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The 10 Best Online Masters of Arts In Special Education Graduate Schools In 2021

Completing an Online Masters of Arts in Special Education program offers graduates essential knowledge and proficiencies to help them pursue rewarding career opportunities. Special Education teachers help students with behavior disorders, autism, and other special needs. Many K-12 schools require professionals who cater to the demands of Special Education students by integrating instructional techniques and adhering to special needs guidelines.

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An Online Master’s of Arts in Special Education program is also an excellent way for Special Education professionals to improve their employment marketability through advanced credentials and proficiencies. These programs allow busy professionals to earn an Online Master’s of Arts in Special Education degree while fulfilling their personal and professional obligations.

F R E Q U E N T L Y A S K E D Q U E S T I O N S

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How long will it take to complete an Online Master of Arts In Special Education program?

Online students can earn their Online Master of Arts in Special Education degree in approximately 24 months. However, students without a bachelor’s degree in the related discipline may be required to accomplish a set of prerequisite courses which can prolong the completion time. Some colleges or universities offer year-round coursework or accelerated learning format, which can help students receive their graduate degree quicker than the average traditional student.

Why should you consider an Online Master of Arts In Special Education degree?

Graduates who already have a baccalaureate degree in a different area of study must have a master’s degree to help them gain initial licensure credentials should they wish to become special educators. On the contrary, graduates who are already practicing their Special Education profession may pursue an Online Master’s of Arts in Special Education degree to obtain more specialized or advanced roles, demand a salary increase, or gain additional proficiencies.

What can I do with an Online Master’s of Arts In Special Education degree?

Professionals with an Online Master’s of Arts in Special Education degree can pursue lucrative and fulfilling careers that involve helping students with diverse and special needs. They can work together with general education teachers to help students in the classroom. Aside from that, they can become full-time Special Education teachers in the classroom. With an Online Master’s of Arts in Special Education degree and extensive experience, students can also explore numerous opportunities for management/leadership roles.

What is the standard abbreviated term for an Online Master’s of Arts In Special Education program?

Although there are many variations, professionals with an Online Master’s of Arts in Special Education degree often write their designation as M.Ed., Special Education.

How much can I make with an Online Master’s of Arts In Special Education degree?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Special Education teachers can earn a median annual wage of $61,420. However, professionals with an Online Master’s of Arts in Special Education degree will have higher salaries than candidates with a baccalaureate degree only. One of the common aspects that special educators must consider is the geographic location. Depending on the institution, private schools can also offer a lower or higher wage.

M E T H O D O L O G Y

Get the best information when choosing your Master of Arts in Special Education grad school! To help you make that decision, we put together the country’s finest higher education institutions offering this program to help you acquire advanced competencies.

In providing you the most suitable Special Education options at the master’s level, we picked the online programs offering the best features:

  • The Master of Arts in Special Education program is delivered in an online or hybrid format, emphasizing coursework schedule flexibility and convenience,
  • The coursework equips master’s degree students with requisite competencies toward an up-to-date and ethical practice,
  • Special Education experts and industry professionals as online instructors and mentors,
  • Students are provided with easy-to-access distance education resources specific to their Special Education discipline,
  • Students obtain online support for glitch-free classes,
  • Scholarships and other financial aid options are presented to qualified online grad students,
  • The program and school are accredited by academic associations and recognized by organizations focusing on Special Education.
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10 Best Online Master’s of Arts In Special Education Graduate Schools

The University of Alabama

: Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35487
: 800 467 0227

Online Master of Arts In Special Education – Gifted and Talented Certification

The University of Alabama was established in 1831 as Alabama’s flagship university. It is also considered the state’s oldest public university. U.A. is dedicated to excellence in service, research, and teaching. It was established by the constitutional provision under statutory authorizations and mandates.

