Best Online Master’s in Special Education

Find the top-ranked online master’s in special education degree programs for graduates who want to further their careers in the field of special education.

Best Online Master’s in Special Education

Frequently Asked Questions About Special Education Degrees

Why get a master’s in special education?

Special Education teachers or people with a bachelor’s degree seeking to transition into the field of special education can earn their Master’s degree, which will provide instruction on the best practices for teaching students with different learning styles and educational needs.

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What will I learn while getting a master’s in special education?

Classes cover topics such as behavior analysis, IEPs and 504 Plans, and assessment. Most programs require a practicum or field service to earn the degree, and programs take an average of two years to complete.

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Is getting a master’s in special education through online classes worth it?

Online students seeking to earn their master’s degrees have more options than ever before. Many high quality universities with excellent teaching programs are now offering fully remote courses.

Online advanced degrees open doors for students seeking to enter top-tier programs while continuing to fulfill existing professional responsibilities.

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Learn more about what you can do with a master’s degree in education.

Best Online Master's in Special Education

How do we determine the best online special education master's degree programs?

Methodology

Pursing your degree online doesn’t mean you need to settle for a inferior school. Today, most universities and colleges offer online degrees, and many respected schools are seeing significant growth in their numbers of online students.

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great. This is why influence — i.e., the academic impact of faculty and alumni associated with a school — gets at the heart of what is truly best in education. The combined influence score of a college or university’s top academic influencers is the best indicator of academic excellence. For our online degree rankings, we focus on the academic influence of faculty and alumni in the specific disciplines we’re ranking.

If you are serious about finding the best online colleges, you should be asking where the most influential professors are teaching, and whether their graduates themselves are advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence. Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and arbitrary performance metrics. Influence, as measured by our InfluenceRanking engine, provides a ranking that is free from bias, insulated from manipulation, and reflective of real-world educational outcomes.

Best Online Master’s in Special Education Degree Programs

  1. #1

    University of Virginia

    #36 institution's historical influence
    #40 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $19K

    Acceptance

    23%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    25K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1430/32

    Charlottesville, VA

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    Online Degrees

    Master’s of Teaching

    Concentrations

    • Special Education
    • Required Credits: 30
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  2. #2

    University of Missouri

    #101 institution's historical influence
    #1169 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    82%

    Graduation

    73%

    Student body

    25K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1230/26

    Columbia, MO

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    Online Degrees

    M Ed in Early Childhood Special Education
    • Required Credits: 30
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    M Ed in Early Childhood Special Education-Autism
    • Required Credits: 30
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    MA in Special Education
    • Required Credits: 33
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  3. #3

    Arizona State University

    #142 institution's historical influence
    #1312 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    88%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    74K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1240/25

    Tempe, AZ

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    Online Degrees

    MA in Special Education
    • Required Credits: 30
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  4. #4

    University of Arizona

    #89 institution's historical influence
    #605 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    85%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    39K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1235/25

    Tucson, AZ

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    Online Degrees

    MA in Special Education: Applied Behavior Analysis
    • Required Credits: 21
    • Completion time: 16 months
    • Format: Online
    MA in Special Education: Deaf and Hard of Hearing
    • Required Credits: 36
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    MA in Special Education: Disabilities
    • Required Credits: 36
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  5. #5

    University of Cincinnati

    #151 institution's historical influence
    #1179 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    73%

    Student body

    33K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1235/26

    Cincinnati, OH

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    Online Degrees

    M.Ed in Educational Leadership

    Concentrations

    • Special Education Leadership
    • Principal Leadership
    • Non-Licensure
    • Required Credits: 30
    • Completion time: 1 year
    • Format: Online
    M.Ed in Special Education

    Concentrations

    • Path for Licensure and Reading Endorsement
    • Supporting Students with Complex Needs
    • Transition to Work Endorsement and Special Education Leadership
    • Required Credits: 30
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
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  6. #6

    University of Alabama

    #183 institution's historical influence
    #94 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    35K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1210/27

    Tuscaloosa, AL

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    Online Degrees

    MA in Special Education
    • Required Credits: 36
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  7. #7

    University of Houston

    #194 institution's historical influence
    #1064 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    63%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    37K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1225/24

    Houston, TX

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    Online Degrees

    MEd in Special Education

    Concentrations

    • Special Education
    • Required Credits: 30
    • Completion time: 2-3 years
    • Format: Online
  8. #8

    University of Kentucky

    #199 institution's historical influence
    #541 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    96%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    25K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1195/25

    Lexington, KY

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    Online Degrees

    MS in Special Education
    • Required Credits: 30
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    REQUEST INFO
  9. #9

    Fordham University

    #172 institution's historical influence
    #66 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    53%

