25 Best Online Bachelor’s in Special Education for 2020

All children deserve an education, but some are not suited for the normal classroom experience. Education degrees are not always designed for teaching special needs kids.

Although most degrees include some required hands-on teaching experience, many Special Education degrees can be completed mostly online. The classwork, at least, can be finished remotely. This leaves the student to complete only the on-hand experiences in person.

Since online degrees are so flexible, online Special Education programs might be a great choice for you if you’d like to pursue the degree but don’t have the schedule to attend classes every day.

What is a Bachelor’s in Special Education?

A Bachelor’s in Special Education is similar to a general Education or Teaching degree, but it focuses on educating students with various special needs or disabilities. These degrees often have a disability focus or are designed to prepare teachers for educating kids within a specific age range, such as K-6 or K-12.

Many Special Education certificates allow a teacher to educate special needs students in a single state if they already have an Education degree. These certificates generally require around 20 or so credit hours for completion and can be “added on” to their main degree.

Finally, some Education degrees offer emphases or specializations in Special Education. The student still receives an Education degree but is also prepared to teach special needs students.

All of these options ensure that the teacher understands how to interact with and educate students that are not well suited for the typical classroom experience.

How Much Can You Earn with a Special Education Degree?

The average salary for a Special Education Teacher is around $50,000. However, this number is heavily dependent on state and local needs. Teachers in higher demand will earn more. In addition, teachers that are employed at a particular school for long enough can receive tenure, or guaranteed employment.

This is often seen as more valuable than a flat pay increase due to its inherent stability and security. Teachers that have more certificates or specializations can often demand more pay. Finally, teachers that receive a Master’s degree or Doctorate will earn more on average.

What is Required for a Bachelor’s in Special Education Degree?

To obtain a Bachelor’s in Special Education you’ll need to complete coursework that has been specialized to provide you with teaching training while accounting for the unique needs often seen with special education kids. Some classes you might take could be:

  • Educational theory
  • Communication courses
  • Writing courses
  • Body language education
  • Conflict management/resolution training
  • Adaptational learning techniques
  • Deaf education training

All of these will prepare a potential teacher for the myriad challenges that can be expected in a special needs classroom. These skills can be particularly valuable for general Education degree recipients, as they can increase your pay and make you more valuable to schools in need of a teacher.

You’ll also almost always be required to complete some hours of in-person, in-classroom experience in preparation for your employment at a school.

What Are the Best Bachelor’s in Special Education Degrees?

OSR uses six data points: three school-wide and three program specific. For school-wide, OSR uses Student Satisfaction, Admission Rates, and the number of programs the school offers online. For program specific, OSR checks the Median Debt of graduates from that program, how many degrees are offered within that program’s umbrella department, and what percentage of students at that school graduated from that department.

The six statistics are displayed by each school. The sliding bar under each statistic represents how that school compares to other US institutions. “Not reported” means a school did not release that information to the US Department of Education. A more detailed description of the OSR process can be found on the methodology page.

  1. Prescott College

    20-Year ROI
    $650,436

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $28,896(in state) / $28,896(out of state)
    • 120 Credits for completion
    • Has generous transfer credit policy
    • Accelerated pathway is available

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction85%
    Admission Rate95%
    Programs offered online36

    Program Level

    Median Debt$19,209
    Programs in Department6
    Popularity at School19.13%
    100%
    OSR Score

    This program prepares future teachers for educating students with both normal and special needs. Although you initially need to travel to Prescott, Arizona for orientation, all other classwork can be performed online. Courses prepare students for teaching elementary, secondary, and special education students.

  2. University of Mary

    20-Year ROI
    $958,195

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $16,470(in state) / $16,470(out of state)
    • Courses are based on Common Core Standards
    • Lots of scholarship opportunities
    • Students will receive experience with current teachers

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction76%
    Admission Rate76%
    Programs offered online51

    Program Level

    Median Debt$24,444
    Programs in Department11
    Popularity at School8.31%
    96%
    OSR Score

    Students of this program will focus on current teaching practices and emphasize hands-on experience. Some courses focus on understanding education law as well, given its prevalence in special needs students’ lives. As some on-hand experience is required, the program is not entirely online.

  3. Western Governors University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $5,780(in state) / $5,780(out of state)
    • Named best value in teacher education by the National Council on Teacher Equality
    • Program not offered in several states
    • May require extra exam passage to qualify for special ed. license

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction65%
    Admission RateNot Reported
    Programs offered online29

    Program Level

    Median Debt$22,690
    Programs in Department11
    Popularity at School12.17%
    90%
    OSR Score

    This program prepares students of leading mild to moderate special needs students through K-12 grades. Students can choose to receive dual licensure for teaching both elementary education and K-12 special education if desired. Observation hours in a classroom are included in the curriculum.

