Posted July 2015
By TED Editors
In this ranking, we highlight the 50 most affordable online master’s in special education degree programs for 2015.
It takes a dedicated person to work in special education. It takes an even more committed person to take on several additional years of schooling in order to ensure that they are as qualified as possible to handle special ed classrooms. Everyone learns a little differently, and those with particularly unique educational needs – from those with autism to prodigies to the twice exceptional – need special attention in the classroom. If you already have an undergraduate degree and you want to earn a master’s in special education, you’ve come to the right place.
We developed our ranking with information from College Navigator. Using this website’s filtering options, we were able to collect a list of all the U.S. colleges that offer any sort of online graduate program in special education. This left us with a list of nearly 200 schools, at which point we collected information on the in-state and out-of-state tuition and fees at each institution (see below). In order to organize the rankings, we averaged these values for each school and sorted the colleges accordingly. Of course, private schools almost always maintain a single set of prices, but public schools typically have different in-state and out-of-state tuition rates and different in-state and out-of-state associated fees.
Ranking the Most Affordable Online Masters in Special Education Degree Programs 2015
The 50 schools below are the absolute most affordable online master’s degrees in special education. But thankfully, many of them also offer high quality programs with unique opportunities for distance learners. Read the descriptions below to find out more!
50. University of North Texas
Master of Education in Special Education (Concentration in Autism Intervention)
The online master’s degree in special education from the University of North Texas offers an autism intervention concentration. This 36-credit hour program is open to graduate candidates with bachelor’s degrees in any educational discipline or related field or those who currently work in a school setting. Course choices include “Special Education Law,” “Introduction to Functional Assessment,” “Assessment of Autism Spectrum Disorders,” and “Educational Programming for Children/Youth with Emotional/Behavioral Disorders.” Upon completion of the program, students can find successful careers as autism specialists in public or private schools, classroom educators, or personal advocates.
Tuition and Fees: $7,165/yr (In-state) $13,681/yr (Out-of-state)
49. Indiana State University
Special Education M.S.
Students who complete Indiana State University’s online Master of Science in Special Education can work in a variety of medical settings, group homes, schools, and social service agencies. They can also tailor their degree based on prior course work, experience, or licensure. The 36-credit hour program includes courses on gifted education, learning strategies, behavior management, educating exceptional children, child and adolescent psychology, and assistive technology. Students may also add a special education teaching licensure to an existing teaching license by completing only 24 credit hours of additional required course work.
Tuition and Fees: $7,040/yr (In-State), $13,646/yr (Out-of-State)
48. Indiana Wesleyan University
Master of Education-Special Education
Indiana Wesleyan University is a popular choice for learners wanting to earn an online master’s in special education. The 33-credit hour program aligns to the Council of Exceptional Children’s standards for individuals working with special needs kids. Its courses provide students with all the materials and methods needed to serve those who need mild to moderate intervention. This master’s degree program is for practicing special education teachers seeking advanced degrees. Public school candidates must have a valid state teacher’s license, as well as one year teaching experience from an accredited public, private, or parochial school.
Tuition and Fees: $10,235/yr
47. Regis University
Master of Education: Early Childhood Special Education (Initial Licensure)
As a growing leader in distance education, Regis University’s online master’s degree in early childhood special education is for learners who already hold a bachelor’s degree and are seeking initial teacher licensure in this field. Courses focus on methods of teaching young, special needs children, including understanding language development and educational assessment tools. It’s important to note that the 50-credit hour program is for educators who want to be licensed in Colorado and Wyoming. Regis University’s Teacher Education program shares the philosophy that it takes a balanced blend of experiential knowledge, practice, and theory to be a successful teacher.
Tuition and Fees: $10,224/yr
46. Armstrong State University
Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Special Education
Armstrong State University’s online master’s degree in special education is a convenient program geared to working professionals. The advanced degree course of study focuses on moderate to severe disabilities and emphasizes Autism Spectrum Disorders. The master’s program is 33 semester hours and typically takes two years to complete, with two courses offered during both the fall and spring semesters. Graduates of this program can compete for various job opportunities in public and private schools, and the cost of attendance is low enough that many students may even graduate free of debt. Although the program is available online, students who live locally can visit the Savannah, Georgia campus at any time to meet with professors.
