50 Best Online Master’s in Special Education

The field of special education is growing at a record pace in America. This growth is fueling demand for online Master’s in Special Education graduates.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 6.7 million American schoolkids suffered from some kind of disability in 2015-2016. That’s 13.2 percent of all students, up from 13 percent the year before. This growth makes a Master’s in Special Education one of the best investments you can make for a college degree.

Not only that, but working in the field of special education is rewarding in its own right. These kids face some of the biggest challenges of any students. Helping them get an education provides a great deal of satisfaction for many people.

What is an Online Master’s in Special Education Degree?

In the US, many teaching positions are available without a degree, depending on what state you live in. But special education presents unique challenges, so states almost universally require special education teachers to have a master’s degree in the field.

As a special education teacher, you would be responsible for teaching a classroom of special education students. These students primarily come from three groups: students with intellectual disabilities, students with physical disabilities, and students with behavioral disabilities. You’ll need to balance the needs of all three groups in order to be successful.

An online Master’s in Special Education Degree is exactly what it sounds like—a master’s degree in Special Education that you can earn from your own home, on your schedule.

How Much Can You Earn With an Online Master’s in Special Education?

Special education teachers require more training than the average teacher. As a result, it should come as no surprise that teachers with a master’s degree in Special Education earn more than teachers with a standard Master’s of Education.

Average earnings for Master’s in Special Education degree holders are $57,000 per year. Exact earnings will depend on your job. For example, kindergarten and elementary school special ed teachers average only $47,000 annually, while directors of special education earn an average of $70,000 a year.

What is Required for an Online Master’s in Special Education?

As with many educational programs, the exact qualifications for a Master’s in Special Education will vary somewhat depending on the university. That said, there are a few qualifications most schools will require. These include:

  • A bachelor’s degree, typically a bachelor of education. Most master’s programs also require a teacher’s license, and some programs will accept licensed teachers without a bachelor’s degree.
  • A capstone project or thesis is typically required in order to graduate.
  • Most programs require a minimum amount of classroom experience before issuing a degree.
  • Most programs require you to complete a comprehensive exam before receiving your master’s degree.
  • Work in this field requires a teaching license in almost all states.

What are the Best Online Master’s in Special Education Degrees?

To calculate which degree programs are the best, OSR uses six data points. Three of these are school-wide, and three are program-specific. This data-driven approach makes our ratings as objective as possible.

The school-wide criteria are student satisfaction, admission rates, and the total number of programs the school offers online. In terms of program-specific data points, OSR looks at median debt of program graduates, how many degrees are offered within the program’s department, and the percentage of enrolled students who graduate from that department.

For each school, you’ll see all six statistics displayed. For some schools, you’ll see “not reported” in one or more fields. This means the school did not report that data to the Department of Education.

To read a more detailed explanation of OSR’s ranking process, please visit our methodology page.

  1. Concordia University-Chicago

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $15,000(in state) / $15,000(out of state)
    • 30 credit hours
    • Acceptance requires a teaching license
    • Graduation requires 2 years of classroom experience

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction75.00%
    Admission Rate75%
    Programs offered online6

    Program Level

    Median Debt$18,000
    Programs in Department21
    Popularity at School21.79%
    100%
    OSR Score

    Concordia’s online Special Education Master’s degree is a Master of Arts. The program takes a hands-on approach that emphasizes research and real-world classroom experience. Graduation requires you to earn an Illinois state teaching license, regardless of where you live.

  2. University of West Alabama

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $6,678(in state) / $13,356(out of state)
    • 34 credit hours
    • Comprehensive exam required for graduation
    • Acceptance does not require a bachelor’s degree

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction77.80%
    Admission Rate28%
    Programs offered online13

    Program Level

    Median Debt$34,166
    Programs in Department9
    Popularity at School17.8%
    93%
    OSR Score

    The UWA online graduate school will admit any qualified certified teacher to their Master’s of Special Education program. Coursework is divided into two parts: 16 credit hours of instruction, and 18 credit hours of hands-on classroom experience. To graduate, you’ll need to pass a comprehensive examination.