    Graduation

    83%

    Student body

    16K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1345/30

    Bronx, NY

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    Online Degrees

    MS in Teaching

    Concentrations

    • Early Childhood Special Education
    • Childhood Special Education
    • Required Credits: 45
    • Completion time: 2.5-3.5 years
    • Format: Online
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  10. #10

    University of Arkansas

    #308 institution's historical influence
    #1356 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    68%

    Student body

    25K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1210/26

    Fayetteville, AR

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    Online Degrees

    MEd in Special Education
    • Required Credits: 36
    • Completion time: 2 years
    • Format: Online
  11. #11

    University of Louisville

    #301 institution's historical influence
    #1277 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    65%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    16K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1180/25

    Louisville, KY

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    Online Degrees

    MA in Teaching in Special Education
    • Required Credits: 30- 36
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    MEd in Special Education
    • Required Credits: 36
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  12. #12

    Eastern Michigan University

    #706 institution's historical influence
    #891 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $15K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    47%

    Student body

    14K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1080/22

    Ypsilanti, MI

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    Online Degrees

    MA in Teaching in Special Education
    • Required Credits: 30-39
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  13. #13

    Virginia Commonwealth University

    #404 institution's historical influence
    #994 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $15K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    26K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1165/24

    Richmond, VA

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    Online Degrees

    MEd in Special Education
    • Required Credits: 37
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  14. #14

    Texas Tech University

    #361 institution's historical influence
    #1458 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    70%

    Graduation

    63%

    Student body

    35K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1165/24

    Lubbock, TX

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    Online Degrees

    MEd in Special Education
    • Required Credits: 36
    • Completion time: 2-3 years
    • Format: Online
  15. #15

    University of Maine

    #350 institution's historical influence
    #575 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    92%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1155/24

    Orono, ME

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    Online Degrees

    MEd in 4+1 Special Education
    • Required Credits: 33
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    MEd in Special Education

    Concentrations

    • High Incidence Disabilities
    • Low Incidence Disabilities
    • Dual Concentration In High And Low Incidence Disabilities
    • Early Intervention
    • Individualized Program
    • Required Credits: 33-45
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    REQUEST INFO
  16. #16

    Florida International University

    #504 institution's historical influence
    #215 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    58%

    Graduation

    67%

    Student body

    48K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1195/25

    Miami, FL

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    Online Degrees

    MS in Special Education

    Concentrations

    • Autism Endorsement
    • Required Credits: 36
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  17. #17

    University of North Texas

    #448 institution's historical influence
    #1391 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    84%

    Graduation

    57%

    Student body

    35K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1155/24

    Denton, TX

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    Online Degrees

    MEd in Special Education

    Concentrations

    • Autism Intervention
    • Education Diagnostician
    • High-Incidence Disabilities
    • Required Credits: 30
    • Completion time: 2-3 years
    • Format: Online
  18. #18

    Clemson University

    #436 institution's historical influence
    #513 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $16K

    Acceptance

    62%

    Graduation

    85%

    Student body

    25K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1315/29

    Clemson, SC

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    Online Degrees

    MS in Special Education
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion time: 2 years
    • Format: Online
  19. #19

    University of Nevada, Reno

    #502 institution's historical influence
    #1404 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    87%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    19K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1180/23

    Reno, NV

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    Online Degrees

    MEd in Education: Special Education

    Concentrations

    • Mild To Moderate Disabilities K-12
    • Intellectual Disabilities- Moderate To Intense Needs
    • Applied Behavior Analysis
    • Autism And Related Disorders K-12
    • Advanced Studies In Behavior Analytic Intervention
    • Early Intervention
    • Required Credits: 33
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  20. #20

    University of Idaho

    #590 institution's historical influence
    #1023 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    74%

    Graduation

    59%

    Student body

    9K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1125/23

    Moscow, ID

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    Online Degrees

    MEd in Special Education
    • Required Credits: 30
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    REQUEST INFO
  21. #21

    Illinois State University

    #765 institution's historical influence
    #834 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Acceptance

    81%

    Graduation

    68%

    Student body

    19K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1120/23

    Normal, IL

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    Online Degrees

    MS in Special Education
    • Required Credits: 39
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    REQUEST INFO
  22. #22

    Marshall University

    #847 institution's historical influence
    #1031 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    89%

    Graduation

    50%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1045/22

    Huntington, WV

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    Online Degrees

    MA in Preschool Special Education
    • Required Credits: 42
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  23. #23

    University of Memphis

    #500 institution's historical influence
    #787 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    85%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    17K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1120/22

    Memphis, TN

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    Online Degrees

    MA in Teaching

    Concentrations

    • Secondary Education
    • Special Education
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  24. #24

    Tennessee State University

    #1048 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Graduation

    26%

    Student body

    7K

    Nashville, TN

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    Online Degrees

    MEd in Special Education
    • Required Credits: 42
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  25. #25

