The 3 Best Online Master's in Special Education


The Absolute Best

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The best online master’s in special education programs provide teachers with broad training in the educational methods used to help special-needs students develop the skills to be more self-sufficient. Some online master’s degree in special education programs prepare teachers to work with many kinds of special-needs students, including those with learning disabilities, with emotional and behavioral disorders, and with physical disabilities. Other programs are designed to train specialists who work with only one type of special-needs student or a particular age group.

While most of these master’s programs require a current, state-issued teacher certificate in general education, some programs also require a special education certificate or endorsement. If you’re considering an online master’s degree in special education to obtain an advanced teaching certification or endorsement, it’s important to contact the teacher certification body in your state to make sure your chosen program qualifies. The University of Nebraska-Kearney programs, for example, are designed specifically to qualify students for advanced teacher certification in Nebraska. They may not qualify you for advanced certification in other states.

The University of Nebraska-Kearney (UNK) is home to three excellent online master’s degree in special education programs. If you hold a general teacher certification and you wish to transition into the field of special education, UNK’s mild disabilities master’s program provides the professional skills you need to work in special needs classrooms. If, on the other hand, you are an experienced special education teacher, the UNK advanced practitioner program offers the chance to develop advanced skills in educational research and curriculum development, behavior and learning disability analysis, and assistive technology use. Students in this program can choose from a variety of elective courses to build specialized skills that fit their career goals. UNK’s third online master’s program in special education focuses on teaching gifted and talented learners. In this program, you learn how to identify and evaluate talented students and how to address their special educational needs. This program requires a general teacher certification.

The University of Northern Colorado (UNC) offers three different online master’s degree in special education programs. Two UNC programs focus on teaching students with specific physical disabilities, including visually impaired students as well as deaf and hard-of-hearing students. These programs provide you with the skills to help meet the academic, social, and emotional needs of students affected by these types of disabilities. While the visual impairment program requires you to have a general teacher certificate, the deaf and hard-of-hearing program requires just a bachelor’s degree. If you are already working as a special education teacher and you wish to advance into a leadership role in your workplace, UNC’s intervention specialist master’s degree program may be just what you’re looking for. This program provides the knowledge and skills you need to develop instructional plans that address the needs of students dealing with all kinds of educational, developmental, and physical challenges. You also take courses designed to develop your general leadership skills and your instructional coaching skills. To enroll in this program, you must either be certified as a special education generalist.

Auburn University is home to two online master’s degree in special education programs, including one program focused on early childhood special education and another that prepares teachers to serve all types of students with special needs. The early childhood program provides you with the skills to design developmentally appropriate classroom experiences that help young special-needs students acquire basic skills. The second program, known as the collaborative teacher special education program, provides the skills you need to collaborate with other teachers to address the educational needs of developmentally, socially, and physically challenged students. To enroll in one of these programs, you must have either a standard teacher certificate or a special education certificate.