  3. Grand Canyon University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $9,737(in state) / $9,737(out of state)
    • 44 credit hours
    • Includes 15 weeks of student teaching
    • Accepts up to 12 hours of transfer credits

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction69.20%
    Admission Rate67%
    Programs offered online37

    Program Level

    Median Debt$32,720
    Programs in Department19
    Popularity at School11.02%
    91%
    OSR Score

    GCU places a lot of emphasis on hands-on experience. To earn a Master’s in Special Education from this school, you need to complete an immersive 15-week session of observed student teaching. The program is relatively comprehensive, covering administrative as well as educational areas of interest.

  4. Ashford University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $11,214(in state) / $11,214(out of state)
    • 30 credit hours
    • Can take 1 class at a time
    • Does not require a teaching certificate for graduation

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction68.60%
    Admission RateNot Reported
    Programs offered online54

    Program Level

    Median DebtNot Reported
    Programs in Department4
    Popularity at School16.68%
    86%
    OSR Score

    Ashford University’s online Master’s in Special Education program allows you to take as few as one class at a time. On the one hand, it would take several years to earn a degree this way, but it’s an excellent option for a working adult. Graduation does not require a teaching certificate, so you can obtain one later if need be.

  5. University of the Cumberlands

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $5,670(in state) / $5,670(out of state)
    • 42 credit hours
    • Requires classroom teaching experience or passing PRAXIS score
    • Three levels of clinical work

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction75.80%
    Admission Rate74%
    Programs offered online15

    Program Level

    Median Debt$15,702
    Programs in Department14
    Popularity at School8.5%
    85%
    OSR Score

    UCumberlands’ Master’s in Special Education degree is an intensive, 42-credit hour program that requires three levels of classroom clinical work. Admission does not require teaching experience, but it does require you to pass the PRAXIS exam if you’re a non-teacher. Passing will require you to obtain a Kentucky state teaching license.

  6. Western Governors University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $6,500(in state) / $6,500(out of state)
    • 32 credit hours
    • Pay per term, not per credit hour
    • Graduation requires 240 hours of in-classroom experience

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction64.80%
    Admission RateNot Reported
    Programs offered online29

    Program Level

    Median Debt$12,268
    Programs in DepartmentNot Reported
    Popularity at School12.17%
    85%
    OSR Score

    WGU’s online Master’s in Special Education degree requires completion of 32 credit hours—WGU calls them “units”—of course work. This includes an immersive, 240-hour student teaching requirement. This school charges by the term, not by the credit hour, so you’ll pay less the faster you complete your degree.

  7. Mississippi College

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $10,584(in state) / $10,584(out of state)
    • 30 credit hours
    • Intensive single-year program
    • Requires a teaching license for admission

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction77.40%
    Admission Rate39%
    Programs offered online6

    Program Level

    Median Debt$23,833
    Programs in Department6
    Popularity at School11.4%
    85%
    OSR Score

    Mississippi College offers online courses in short, seven-week sessions. This allows you to start your degree at any time of year. If you take a full course load, you can graduate in as little as 10 months.

  8. Morningside College

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $4,500(in state) / $4,500(out of state)
    • 36 credit hours
    • 18 credit hours are elective
    • Accepts up to 9 transfer credits

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction73.60%
    Admission Rate55%
    Programs offered onlineNot Reported

    Program Level

    Median Debt$17,314
    Programs in Department5
    Popularity at School15.04%
    83%
    OSR Score

    Morningside College’s Master’s in Special Education program is divided into two parts. The first is an 18-credit hour foundational set of courses that are required for all students. The second is composed of 18 credit hours of elective courses, so students can tailor their education to their own interests.

  9. Emporia State University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $6,084(in state) / $18,924(out of state)
    • Program is designed for online students
    • Tailored for working professionals
    • Requires classroom experience for admission

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction74.40%
    Admission Rate83%
    Programs offered online2

    Program Level

    Median Debt$25,899
    Programs in Department10
    Popularity at School19.05%
    83%
    OSR Score

    ESU’s Master’s in Special Education degree is offered entirely online. This program is tailored for teachers who need to keep working to pay the bills while they’re continuing their education. It involves a lot of student teaching work, so working teachers will be comfortable with the program requirements.