    Old Dominion University

    #806 institution's historical influence
    #709 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    95%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    19K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1080/21

    Norfolk, VA

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    Online Degrees

    MS in Special Education VA Licensure
    • Required Credits: 30-45
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online

Southern New Hampshire University

#1348 institution's historical influence
#1034 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$10K

Acceptance

94%

Graduation

37%

Student body

84K

Manchester, NH

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Online Degrees

MEd in Curriculum And Instruction

Concentrations

  • Dyslexia And Language Based Learning Disabilities
  • Educational Leadership
  • Online Teaching
  • Reading
  • Special Education
  • Technology Integration
  • Required Credits: 36
  • Completion time: None Reported
  • Format: Online
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Online Degree Frequently Asked Questions

If this is your first time taking an online course, the experience may require some adjustment. While you’ll generally learn the same content and take the same exams as your on-campus peers, the medium will likely require you to manage much of this experience independently. You’ll be accountable for your own time management, your ability to harness the technology at your fingertips, and your ability to focus on the lectures, lessons, and assignments at hand. This means you’ll need to create a suitable workspace for yourself, maintain a realistic schedule, and take it upon yourself to build relationships with your instructors and classmates. With online college, your goal is to find a balance between independence and engagement.

No. The only part of online education that’s easier is actually getting there. Taking the commute out of the equation means getting to class should be a lot more manageable. But that’s where it ends. In general, your online courses will incorporate the very same materials, concepts, and testing methods as would a traditional classroom.

And in many cases, you’ll even have the same instructors as your on-campus counterparts. In fact, if you are adjusting to the experience of independent learning or working with remote learning technology for the first time, online college may even be a little more challenging for you. For a few insights on how to manage this new experience, check out our 10 Tips for Adjusting to School Online.

Accreditation is especially important when it comes to online college. This is because the online education landscape is a mix of highly-reputable institutions and less-than-reputable for-profit schools. Accreditation gives you the power to differentiate between the two. Accreditation is a stamp of approval from an independent accrediting agency which indicates that a college or university is meeting standards of quality, credibility, and currency. School-wide accreditation falls into two major categories: regional and national accreditation. Regional accreditors generally hold jurisdiction only over schools in the states comprising their region, whereas national accreditors hold jurisdiction over schools in all states. Regional accreditation is widely regarded as a more rigorous standard of quality and credibility than national accreditation.

Attending a college or university which is not regionally accredited could limit your opportunities. When seeking an online education, we strongly recommend that students opt for regionally accredited schools. Regional accreditation ensures eligibility for federal loans and grants, ensures your college credits can be transferred between schools, and ensures that your degree credits can be accepted if you wish to earn an advanced degree.

As long as your online college degree is regionally accredited, you should have little difficulty transferring most of your credits or credentials to another regionally accredited undergraduate school. Every school carries its own standards and procedures for granting a transfer. In many cases, you will be required to navigate a bureaucracy in which some of your credits will be transferred and others will be jettisoned. However, provided that you have attended an online school with the proper regional accreditation, you should have plenty of options for transfer.

In most cases, as long you graduate from a well-regarded, regionally-accredited online college, prospective employers won’t look sideways at your degree. In fact, unless you attend an exclusively online college or university, there will likely be no specific indicator on your degree, transcript or resume differentiating your school from its brick-and-mortar counterpart. This means that your employer will likely only differentiate between an online and in-person degree if you mention this distinction.

While some employers may express concern about making the adjustment from online education to in-person workplace collaboration, many other employers will view your online degree as evidence of valuable 21st Century professional skills such as independence, self-motivation, time management, and tech savvy.

If you are a student who thrives on the dynamic energy of in-person discussion, who requires the physical surroundings of a classroom to feel engaged, or who considers the social aspects of education to be of equal importance to the actual content of your courses, online education will require some adjustment.

While there is much that can be supplanted or simulated through the online medium, some students may find that there is nothing which can replace the conversation, collaboration, and motivation that occur in an actual classroom setting. As you make the adjustment to online education, one of the biggest challenges you will likely face is overcoming this difference in order to the get the most out of your classes. Fortunately, we’ve got some great Tips for Online Education Beginners.

The advantages of online classes are many. First and foremost, online courses give you the freedom and flexibility to attend class from anywhere that works for you, whether you’re at home, in a coffee shop, or in a quiet conference room at work. In many cases, you’ll also enjoy the convenience of asynchronous learning opportunities—educational experiences that you can complete on your own schedule. This may include pre-taped lectures, ongoing chat-board discussions, and 24/7 access to digital materials. And of course, just as there are some learners who prefer the energy of a live classroom, there are those who learn best when working in their own personal space, free from distractions. If this sounds like you, you might find the solitude of online learning to be a major advantage.

Resources for Prospective Grad Students