Affordable Special Education Degrees

Scroll down to see the most affordable special education degrees, as well as info on the different types of special education degrees and special education program accreditation.

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1

New Jersey City University

The Department of Special Education at New Jersey City University offers a Bachelor of Arts with dual elementary education and teacher of students with disabilities certification. Additionally, the Department offers a Master of Arts in Special Education and a Master of Arts in Teaching Special Education. The B.A. dual certification program prepares students for roles as elementary education or special education teachers in public or private elementary schools. Students in this major are also required to select an academic major in biology, chemistry, English, geoscience, history, mathematics, physics or Spanish. The M.A. in Special Education can be completed as a standalone master's program or with Learning Disabilities Teacher Consultant endorsement eligibility. The Master of Arts in Teaching Special Education leads to Teacher of Students with Disabilities endorsement eligibility.

Accreditation: Teacher Education Accreditation Council, Accreditation Committee

CAG Score 97.2

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

8,136 Students

2

CUNY Queens College

The Division of Education at CUNY Queens College offers several master's programs in special education that lead to initial teacher licensure, as well as post master's programs leading to licensure. Graduate programs include Master of Science in Education (MSEd) degrees in early childhood special education (birth - grade 2), childhood special education (grades 1-6) and adolescent special education: generalist (grade 7- age 21), as well as a dual certification program in elementary and childhood education and a post-master's advanced certificate in special education. Queens College's graduate programs in special education are accredited by the New York State Education Department and have received exemplary status by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Council for Exceptional Children.

Accreditation: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

CAG Score 97.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

19,310 Students

3

University of Minnesota-Duluth

The Department of Education at the University of Minnesota in Duluth has an Integrated Elementary and Special Education (IESE) program that qualifies students to apply for two state licensure programs - K-6 elementary education and K-12 special education (Academic Behavioral Strategist). Students who complete the program graduate with a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Special Education degree. Students who are interested in working with younger children (infants through six years) with special education needs can apply to the United Early Childhood Studies (UECH) program. This program prepares graduates for state licensure to teach early childhood special education (birth through age 6).

Accreditation: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

CAG Score 96.9

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

11,093 Students

4

Texas A & M University-College Station

The College of Education & Human Development at Texas A&M offers a Bachelor of Science in Special Education (with teacher certification) and a Doctor of Philosophy in Special Education. The bachelor's degree is a 124-hour program and requires students to participate in several field experience blocks. The field experience blocks allow students the opportunity to gain real world experience in an educational setting. Students can also participate in the organization, Student Council for Exceptional Children (SCEC), which is a division of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). The CEC is an international, nonprofit organization that supports special education professionals.

CAG Score 96.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

61,642 Students

5

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

At the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, the College of Education and Human Development is home to the Department of Educational Psychology which offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Special Education program. This program leads to an Academic and Behavioral Strategist (ABS) teaching license, which qualifies graduates to teach students with mild to moderate disabilities in K-12 schools. Licensure/Master of Education (M.Ed.) programs are available in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE), and Deaf/Hard of Hearing (DHH). The department also offers Master of Arts (MA) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Special Education programs. U.S. News & World Report ranked the university's Special Education program as Top 10 in the country for 2015.

Accreditation: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

CAG Score 96.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

51,147 Students

6

Texas Woman's University

At Texas Woman's University, students who wish to pursue a program of study in Special Education can do so by applying for admission to the Bachelor of Science (BS) program with a major in Interdisciplinary Studies. This program allows students to choose Special Education as their area of specialization, and leads to dual certification: Early Childhood-6 Generalist and Grades 4-8 Generalist. TWU's Special Education Program offers two options for the Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree: M.Ed. in Special Education: Intervention Specialist and M.Ed. in Special Education: Educational Diagnostician. Applicants to either M.Ed. programs must have a teaching certification. There is also an Educational Diagnostician Certificate program available, as well as a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Special Education program.

CAG Score 96.6

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

15,071 Students

7

Wayne State College

Wayne State College's Department of Educational Foundations and Leadership offers Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in conjunction with special education teaching endorsements. Students working toward a B.A. or B.S. and field endorsement in K-12 special education complete 40 credits of field endorsement courses, including courses in inclusive content learning strategies, special education law, interventions and inclusive practices. Students also have the option to earn subject endorsements in K-6 special education or 7-12 special education. Additionally, special education students have the opportunity to participate in student organizations like the Council of Exceptional Children, the education honor society Kappa Delta Pi and the WSC Student Education Association (WSEAN).

Accreditation: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

CAG Score 96.6

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

3,470 Students

8

University of Florida

The College of Education at the University of Florida has a Unified Elementary/Special Education ProTeach program (Grades K-6). This 5-year program includes a professional education curriculum (leading to a Bachelor of Arts in Education) and a fifth-year specialization in elementary or special education (leading to a Master of Education degree). There is also a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Special Education program available. Qualified SPED doctoral candidates may be considered for the STEEP (Studying Teacher Effectiveness, Education, and Policy) Program, which is worth approximately $40,000 each year and includes a stipend, tuition waivers, health insurance, and travel allowance. The university's Special Education program is ranked #5 in the nation by U.S. News and World Report for 2015.

Accreditation: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

CAG Score 96.6

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

49,459 Students

9

California State University-Long Beach

The Education Specialist Credential Program at CSU Long Beach is approved by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. The program prepares students for certification in the areas of mild/moderate and moderate/severe disabilities. Students can earn the Education Specialist Credential as part of the Integrated Teacher Education Program. The university offers a Master of Science in Special Education degree, as well as an Education Specialist Clear Credential Program. The latter is designed for students who already have a Preliminary/Level 1 Credential in mild/moderate and/or moderate/severe disabilities and can be pursued at the same time as an MS degree. Special education majors can apply for the California Retired Teachers Association - Long Beach Chapter Scholarship ($1,500) and the Doris Tabor Schroeder Scholarship (up to $1,500).