  10. Campbellsville University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $11,904(in state) / $11,904(out of state)
    • 30 credit hours
    • 4th most-affordable Christian college in the US
    • Requires a teaching certificate for admission

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction76.20%
    Admission Rate69%
    Programs offered online10

    Program Level

    Median Debt$19,500
    Programs in Department5
    Popularity at School14.48%
    82%
    OSR Score

    Campbellsville University is an affordable Christian university located in Kentucky. That said, its online Master’s in Special Education degrees are available to students in all 50 states. Completion takes two years with a full course load, and admission requires a current teaching license.

  11. Northern Arizona University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $9,313(in state) / $17,915(out of state)
    • 30 credit hours
    • Field work is optional
    • Multiple emphasis programs

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction73.80%
    Admission Rate81%
    Programs offered online26

    Program Level

    Median Debt$29,467
    Programs in Department11
    Popularity at School9.31%
    82%
    OSR Score

    NAU’s Master’s in Special Education program requires 30 credit hours of course work, and student teaching is purely optional. NAU offers four different emphasis programs to help you specialize your degree. These specialties are Positive Behavior Support, Cross-Categorical/High Incidence, Disability Studies, and Early Childhood.

  12. Union College

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $9,600(in state) / $9,600(out of state)
    • 37 credit hours
    • Requires a teaching certificate for admission
    • $25 application fee

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction76.40%
    Admission Rate63%
    Programs offered online3

    Program Level

    Median DebtNot Reported
    Programs in Department7
    Popularity at School22.56%
    80%
    OSR Score

    Union College offers a 37-credit hour online Master’s in Special Education degree. Student teaching time isn’t required, but a valid teaching certificate is required for admission. In practice, this makes Union College’s program best suited for actively working teachers.

  13. Northwestern State University of Louisiana

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $5,738(in state) / $16,526(out of state)
    • 36 credit hours
    • Multiple areas of concentration
    • No teaching license required for admission

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction77.00%
    Admission Rate80%
    Programs offered online19

    Program Level

    Median Debt$16,375
    Programs in Department11
    Popularity at School3.71%
    80%
    OSR Score

    This program is designed for students who already know what they want to do with their degree. NSU offers multiple concentrations, including Gifted Education, Early Intervention, and Mild/Moderate Special Education for Elementary, Middle, and Secondary school. This university requires no teaching license, so it’s a good choice for students who have just finished their bachelor’s degree.

  14. Niagara University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $13,698(in state) / $13,698(out of state)
    • 40 credit hours
    • Requires a teaching certificate for admission
    • Additional Advanced Certificate available

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction73.80%
    Admission Rate84%
    Programs offered onlineNot Reported

    Program Level

    Median Debt$28,684
    Programs in DepartmentNot Reported
    Popularity at School26.87%
    80%
    OSR Score

    Niagara University’s 40 credit-hour online Master’s in Special Education is designed for working teachers. Courses are 100 percent online, and are available for all levels of education. In addition, Niagara offers an Advanced Certificate, and an Annotation in Severe & Multiple Disabilities if you’re intending to specialize.

  15. National University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $14,976(in state) / $14,976(out of state)
    • 45 credit hours
    • Multiple specialization options
    • No prior teaching experience required for admission

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction70.80%
    Admission RateNot Reported
    Programs offered online46

    Program Level

    Median Debt$51,323
    Programs in Department11
    Popularity at School8.16%
    80%
    OSR Score

    National University has 20 campuses located throughout Southern California and Nevada, and it has recently started offering classes online. NU’s Master’s in Special Education degree requires 45 credit hours and no prior classroom experience. It includes optional specializations in Early Childhood, Autism, Learning Outcomes, Language and Academic Development, Mild/Moderate Disability, and Moderate/Severe Disability.

  16. University of West Georgia

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $4,086(in state) / $15,876(out of state)
    • 33 credit hours
    • Two curriculum tracks
    • $40 application fee

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction74.60%
    Admission Rate59%
    Programs offered online4

    Program Level

    Median Debt$22,264
    Programs in Department6
    Popularity at School10.45%
    80%
    OSR Score

    UWG’s online Master’s in Special Education program offers two curriculum tracks. The General Curriculum prepares students for teaching mild to moderate special needs students, while the Adapted Curriculum prepares students for teaching moderate to severe students. Admission requires a bachelor’s degree, but not a teaching certificate.