Tuition and Fees: $5,182/yr (In-State), $15,208/yr (Out-of-State)
45. Grand Canyon University
Master of Education in Special Education
Students who are making a mid-career move to teaching should look to Grand Canyon University’s online master’s degree in special education. The program has been uniquely developed for professionals with undergraduate degrees in fields other than education who want to receive their initial teaching licensure and work in special needs education. Graduates of this program are free to work with various special needs populations, as well as implement individualized educational plans to accommodate different learning needs. Topics of course work include classroom management, English immersion, characteristics of learning disabilities, and characteristics of emotional and behavioral disabilities. As experiential learning is so important to the teaching process, GCU mandates that all online learners complete a 16-week student teaching component.
Tuition and Fees: $10,191/yr
44. Wayland Baptist University
Master of Education: Special Education
Wayland Baptist University’s online master’s in special education is one of three unique tracks available to graduate students seeking a Master of Education degree. One track leads to initial elementary, secondary, or special education teacher certification, while a second track leads to professional certification. Finally, the third track is for teaching and human services professionals who want to enhance their skills and abilities. The master’s program is a minimum of 36 semester credit hours and features both professional specialization and professional core components. Upon graduation, students will have the knowledge base and skills necessary for effective leadership, teaching, and professional development. The program also ensures that WBU education students are equipped with the research and observation skills they need to analyze decision-making skills and their associated actions within the classroom.
Tuition and Fees: $9,930/yr
43. University of Alaska Anchorage
Master of Education in Special Education
The online graduate education program at the University of Alaska Anchorage offers a master’s degree in special education as well as early childhood special education. The first program is for men and women who seek more general preparation in the myriad advanced topics of special education. The second track is available for professionals who are specifically interested in working with children from birth to 5 years old. Both programs are 36 credit hours, six of which students must complete through a face-to-face internship. However, the remaining 30 credits are available entirely through UAA’s online portal, and the system is flexible enough that many students earn a Graduate Certificate in Special Education along with their master’s degree. In fact, many of the course credits required for the certificate can count dually toward the traditional graduate program.
Tuition and Fees: $9,832/yr
42. Minnesota State University Moorhead
Master of Science in Special Education
Minnesota State University Moorhead’s online special education degree has five concentrations: Developmental Disabilities, Early Childhood Special Education, Emotional/Behavioral Disorders, Physical/Heath Disabilities, and Specific Learning Disabilities. The program’s goal is to train students to review research, understand advanced concepts, and then apply the research and concepts to a professional practice through ongoing and systematic professional development. Graduate students will also complete an action-oriented research project. Core requirement classes include “Inclusive Teaching Practices,” “Research and Applications in Behavior Analysis,” “Perspectives and Policies in Special Education,” and “Curriculum, Instructions and Learning Theory.”
Tuition and Fees: $6,757/yr (In-State), $12,823/yr (Out-of-State)
41. Concordia University-Nebraska
Special Education Master of Education
The master’s in special education online from Concordia University Nebraska offers professionals the knowledge and hands-on skills to successfully lead inclusive K-12 classrooms. The 36-credit hour non-licensure program includes instructional courses on behavior management and assessment techniques, as well as an 80-hour practicum. In addition, degree candidates can take additional classes to meet the State of Nebraska’s requirements for a K-12 Field Endorsement, 7-12 Subject Endorsement, or K-6 Subject Endorsement. Upon completion of the program, graduates will be able to create safe and culturally responsive learning environments for persons with disabilities.
Tuition and Fees: $9,715/yr
40. Liberty University
Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.)-Special Education
The online Master of Arts in Teaching with a cognate in Special Education from Liberty University is geared toward people without prior teaching experience but who are interested in gaining initial teaching licensure in special education. Besides core courses, learners will study educational assessment and intervention, behavior management, and collaboration for special transitions. The 36-credit hour program also requires three on-campus intensives as well as a three-credit hour student teaching internship. Upon completion of Liberty University’s program, graduates can apply for special education teaching jobs within schools or in related professional fields.
Tuition and Fees: $9,710/yr
39. Concordia University Wisconsin
Master of Science-Special Education
Concordia University Wisconsin’s online Master of Science degree in Special Education provides teachers with the knowledge and skills they need to design, modify, and execute teaching strategies for children with disabilities. The program’s highlights include small class sizes, learning through case studies and team activities, and experiencing the true meaning of teaching in an inclusive or special education classroom. Upon completion of the program, graduates can apply for student-teaching positions or seek special certification in cross-categorical or early childhood special education. Online learners must complete a total of 30 credit hours in order to earn their diploma, which together will give them a broad yet intuitive understanding of students with special learning needs.