Accreditation: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

CAG Score 96.6

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

36,809 Students

10

University of Washington-Seattle Campus

The Applied Behavior Analysis program at UW's College of Education allows students to complete a master's degree in special education as well the coursework necessary to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Students can pursue this program on campus or online. Master of Education (M.Ed.) and/or certification programs are available in the following fields of specialization: Early Childhood Special Education, High-Incidence Disabilities, Learning, & Emotional Behavioral Disabilities, and Low-Incidence Teacher Education. The college also offers Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Special Education and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Special Education programs. The special education program at the University of Washington is ranked #9 in the country by U.S. News and World Report (2016).

CAG Score 96.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

44,784 Students

11

Buffalo State SUNY

The Exceptional Education Department at Buffalo State graduated its first class of special education teachers in 1953, and today the department has about 800 undergraduate and graduate students. Undergrads can earn a Bachelor of Science in Education that leads to dual certification as a teacher of childhood special education and childhood education teacher. The program has a cross-categorical outlook, focusing on students with a variety of regular and special needs. The graduate programs are designed for students who studied education or special education as undergraduates. The college offers master's programs in special education at the early childhood, childhood, or grade 7-12 level. Buffalo State also has an 18-credit graduate certificate program in Teaching Bilingual Exceptional Individuals.

Accreditation: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education; Teacher Education Accreditation Council, Accreditation Committee

CAG Score 96.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

11,083 Students

12

CUNY Hunter College

The Department of Special Education in Hunter College's School of Education offers graduate programs to prepare teachers to work with students with disabilities in a variety of settings. The department has master's degree programs both for candidates who are already certified to teach and for students who are new to the profession. Students from either background can earn professional teacher certification from New York State by completing the master's program. Programs are available in childhood education (grades 1-6) and in early childhood education (infant-kindergarten). Areas of specialization include learning disabilities, behavior disorders, severe/multiple disabilities, deaf and hard of hearing, and blind and visually impaired. Hunter also offers a variety of advanced certifications in special education.

Accreditation: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

CAG Score 96.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

23,112 Students

13

CUNY Brooklyn College

Brooklyn College offers a variety of programs that lead to a Master of Science in Education in Special Education and qualify candidates as Teachers of Students with Disabilities in New York State. Options are available for Teacher of Students with Disabilities Generalist (grades 7-12) and for students who want to teach special education in grades 1-6 or to children from birth to grade 2. The number of credits required to earn any of the degrees and certifications will vary depending upon whether the candidate has initial teacher certification and whether that certification is in special education for the grade level the student is interested in earning the master's degree in. Students may only enter these programs in the fall semester.

Accreditation: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

CAG Score 96.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

17,390 Students

14

SUNY College at Old Westbury

Undergraduates at SUNY Old Westbury can earn initial teacher certification in special education by earning a Bachelor of Science in Special Education with Childhood Education. To earn the degree, students must complete 32 credits in a concentration in an approved liberal arts or science discipline (such as biology, English, or math), 28 credits in childhood education classes, 20 credits in required special education classes, and 16 credits in field experiences, including student teaching. The same degree is available with a bilingual extension for students who are able to demonstrate they are proficient in Spanish and English oral communication, grammar, punctuation and syntax. By earning certification in Childhood Education, graduates are allowed to teach grades 1 through 6.

Accreditation: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

CAG Score 96.4

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

4,504 Students

15

CUNY City College

Students interested in teaching special education can earn a Master of Science in Education from City College of New York that qualifies them as either Teacher of Students with Disabilities in Childhood Education (grades 1-6) or Teacher of Students with Disabilities in Adolescent Education (Grades 7-12). The program for teachers who already have initial or provisional certification leads to professional certification. The college also has programs leading to initial certification for students who did not study education as an undergraduate. The M.Ed. program requires 31 credits for students who already have a teaching license. Those who are new to the career will need several prerequisite classes and must complete an internship in special education, increasing the required credits.

Accreditation: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

CAG Score 96.4

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

15,579 Students

16

Appalachian State University

Undergraduate students enrolled in the Department of Reading and Special Education at Appalachian State University can choose from a BS degree that leads to certification in Special Education: General Curriculum K-12 or Special Education: Adapted Curriculum K-12. The general curriculum course of study prepares students to teach children who are physically and mentally capable of completing the general curriculum requirements of South Carolina, whereas the adapted curriculum prepares students to teach children who will require more modification to the general curriculum. An MA in Special Education is also available in the concentrations of emotional/behavioral disorders, intellectual disabilities and learning disabilities. Special education majors are eligible for major-specific scholarships, such as the Nancy J. Severt Memorial Scholarship for Special Education and the Barbara Bonnet Memorial Scholarship for Special Education.

Accreditation: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

CAG Score 96.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

18,026 Students

17

Iowa State University

Iowa State University offers Master of Education, Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in special education. A special education certificate is also available, as is an Instructional Strategist II: Behavior Disorders/Learning Disorders endorsement. The M.Ed. in Special Education is designed for those practicing special education, whereas the M.S. has both a practical and research focus. Students in the M.Ed. and M.S. programs both complete core requirements and a sequence of special education courses. However, M.Ed. students complete a creative project, whereas M.S. students complete a thesis. Students working toward the Doctor of Philosophy in Education are required to take a foundations course and at least three methods courses, but the remaining coursework, which is determined with a student's Program of Study Committee, can be designed to emphasize special education.

CAG Score 96.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

34,435 Students

18

Dominican University

Undergraduate students at Dominican University can become certified special education teachers through a combined degree program that offers a BA or BS in a relevant major and an MS in Special Education with LBS 1 Endorsement. This combined degree program allows students to earn a bachelor's, master's and Learning Behavior Specialist I endorsement in about six years. Students accepted into this program can take two graduate courses their senior year. Students who already have a bachelor's degree can earn a Master of Science in Special Education with LBS 1 Endorsement. The MS program offers tracks of study for students without a professional educator license and students with a professional educator license. Scholarships reserved specifically for special education majors include the Katherine Inglis Sutter Scholarship.