  17. Ball State University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $8,554(in state) / $21,172(out of state)
    • 30 credit hours
    • License and non-licensed tracks available
    • 15 credits of core requirements, 15 credits of specialized credits

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction73.20%
    Admission Rate62%
    Programs offered online6

    Program Level

    Median Debt$27,214
    Programs in Department11
    Popularity at School7.58%
    79%
    OSR Score

    Ball State offers two types of online Master’s in Special Education degrees. The first is geared towards students who want to work in administrative and non-teaching roles. The second is designed specifically to help students earn their teaching certificate for special education.

  18. Wilmington University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $8,388(in state) / $8,388(out of state)
    • 33-54 credit hours
    • Admission requires a bachelor’s degree and a passing PRAXIS score
    • $35 application fee

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction72.40%
    Admission RateNot Reported
    Programs offered online18

    Program Level

    Median Debt$35,911
    Programs in Department8
    Popularity at School8.91%
    79%
    OSR Score

    Wilmington University offers a Master’s in Special Education in person on its Delaware campuses, or online to all 50 states. Its programs are highly tailored to specific specialties, and some can require as much as 54 credit hours of coursework. In addition to standard teaching tracks, it also offer concentrations for administrators.

  19. University of Florida

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $10,770(in state) / $27,335(out of state)
    • 36 credit hours
    • Multiple learning tracks
    • Program designed for working teachers

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction76.60%
    Admission Rate42%
    Programs offered online15

    Program Level

    Median Debt$27,250
    Programs in Department7
    Popularity at School2.29%
    79%
    OSR Score

    The University of Florida’s online Master’s in Special Education degree program is tailored for working teachers, who can boost their credentials on their own time. UF offers specializations in Early Childhood Studies, Dyslexia, Autism, Disabilities in Society, and General Special Education. No student teaching is required for graduation, but classroom experience is required for admission.

  20. Concordia University-Nebraska

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $9,395(in state) / $9,395(out of state)
    • 36 credit hours
    • Optional K-6, 7-12, and K-12 endorsements
    • Requires a bachelor’s degree for admission

    School Wide

    Student SatisfactionNot Reported
    Admission Rate75%
    Programs offered online2

    Program Level

    Median DebtNot Reported
    Programs in DepartmentNot Reported
    Popularity at School35.4%
    79%
    OSR Score

    Concordia’s program is based around a 36-credit hour core curriculum. If you so desire, you can take additional course work to earn a K-6, 7-12, and K-12 endorsement for Nebraska. Check your own state’s regulations to see if they will honor a Nebraska endorsement.

  21. Harding University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $15,514(in state) / $15,514(out of state)
    • 35 credit hours
    • Requires a bachelor’s degree
    • Also requires a teaching certificate or passing PRAXIS score

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction77.40%
    Admission Rate72%
    Programs offered online3

    Program Level

    Median DebtNot Reported
    Programs in Department14
    Popularity at School14.43%
    79%
    OSR Score

    Harding University offers a highly selective 35-credit hour online Master’s in Special Education program. It offers 11 different endorsements. Since these include several endorsements that are oriented towards administration, Harding is an excellent choice for professional administrators.

  22. Wayne State College

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $3,870(in state) / $7,740(out of state)
    • 36-51 credit hours
    • 3rd most affordable online master’s degree
    • Bachelor’s degree required for admission

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction73.20%
    Admission RateNot Reported
    Programs offered online2

    Program Level

    Median DebtNot Reported
    Programs in DepartmentNot Reported
    Popularity at School26.17%
    79%
    OSR Score

    Wayne State College offers four different Master of Science degrees in Special Education. The Initial Certification program requires 51 credits, while the Additional Certification, Advanced Study, and Special Education Supervisor tracks only require 36. Wayne State’s pricing is some of the most competitive available.

  23. Buena Vista University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $9,306(in state) / $9,306(out of state)
    • 36-51 credit hours
    • Multiple optional endorsements
    • Bachelor’s degree required for admission

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction70.40%
    Admission Rate64%
    Programs offered online14

    Program Level

    Median DebtNot Reported
    Programs in Department5
    Popularity at School21.02%
    79%
    OSR Score

    BVU offers a basic online Master’s in Special Education degree that requires 36 credit hours of coursework. With an additional 15 hours, students can also earn an endorsement in Mild/Moderate Disabilities for K-12, or endorsements for Moderate/Severe Disabilities in specific areas. The program is designed for the scheduling needs of working teachers, but no prior teaching experience is required for admission.