  4. University of the Cumberlands

    20-Year ROI
    $693,847

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $22,640(in state) / $22,640(out of state)
    • 141 credit hours needed
    • Clinical hours can be completed in your hometown
    • Observation hours can be completed at school of your choice

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction76%
    Admission Rate74%
    Programs offered online15

    Program Level

    Median Debt$15,000
    Programs in Department8
    Popularity at School8.5%
    87%
    OSR Score

    This program engages students so that they are ready to teach students in kindergarten through fifth grade. A special education emphasis may be chosen to complement the primary degree focus. Although some field/clinic hours are required, everything else can be accomplished remotely at your convenience.

  5. Fort Hays State University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $3,900(in state) / $13,723(out of state)
    • 21 credits in addition to major’s hours
    • Most courses can only be taken by Education majors
    • Must be admitted to Teacher Education program beforehand

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction71%
    Admission Rate89%
    Programs offered online22

    Program Level

    Median Debt$20,000
    Programs in Department4
    Popularity at School11.62%
    85%
    OSR Score

    This program offers a minor in Special Education for anyone majoring in Elementary, Early Childhood, or Secondary Education. Fort Hays focuses on modern teaching techniques and how to utilize technology effectively in your classroom. This allows the minor to be relevant and marketable in today’s job climate.

  6. University of Southern Mississippi

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $8,108(in state) / $8,108(out of state)
    • Some in-person experience required
    • You will participate in development activities and programs
    • 840 hours of field-based-instruction required for program completion

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction77%
    Admission Rate98%
    Programs offered online18

    Program Level

    Median Debt$22,209
    Programs in Department4
    Popularity at School9.41%
    84%
    OSR Score

    This Teacher Education program offers focuses in Elementary Education, Special Education, or a Dual Degree with both focuses. You’ll work one-on-one with children across all subjects to ensure readiness in a real classroom. In addition, you’ll receive plenty of mentorship from current and past teachers who can help you succeed.

  7. East Carolina University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $4,452(in state) / $20,729(out of state)
    • Mentoring opportunities are available
    • 120 credit hours
    • 3 focuses available: Adaptive Physical Education, Communication, and Expanding Special Education

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction75%
    Admission Rate79%
    Programs offered online19

    Program Level

    Median Debt$21,995
    Programs in Department7
    Popularity at School8.1%
    83%
    OSR Score

    This special education program offers degrees in undergraduate, graduate, and licensure-only formats. A full bachelor’s prepares students for K-12 teaching across the board. Courses in the adapted curriculum are specially designed to be effective with special needs students.

  8. Missouri State University-Springfield

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $6,300(in state) / $13,740(out of state)
    • Requires admission to Teacher Education program beforehand
    • Accelerated programs available
    • 120 credit hours

    School Wide

    Student SatisfactionNot Reported
    Admission Rate84%
    Programs offered online24

    Program Level

    Median Debt$24,957
    Programs in Department4
    Popularity at School12.94%
    83%
    OSR Score

    This is a Bachelor of Science in education degree with the option to add a Special Education Certificate. Discipline is a strict necessity for this program, as periodic assessments of your behavior and disposition will be completed as the program continues to determine fitness for special education teaching. A focus on Special Education/Autism Disorders is available.

  9. Chadron State College

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $4,816(in state) / $4,844(out of state)
    • 54 credit hours
    • Generous college credit transfer policy
    • Requires completion of regular Bachelor of Science in Education degree

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction73%
    Admission RateNot Reported
    Programs offered online10

    Program Level

    Median Debt$18,500
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at School19.09%
    81%
    OSR Score

    This cross-categorical program provides students with the methods and skills required to plan for and educate students with mild to moderate disabilities. Students can choose between Special Education Endorsement (a K-12 focus) or Early Childhood Inclusive Endorsement (a birth-grade three focus). The curriculum is designed to prepare teachers for all learning environments.

  10. Chaminade University of Honolulu

    20-Year ROI
    $759,124

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $24,400(in state) / $24,400(out of state)
    • Field experiences are required through approved settings
    • Student teaching opportunities offered twice a year
    • Religious course required for graduation

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction75%
    Admission Rate92%
    Programs offered online10

    Program Level

    Median Debt$21,500
    Programs in Department4
    Popularity at School9.74%
    81%
    OSR Score

    This Bachelor’s Degree program will result in a license for teaching Special Education in K-12, K-6, or 6-12 formats. Students must complete a portfolio demonstrating their skills at the end of the year. There’s also a program specifically for students who are transferring in from Leeward Community College. 