Tuition and Fees: $9,660/yr
38. University of Nebraska at Omaha
Special Education Graduate Program
Students completing the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s affordable online masters in special education can add an endorsement in Behavior Disorders or Mild/Moderate Disabilities (Special Education). Graduate candidates will follow a course of study that includes practical experiences grounded in evidence-based practice, experience, learned societal theory, and research. Students must also complete at least one all-day, 16-week internship in their local area in order to gain valuable real-world experience in an actual classroom. Other required courses include “Research Methods in Special Education,” “High Incidence Disabilities,” “Classroom Management,” “Assessment in Special Education,” and “Language Development and Disorders for Teachers.”
Tuition and Fees: $5,610/yr (In-State), $13,525/yr (Out-of-State)
37. University of Houston-Victoria
Master’s of Education in Special Education
The University of Houston – Victoria is a popular choice for learners wanting to earn a master’s in special education online. The program is for students from special and general disabilities backgrounds. The program exposes students to various special education topics and allows them to engage in activities related to functional behavior, informal assessment, and behavior intervention. Graduate candidates also receive extensive exposure to special education law – an important topic that many programs overlook. Career opportunities include positions within the department of education, regional education service centers, and state and local agencies that service persons with disabilities.
36. University of Nebraska at Kearney
Master of Arts in Education: Special Education
University of Nebraska Kearney’s master’s degree in special education is a 36-credit hour program for teachers who hold a current license in any discipline and who want to obtain a special education certification in Nebraska. Coursework includes “Legal Issues in Special Education,” “Forman & Informal Assessment in Special Education,” and “Teaching Social Skills to Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder.” Graduate candidates can choose from two tracks: K-6 Emphasis and 7-12 Emphasis. Students must also complete a three-hour practicum before they graduate, but will not receive initial teacher certification from this particular program.
Tuition and Fees: $6,347/yr (In-State), $12,551/yr (Out-of-State)
35. Texas Woman’s University
Master of Education (M.Ed.) Degree in Special Education
The online master’s degree in special education from Texas Woman’s University offers two options for graduate candidates: Intervention Specialist and Educational Diagnostician. The former is a new degree program designed to give educators the tools to implement evidence-based instructional and behavioral interventions for students with disabilities. The Educational Diagnostician track incorporates elements of Intervention Specialist training with preparation to be an Educational Diagnostician. The master’s degree from Texas Woman’s University’s advanced degree programs allow individuals to enhance their knowledge of research in special education, become master teachers in specific areas of exceptionality, and obtain teaching certification in specialized areas.
Tuition and Fees: $6,162/yr (In-State), $12,678/yr (Out-of-State)
34. Stephen F Austin State University
Master of Education Specialization in Generic Special Education
Stephen F. Austin State University’s accredited special education degree is a 36-credit hour program that includes the following tracks: Generic Special Education, Early Intervention, Educational Diagnostics, and Serious Emotional Disturbance and Autism. The program aims to prepare special education teachers for work in elementary and secondary schools, as well as for careers in rehabilitation, orientation and mobility, and counseling. Graduates may also find work in various human services professions, such as school psychology or speech language pathology. Financial assistance is available through several federally funded training projects.
Tuition and Fees: $6,040/yr (In-State), $12,556/yr (Out-of-State)
33. Northern Michigan University
Master’s Degree in Learning Disabilities
Northern Michigan University’s Master’s Degree in Learning Disabilities is for certified elementary and secondary teachers who want to obtain an endorsement in learning disabilities. All graduate candidates must meet basic core competencies in math, reading, and psychology, and complete a survey course in exceptionalities. Total credit hours required for this degree range between 34 and 52, depending which cognates a student takes. Courses include “Introduction to Learning Disabilities,” “Psychology of Education,” “Trends in Teaching of Language Arts,” “Collaboration for School Professionals,” and “Language and Learning Disabilities in Children.” Graduate candidates entering this preparatory program should have at least one year of teaching experience.
Tuition and Fees: $7,716/yr (In-State), $10,812/yr (Out-of-State)
32. University of West Alabama
Collaborative Special Education K-6
The Collaborative Special Education K-6 Program at The University of West Alabama Livingston is a 34-credit hour educational specialist course of study. It is for students who already received a master’s degree in a different field but are interested in working more with elementary-aged special education students. Learners who have not yet met the program’s special education requirement must take a general survey course in special education. Classes include “Foundation of Education,” “Educational Planning,” “Education Statistics,” “Introduction to Special Education,” and “Characteristics and Strategies for Special Needs Students.”