  24. Fort Hays State University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $3,497(in state) / $9,961(out of state)
    • 36 credit hours
    • Portfolio required for graduation
    • Bachelor’s degree required for admission

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction71.20%
    Admission Rate89%
    Programs offered online22

    Program Level

    Median Debt$21,209
    Programs in Department6
    Popularity at School11.62%
    79%
    OSR Score

    FHSU specializes in High-Incidence Special Education, which means special education for students with disabilities rather than for gifted students. The program is designed to meet most states’ requirements for adding a Special Education endorsement to an existing teaching license. Graduation requires completion of a portfolio that includes a classroom case study.

  25. University of Central Florida

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $6,916(in state) / $25,759(out of state)
    • 33 credit hours
    • Several endorsements available
    • Designed for teachers who are already certified

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction74.80%
    Admission Rate50%
    Programs offered online19

    Program Level

    Median Debt$37,972
    Programs in Department6
    Popularity at School7.94%
    78%
    OSR Score

    UCF’s online Master’s in Special Education program is notable because it offers a few endorsements you won’t see in most Special Education programs. To begin with, it offers an Exceptional Student Educator endorsement for teaching gifted students. It also offer endorsements for teaching autistic students, or students with speech and hearing challenges.

  26. Concordia University-Portland

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $20,910(in state) / $20,910(out of state)
    • 30 credit hours
    • Action Research or Practical final project required for graduation
    • Multiple endorsements available

    School Wide

    Student SatisfactionNot Reported
    Admission Rate49%
    Programs offered online4

    Program Level

    Median Debt$20,500
    Programs in DepartmentNot Reported
    Popularity at School15.35%
    78%
    OSR Score

    Concordia University’s online Master’s in Special Education program requires 30 credit hours of work divided across 10 classes. It offers multiple endorsements, including programs for both gifted and disabled students. For graduation, you’ll be required to complete either an “Action Research”—a case study—or a Practitioner Inquiry, a self-study of your own teaching method.

  27. Graceland University-Lamoni

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $9,015(in state) / $9,015(out of state)
    • 30 credit hours
    • Bachelor’s degree in Education required for admission
    • Designed for licensed teachers

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction76.80%
    Admission Rate56%
    Programs offered online4

    Program Level

    Median DebtNot Reported
    Programs in Department3
    Popularity at School20.44%
    77%
    OSR Score

    Graceland University’s program is designed for licensed teachers who are already working. This 30-credit hour program is meant for adding a Special Education endorsement to your existing teaching license. As with all Master’s of Special Education programs, reach out to your state’s Board of Education to make sure they meet your local requirements.

  28. Minnesota State University-Mankato

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $7,120(in state) / $7,120(out of state)
    • 34 credit hours
    • Specializes in Autism Spectrum Education
    • No teaching license required for admission

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction73.80%
    Admission Rate61%
    Programs offered online4

    Program Level

    Median Debt$20,200
    Programs in Department6
    Popularity at School7.08%
    77%
    OSR Score

    MSU–Mankato’s master’s program is geared specifically towards bachelor’s degree holders who want to specialize in educating autistic students. No teaching license is required for admission, and an optional licensure track allows you to take additional classes to work towards a license if needed. The degree focuses primarily on behavior management and transitioning from childhood to adulthood.

  29. Liberty University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $8,217(in state) / $8,217(out of state)
    • 36 credit hours
    • 8-week courses
    • Will accept up to 18 transfer credits

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction73.40%
    Admission Rate30%
    Programs offered online23

    Program Level

    Median Debt$36,458
    Programs in DepartmentNot Reported
    Popularity at School7.69%
    76%
    OSR Score

    Liberty University’s 36-credit hour M.Ed. program is offered in 8-week courses. This allows you to start at virtually any time of year, and take time off as needed for your existing career. Liberty will accept up to 18 transfer credits, making it a good choice if you already started your master’s degree elsewhere.