  • The Online Master of Arts (MA) in Special Education requires 30 to 36 credit hours to complete the M.A. degree.
  • The online M.A. program includes courses that adhere to state guidelines and qualify to sit for a master’s-level Gifted and Talented teaching certification.
  • Aside from coursework requirements, graduating students must accomplish two 3-credit hour internship courses.
  • To enroll, students must submit an Alabama Class B teacher certification and undergraduate GPA of 3.0. GRE/MAT scores are required unless stated.
  • Application is accepted every semester.

Standout Features of The University of Alabama’s Online Master of Arts In Special Education Program:

The University of Alabama – Online Master of Arts in Special Education is already combined with a Gifted and Talented program certification. Students who hold a master’s degree and valid Alabama Class A certification for teaching (or the equivalent) can enroll in the certificate-only option. The online M.A. program has received accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.

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The University of Alabama continues to be a frontrunner among public universities in the enrollment of National Merit Scholars. In 2020, the freshman class enrolled 221 National Merit Scholars. The university has also garnered R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity status by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.

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Arizona State University

: 525 E University Dr., Tempe, AZ 85281
: 844 353 7953

Online Master of Arts (MA) In Special Education – Applied Behavior Analysis

Arizona State University has received recognition from the U.S. News & World Report as the nation’s most innovative university. The university’s nationally ranked programs inspire graduates and have placed ASU as a top-tier recruiting and hiring institution by over 50 of the U.S.’s top companies. ASU awards degrees to more than 27,000 students every year.

  • ASU’s Online Master of Arts in Special Education only has ten classes, including a capstone project as a culminating experience. Each class has a 7.5-week duration.
  • A total of 30 credit hours must be completed to graduate with an M.A. degree.
  • Admission requirements include a graduate admission application, letters of recommendation, official transcripts, personal statement, and CV/resume.
  • For culminating requirements, students can choose a capstone project, electronic portfolio, or applied project.
  • The university offers an optional practicum for distance learners seeking to obtain BCBA supervised field experience.

Standout Features of Arizona State University’s Online Master of Arts In Special Education Program:

Courses in the Online Master of Arts in Special Education program at ASU are verified by the Association for Behavior Analysis International. It qualifies students to sit for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst examination. The program will teach students the essentials and process of ABA while emphasizing evidence-based best practices and ethical principles.

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ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College is considered one of the best colleges in the U.S. The university received numerous top rankings from different reputable academic and ranking organizations. The Academic Ranking of World Universities places ASU at #17 globally. The university also ranks 3rd in the Best Online Master’s in Special Education by the U.S. News & World Report.

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George Mason University

: 4400 University Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030
: 703 993 8978

Online Master of Education In Special Education

George Mason University is Virginia’s biggest public research university, and it was founded in 1972! It is a public, comprehensive research university established by the Commonwealth of Virginia in the National Capital Region. The university has four campuses in Virginia and one international campus in Korea. GMU has grown to 37,000+ students from all 50 states and 130 countries.

  • GMU’s Master of Special Education program can be completed once students have taken 30 total credits.
  • The majority of online classes are offered in online synchronous and asynchronous learning formats. For synchronous formats, they will participate in real-time discussions.
  • The program is offered in two tracks, like Applied Behavioral Analysis or Autism Spectrum Disorders.
  • A capstone project is required. Aside from that, students may be required to fulfill a residency program.
  • The online M.Ed. in Special Education program accepts admissions on a rolling basis.

Standout Features of George Mason University’s Online Master of Education In Special Education Program:

GMU’s Online Master of Education in Special Education program is a part-time program, providing busy professionals with the opportunity to receive high-quality and immersive academic experience without compromising their personal and professional commitments. Although the program has two tracks, students can also pursue a standalone certificate program.

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George Mason University began as a single establishment with an enrollment of 17 students only in 1957. Today, GMU’s student community is represented by more than 130 countries worldwide. When it comes to employment, 80% of Mason graduates are employed within half a year from graduation.