  11. St. Andrews University

    20-Year ROI
    $729,613

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $25,874(in state) / $25,874(out of state)
    • 120 credits
    • Extra license is 12 more credits
    • Graduates are certified for K-6 students

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction81%
    Admission Rate41%
    Programs offered online6

    Program Level

    Median Debt$24,750
    Programs in Department3
    Popularity at School17.14%
    79%
    OSR Score

    This degree program is designed for teachers that will educate students with mild special needs. There’s an option for an additional certificate in Gifted Education for added career potential. Participation in field experiences and community exercises (such as Special Olympics) is required.

  12. Kent State University at Kent

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $10,012(in state) / $18,554(out of state)
    • Lots of opportunities to practice teaching skills in real-world settings
    • Two concentrations available: Deaf Education or Milt to Intensive Dual License
    • Autism Spectrum and Early Intervention Minors are available

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction74%
    Admission Rate88%
    Programs offered online9

    Program Level

    Median Debt$26,829
    Programs in Department5
    Popularity at School9.06%
    79%
    OSR Score

    This program provides flexibility with a strong curriculum. Courses are offered during all semesters and can be completed entirely online. This special education program also offers further graduate or doctorate degrees related to special education.

  13. Dakota State University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $7,191(in state) / $10,121(out of state)
    • Focuses available for K-8 or K-12 special education
    • Degree includes K-12 educational technology endorsement
    • Faculty is composed of experienced teachers

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction70%
    Admission Rate84%
    Programs offered online11

    Program Level

    Median Debt$27,472
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at School14.54%
    77%
    OSR Score

    This program prepares future teachers for K-12 learning environments with students with a wide range of needs and abilities. All students require practical experience before teaching. This includes a year-long residency at a public school that will be chosen based on your location and other factors.

  14. Midway University

    20-Year ROI
    $675,975

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $23,700(in state) / $23,700(out of state)
    • 21 credit hours in addition to major hours
    • Services available for online and evening students
    • 16:1 student-to-faculty ratio

    School Wide

    Student SatisfactionNot Reported
    Admission Rate57%
    Programs offered online19

    Program Level

    Median Debt$23,496
    Programs in Department5
    Popularity at School9.48%
    75%
    OSR Score

    This program offers a Learning and Behavior Disorders certification that can be added to any teacher education program. Focuses can be on Preschool-Grade 5, Grade 5-9, Preschool to 9, or 9-12. The certificate can be achieved entirely online as the in-person requirements are expected to be fulfilled with the Education major.

  15. Central Methodist University-College of Graduate and Extended Studies

    20-Year ROI
    $708,304

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $5,550(in state) / $5,550(out of state)
    • Online classes are either 8- or 16-weeks
    • Transitioning to an Advanced Degree is possible
    • In-person experiences can be completed at convenient school near your home

    School Wide

    Student SatisfactionNot Reported
    Admission Rate45%
    Programs offered online23

    Program Level

    Median Debt$16,950
    Programs in Department3
    Popularity at School11.56%
    75%
    OSR Score

    This major program will focus on an academic foundation when it comes to teaching special needs students. Hands-on learning projects are required, as are field experiences or internships. The program will certify you for teaching students with Mild to Moderate Disabilities in K-12 grades.

  16. Grand Canyon University

    20-Year ROI
    $1,049,692

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $16,365(in state) / $16,365(out of state)
    • 120 credit hours
    • 7-week program online
    • Up to 90 credits can be transferred

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction69%
    Admission Rate67%
    Programs offered online37

    Program Level

    Median Debt$41,752
    Programs in Department3
    Popularity at School11.02%
    72%
    OSR Score

    This Bachelor’s program is a Dual Degree split between Education and Special Education in Early Childhood. It prepares students for teaching young children. Classes focus on understanding communication styles, body language, and individual learning needs. 

  17. Western New Mexico University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $3,927(in state) / $11,400(out of state)
    • In-person teaching can be done at various locations
    • Graduation requires a letter of recommendation from fellow teacher or faculty
    • Dual-degree option available for Bachelor of Arts in Education as well

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction79%
    Admission RateNot Reported
    Programs offered online13

    Program Level

    Median Debt$21,875
    Programs in Department4
    Popularity at School6.75%
    72%
    OSR Score

    This Bachelor of Science in Education degree has a Special Education focus, as well as several endorsements in well-known fields. Several Teacher Assessments are required to be passed at various steps along the Teacher Education Program. In addition, a practice teaching experience takes place at the culmination of the program at in-person locations.