  30. New Mexico Highlands University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $4,750(in state) / $8,117(out of state)
    • 36 credit hours
    • Multiple fields of emphasis
    • Master of Arts and Master of Science both available

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction75.60%
    Admission RateNot Reported
    Programs offered online1

    Program Level

    Median DebtNot Reported
    Programs in DepartmentNot Reported
    Popularity at School21.12%
    76%
    OSR Score

    NMHU’s 36-credit hour online Master’s in Special Education program is divided into three portions. The first 12 credit hours consist of core credits, while the next 12 consist of credits in your specialization. The final 12 credits are research based, with a focus on correct methodology.

  31. Minot State University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $7,140(in state) / $7,140(out of state)
    • 25-27 credit hours
    • Capstone thesis and passing PRAXIS II score required for graduation
    • Deaf and Hard of Hearing concentration available

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction76.60%
    Admission Rate69%
    Programs offered online10

    Program Level

    Median DebtNot Reported
    Programs in DepartmentNot Reported
    Popularity at School20.83%
    75%
    OSR Score

    MSU’s master’s program only requires 25-27 credit hours of instruction, but it’s by no means easy. Graduation requires completion and presentation of a capstone thesis, as well as earning a passing score on the PRAXIS II. Several concentrations are available for study, including a specialization in Deaf and Hard of Hearing education.

  32. University of Nebraska at Kearney

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $5,712(in state) / $12,528(out of state)
    • 36 credit hours
    • Specialize in K-6 or 7-12
    • Gifted specialization available

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction71.40%
    Admission Rate82%
    Programs offered online7

    Program Level

    Median Debt$16,295
    Programs in DepartmentNot Reported
    Popularity at School13.97%
    75%
    OSR Score

    UNK’s Master’s in Special Education program focuses primarily on gifted students. It offers specializations in K-6 and 7-12 education, and core classes require 36 credit hours. Students must pass a comprehensive examination to earn their degree.

  33. Jacksonville State University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $9,168(in state) / $18,336(out of state)
    • 31-43 credit hours
    • Multiple specializations available
    • One-year intensive program

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction77.20%
    Admission Rate54%
    Programs offered online2

    Program Level

    Median Debt$38,456
    Programs in Department5
    Popularity at School10.1%
    75%
    OSR Score

    Jacksonville State’s M.Ed. program in Special Education packs 31 to 43 credit hours of coursework into a one-year program. This makes it a poor choice for working teachers, but an excellent choice for students who are just finishing their bachelor’s degree. It offers multiple specializations, for age groups from preschool through grade 12.

  34. The University of West Florida

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $7,088(in state) / $22,166(out of state)
    • 36 credit hours
    • Emphasis on exceptional students
    • Two primary areas of study

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction74.60%
    Admission Rate50%
    Programs offered online8

    Program Level

    Median Debt$29,784
    Programs in Department5
    Popularity at School3.66%
    74%
    OSR Score

    UWF’s online Master’s in Special Education focus emphasizes teaching exceptional students. UWF offers two primary areas of study: Special & Alternative Education, and Applied Behavior Analysis. Studies include a 21-credit hour core, as well as 15 hours of study in your concentration.

  35. University of Northern Iowa

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $8,950(in state) / $19,424(out of state)
    • 38 credit hours
    • 4 years of teaching experience required for admission
    • Comprehensive exam and 90 student teaching hours required for graduation

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction73.20%
    Admission Rate81%
    Programs offered online2

    Program Level

    Median DebtNot Reported
    Programs in Department9
    Popularity at School17.36%
    74%
    OSR Score

    UNI’s program requires both passing a comprehensive exam as well as 90 hours of observed instruction. This is an advanced program, and requires a minimum of four years of teaching experience for admission. Classes are held in the evening, so working teachers can attend after dinner.

  36. Eastern Kentucky University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $9,900(in state) / $14,850(out of state)
    • 30 credit hours
    • 8-week terms
    • Accepts up to 9 transfer credits

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction74.40%
    Admission Rate87%
    Programs offered online17

    Program Level

    Median Debt$34,249
    Programs in Department9
    Popularity at School7.54%
    74%
    OSR Score

    EKU’s program is designed for students who are already working as teachers. It offers eight-week terms, which allows you to sign up at any time of year. They also accept up to nine transfer credits, so you don’t have to start over from scratch if you already started a degree somewhere else.