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Michigan State University

: 426 Auditorium Road, East Lansing, MI 48824
: 517 355 1855

Online Master of Arts In Special Education

Michigan State University has pioneered and revolutionized higher education by signing the Morrill Act in 1862 by former President Abraham Lincoln. In the mid-19th century, the U.S. needed several institutions to educate its citizen to become scientists, educators, engineers, and farmers. The university answered the call; hence, it became the country’s pioneer land-grant university and the role model for the land-grant system across the state.

  • The Michigan State University – Online Master of Arts in Special Education program features research-validated instructions and evidence-based practices to educate students in kindergarten through grade 12. 
  • The M.A. program offers two areas of emphasis, such as Learning Disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorders.
  • Students pursuing the Autism Spectrum Disorders concentration can obtain an Applied Behavior Analysis online graduate certificate.
  • Students must complete 30 to 36 credits for receiving their M.A. in Special Education degree.
  • Both concentrations require a practicum and an M.A. Comprehensive Exam known as the Certifying Examination as culminating requirements of the program.

Standout Features of the Michigan State University’s Online Master of Arts In Special Education Program:

The U.S. News & World Report ranks MSU the fourth best online master’s programs in education. The university’s Online MA in Special Education has earned a reputation for delivering innovative, accessible, and quality education.

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Also known as the Michigan State University, the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan provided “practical education to citizens regardless of social class” in 1855. It was the U.S.’s first institution of higher learning to teach scientific agriculture.

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University of South Florida

: 4202 E. Fowler Avenue, Tampa, FL 33612
: 813 974 3400

Online Master of Arts (MA) In Special Education – Gifted

The University of South Florida is headquartered in the diverse and vibrant Tampa Bay region. It has campuses in Sarasota-Manatee, St. Petersburg, and Tampa. Together, USF caters to more than 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students across 13 colleges. The university is institutionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. 

  • USF’s Online Master of Arts in Special Education, Gifted, offers advanced training for certified teachers to work with talented and gifted children.
  • The Master of Arts (MA) in Special Education – Gifted program has two options, such as the option for qualifying students for the State of Florida Endorsement in Gifted Education, and the second option is for learners interested in discovering more about gifted children.
  • The curriculum of the program already includes coursework required for the Florida Endorsement in Gifted Education.
  • The online graduate program consists of topics in foundations of research, teacher leadership, elective courses, instructional technology, and a supervised practicum.
  • The non-thesis program requires 36 credit hours for completion. To culminate, students must take the Praxis II Exam in Gifted Education.

Standout Features of the University of South Florida’s Online Master of Arts In Special Education, Gifted Program:

Pursuing an online Master of Arts in Special Education, Gifted at USF is an excellent investment for students seeking world-class graduate education. The university offers numerous opportunities for fellowships and assistantships, generous financial aid awards, and one of the country’s lowest tuition fees. The Master of Arts (MA) in Special Education, Gifted program has received accreditation from the Florida’s National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, as well as the state’s Department of Education.

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The University of South Florida a fast-growing institution, according to the U.S. News and World Report. For the past decade, the university has landed in 54 spots among public universities and 78 spots among all universities. In 2019, 108 new U.S. utility patents were granted. The university is the 8th among American public research universities and 16th among all schools worldwide in producing new patents.

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Ball State University

: 2000 W University Ave, Muncie, IN 47306
: 800 872 0369

Online Master of Arts In Special Education

Formerly known as Indiana State Normal School Eastern Division, Ball State University was founded in 1918 and has grown to 7 academic colleges enrolling 20,000+ students. The university has received many national recognitions and rankings, providing the same commitment to best practices and quality, whether online or on-campus learning.