Accreditation: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

CAG Score 96.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

3,498 Students

19

The University of Texas at El Paso

The College of Education at The University of Texas at El Paso offers a Master of Education in Special Education in four different concentrations: autism, bilingual special education, learning disabled, and severely emotionally disturbed. This program is designed mainly for students who have concentrated their previous academic work within an area of education. Students must have a valid Texas teaching certificate and three years of teaching experience to be admitted to this program. In the program, students will complete a research project that is relevant to the education of students with special needs within a local school or community.

CAG Score 96.2

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

23,079 Students

20

Texas A & M University-Commerce

Texas A&M University Commerce offers several degrees in special education: a Master of Arts in Special Education, a Master of Education in Special Education, and a Master of Science in Special Education. They also offer special education certification for students who are pursuing a bachelor's degree in education, and they offer a Master's in Special Education with Educational Diagnostician Certification. Students in the special education programs may take such courses as Characteristics of Students with Mild Disabilities, Characteristics of Students with Moderate Disabilities, and Autism Spectrum Disorders.

CAG Score 96.2

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

12,111 Students

21

SUNY College at Oswego

The School of Education at SUNY Oswego offers master's degrees in special education both for candidates who already have initial teacher certification in special education and for those who are seeking to expand the area they are certified in. Teachers with initial special education certification can upgrade to professional certification in Childhood Special Education by completing a 30-credit Master of Science in Education program. The program requires candidates to complete 15 credits in pedagogy classes and 15 credits in professional core classes. Teachers with initial certification in Childhood Education can add certification for Childhood Special Education through a 36-credit M.S.Ed. program that requires them to student teach in a special educator role full time for at least 10 weeks.

Accreditation: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

CAG Score 96.2

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

8,034 Students

22

Saint Cloud State University

Students interested in studying special education at Saint Cloud State University can earn a Bachelor of Science or Master of Science through the Department of Special Education. The Bachelor of Science in Special Education leads to licensure to teach children with learning disabilities, emotional/behavioral disorders or developmental disabilities. Undergraduate special education students complete student teaching in both elementary and secondary special education settings. The Department also offers certificate programs in autism spectrum disorders, developmental disabilities, emotional/behavioral disorders and learning disabilities. Scholarships reserved specifically for special education students include the $2,000 Kristi Lieser Special Education Endowed Scholarship and the $750 Possum Works Segue Scholarship in Special Education.

Accreditation: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

CAG Score 96.2

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

16,076 Students

23

University of North Texas

The University of North Texas offers a Master's degree in special education. Courses and certifications provide an emphasis on autism intervention, educational diagnosticians, behavioral specialists, special education early childhood-12 program, transition specialists, traumatic brain injuries, and Instruction Model to Prepare Adept Certified Teachers in Special Education (IMPACT). The College of Education is accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. The program offers specialized courses in addition to the opportunity to participate in community-based programming, network with other professionals in special education, and become involved in interdepartmental studies.

Accreditation: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

CAG Score 96.1

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

36,486 Students

24

SUNY College at Plattsburgh

SUNY Plattsburgh offers a combined Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Childhood Education and Master of Science in Education (M.S. Ed.) in Special Education program. Graduates of this program earn four teaching certificates at the same time in: Elementary school classrooms (Grades 1-6), Special Education settings (Grades 1-6), Special Education (Birth through Grade 2), and Childhood Education (Birth through Grade 2). On the graduate level, SUNY Plattsburgh offers an M.S. Ed. in Special Education with four fields of concentration: Birth to Grade 2, Birth to Grade 6, Grades 1-6, and Grade 7-12, Generalist. The school's Teacher Education programs are accredited by the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) until October 2021.

Accreditation: Teacher Education Accreditation Council, Accreditation Committee

CAG Score 96.1

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

5,968 Students

25

CUNY Lehman College

The School of Education at Lehman College offers master's degrees in special education, with options for teachers who already have initial certification and for career changers without a background in education. Students enroll in a program based on the development level they have a teaching certificate in or hope to teach: Early Childhood Special Education, Childhood Special Education, or Adolescent Special Education. Students are required to do fieldwork and practicum in inclusive classrooms and in specialized settings. The credits required to earn the degree and professional teaching certificate vary depending upon whether a student has initial certification and the development level the student intends to teach. The programs are structured non-categorically and do not focus on any specific disability.

Accreditation: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

CAG Score 96.1

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

12,398 Students

26

Michigan State University

The Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education at Michigan State University offers special education programs at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral level. Through the BA in Special Education, students receive elementary education certification, as well as an additional special education endorsement. Students in the BA program must complete a fifth-year internship experience before receiving their certification and endorsement. MSU also offers master's degree programs in autism spectrum disorders and learning disabilities and a graduate certificate in applied behavior analysis. Additionally, the PhD in Special Education prepares students to conduct research and act as leaders in the field. Special education doctoral students are eligible for graduate assistantships and fellowships, as well as the Robert Craig Fellowship in Psychological Studies in Education.

Accreditation: Teacher Education Accreditation Council, Accreditation Committee

CAG Score 96.1

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

50,081 Students

27

Marshall University

Marshall University offers a Master of Arts in Special Education. This degree is available in several areas of emphasis: autism, deaf and hard of hearing, gifted, multi-categorical special education, preschool special education, and visually impaired. The program provides students with the necessary licensure to become special education teachers. The plan of study is altered according to the students' emphasis. Students focusing on autism, for example, will take such courses as Instructional Characteristics of Autism and Applications Software in Classroom Curriculum, and students focusing on visually impaired education will take such courses as Introduction to Visual Impairments and Structures and Functions of the Human Visual System.

