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  • Doug Wintemute

Best Online Master’s in Special Education Programs 2023

Special education teachers teach students who learn differently due to behavioral, emotional, mental, or physical disabilities. Almost 15% of students in the United States take part in special education programs. Specialists in the industry help those students succeed.

A master's degree in special education prepares you with the expert training you need to make an impact in a child's life. Below, we look at several online master's degree programs in special education. We also discuss how to determine if an online program is right for you and how getting a master's degree can propel your career in special education

Is an Online Master's in Special Education Right for Me

Getting your master's degree on campus takes an average of two years. However, getting your degree online can shorten that time. You'll study learning disabilities, how to provide customized lesson plans for each child, and even how to counsel special education students.

A master's degree in special education can provide just the boost your career needs.

Because of the time commitment involved in growing my business, it would have been very hard for me to commit to an in-person program, explains Dr. Emily Levy, founder and director of EBL Coaching. For me, an online master's program was absolutely the right choice. It allowed me to both grow my [special needs education] business and add to my credentials at the same time.

Is a Master's in Special Education Worth It?

A master's degree in special education requires a sacrifice of time, effort, and finances. While it can lead to increased job prospects and earning potential, that's not always guaranteed. Yet several students who have pursued this degree online have felt it was worthwhile.

I believe it is [worth it]. There are so many areas of special education you can operate in, explains Antonia Gray, a middle school paraprofessional currently pursuing her degree online. We have a lot of students who need services that only special education can offer. A master's will afford you the opportunity to be employed as a valuable employee, and most people with a master's are in desperate need in the school system.

Terry Grady agrees. Getting her degree online fit into her lifestyle with her family and allowed her to pursue a career she enjoys.

I was divorced and I had two teenagers, so I wanted to have something where I could be available for them, she said. There's such a high demand. With my degree, I could get a job anywhere in special education.

For Dr. Levy, a master's in special education was the perfect choice. It is absolutely worth it! It not only brings you more respect, but it opens additional job opportunities, including those with higher salaries, and sets you on a path to success within the field of special education.

Why Should I Get an Online Special Education Degree?

Online learning skyrocketed with the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, 33% of all graduate-level students took classes exclusively online. By 2020, that number jumped to 52%, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Online learning offers a chance to schedule school into your life instead of scheduling your life around school. The option appeals to busy professionals and active parents. It also allows people to get their degree sooner or take a bit longer to complete their courses.

Losing in-person contact with the professor and classmates can have its drawbacks. But despite the sacrifices, students have found that meshing an online degree with life and career goals is worthwhile.

Benefits of a Master's in Special Education

  • Increase your earning potential in the special education field.

  • Gain insight into different learning disabilities.

  • Learn how to customize lesson plans to maximize kids' success.

  • Make a valuable difference in the lives of special education students.

Reasons to Get Your Master's in Special Education Online

  • Ability to continue working and schedule school around your job.

  • Classwork can fit around family obligations.

  • Option to maximize time and finish on an expedited schedule.

  • Take longer if needed to finish your degree.

Best Online Master's in Special Education Programs

  • Campbellsville University

  • Liberty University

  • The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

  • University of Alaska Southeast

  • New Mexico State University

  • Fresno Pacific University

  • Touro College

  • Minot State University

  • University of West Alabama

  • Drury University

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

Costs to get your master's in special education vary just as much as the schools themselves. You can save money pursuing a degree online since you don't need to add in the cost of housing or meals.

Medium Annual Tuition Cost

Master's in Education: $6,123 Master's (All Degrees): $8,230

How Long Does an Online Master's in Special Education Take?

Students can complete an online master's in special education as quickly as one year or in the average two-year timeframe.

Because the programs are online, you can opt to take courses full-time or, if it's more convenient, enroll part time. Some schools even offer accelerated programs where you can start your master's in special education while finishing your bachelor's degree.

Average Length of Time & Credits

2 years, but can vary depending on your school/program 30-60 credits, but can vary depending on your school/program

How Much Money Can I Make With a Master's in Special Education?

Average annual wage for special education teachers with a bachelor's: $46,580

Average annual wage for special education teachers with a master's: $60,500 Source: Payscale

What Jobs Can You Get With a Master's Degree in Special Education?

A master's degree in special education opens the door to more opportunities. This profession is on track for growth in the next decade. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment is expected to grow about 4% through 2031, which is on par with the average growth for most jobs.

In addition to working as a teacher, a special education master's degree can lead to working as a tutor, consultant, curriculum adaptation specialist, or finding a job in a clinical setting.

Receiving my master's degree in special education — and later my doctorate degree in education — has absolutely advanced my career. I started out personally tutoring special education students myself, including students with dyslexia, other learning disabilities, ADHD, autism, and executive functioning challenges, and eventually expanded to bring on other special education teachers to help more students, Dr. Levy states.

5 Popular Jobs For A Master's In Special Education

School Counselor: $60,510

Special Education Teacher: $61,820

Instructional Coordinator: $63,740

Occupational Therapist: $85,570

Elementary, Middle, High School Principal: $98,420


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