United States 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.
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
- 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] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/special-education-teachers.htm |[ii] https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/cipcode/cipdetail.aspx?y=55&cipid=88150 |[iii] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/special-education-teachers.htm |[iv] datausa.io/profile/cip/1310/ |[v] bls.gov/ooh/management/elementary-middle-and-high-school-principals.htm |[vi] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/special-education-teachers.htm |[vii] bls.gov/careeroutlook/2015/article/should-i-get-a-masters-degree.htm#Education |[viii] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/special-education-teachers.htm |[ix] http://www2.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/accreditation.html#Overview |[x] http://www2.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/accreditation.html#Overview |
- East Stroudsburg, PAEast Stroudsburg, PA
East Stroudsburg University
- Orangeburg, SCOrangeburg, SC
South Carolina State University
- Saint Bonaventure, NYSaint Bonaventure, NY
St. Bonaventure University
The program is designed for special and/or general education teachers who wish to specialize in meeting the needs of students with exceptionalities, including giftedness and learning/behavioral problems. The degree was designed in response to the need f...
- Saint Bonaventure, NY
- Albuquerque, NMAlbuquerque, NM
University of New Mexico
International inquiries: c/o Office of International Admissions, Student Services Center, Room 140, UNM, Albuquerque, NM 87131...
- Saint Louis, MOSaint Louis, MO
University of Missouri - St Louis
Program offers emphasis areas in autism & development disabilities; cross-categorical; early childhood special education.
- Carson, NMCarson, NM
California State University, Dominguez Hills
The Master of Arts in Special Education offers two options: Early Childhood and Learning/Severely Handicapped. The program is designed to provide knowledge and understanding of the foundations and theories of Special Education as well as training in the...
- Orono, MEOrono, ME
University of Maine
Graduate programs in Special Education at the University of Maine prepare educators to support students and youth with disabilities in attaining their highest levels of achievement. Programs and experiences are designed to prepare professionals who: Mee...
- Princess Anne, MDPrincess Anne, MD
University of Maryland Eastern Shore
The graduate program is designed to develop and refine the students' skills as classroom teachers, resource teachers, teacher consultants, academic co...
- Honolulu, HIHonolulu, HI
University of Hawaii At Manoa
- Chicago, ILChicago, IL
Chicago State University
- Orange, CAOrange, CA
Preparing candidates to serve as special education teachers in K-12 public schools.
- Logan, UTLogan, UT
Utah State University
- Washington, DCWashington, DC
Trinity Washington University
University of Nebraska - Kearney
This master's degree in Special Education offers teachers a choice in the following three areas of study: Advanced Practitioner, Gifted, or Mild/Moderate Disabilities.
- Athens, GAAthens, GA
University of Georgia
This department prepares professionals to provide services to individuals with special needs across the lifespan. It maintains a high level of distinction with continuous involvement in critical special education issues, and an integrated academic an...
- Monmouth, ORMonmouth, OR
Western Oregon University
Concentrations in Deaf Education , Learning Disabilities, Multihandicapped, Socially and Educationally Different.
- Elkins Park, PAElkins Park, PA
Salus University College of Education and Rehabilitation offers a Master of Education degree program and a certificate program for Teachers of Children with Visual and Multiple Disabilities. These competency-based programs offer coursework and practica...
- New Haven, CTNew Haven, CT
Southern Connecticut State University
- Denver, CODenver, CO
University of Colorado Denver
Graduate teacher licensure summer and fall admission each year to begin a program in either May or August.
- Seattle, WASeattle, WA
The Special Education program is primarily centered upon those students with learning, mental retardation, and/or behavioral difficulties but also provides training in how to work with students with other disabilities as well.
- Seattle, WA
- Salem, MASalem, MA
Salem State College
- Conway, ARConway, AR
University of Central Arkansas
The main purpose of the MSE program in Special Education is to prepare collaborative special education teachers skilled in providing quality instructi...
- San Francisco, CASan Francisco, CA
San Francisco State University