  37. Florida International University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $8,912(in state) / $21,393(out of state)
    • 36 credit hours
    • Specialization in Autism
    • Requires a bachelor’s degree for admission

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction76.40%
    Admission Rate54%
    Programs offered online26

    Program Level

    Median Debt$30,750
    Programs in Department2
    Popularity at School4.12%
    74%
    OSR Score

    FIU’s master’s program is specialized for Autism Education. The program includes 21 hours of core course work, as well as 15 hours of specialized autism-related course work. Applicants are required to have either a bachelor’s degree or the foreign equivalent.

  38. Delta State University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $6,739(in state) / $6,739(out of state)
    • 30-33 credit hours
    • Graduation requires either a comprehensive exam or a thesis
    • Requires a bachelor’s degree for admission

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction75.80%
    Admission Rate87%
    Programs offered online2

    Program Level

    Median DebtNot Reported
    Programs in Department4
    Popularity at School23.6%
    74%
    OSR Score

    Delta State’s online Master’s in Special Education degree requires 30 to 33 hours of coursework, depending on your specialization. Admission standards are high, requiring both a bachelor’s degree and a minimum score on either the CASE exam or the ACT. Graduation standards are unique—students can complete either a comprehensive written and oral exam or present a thesis.

  39. Eastern University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $16,560(in state) / $16,560(out of state)
    • 30-36 credit hours
    • Requires teaching certification for admission
    • Offers several optional endorsements

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction74.40%
    Admission Rate66%
    Programs offered online5

    Program Level

    Median Debt$37,111
    Programs in DepartmentNot Reported
    Popularity at School15.81%
    74%
    OSR Score

    Eastern University’s M.Ed. program has a few different options. The core coursework requires 30 credit hours, and is sufficient to earn your degree. That said, you can take extra classes to earn endorsements in Autism or Applied Behavior Analysis.

  40. University of Phoenix-Arizona

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $16,713(in state) / $16,713(out of state)
    • 46 credit hours
    • 6-week courses
    • 100 hours of field work required for graduation

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction74.80%
    Admission RateNot Reported
    Programs offered online36

    Program Level

    Median Debt$37,362
    Programs in DepartmentNot Reported
    Popularity at School2.24%
    73%
    OSR Score

    The University of Phoenix–Arizona offers a Master of Arts in Special Education that’s built for immersion. Six-week courses allow you to take a single class at a time and still earn your degree in less than two years. That said, you’ll need to perform 100 hours of student teaching field work in order to graduate.

  41. Missouri State University-Springfield

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $4,824(in state) / $9,702(out of state)
    • 39-46 credit hours
    • At least 60 hours of undergraduate credit required for admission
    • 4 specializations

    School Wide

    Student SatisfactionNot Reported
    Admission Rate84%
    Programs offered online24

    Program Level

    Median Debt$25,801
    Programs in DepartmentNot Reported
    Popularity at School12.94%
    73%
    OSR Score

    MSU–Springfield offers four different specializations in its M.Ed. program. Autism Spectrum Disorder requires 46 credits, while Orientation and Mobility and the Special Education Alternative Certification Track both require 45. The Visual Impairment specialization is notable and requires 39 credit hours of coursework.

  42. University of the Southwest

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $14,376(in state) / $14,376(out of state)
    • 30 credit hours
    • Requires a bachelor’s degree for admission
    • Covers all education levels from preschool through 12th grade

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction74.00%
    Admission Rate35%
    Programs offered online20

    Program Level

    Median DebtNot Reported
    Programs in DepartmentNot Reported
    Popularity at School8.57%
    73%
    OSR Score

    The University of the Southwest’s online Master’s program is a basic, 30-credit hour general Special Education degree. It covers all education levels, but does not include an endorsement in any one area. A bachelor’s degree is required for admission.

  43. The University of Alabama

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $10,780(in state) / $28,100(out of state)
    • 36 credit hours
    • Teaching certificate required for admission
    • Requires some student teaching field work

    School Wide

    Student SatisfactionNot Reported
    Admission Rate53%
    Programs offered online10

    Program Level

    Median Debt$27,488
    Programs in Department3
    Popularity at School7.82%
    73%
    OSR Score

    The University of Alabama’s online Master’s of Education program specializes in 6-12 education. It’s designed for teachers who already hold a bachelor’s-level certificate and are working in the field. Some practical field work is required for graduation, although the exact nature will depend on your advisor.