Accreditation: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

CAG Score 96.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

13,381 Students

28

Holy Family University

Students enrolled in the School of Education at Holy Family University can participate in an undergraduate program that offers dual certification in Special Education PK-8 and Early Childhood Education PK-4. Students learn to teach children with a range of cognitive and functional abilities and are taught instructional and classroom management techniques, as well as inclusionary models of teaching. Students also participate in field experiences during all four years of study, completing observations their freshman and sophomore years, a practicum their junior year and student teaching their senior year. Scholarships available to students in the School of Education include the Sister Clara Grochowska Scholarship and the Kathleen Kumor Memorial Scholarship.

CAG Score 96.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

2,658 Students

29

SUNY College at Brockport

SUNY Brockport offers an undergraduate Childhood Inclusive Education program that results in initial dual certification in Childhood Education and Teacher of Students with Disabilities (grades 1-6). Students who are in the teacher preparation program must have a content area major, such as biology, English, history, math, or physics. They also must take professional preparation classes such as Child Psychology, Introduction to Special Education, classes in teaching specific subjects to diverse learners, and a 12-credit student teaching practicum. Undergrads interested in teaching older students can enter the Adolescence Inclusive Generalist Education program, which results in initial certification to teach special needs children and initial certification to teach grade 5-12 classes in the content area they have majored in.

Accreditation: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

CAG Score 96.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

8,106 Students

30

SUNY at Binghamton

Binghamton University's Graduate School of Education offers a Master of Science in Education (MSEd) in Special Education with four available program options based upon the age and grade level of the student's initial teaching certification. Program options include certification in early childhood special education (birth to grade 2), early childhood and childhood special education (birth to grade 6), childhood special education (grades 1 to 6) and adolescence special education (grades 7 to 12). Students who do not hold initial teaching certification can pursue a pre-service Master of Science in Education (MSEd) degree, which provides initial teaching certification and allows students to focus their studies in the concentration of childhood, early childhood and special education.

Accreditation: Teacher Education Accreditation Council, Accreditation Committee

CAG Score 96.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

16,695 Students

31

Northwest Missouri State University

Northwest Missouri State University's School of Professional Education offers Bachelor of Science in Education and Master of Science in Education degrees in special education. The B.S.Ed. in Special Education focuses on cross-categorical special education and certifies students to teach special education in K-12 classrooms. The B.S.Ed. requires the completion of 84 to 87 credits of coursework, including teaching foundations courses, teaching methods courses and clinical experiences. The M.S.Ed. in Special Education focuses on children with mild to moderate disabilities, including learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, emotional/behavioral disorders and physical disabilities. Students who enter the program with special education certification are required to complete 32 credits of coursework, while students without certification must complete 40 to 46 credits of coursework in order to attain certification with their master's degree.

Accreditation: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

CAG Score 96.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

6,720 Students

32

Saint Vincent College

Saint Vincent College offers a Master of Science in Special Education program, which provides students with specialized training in the education of students with disabilities. Designed for certified teachers in Pennsylvania, this program offers additional certification in the areas of special education at the level of Pre-K-8 or 7-12. This program is offered in a traditional schedule or in an accelerated schedule, which takes one year to complete. Courses within this program include Teaching Students with Autistic Spectrum and Developmental Disorders, Educating Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, and Methods of Instruction and Assessment for Students with Significant and Multiple Disabilities.

CAG Score 95.9

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

1,829 Students

33

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

UNCG offers a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and Special Education General Curriculum Dual Major SPEL, a Bachelor of Science in Special Education General Curriculum K - 12, a Master of Education in Special Education: General Curriculum, a Master of Education Birth-Kindergarten - Interdisciplinary Studies in Education and Development, and a PhD in Specialized Education. The department also offers several non-degree programs in special education. Students receive licensure by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction in Special Education. Students of these programs may be eligible for the Arc Greensboro Special Education Scholarship, which is awarded to full-time students (graduate or undergraduate) who are enrolled currently in licensure programs for special education teachers.

Accreditation: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

CAG Score 95.9

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

18,647 Students

34

Chadron State College

Chadron State College offers a Bachelor of Science in Education with a field endorsement in special education, a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in K-12 special education and a Master of Education in Educational Administration with a specialization in special education curriculum supervisor studies. The B.S.Ed. program with special education endorsement includes eight professional education courses in subjects like educational psychology, assessment foundations, exceptional learners, multimedia support for instruction and secondary observation. Students are also required to complete 30 to 60 credits in a subject or field endorsement like special education. The M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in K-12 special education requires five basic core courses, eight special education master's courses and four special education endorsement courses.

Accreditation: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

CAG Score 95.9

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

3,033 Students

35

McDaniel College

McDaniel College offers a Master of Science in Special Education, as well as a Master of Science in Deaf Education. The M.S. in Special Education is designed for students who already hold initial teaching licensure but are seeking additional licensure in special education. The program curriculum includes four foundations courses and a five-credit sequence of research coursework. The special education sequence includes four courses that cover subjects such as teaching strategies, assessment, classroom management and collaborative practices. Those seeking certification are also required to complete a certification sequence that is selected with the guidance of the program coordinator. Students who aren't seeking certification can choose electives from the certification sequence. All special education students are also required to complete a capstone sequence that includes a portfolio, practicum and internship.

Accreditation: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

CAG Score 95.9

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

3,206 Students

36

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

The College of Education at UNC Charlotte grants special education degrees at all levels. Students who earn a Bachelor of Arts in Special Education can pursue a teaching license in general curriculum, which allows them to teach students with mild disabilities, or in adapted curriculum, which allows them to teach students with severe disabilities. The Master of Arts in Teaching Special Education is for students who did not study special education as an undergrad and qualifies them for a special education teaching license. The Master of Education in Special Education is for students already licensed to teach special education and allows them to select a specialty that could lead to add-on licensure. A Special Education Ph.D. is also offered.

Accreditation: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

CAG Score 95.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

27,238 Students

37

SUNY College at Oneonta

SUNY Oneonta offers Master of Science in Education programs for students who want to teach special education at the Early Childhood, Childhood (grade 1-6), or Special Education Generalist (grades 7-12) level. Each of the programs requires candidates to complete 36 credit hours of coursework, including six credits in student teaching in special education. Students who earn the M.S.Ed. in Special Education are eligible for New York certification as a special education teacher. SUNY Oneonta requires candidates to complete all the requirements for the special education master's degree within six years, and at least 27 credits must be earned at the university. Oneonta's School of Education is accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education.

