Special Education Master's Programs & PhD Programs in Nebraska

What Are Master and Doctorate Programs in Special Education?

Pursuing a special education graduate program could be a great way to tap into contemporary teaching strategies built to assist students with unique learning needs. Through one of the special and gifted education graduate programs, you could engage with theories and methods to aid students with obstacles such as hearing impairment or accelerated learning schedules. Whether you’re currently practicing in a general academic setting, or as part of a designated special or gifted needs classroom, acquiring the skills and knowledge covered in these graduate programs could be the next step to not only potentially improve your teaching capabilities, but enhance your career.

Coursework For Special Education Graduate Programs

By pursuing a graduate program in special education, you may have the opportunity to gear your teaching style to better support a variety of students’ personal learning requirements, whether in general classrooms or those specifically for students with special needs. Coursework in special gifted education could help you develop methods and techniques to create a more holistic teaching atmosphere for students of all kinds. You could learn to create assistance programs for deaf students, support gifted students with more challenging curriculum, or cope with behavioral issues. By expanding your approaches, you may potentially be able to create a safe learning environment where students of many learning styles can prosper and grow. Ready to potentially take your teaching skills to the next level? Keep reading below to see what special education graduate program may be perfect for you.

Special Education Masters Programs

Special education masters programs aim to develop your knowledge and skills to boost the effectiveness of your teaching methods in a special or gifted needs classroom. Curriculum could include topics such as literacy development, assistive technology, behavioral theory, learning disability strategies, and autism spectrum disorder characteristics. Special gifted education master’s program admission requirements often reflect the challenging nature of this coursework and schools may require a 3.0 undergraduate GPA as part of the application process. Additionally, students may be asked to submit supplemental material such as letters of recommendation, personal statements, and professional résumés where applicable. A masters program may be especially useful for those new to the educational field. Many special education gifted education masters programs anticipate the needs of new educators and may offer opportunities that help students pursue state teaching licensures. This could ensure you’d be able to pursue a teaching career, post-graduation. Speaking of graduation, when you consider the curriculum and possible licensure examinations, students could expect to complete a masters program in 2 years of full time study. Program and program lengths vary so check with you intended university for a complete list of graduation criteria.

Special Education Doctoral Programs

Special gifted education doctoral programs may emphasize the practical application of teaching theories and methods in practicum classes. Students might also study and conduct original research focused on assisting students unique learning needs. Curriculum topics in a doctoral program may include atypical learning theory, cognitive psychology and autism support delivery systems, and curriculum development and implementation, to name a few. As evidenced by this curriculum, special gifted education doctoral programs are intense programs that may require a large amount of commitment and time. Due to the depth of study associated with this program, schools may request students submit a 3.0 graduate GPA and GRE exam scores as part of the application process. Additionally, you may be asked to provide supplemental material such as letters of recommendation and statements of intent. Unlike master’s degree programs, to be considered for special gifted education doctoral programs you may be required to have studied previous graduate coursework in your desired concentration. This may make the doctoral program a great choice for current teaching professionals who are not only looking to elevate their classroom techniques but potentially purse larger educational role such as an administrator or principal position. When taking into consideration the demanding coursework above, as well as required doctoral dissertation presentations and defense, it’s no wonder that these programs are often lengthier than others. Depending on course load, students could expect to complete a special gifted education doctoral program in 5 years. Program lengths vary by school.

Special Education Graduate Certificate Programs

Special gifted graduate certificate programs tend to be highly focused on one facet of gifted or special education, such as deaf assistance and education, autistic teaching theory, or curriculum enrichment for gifted students. In these programs, you could have the opportunity to practice precise skills and knowledge to assist students who require unique learning accommodations. Perhaps even more importantly, you could learn to incorporate these methods into your general classroom, creating a more inclusive, and welcoming environment. Special education graduate certificate programs are intended to be accessible for students of a wide variety of educational backgrounds and this may be reflected in their application processes. When applying, students might be asked to submit a 2.5 undergraduate GPA. Additionally, some graduate certificate programs may require students to be currently licensed teaching professionals. The could make this program perfect for educators interested in broadening their teaching methods to create a holistic classroom. Be sure to check with your intended university for a full list of application requirements. As stated above, the curriculums of many special gifted education certificate programs are concise and emphasize a specific aspect of gifted or special education. Due to the succinct curriculum of certificate programs, students could expect to complete a program in 1 to 1.5 years depending on intended course load and school requirements.

Special Education Online Graduate Programs

Online special education graduate programs may be a convenient choice for students who plan to work while simultaneously earning a graduate degree. The flexible scheduling may allow you to log into classes as time permits, whether that’s on weeknights, during the weekend, or even on your lunch break. Additionally, many online programs also aim to capture some aspects of the on-campus experience. For example, some institutions offer digitally streamed lectures or create class chatrooms to simulate the physical classroom environment.

Special Education Graduate Programs: Post-Graduation Potential

Those pursuing a graduate program in special gifted education may wish to use the skills and knowledge they may have learned through graduate study to adjust their current teaching methods to address the needs of a more diverse student body. This may entail using new techniques to help a wide range of students with behavioral, emotional, and physical issues. However, these methods may be useful not just to students with disabilities. You could also support gifted students who are in search of more challenging coursework, or apply new techniques to the general classroom. Depending on your preferences, you could potentially seek out teaching positions in many levels of education, from preschool to secondary. While these positions typically require a bachelor’s degree in education for an entry level position or teaching licensure, a master’s degree may potentially help you enhance your career or even maintain licensure in certain states. Teaching professions are projected to see a possible 6% growth from 2014 to 2024.[i] This could be a great opportunity for students looking to join the educational field. Keep in mind that these job prospects are often tied to student enrollment and federal budget, so occupational growth may vary by region. Positions within the special gifted education fields are noted for being physically and emotionally demanding, but potentially highly rewarding.[ii] Students may require extra assistance in their learning environment, such as constant behavioral supervision, and personalized learning plans. This is in addition to normal teaching duties and procedures like grading, lesson planning, and administrative tasks. The 2015 median annual wage for special education teachers was $56,800.[ii]
Top States for Employment for Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten and Elementary School
StateEmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
New York19,390$70,490
New Jersey11,940$64,720

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Top Salary Metro Areas in the United States: Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten and Elementary School
Metro AreaAnnual Mean SalaryEmployment
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA$85,4805,600
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT$83,090730
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT$80,100950
Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA$77,6400
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA$76,1502,110

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Sources: [i]bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/special-education-teachers.htm#tab-6 | [ii]bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/special-education-teachers.htm#tab-5

Top 4 Graduate Schools with Masters and Doctorates in Special Education Programs in Nebraska

  • Northcentral University

  • Grand Canyon University

  • University of Nebraska - Lincoln

  • Wayne State College

  • University of Nebraska - Kearney

  • University of Nebraska at Omaha