  44. University of South Florida-Main Campus

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $8,350(in state) / $19,048(out of state)
    • 50 credit hours
    • Tailored for graduates with bachelor’s degrees in other fields
    • Requires some field work for graduation

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction76.20%
    Admission Rate45%
    Programs offered online2

    Program Level

    Median Debt$45,116
    Programs in Department8
    Popularity at School4.86%
    73%
    OSR Score

    The M.Ed. program at USF is designed for people who have bachelor’s degrees in non-education-related fields. As a result, the program requires 50 credit hours of coursework, covering requirements not just for special education, but also for general education. Field work is required for graduation, since students are not expected to have ever taught a class before.

  45. Rowan University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $13,266(in state) / $13,266(out of state)
    • 30-36 credit hours
    • 4 specializations
    • Requires a thesis presentation for graduation

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction74.00%
    Admission Rate69%
    Programs offered online5

    Program Level

    Median Debt$26,780
    Programs in DepartmentNot Reported
    Popularity at School11.88%
    72%
    OSR Score

    Rowan University’s Master’s program in Special Education requires 18 hours of coursework to meet the core requirements. Beyond that, you’ll have 12 to 18 more credit hours of work depending on your specialization. Students can focus on the Graduate Endorsement track, the Autism Spectrum Disorders track, the Learning Disabilities track, or the Early Childhood Special Education track.

  46. Jackson State University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $7,501(in state) / $7,501(out of state)
    • 36 credit hours
    • Oral and written comprehensive exam required for graduation
    • Bachelor’s degree and teaching certificate required for admission

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction73.40%
    Admission Rate72%
    Programs offered online5

    Program Level

    Median DebtNot Reported
    Programs in Department7
    Popularity at School14.43%
    72%
    OSR Score

    Jackson State’s exclusive master’s program requires both a bachelor’s degree and a teaching certificate for admission. Core requirements are for 12 credit hours, with 24 additional credit hours in more specialized classes. In order to graduate, students need to pass both an oral and a written examination.

  47. University of Louisville

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $12,246(in state) / $25,486(out of state)
    • 18 or 36 credit hours
    • Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis certificate available
    • Requires a teaching license

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction75.20%
    Admission Rate75%
    Programs offered online4

    Program Level

    Median Debt$22,000
    Programs in Department4
    Popularity at School8.04%
    72%
    OSR Score

    The University of Louisville offers two types of M.Ed. degrees. The first, a 36-credit hour Master of Science degree, is designed for working teachers. The second is a standalone 18-credit hour Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis graduate certificate.

  48. Southwestern College

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $10,620(in state) / $10,620(out of state)
    • 33-36 credit hours
    • Multiple endorsements available
    • Bachelor’s degree and teaching license required for admission

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction79.60%
    Admission Rate97%
    Programs offered online20

    Program Level

    Median Debt$27,585
    Programs in Department4
    Popularity at School6.99%
    72%
    OSR Score

    Southwestern College offers a Master’s program in Special Education that’s designed for working, degree-holding teachers. It offers multiple endorsements, including K-6 and 6-12. Both of these require 36 hours of coursework, while a non-degree endorsement in High-Incidence Disabilities only requires 33 credit hours.

  49. Nova Southeastern University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $18,932(in state) / $18,932(out of state)
    • 30-36 credit hours
    • 14 specializations available
    • Bilingual courses available

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction72.60%
    Admission Rate58%
    Programs offered online8

    Program Level

    Median Debt$80,390
    Programs in Department24
    Popularity at School2.75%
    71%
    OSR Score

    Nova Southeastern University’s department of Special Education focuses on bilingual education. It offers 14 different specializations, including Autism, Spanish Language Education, and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. Depending on specialization, earning a degree requires 30 to 36 hours of coursework.

  50. Bemidji State University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $7,263(in state) / $7,263(out of state)
    • 36 credit hours
    • Requires a bachelor’s degree and teaching certificate for admission
    • $20 application fee

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction70.20%
    Admission Rate66%
    Programs offered online11

    Program Level

    Median DebtNot Reported
    Programs in Department3
    Popularity at School14.9%
    71%
    OSR Score

    BSU offers a Master’s in Special Education program specifically for working teachers. Its program requires 36 hours of coursework and allows you to focus either on behavioral disorders or Autism Spectrum disorder. The application fee is $20.