Accreditation: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

CAG Score 95.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

6,101 Students

38

SUNY at Fredonia

SUNY Fredonia offers bachelor's and master's degrees for students interested in teaching special education. Undergraduates can earn a degree in inclusive education, which prepares them to earn two teaching certificates, one in Childhood Education (grades 1-6) and the other in Students with Disabilities (grades 1-6). Students in the program work four field-based experiences, including a field experience and student teaching working with special needs students. Fredonia also offers a Master of Science in Education in Curriculum and Instruction/Inclusive Education. The program is open to candidates who already have initial certification to teach at least one developmental level. By completing the 36-credit program, a candidate can gain special education certification at the childhood, middle school or high school level.

Accreditation: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

CAG Score 95.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

5,215 Students

39

University of Nebraska at Omaha

The Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders at the University of Nebraska Omaha offers seven undergraduate programs in special education. These are the following: Special Education K-6, Special Education 7-12, Dual Endorsement with Elementary Education/Education of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing, Dual Endorsement with Elementary Education/Special Education K-6, Dual Endorsement with Content Area Education of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing 7-12, Dual Endorsement with Secondary Content Area/Special Education 7-12, and American Sign Language 7-12. A Special Education Supervisor endorsement is available through the Department of Educational Leadership. Several courses for this endorsement are offered online. The university has two areas of specialization for applicants who already have a special education endorsement: behavior intervention specialist or inclusion/collaboration specialist. Both programs are available online.

Accreditation: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

CAG Score 95.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

15,227 Students

40

University of Nebraska at Kearney

The College of Education at the University of Nebraska-Kearney offers a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Inclusive Teaching, Early Childhood Inclusive initial teaching endorsement and an Early Childhood Inclusive add-on endorsement. The B.A. program is a degree completion program designed for students with an associate degree. Students who complete the program are certified to teach children from birth to age five in special education settings and from birth to age eight in regular education settings. The B.A. degree can be completed entirely online. Students who already have a bachelor's degree in a field other than special education that do not want to earn a second bachelor's degree can choose to earn initial Early Childhood Inclusive certification online as well.

Accreditation: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

CAG Score 95.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

6,902 Students

41

Winona State University

WSU's College of Education offers Bachelor of Science (BS) and Master of Science (MS) in Special Education programs that also lead to licensure by the State of Minnesota Board of Teaching in the following fields: Learning Disabilities, K-12 and Developmental Disabilities - Mild/Moderate/Severe/Profound, K-12. The college also offers special licensure programs (Undergraduate and Post-Baccalaureate) for students who are interested in pursuing additional training in specific special education areas. These programs do not lead to a master's degree. There is a travel-study program to Jamaica that is available to students each year.

Accreditation: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

CAG Score 95.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

8,684 Students

42

Towson University

Through its Department of Special Education, Towson University offers undergraduate majors in special education, integrated early childhood and special education, and integrated elementary education and special education. A Master of Education in Special Education is also available. The special education major is a cohort program that offers tracks of study in elementary/middle education (grades 1-8) or secondary/adult education (grades 6- adult). Both tracks require students to complete school year-long student teaching internships. The M.Ed. in Special Education is designed for already certified teachers who want to receive additional certification to teach students with disabilities at the infant/primary (birth-grade 3, elementary/middle (grades 1-8) or secondary/adult (grades 6-12) levels. Master's students also have the option to choose a second concentration in autism spectrum disorder.

Accreditation: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

CAG Score 95.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

22,285 Students

43

University of South Florida-Main Campus

The Bachelor of Science in Exceptional Student Education (BS-ESE) offered at USF is a state-approved program that leads to an ESE certification as well as an ESOL endorsement. The Master of Arts (MA) in Exceptional Student Education is an online program with specializations in the following areas: behavior disorders, learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, and exceptional student education. The MA program does not lead to initial teacher certification. The Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in Exceptional Student Education program leads to ESE certification and endorsements in both ESOL and Reading. There is a Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction degree available, with an emphasis in special education. Doctoral candidates are considered for the Cathy Lynne Richardson Endowed Scholarship ($4,000).

Accreditation: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

CAG Score 95.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

41,938 Students

44

California State University-Fresno

The special education programs offered by the Department of Literacy, Early, Bilingual, and Special Education at Fresno State are NCATE-accredited. The following programs are available: Preliminary Level I and Professional Level II Education Specialist Credentials in Mild/Moderate and Moderate/Severe Disabilities; a dual certification program (Preliminary Level I Education Specialist Credential and Multiple Subjects basic teaching credential); and a Master of Arts in Special Education. The MA curriculum includes courses such as positive behavioral and social supports, effective communication and collaborative partnerships, and applications of research methods in special education. A number of scholarships (with variable amounts) are available to all Kremen School of Education students, including the Robert & Norma Craig Scholarship, the Maxima A. Dandoy Scholarship, and the Dorothy Hamilton Scholarship.