  • BSU’s Online Master of Arts in Special Education program requires completion of 30 graduate-level credits to graduate.
  • Students pursuing a teaching license together with the M.A. program can choose one out of five license options, such as Director of Exceptional Needs License, Early Childhood Special Education License, Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing License, Intense Interventions License, and Mild Interventions License.
  • The online program also offers students graduate-level certificates, such as:
    • Applied Behavior Analysis Certificate
    • Autism Certificate
    • Disabilities for Post-Secondary Settings with emphasis on:
      • Emotional and Behavioral Disorders Certificate
      • Autism Certificate
      • Multi-Tier System of Supports/Response To Intervention Certificate
  • A research requirement culminates the online M.A. in Special Education program.
  • Ball State University is the biggest teacher preparation provider in Indiana, accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

Standout Features of Ball State University’s Online Master of Arts In Special Education Program:

The Ball State University Online Master of Arts (MA) in Special Education program is nationally recognized by the Council for Exceptional Children. The Association for Behavior Analysis International also verifies the core courses of the Applied Behavioral Analysis study. The U.S. News & World Report ranks BSU’s Masters in Education Programs in the Top 20 Best Online Programs for Veterans.

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Ball State University is the first institution of higher learning in the U.S. to obtain the Learner Support Program Certification for its distance learning programs. The award is granted by Quality Matters, a premier quality assurance organization for distance learning. Aside from that, BSU won the 2014 Excellence in Institution-wide Online Education Award from the Online Learning Consortium.

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Brandman University

: 16355 Laguna Canyon Road, Irvine, CA 92618
: 877 516 4501

Online Master of Arts in Special Education – Early Childhood Education

Chapman University, which founded Brandman University, is a premier institution of higher learning in Orange, California, established in 1861. Formerly called Chapman University College, the university’s original goal was to provide high-quality education to the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station. It is a private, not-for-profit institution accredited by the WSCUC Senior College and University Commission.

  • Brandman University’s Online Master of Arts in Special Education can be completed once students already have 33 to 42 credit hours.
  • The core program offers the Early Childhood Special Education Emphasis.
  • Students pursuing the Early Childhood Special Education Emphasis must complete 15 to 18 credit hours.
  • To enroll, applicants must include their two letters of recommendation, official transcripts, and GPA requirements once they apply for the graduate program.
  • Applicants must also hold a current Special Education teaching credential.

Standout Features of Brandman University’s Online Master of Arts In Special Education – Early Childhood Education Program:

Brandman’s Online Master of Arts in Special Education – Early Childhood Education program can be earned through a Brandman MyPath™ (competency-based) or course-based learning. Through the Brandman MyPath™ learning, students can accelerate their learning by applying their prior work experience. They have their schedule and pace at which they complete online courses. The university is a proud member of the exclusive Competency-Based Education Network.

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Brandman University primarily focuses on providing top-quality education to non-traditional students ranging from 18 to 65 years old. Since 2012, the university consistently ranks in the top spot among the best in the country by the U.S. News & World Report. Roughly 93% of the alumni community of Brandman University would recommend Brandman’s quality of learning to others.

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Walden University

: 100 Washington Avenue South Suite 1210, Minneapolis, MN 55401
: 844 768 1119

Online Master of Arts (MA) in Teaching – Special Education

Walden University is led by education innovators, practitioners, and scholars with a collective effort to providing high-quality, student-centered programs. Aside from Walden’s accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, the university has a long list of accredited programs across different accrediting agencies. The university is also considered a certified B Corp™ institution.

  • Through the Master of Arts (MA) in Teaching program at Walden University, students are prepared to pursue licensure for Special Education teaching in 40 states.
  • The online graduate program features avatar simulations and virtual field experiences to help develop students’ marketable skills.
  • The Richard W. Riley College of Education & Leadership at Walden University is CAEP-accredited to the Online Master of Arts (MA) in Teaching – Special Education program.
  • A total of 46 semester credits is needed to graduate from the program.
  • The online MAT – Special Education program prepares students to apply for licensure as a K-12 Special Education teacher.

