Online Master's Degree in Special Education

There are several master's degree options in special education - keep reading to learn more about them and see how you can earn a degree online. Get curriculum and admissions information as well as career prospects. Schools offering Emotional & Behavioral Disorders degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

How Can I Earn a Master's Degree in Special Education Online?

Master of Education (M.Ed.), Master of Arts (M.A) and Master of Science (M.S.) programs in special education can be completed over the Internet or at a traditional college campus. Programs can take 18 months to 3 years to finish and usually culminate in a research-based thesis or a comprehensive exam. Online courses might be administered through web-based discussion forums, virtual classroom software or video chat. To complete assignments and participate in your classes, you'll typically need speakers, a DVD drive and a printer. Although the coursework can be completed online, you usually must gain hands-on practice in a classroom near your home before you can earn the degree. You also might need to attend a summer residency program on campus.

Online RequirementsFull coursework online with in-person field practice; 18 to 36 months to complete
Common CoursesBehavior management, positive reinforcement, high-incidence disabilities and research
PrerequisitesBachelor's degree, Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores and letters of recommendation
Job Outlook (2014-2024)6% growth
Median Salaries (2014)$54,570 (for primary school); $56,760 (for middle school); $57,810 (for secondary school)

What Can I Learn?

Special education master's degree programs cover instructional techniques, research methodologies and industry-standard practices for teaching students with special learning needs. Additionally, you can choose an area of specialization, such as early childhood education or high-incidence special needs education. You might take the following classes:

  • Educational research
  • Positive behavior reinforcement
  • Mild disabilities instruction
  • Current issues in special education
  • High-incidence disabilities
  • Special education ethics
  • Behavior management

How Do I Apply to a Program?

To apply to a master's degree program, you typically must submit multiple letters of recommendation, college transcripts from a bachelor's degree program and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test scores. Some schools may request a critical writing sample and a resume. You might also need to attend an interview with an admissions representative before being accepted. Additionally, it could be beneficial to have a teaching credential or teaching experience before applying to a graduate education program.

What Is the Job Market Like?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that employment of special education teachers will increase 6% between 2014 and 2024 ( The expected growth for special needs instructors was attributed to increases in special education enrollment since learning disabilities have become more effectively diagnosed. As of May 2014, the BLS reported a median annual salary of $54,570 for special education teachers in primary school, $56,760 for those in middle school and $57,810 for special education instructors in secondary school.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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