If you’re considering pursuing a career in special education, you’re likely wondering about the requirements for special education teachers. GradSchools is here to help. We’ll examine the different types of special education master’s degree programs—and take a look at typical curriculums, course competencies and coursework, should you choose to enroll in special education teaching program. Keep in mind all states require special education teachers to earn a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, and some states may require special education teachers to earn a master’s degree in special education to be considered fully certified[i].
The three primary types of special education master’s degrees, these include: the M.S. in Special Education, the M.A in Special Education, and the M.Ed. in Special education. In general, M.S. and M.A. degree programs tend to be research-based, whereas M.Ed. programs are more focused on applied knowledge. As such, pursuing an M.S. or M.A. in special education may be a good option if you’re interested in eventually pursuing a doctorate degree in special education for the purposes of conducting research or advising on educational policy. M.Ed. programs may be a better match if your goal is to teach—or continue to teach—in the classroom. In fact, some M.Ed. programs may require that you’ve already accumulated a certain amount of classroom experience or that you hold a valid teaching license in order to apply.
The general curriculum for special education master’s degree programs will vary depending on the program and the school. However, typically M.S. and M.A programs involve a combination of general coursework, research, practicum experience and the submission of a thesis. M.Ed. programs—on the other hand—may involve a combination of coursework, practicum experience and the submission of a final project.
Below are some examples of the types of courses that you may if you enroll in a master’s degree program in special education.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics outlines specific duties for special education teachers. The key duties include[ii]:
Sources: [i] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/special-education-teachers.htm#tab-4 | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/special-education-teachers.htm#tab-2