Accreditation: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

CAG Score 95.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

23,179 Students

45

Texas A & M University-Kingsville

The Department of Teacher and Bilingual Education at Texas A&M University-Kingsville offers a Master of Education in Special Education. This degree is designed for students who have finished undergraduate degrees in special education or related fields. The program consists of all aspects of special education including an examination of the best educational practice for both low incidence and high incidence disabilities, collaboration models, current legal issues, inclusion, and transition issues. All programs are accredited by the commission on colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

CAG Score 95.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

13,246 Students

46

Francis Marion University

Francis Marion University offers a Master of Arts in Teaching - Learning Disabilities (M.A.T. - LD) degree that is designed for students with a bachelor's degree in a non-education field. The program prepares students for initial certification in learning disabilities. Students must complete 45 graduate hours in order to earn the degree. The university offers two Master of Education (M.Ed.) programs: M.Ed. in Instructional Accommodation (30 graduate hours) and M.Ed. in Learning Disabilities (33 graduate hours). Graduate-level coursework includes classes in the cognitive and behavioral aspects of the divergent learner, introduction to early childhood special education, and methods for teaching students with learning disabilities. All programs are accredited through 2019 by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

Accreditation: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

CAG Score 95.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

3,944 Students

47

Saint Joseph's College-New York

Saint Joseph's College-New York offers a Master of Arts in Childhood or Adolescent Special Education with an Annotation in Severe and Multiple Disabilities at its Brooklyn campus. The MA program is a 36-credit, part-time program that prepares students for the following certifications (depending on their initial certifications): Childhood Students with Disabilities and Secondary Generalist for Students with Disabilities . All students in the MA program are eligible for an Annotation in Severe and Multiple Disabilities, which prepares students to work with severely disabled students in Pre-K through grade 12. Additionally, Saint Joseph's College offers a Master of Arts in Infant/Toddler Early Childhood Special Education at its Long Island Campus.

CAG Score 95.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

4,979 Students

48

Niagara University

Niagara University offers both bachelor's and master's degrees in special education. Undergrads who want to prepare for a teaching career can earn a degree in Special Education and Childhood, which qualifies them to teach students in grades 1 through 6, or in Special Education and Adolescence, which qualifies them to work with students with disabilities in grades 7 through 12. Teacher education programs require students to take about 39 credits in professional education classes and participate in field experiences, including student teaching for 14 weeks. Niagara University's master's program in special education is offered in an entirely online format. The 40-credit program is open to candidates who already have a teaching certificate and leads to professional certification.

Accreditation: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

CAG Score 95.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

4,015 Students

49

Minnesota State University-Mankato

The Department of Special Education at Minnesota State University-Mankato offers a Bachelor of Science in Special Education with a concentration in academic and behavioral strategist studies, as well as a Master of Science in Special Education with concentrations in autism spectrum disorders, developmental disabilities, early childhood special education, learning disabilities and emotional and behavioral disorders. The B.S. in Special Education prepares students to receive Minnesota's Academic and Behavioral Strategist (ABS) license, which allows them to teach children with mild/moderate learning disabilities, emotional/behavioral disorders, autism spectrum disorders and developmental disabilities. The B.S. is a full-time, cohort program that takes five semesters to complete. Students are admitted into the program after completing their first two years of college study, either at MSUM or a community college.

Accreditation: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

CAG Score 95.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

15,387 Students

50

University of Colorado Colorado Springs

The School of Education at UCCS offers a Bachelor of Innovation in Inclusive Early Childhood Education (BI:IECE) program that leads to three state credentials, one of which is an ECSE (Early Childhood Special Education) teaching licensure. There is a Bachelor of Arts (BA) and a SPED Generalist Initial Licensure program available that is jointly administered by the School of Education and the College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences. This is an undergraduate special education licensure program requiring at least 124 semester hours of course work. There is also a Master of Arts (MA) in Special Education program. The school's special education programs are accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC).

Accreditation: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education

CAG Score 95.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

11,761 Students

Special education teachers help kids with specific needs manage coursework, participate in the classroom, and build life skills. They may be assisting students with dyslexia, autism spectrum disorders, physical disabilities, behavioral challenges, or hearing/visual impairments. They may be collaborating with psychologists, social workers, and therapists on learning plans. They may even be teaching in places like correctional facilities, hospitals, and homes. Whatever they’re doing, they’re doing it with their whole hearts.

Sound like your kind of job? Then take a moment to glance through our guide to affordable special education degrees. We’ve included summaries of all your degree options. Thinking about teaching at a public school? We take a close look at accreditation issues and state licensure requirements. Finally, we cover two major voluntary certifications (NBPTS and BCSE) that you may wish to explore.

Types of Special Education Degrees

Associate’s Degree in Special Education

An associate’s degree in special education is a 2-year undergraduate program that gives students an overview of the fields of special education and early childhood education. Programs are offered by a variety of technical and community colleges. Applicants should have a high school diploma or GED.

Most students use the associate’s degree as as stepping stone to a bachelor’s degree. If you’re looking at this option, make sure your associate course credits will be transferable to the 4-year program of your choice.

Degree Options

  • Associate of Arts (AA) or Associate of Science (AS) in Special Education: A common choice for those interested in a bachelor’s degree down the track.
  • Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Special Education: A common choice for those interested in working straight after graduation (e.g. teacher’s aide, childcare worker, etc.).

Sample Coursework

The associate degree curriculum is usually a mix of general education courses and classes in special & early childhood education. In addition to core courses such as composition and rhetoric, math fundamentals, and a foreign language, you may be studying subjects such as psychology, education theory, child growth and development, and principles of educational practice. Many programs will ask you to participate in internships/practicums.

Career Options

With your associate’s degree in hand, you can pursue a Childhood Development Associate (CDA) credential. (We talk more about this in our article on Early Childhood Education.) However, you won’t be able to earn a state teaching license and teach in public schools until you have completed a bachelor’s degree.

A CDA and an associate’s degree can qualify you for jobs such as:

  • Teacher’s Aide
  • Paraeducator
  • Childcare Worker
  • Preschool Teacher
  • Special Education Tutor

Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education

A bachelor’s degree in special education is a 4-5 year undergraduate program that comprehensively tackles the theory and practical aspects of teaching kids with special needs. The length of your degree will depend on the age level of your kids and the types of disabilities/needs you’d like to study. A high school diploma or GED is required to apply.

A bachelor’s is the common baseline degree for state licensure, but some states require a master’s degree. If you’re aiming to earn a state teaching license, make sure your program is accredited and provides the right number of fieldwork hours and the special education course credits/training needed for licensure.

Degree Choices

When it comes to special education, you have options. The first two choices allow you to concentrate on special education. For example:    

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Special Education: Often incorporates college-level humanities courses.
  • Bachelor of Science (BS) in Special Education: Often incorporates college-level math and science courses.