  18. Indian River State College

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $2,496(in state) / $9,360(out of state)
    • Technical college credit certificates available
    • Bachelor’s focus on specific age ranges for chosen subjects
    • Fast-track teacher career path for those who already have a Bachelor’s degree

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction76%
    Admission RateNot Reported
    Programs offered online11

    Program Level

    Median Debt$14,119
    Programs in Department5
    Popularity at School1.9%
    70%
    OSR Score

    This program has its Special Education focus during the Associate of the Arts portion of the degree. The student then progresses to get a Bachelor’s in Education. Students can choose to focus on various ages for their future students, such as elementary or secondary, and several subject focuses, such as English, Math, or Social Sciences.

  19. William Peace University

    20-Year ROI
    $710,039

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $28,500(in state) / $28,500(out of state)
    • Faculty includes real Special Education teachers
    • Instant Decision Days available for those who visit the campus in person
    • Hands-on experience required at Wake County Public Schools

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction79%
    Admission Rate59%
    Programs offered online9

    Program Level

    Median Debt$25,000
    Programs in Department2
    Popularity at School8.51%
    70%
    OSR Score

    This Education degree focuses on elementary education while still preparing teachers to potentially teach students in the entire K-12 range. Field experiences are available where students will assist real teachers in their classrooms. You choose between tracks in elementary education or blended elementary/special education.

  20. University of Northern Colorado

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $7,374(in state) / $18,960(out of state)
    • Faculty includes Special Education professors
    • Emphases on Generality K-12 Education or Liberal Arts available
    • Also offered as a Minor

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction74%
    Admission Rate89%
    Programs offered online6

    Program Level

    Median Debt$24,678
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at School6.52%
    70%
    OSR Score

    This Special Education Bachelor’s of the Arts degree also includes a Special Education Licensure. This promotes greater hiring potential and training. Field experiences are required through simulated and faculty-guided classroom experiences so that graduates are prepared for real-world classroom situations.

  21. Liberty University

    20-Year ROI
    $718,609

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $15,734(in state) / $15,734(out of state)
    • 8-week courses
    • Generous transfer policy
    • 120 credit hours

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction73%
    Admission Rate30%
    Programs offered online23

    Program Level

    Median Debt$29,569
    Programs in Department5
    Popularity at School7.69%
    69%
    OSR Score

    This degree offers a focus on Special Education and Interdisciplinary Studies. The entire degree can be obtained online and focuses on education theory and adaptation techniques to effectively education special needs kids. Electronic textbooks at no cost to the student are offered to all.

  22. Colorado Christian University

    20-Year ROI
    $773,184

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $21,810(in state) / $21,810(out of state)
    • 120 credit hours
    • Student teaching is required
    • License is eligible for Colorado use only

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction79%
    Admission RateNot Reported
    Programs offered online16

    Program Level

    Median Debt$26,000
    Programs in Department3
    Popularity at School5.68%
    69%
    OSR Score

    This Generalist Degree in Special Education provides you with a teaching license and a Bachelor of the Arts degree all at once. The license earned can be used to apply for teaching licenses in other states. The curriculum prepares students for teaching in public, private, and even international schools thanks to its broad selection of coursework and experienced faculty.

  23. University of Alaska Southeast

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $6,244(in state) / $20,608(out of state)
    • 120 credit hours
    • Alaska Native knowledge course required
    • Remote completion is possible entirely online without in-person requirements

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction78%
    Admission Rate71%
    Programs offered online8

    Program Level

    Median Debt$16,000
    Programs in Department2
    Popularity at School2.03%
    68%
    OSR Score

    This is a Bachelor of Arts in Special Education program. It focuses on the unique requirements for special needs kids and in particular Alaska’s own diverse Native and non-Native communities, as well as rural youths. Graduates also receive an Endorsement in Special Education. 

  24. Regis University

    20-Year ROI
    $1,120,155

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $35,260(in state) / $35,260(out of state)
    • 24 credit hours
    • Only good for use in Colorado
    • University rated as Top Tier Western University by U.S. News and World Report

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction74%
    Admission Rate60%
    Programs offered online25

    Program Level

    Median Debt$22,916
    Programs in Department2
    Popularity at School1.81%
    66%
    OSR Score

    This is not a full degree program but a Special Education Generalist Endorsement. It’s a good way for teachers who already have an Education degree to become prepared for teaching special needs kids. The curriculum emphasizes modern educational techniques while being blended with strictly Jesuit ideals.

  25. University of Georgia

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $9,552(in state) / $28,126(out of state)
    • Ranked #5 in the nation according to U.S. News and World Report
    • 121 credit hours
    • Requires 1 campus visit for orientation

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction77%
    Admission Rate54%
    Programs offered online2

    Program Level

    Median Debt$19,182
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at School4.58%
    64%
    OSR Score

    This Bachelor of Science in Special Education is a two-year program that prepares students to teach kids from Preschool to 12th Grade. Students will be required to complete field experiences each semester. In addition, full-time student teaching experience is performed at the end of the final semester.