Standout Features of Walden University’s Online Master of Arts In Teaching – Special Education Program:

As the Educator of Educators, Walden University’s Master of Arts in Teaching is a nationally recognized program by the Council for Exceptional Children. The Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership is also recognized by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. The university’s online MAT in Special Education program has met rigorous standards for facilitating continuous improvement and excellence in educator preparation.

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Two teachers were motivated to develop better opportunities for non-traditional learners completing advanced degrees. Eventually, Walden University was founded. Since then, it has been a frontrunner for adult learning and designing online education programs for 50 years.

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Western Kentucky University

: 1906 College Heights Boulevard, Bowling Green, KY 42101
: 270 745 0111

Online Master of Arts In Education – Special Education

Headquartered in Bowling Green, Western Kentucky University caters to more than 17,500 undergraduate and graduate students across 200+ academic programs. The university has regional campuses in Elizabethtown-Fort Knox, Owensboro, and Glasgow. It remains steadfast in its commitment to preparing students of all backgrounds to be socially responsible, engaged, and productive citizen-leaders of the global society. 

  • WKU’s Master of Arts in Education – Special Education program is offered in two tracks: the MAE in Special Education, Learning and Behavior Disorders, and the Master of Arts/Teacher Leader in Special Education for Moderate Severe Disabilities Advanced Preparation programs.
  • Students need to complete 30 credit hours to receive the Master of Arts in Education – Special Education for Learning and Behavior Disorders, while the Moderate and Severe Disabilities program requires 33 to 39 hours.
  • Both programs require applicants to have or be qualified for a teaching certification upon enrollment.
  • Application deadlines for Learning and Behavior Disorders are every March, May, and November annually.
  • To become qualified to be recommended for certification as a teacher for Learning and Behavior Disorders and Exceptional Children, they must pass the Praxis II exams and submit proof of their passing scores.

Standout Features of Western Kentucky University’s Online Master of Arts In Education – Special Education Program:

Western Kentucky University offers a New Educator Discount for students who legally reside in Kentucky and holds an active, current Kentucky Educator License issued by the EPSB or the Education Professional Standards Board. With WKU’s Educator Discount, licensed Kentucky educators will pay $350 per credit hour for the academic year 2020 to 2024. The university also offers tuition discounts for licensed educators in border states.

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Distance learning programs at Western Kentucky University have landed in the Top 5 by the U.S. News & World Report. WKU Online offers 90 online certificate and degree programs, including 50+ associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs. 1,700+ classes are facilitated through virtual learning every year. Each class follows a term-based calendar.

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Western Governors University

: 4001 S 700 East, #700 Salt Lake City, UT 84107
: 866 225 5948

Online Master of Arts (MA) In Teaching – Special Education

Located in Salt Lake City, Western Governors University is committed to eliminating barriers to make advanced studies possible, more accessible, and affordable for all students regardless of their backgrounds and circumstances. The university’s in-depth connection to the modern workforce helps learners advance their professions and witness a strong return on their academic investment.

  • WGU’s Online Master of Arts in Teaching – Special Education program contains 52 competency units for measuring students’ mastery of their courses.
  • The online graduate program includes coursework completion, assessments, and clinical experiences.
  • WGU’s online graduate program in Special Education consists of 26 courses.
  • Students can enroll anytime since the program’s start dates are offered every 1st of the month.
  • Aside from coursework completion, the program has special requirements, such as pre-clinical experiences, Demonstration Teaching, and a professional portfolio.

Standout Features of Western Governors University’s Online Master of Arts In Teaching – Special Education Program:

The Online Master of Arts in Teaching – Special Education program is part of WGU’s competency-based education, where distance learners can progress through courses as soon as they showcase their expertise and mastery of the topic rather than advancing only when the term ends. As a result, they can easily finish their degrees ahead of schedule.

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Western Governors University is the pioneering school to offer competency-based education. It’s one of the rare universities providing non-traditional students with this type of learning, measuring their learning and skills only instead of spending more time completing their courses.

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