However, you may also like to consider earning a degree in a related field and majoring in the field of special education. For example:

  • BA or BS in Elementary or Secondary Education
  • BA or BS in Early Childhood Education or Development

There are also degrees that allow you to focus on a particular area of interest. For example:

  • BA or BS in Early Childhood Special Education
  • BA in Recreational Therapy

Sample Coursework

Since special education teachers are helping all kinds of kids tackle all kinds of challenges, life skills, and school subjects, the coursework for a bachelor’s degree can be quite varied. In the first two years, you may be asked to complete general studies classes (similar to the associate’s degree) and courses in education (e.g. educational psychology, child growth and development, assessment, and instructional technology).

In the third and fourth years, you’ll have more opportunity to study subjects related to special education and teaching kids with disabilities (e.g. social-emotional learning, assistive technology, behavior support, etc.). To prepare for licensure, you’ll also participate in supervised teaching experiences and internships. In recent years, some universities have asked special education majors to complete a fifth “post-baccalaureate” year. This will give you extra training in complex areas such as special education law and psychology.

Career Options

Most students pursue a bachelor’s degree in order to teach special education at a public or private school. In this scenario, you may become a:

  • Special Education Classroom Teacher – teaches students in a separate special education class
  • Learning Support Teacher – assists students with special needs in various classes
  • Co-Teaching Instructor – gives targeted special needs instruction in tandem with a co-teacher

But there are other avenues you can explore:

  • Art Therapist
  • Private Tutor
  • Bilingual Special Education Teacher
  • Early Childhood Special Education Teacher
  • Correctional Facility Teacher
  • Mental Health Facility Teacher

A bachelor’s degree also sets you up for further education (remember that some states require special education teachers to hold a master’s degree) and positions of responsibility (e.g. school administration).

Master’s Degree in Special Education

A master’s degree in special education is a 2-3 year graduate program that builds on foundations laid in the bachelor’s degree (e.g. teaching students with specific disabilities). Accelerated master’s programs only take 12-18 months to complete. A bachelor’s degree in education, special education, or a closely related field is required to apply.

Since some states require special educators to hold a master’s degree before they can earn a state teaching license, you should check with your state Department of Education to see your master’s program meets licensing requirements.

Degree Options

Once you begin looking, you’ll discover all kinds of choices for your master’s degree, including the MAT, MEd, MA, or MS. There are also programs that are specifically targeted at students with a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field who are interested in studying special education in order to meet state licensure requirements. We go into much greater depth about these options in our article on K-12 Education Degrees.

Sample Coursework

Master’s-level coursework for special education students can be very intense. If you already hold a bachelor’s degree in special education, you may be diving into advanced work in behavioral analysis and management, assistive technology, and classroom-based research. You will often be heavily involved in fieldwork, testing the effectiveness of teaching methodologies. In the end, you will present your findings in a final capstone project or thesis.

Interested in a specific teaching endorsement? You have the option to specialize in teaching children with specific disabilities. Examples of specialization areas in a master’s degree include:

  • Mild/Moderate Disabilities (includes autism spectrum disorders, mild mental retardation, and emotional disturbances)
  • Moderate/Severe Disabilities (includes severe mental retardation, autism spectrum disorders, and traumatic brain injuries)
  • Deaf and Hard of Hearing
  • Visual Impairments (includes blindness)
  • Physical and Health Impairments (includes orthopedic issues and traumatic injuries)
  • Early Childhood Special Education

Again, we recommend you check with your state Department of Education for details on what kind of certification and additional training you need to teach such children.

Career Options

On a practical level, you may wish to earn a master’s in order to gain your state teaching license or qualify for an endorsement. But a master’s degree is an excellent qualification to have in general. It gives you more choice in jobs, allows you to climb the career ladder, qualifies you for salary hikes, and puts you in an excellent place to apply for positions in educational administration.

Doctoral Degree in Special Education

A doctorate in special education is a 4-7 year program focused on advanced research and practice, and the highest educational qualification you can achieve. Unless you opt for a combined master’s/PhD, you must hold a master’s degree in special education or a closely related field (e.g. school psychology, school counseling, elementary/secondary education, educational administration, etc.). Some programs will expect you to have a state teaching or administrative license and 3+ years of experience.

We take a close look at all your degree options (e.g. PhD vs. EdD) in our article on K-12 Education Degrees.

Career Options

You may wish to pursue a doctorate if you’re interested in top leadership/administrative positions, policy work, teaching special education in universities, or high-level education research.

Non-Licensure Certificate in Special Education

Certificates in special education are academic qualifications that provide a foundation in a specific area of special education. The equivalent of a “minor” in special education, certificates usually take ~6 months to 1 year to complete.

Many students earn certificates to amass course credits for a bachelor’s or master’s degree (the prerequisite for state licensure). If this is your plan, first check that your credits will be transferable to your degree program.

Certificate Options

When you’re looking at certificate options, examine the fine print. A non-licensure graduate certificate will enrich your learning, but it is not the same as an add-on certificate/endorsement program. Keep an eye on the academic catalog. Schools should clearly state which certificates lead to endorsement or advanced licensure and which do not.

  • Undergraduate Certificate: Often targeted at students who want an introduction to special education, paraeducators looking to earn a degree, or current teachers who need certain special education skills.
  • Graduate Certificate: Often designed for students planning to earn a master’s, current teachers who need continuing education credits, or those wishing to explore an area of specialization.

Add-On Certificate for Licensure/Endorsement

Usually billed as graduate certificates, add-on licensure/endorsement programs are often targeted towards students or current teachers (e.g. secondary educators) who wish to become licensed in special education or special education teachers who are hoping to earn an endorsement in a specific area (e.g. autism spectrum disorder).

When in doubt, talk to the school. They will be able to direct you towards an accredited program that’s right for your goals.

