineering, health, and environmental science programs rank among the best of their kind.
University of Missouri-Columbia
College Choice Score: 87.33
Average Net Price: $16,317
The University of Missouri, known as Mizzou, is located in Columbia and is a comprehensive research university. Mizzou offers more than 300 academic programs to its 30,000 students, making it one of the largest schools in the state.
Mizzou’s MA in Special Education emphasizes intervention and problem-solving specifically with adolescents. You will learn positive behavior intervention support with teens and graduate ready for a career in administration, para-education, psychology, and special education. The Mizzou program is grounded in four core areas of special education:
- Assessment and Evaluation
- Behavior Management
- Cross-categorical Disabilities
- Language and Literacy Development
Mizzou is a top-ranked university and a flagship institution. It boasts national and global rankings from U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, Washington Monthly, and more. And it is a member of the elite Association of American Universities.
Saint Mary's University of Minnesota
College Choice Score: 86.15
Average Net Price: $21,280
Located in Winona, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota also has several more campuses pocked throughout the state, region, and even around the world. SMU is a private school affiliated with the Brothers of the Christian Schools. More than 6,000 students combined undergraduate and graduate students are enrolled at SMU.
The online MA in Special Education program at Saint Mary’s University can be completed to earn licensure or not. It just depends on your experience and career goals. Whichever route you take, this program will teach you how to create inclusive classrooms within mainstream environments. Every course you take at SMU integrates intercultural intelligence. For example, some of the classes you’ll complete include:
- Literacy Development and Interventions
- Assistive Technology, Instruction, and Interventions
- Transition and Collaboration
- Social Emotional Learning and Well-being
U.S. News & World Report ranks Saint Mary’s University among the top 50 best universities for its region. In addition to its academic reputation, SMU has also been ranked for its affordability and for its service to student vets and active duty military. It is, in fact, among the top 30 best colleges for veterans.
University of Washington
College Choice Score: 83.72
Average Net Price: $10,068
Public Ivy and one of the darlings in the Pacific Northwest, the University of Washington is located in Seattle. It is a public, flagship institution with more than 45,000 students. And it is one of the oldest, most prestigious universities on the West Coast.
UW offers an online MEd in Special Education with emphasis on Applied Behavior Analysis. This program takes between one and two years to complete and involves an intensive practicum. UW students therefore get an immersive experience in the areas of behavior evaluation and analysis. They also take classes such as:
- Behavioral Measurement and Assessment
- Educating Students with Autism
- Becoming an Ethical and Professional Behavior Analyst
- Designing Comprehensive Behavioral Interventions
UW is well ranked by an impressive array of sources, from U.S. News & World Report to Forbes, each of which place it among the top 15 best universities in the nation. UW is a member of the elite Association of American Universities, and it has graduated Nobel Prize laureates, Fulbright Scholars, and Pulitzer Prize winners.
College Choice Score: 83.49
Average Net Price: $16,804
Mississippi College is a small liberal arts school located just outside of Jackson in Clinton. It is also a Christian university and the second-oldest Baptist college in the nation. Approximately 5,000 students attend Mississippi College.
At Mississippi College you can earn an MEd in Special Education fully online and in as few as 10 months. But just because this is the shortest program on our list doesn’t mean it isn’t in depth. In fact, this program ensures that its students earn the knowledge and skills they need to effectively analyze student learning. Some of the classes you’ll take include:
- Curriculum Development
- Current Education and Psychological Testing Procedures
- Characteristics of Students with Mild/Moderate Learning Problems
- Organizational Procedures for Special Education
Mississippi College has a long cultural history as the state’s oldest private university. Founded in 1826, students at the College witnessed the Civil War plus two world wars. And perhaps most impressively, the College became the first coeducational college in the U.S. to grant a degree to a woman.
College Choice Score: 81.70
Average Net Price: $29,998
Located in Boston, Massachusetts, Northeastern University is a top-of-the-line research institution. Undergraduates participate in the renowned co-op program, wherein they gain paid professional experience while earning their degrees. More than 25,000 students attend Northeastern.
Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies offers an MEd in Special Education degree that can be completed fully online. This is an ideal program for licensed teachers who want to advance their skills and knowledge in the areas of educational theory, specialized learning needs, and the impact of local and national policy changes on special education. Classes include:
- Role of Special Educators in an Inclusive School
- Developmental Language, Literacy, and Writing
- Adaptive Learning/Behavior Management Strategies
- Differentiated Instruction and Assessment
Northeastern is one well-decorated school with many recognitions to its name. It is ranked first among “Best Schools for Internships” by The Princeton Review. It is ranked sixth among “Most Innovative Schools” by U.S. News & World Report.
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
College Choice Score: 81.11
Average Net Price: $12,084
The Charlotte campus within the larger, highly renowned University of North Carolina System is a research-based university. It offers more than 200 academic programs at all degree levels through its nine colleges and schools. Nearly 30,000 students attend UNC Charlotte.
The MEd in Special Education program at UNC Charlotte focuses distinctively on academically and intellectually gifted populations. You will become prepared to implement diverse instructional practices. By studying the social and emotional needs of gifted students, you will not only gain practical skill sets, but a foundation in development theory. Classes include:
- Methods of Instructing Gifted Students
- Advanced Curriculum for Gifted Students
- Gifted Assessment and Program Evaluation
- Theory and Development of Creativity
UNC Charlotte is well ranked for its academics, social mobility, diversity, advancement, and more. It is also nationally ranked by Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, and Washington Monthly.
Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion
College Choice Score: 80.55
Average Net Price: $19,519
Indiana Wesleyan University is an evangelical Christian college located in Marion, Indiana. It is a liberal arts school, though it has nearly 16,000 students and an array of graduate programs. In fact, IWU is the largest private school in the state of Indiana.
When you earn an MEd in Special Education from Indiana Wesleyan you will explore everything from education leadership to culturally competent teaching. You will gain both the conceptual and practical skills needed to handle classroom responses to differences in language and culture. Some of the classes you can anticipate taking at IWU include:
- Strategies and Interventions for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Research-Based Behavior Interventions
- Collaboration with Families and Professionals
- Professional Learning and Ethical Practices
Indiana Wesleyan has been named one of the “Top Universities in the Midwest” by U.S. News & World Report. It continues to make regional rankings each year as well as being recognized for its affordability. Also of note, it has been named one of the “Top Ten Conservative Colleges” in the U.S.
College Choice Score: 80.25
Average Net Price: $27,757
Xavier University is a Catholic school located in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is one of the oldest Jesuit schools in the nation and has around 6,500 undergraduate and graduate students. Though Xavier is primarily a liberal arts school, it offers a range of professional and graduate programs as well.
At Xavier you can earn either a Master of Science or a Master of Education in Special Education. The former is for students who want to become education advocates through law and policy. The latter is for those who want to develop their skills in the classroom. You don’t even need to decide which program is best for you when you start. You can decide once you’re a few classes in since both programs require a few of the same courses:
- Advanced Human Development and Learning
- Identification and Issues in Special Education
- Foundations in Early Childhood Special Education
- Mild Moderate Assessment
Xavier is a regionally ranked university, recognized among the best in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report. On top of its academic accolades, Xavier is also known for its excellent graduation rates and affordability. Forbes also includes it on its annual “America’s Top Colleges” rankings.
Concordia University-Saint Paul
College Choice Score: 80.15
Average Net Price: $19,499
The Saint Paul campus within the broader Concordia University System, is home to around 5,000 on-campus students. But it is also known for its large and highly regarded online college. Concordia University in Saint Paul is a private university and affiliated with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.
When you earn an MA in Education from Concordia you will specialize in Special Education with Specific Learning Disabilities Licensure. Through Concordia’s program you will learn how to evaluate and implement curriculums while also developing your collaboration and communication skills. Some of the classes you’ll take at Concordia include:
- Literacy Strategies for Grades K-6
- Ethical Issues for Professional Educators of Exceptional Learners
- Educational Research and Applications
- Collaborative Teaching in Inclusive Settings
Concordia boasts several categories of rankings and recognitions to its name, including those covering best online programs. Concordia’s online programs in the areas of health, business, education, and criminal justice are some of the best in the country. The wider university as whole is regionally ranked by U.S. News & World Report.
James Madison University
College Choice Score: 79.83
Average Net Price: $16,252
Nestled in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, James Madison University is located in Harrisonburg, Virginia. It was founded as a teacher’s college but today offers more than 100 academic and professional degree programs. More than 22,000 students attend JMU.
At JMU there are many ways to gain graduate experience in special education. You can earn a certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders, Educational Technology, Higher Education Assessment, or K-12 Gifted Education. These certifications are a great way to buff up your resume in a short amount of time (usually less than a year) while also advancing your knowledge and skills in gifted education. Classes include:
- Overview and Assessment of Autism Disorders
- Communication, Language, and Sensory Issues in ASD
- The Nature and Needs of Gifted Learners
- Curriculum Design in Gifted Education
With Kiplinger’s recently including JMU among the “100 Best Values in Public Colleges” list, the university is hard to compete with in terms of affordability. Furthermore, it is regionally ranked by the likes of U.S. News & World Report and Forbes. And JMU has earned a reputation not only for its academics and affordability, but its social mobility, research, and service too.
Stephen F. Austin State University
College Choice Score: 79.24
Average Net Price: $11,987
Located in Nacogdoches, Texas, Stephen F. Austin State University was founded as a teacher’s college. Today, SFA is still strong in the areas of education and teaching, but the University also offers more than 120 combined undergraduate and graduate programs.
SFA offers many master’s degrees in special education, with and without licensure. All can be fully completed online and all prepare students for careers in the classroom or in an administrative setting. So regardless of which program you choose (listed below), you can rest assured that SFA guarantees you will graduate a more insightful, compassionate, and innovative teacher.
- MEd in Special Education with certification
- MEd in Special Education without certification
- MEd in Special Education with Educational Diagnostician certification
- Educational Diagnostician (certification seeking only)
Stephen F. Austin State University is ranked among the top 75 best universities in its region by U.S. News & World Report. Even more, it is ranked among the top 25 best public schools and for having some of the strongest online programs, graduate and undergraduate alike, in the nation.
George Mason University
College Choice Score: 78.76
Average Net Price: $18,032
George Mason University is located in Fairfax County, Virginia. It is a bustling research university with nearly a dozen schools and colleges and more than 20 research centers and institutes. Just over 35,000 undergraduate and graduate students attend George Mason.
TTU’s College of Education offers an online special education graduate degree with an emphasis in educational diagnostics. This is a perfect program for those special education teachers and administrators who want to enhance their assessment and evaluation skills. Some of the classes you’ll take when earning this two-year degree include:
- Educational Appraisal of Exceptional Children
- Applied Behavior Analysis in Special Education
- Authentic Assessment for Students with Exceptionalities
- Children and Youth with High Incidence Disabilities
The Carnegie Foundation designates George Mason as among the most active research universities in the nation. It’s no surprise then that the university is also incredibly well-ranked on both national and global levels.