Masters in Special Education Degrees & Programs

Masters in special education programs offer individuals the pedagogical tools to adapt curriculum to students who have learning, mental, emotional and physical disabilities. A ‘special needs’ student may be hearing or visually impaired, autistic, or have concentration or behavioral issues. A special needs teacher needs to be able to adapt, respond and lead their student forward in learning and growth. Motivated? Read on; there are different types of masters degree in special education programs available.

Why Earn a Masters in Special Education Degree?

About a Masters in Special Education Degree Program

Many masters in special education are 2-year full-time degree programs designed for current individuals who are already licensed educators and have earned their bachelors degree from an accredited college. Other programs may be intended to lead to initial teaching licensure or be suitable for career changers seeking to potentially expand their employment opportunities.

Special Education Masters Program: Potential Curriculum

Special Education masters programs teach current or aspiring teachers how to identify (diagnose) disabilities and develop individualized education programs (IEPs) for each student[i]. They may also include teaching and supervising methods, special education counseling and applicable laws and policies.[ii] While curriculums vary, examples of some of the topics that masters in special education programs may offer might include[iii]:

  • Description and Nature of Disabilities
  • Effective teaching strategies
  • Lesson planning
  • Collaboration
  • Inclusive classrooms
  • Child development
  • How to use assistive technology (e.g. Braille writers)
  • IEP implementation
  • Student assessment

Special education Masters Programs: Potential Concentration Areas

Some of the masters degree in special education programs offer specializations, meaning they may focus on a particular group of special needs student.

Some of the potential concentration areas in a masters in special education degree program might include:

  • Early Childhood
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Learning and Behavior Specialist (LBS)
  • Speech and Language Issues
  • Grades K-12 cross categorical
  • Education of the Deaf/Hard of hearing
  • Education of the Visually Impaired

DID YOU KNOW? The most common degree awarded to current students graduating in Special Education are master’s degrees; 18,035 masters special education degrees were awarded in 2014, per DATA USA.[iv]

Types of Masters in Special Education Degree Programs

Masters in special education degrees may be available as Master of Education (M.Ed.), Master of Arts (M.A.), Master of Science (M.S.) and Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) degree tracks.

Master of Education in Special Education

The MEd in special education may be designed for experienced and certified teachers seeking to expand their academic and professional skills. Master of education coursework may cover topics such as research methodologies, curriculum design, school reform, education psychology and assessment strategies. Some MEd in special education programs might lead to an endorsement certification in special education which may be required by certain states.  

Master of Arts in Special Education

The MA in special education may be designed for individuals who might prefer scholarly research. Master of Arts coursework may cover topics such as educational ethics and child psychology.

Master of Science in Special Education

The MS in special education may be designed for students who have earned their bachelors in education and may be seeking leadership roles, such as special education principal.[v]

Master of Arts in Teaching in Special Education

The MAT in special education may be designed for individuals who have earned their bachelors degree in academic areas outside of teaching and are ready to transition into the field of education. The MAT degree may also be appropriate for someone who has a bachelors degree in early childhood (for instance) and is now interested in special education certification. After earning the master of arts in teaching in special education, graduates might apply for their teaching license in the state where they plan to teach.

Why Earn a Masters Degree in Special Education?

There may be any number of reasons to consider working towards a masters in special education degree.

Licensure: In the public-school systems, special education teachers need to have at least a bachelor’s degree and state-issued certification or license in the state in which they work. Some states require special education teachers to complete a masters degree in special education in order to become fully certified.[vi]

Continued Education: Some masters in special education degree programs may provide a platform for a doctorate in education degree.

Earning Potential: Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, special education teachers with a master’s degree earned a 14% wage premium over teachers with their bachelor’s degree in 2013.[vii]

Employment Outlook: Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics employment of special education teachers is projected to grow by 6% from 2014 to 2024.[viii]

Find Accredited Special Education Masters Programs

Accreditation provides students with a guarantee that an institution has been evaluated and it meets the highest standards for quality postsecondary education. There are two basic types of educational accreditation: “institutional” and “programmatic”.[ix] There is an accreditation group within the Department of Education who administers the accreditation process; the U.S. Department of Education has a list of acceptable accrediting agencies as well as a database of accredited post-secondary institutions[x]. The accreditor for teacher preparation programs is CAEP.

Choosing Your Format: Campus, Hybrid or Online Special Education Degree?

Accredited masters special education programs may be available on campus, or through distance learning. Online Masters in Special Education degree programs might be appealing to current teachers with on-going full schedules. Hybrid programs are a blend of in person learning and web-based courses. You can search our site to find special education masters programs by location (city, state, country) or sort through sponsored listings by ‘online’, ‘hybrid’ or ‘campus’ format.

Take the Next Step

Review sponsored listings to find MA, MS, MAT and MEd special education masters programs from accredited graduate schools. Multiple listings does not mean all the universities offer the same curriculums so contact prospective education schools with our easy-to-use ‘request info’ setting. Find out about their next deadline for application and learn about their unique features!

sources [i] |[ii] |[iii] |[iv]  |[v] |[vi] |[vii] |[viii] |[ix] |[x] |

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