Alternative Teacher Certification Program

Alternative teacher certification programs are designed for graduates who already hold a bachelor’s degree in a subject other than education and are interested in initial teacher licensure. In exchange for accelerated training and fieldwork, students must often commit to a master’s degree and/or certification in special education.

For more information on these programs, please see our article on K-12 Education Degrees.

Important Accreditations

Regional Accreditation

We strongly recommend you attend a college or university with regional accreditation. This is a “seal of approval” granted to non-profit and public institutions by one of six regional accrediting bodies (e.g. Southern Association of Colleges and Schools).

You can learn more about the difference between national accreditation, regional accreditation and diploma mills in Accreditation: Understanding the Difference Between Real Schools and Diploma Mills.

Benefits of Regional Accreditation

A degree with regional accreditation is usually required to:

  • Qualify for teacher licensure (when state departments of education talk about “accredited schools,” this is what they mean!)
  • Transfer credits (many regionally accredited institutions will not accept course credits from nationally accredited schools)
  • Apply for student loans, scholarship, tuition reimbursement, and funding opportunities
  • Be accepted to regionally accredited graduate schools

Regional accreditation is only granted to the school, not to individual departments or degree programs. If you’re interested in the quality of a special education program, you can also look for CAEP/NCATE/TEAC accreditation.

CAEP (NCATE + TEAC)

In 2013, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) merged into one organization for accrediting teacher education programs. It is called the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). All programs currently accredited by NCATE and TEAC will eventually be accredited by CAEP. In our list of affordable special education programs, you’ll see that we’ve listed NCATE or TEAC accreditations.

Is NCATE or TEAC Accreditation Necessary?

No. However, these accreditations do demonstrate that an education program has met a variety of quality standards. Is it okay to go to a program that isn’t accredited by NCATE or TEAC? Yes. But make sure your school is regionally accredited and the program has a solid reputation within the teaching field.

Licensure & Certification

State Licensure

In order to teach in a public school, you must earn a teaching license from your state education agency, department, or board of education. You may also find that private schools will ask to see a state license. Irritatingly, the terms “teacher certification” and “teacher licensure” are used interchangeably in the field of teaching. They mean the same thing.

Find your State Department of Education.

Special Education License Types

There are two major categories of special education teaching licenses:

  1. A general special education license that allows you to work with students who have a variety of disabilities
  2. Specialized licenses and endorsements in specific disability categories

In addition, some states have also implemented alternative or emergency licenses. These licenses have less stringent requirements than a general license and are typically targeted at qualified college graduates and mid-life career changers. Alternative license holders can begin teaching immediately – under the supervision of a licensed educator – while they work towards earning a regular license.

We’re afraid you will have to look at your individual state to learn all the options for general licensure and specialization, but we have a link for that!

Compare Options for Special Education Teacher Certification & Licensure by State

How to Earn Your General License in Special Education

For the general license in special education, most states will expect you to:

  • Earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in special education from a regionally accredited college or university
  • Pass a state-administered exam (e.g. Praxis)
  • Complete a state-approved supervised teaching training program and be recommended by the program for licensing
  • Participate in periodic testing and continuing education (CE) courses to maintain your license

Some universities incorporate the teacher training requirements for licensure into their degree programs, but not all do. Before applying, always check to see if your chosen program meets state licensing criteria.

How to Earn a Specialized License or Endorsement in Special Education

After you’ve earned a bachelor’s degree and gained your general license in special education or K-12 teaching, you may wish to earn an endorsement or specialized license in a specific area (e.g. autism spectrum disorders). Examples of these credentials include:

  • Education Specialist Mild/Moderate Disabilities
  • Education Specialist Moderate/Severe Disabilities
  • Early Childhood Special Education
  • Education Specialist Deaf and Hard of Hearing
  • Education Specialist Visual Impairments
  • Education Specialist Physical and Health Impairments

To qualify for an endorsement or specialized license, most states will require you to complete an approved master’s degree or graduate certificate in your area of interest, as well as supervised observation, participation, and full-time responsible student teaching. When in doubt, talk to your graduate adviser about your options.

Note: To make life easier on educators, many departments of education have reciprocity agreements that allow you to transfer your license over state lines.

Voluntary NBPTS Certification

In addition to a teaching license, which is required to teach in public schools, you might wish to seek the voluntary Exceptional Needs Specialist (ENS) certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). Board certification looks good on your résumé and can set you up for promotions and salary boosts.

ENS Certification Requirements

You’re eligible to apply for the National Board Certification process if you’ve earned a baccalaureate degree, have taught for a minimum of three years, and hold a valid state teaching license.

In addition to paying a hefty fee, ENS applicants are required to submit:

  • 4 portfolio entries, including videos of teacher/student interactions, that demonstrate skills
  • Complete 6 assessment center exercises (i.e. an exam)

These results are weighted and scored by the NBPTS. Candidates with a total weighted score of 275 or higher receive board certification.

Learn more about the ENS certification process.

Voluntary Board Certification in Special Education (BCSE)

Another voluntary certification you may wish to consider is the Board Certification in Special Education (BCSE) from the American Academy of Special Education Professionals (AASEP). This credential is intended to demonstrate the highest professional competency in special education. The AASEP hopes to have all of its members BSCE-certified.

BCSE Certification Requirements

Applicants for the BCSE must hold an accredited master’s degree in a field concerning special needs. Eligible educators include:

  • Adaptive Physical Education Teachers
  • Administrators of Special Education
  • Art Therapists
  • Audiologists
  • Counselors
  • Dance Therapists
  • General Education Teachers
  • Guidance Counselors
  • Inclusion Teachers
  • Music Therapists
  • Nurses
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Paraeducators
  • Physical Therapists
  • Psychologists/ School Psychologists
  • Recreation Therapists
  • Social Workers
  • Special Education Teachers
  • Speech and Language Therapists

To obtain the BCSE, candidates must complete 5 certificates in advanced professional development in special education. After attaining each certificate, they must also pass a 50-question multiple choice exam.

Learn more about the BCSE process.

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