Tuition and Fees: $6,152/yr (In-State), $12,164/yr (Out-of-State)
31. Brenau University
Special Education (M.A.T.)
Brenau University’s online M.A.T. in Special Education is for graduate candidates who received a bachelor’s degree but want to further their education in this field. Upon completion of the program, students will receive certification for P-12 General Curriculum. Learners must also pass the Teaching Field Content Exams for multiple academic content areas. Besides core courses in professional development, reading and writing, and special education, those taking part in this program must also complete 12 hours of clinical experience and 15-16 hours in their concentration, as well as a capstone experience.
Tuition and Fees: $8,996/yr
30. Kentucky State University
Master of Arts in Special Education with Certification
The online special education degree from Kentucky State University offers graduate candidates a certification in learning and behavior disorders. The program’s intent is to increase the diminished supply of special education teachers targeting qualified college graduates in those whose majors are in other fields of study. The program consists of a combination of interactive coursework and field experiences. All students must complete a practicum or student teaching experience in an accredited public school classroom that contains students with Individual Education Plans (IEPs) in the area of learning and behavior disorders.
Tuition and Fees: $7,164/yr (In-State), $10,782/yr (Out-of-State)
29. Nova Southeastern University
Master of Science in Education with a Specialization in Early Childhood Education
Students who complete Nova Southeastern University’s online Master of Science in Education with a specialization in Early Childhood Special Education focus on intervention, assessment, and instructional strategies for children with disabilities. The department places a strong emphasis on literacy and language development throughout the 37-credit hour program, which is available entirely online. Students receive and submit coursework entirely through the online system, and they even have the opportunity to interact with class members and professors via the internet. This program is for practicing teachers and early childhood educators in Florida who wants to obtain a graduate degree and increase their knowledge and skills in this field of study.
Tuition and Fees: $8,850/yr
28. Buena Vista University
Master of Education in Special Education
Buena Vista University is another popular choice for learners wanting to earn an online master’s in special education. The 31- to 37-credit hour program comes in three learning tracks: K-8 Mild to Moderate Needs, 5-12 Mild to Moderate Needs, and Severe & Multiple Disabilities. Graduate candidates must submit a copy of a valid K-12 teaching certificate or license. Core courses include “Learning, Development & Motivation,” “Social and Cultural Foundations,” and an “Intro to Graduate Study & Research.” Financial aid and scholarships – including the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grant – are available to defray tuition costs.
Tuition and Fees: $8,622/yr
27. Asbury University
MA in Education Special Education: Learning & Behavior Disorders P-12
Asbury University’s online master’s degree in education with an emphasis on learning and behavior disorders (P-12) prepares students for the education challenges of today and tomorrow. Upon completion of the program, graduates will be able to demonstrate a current yet specific academic knowledge of this field of study. Practical classes help students learn how to create a learning climate, introduce new curricula, manage instruction methods, assess learning, and communicate results. The 50- to 54-credit hour program is for working adults who want an opportunity to receive a master’s degree in education. Upon completion of the course work, graduates can expect to work as a Learning and Behavior Disorder Education Specialist in any grade P-12.
Tuition and Fees: $8,579/yr
26. Concordia University-Saint Paul
Master of Arts in Special Education
Students enrolled in the online Master of Arts in Special Education program at Concordia University St. Paul take on the challenging task of transforming into highly effective, professional, and decisive educators proficient in foundational knowledge. The 36-credit hour program is completely online, yet a one-hour, weekly synchronous audio/visual chat is mandatory. Students can expect to complete one three-credit course every seven weeks. Upon completion of the program, graduates will be knowledgeable in a variety of core special education skills, including instructional strategies, social/emotional student health, social and cultural competence, and classroom management.
Tuition and Fees: $8,550/yr
25. Northwest Missouri State University
Master of Science in Education: Special Education
The online Master of Science in Education with an emphasis on Special Education from Northwest Missouri State University focuses on working with students with mild to moderate disabilities. These include students in multi-categorical areas of learning disabilities, emotional and behavioral disorders, intellectual disabilities, and physical impairments. The 32-credit hour program includes six hours of core requirements, 18 hours of subject field requirements, and eight hours of electives. This type of degree helps graduates secure jobs as special educators as well as enhance the professional development of general educations. It also paves the road to general and special education administrative careers.
Tuition and Fees: $6,223/yr (In-State), $10,683/yr (Out-of-State)
24. Saint Leo University
Master of Education: Exceptional Student Education
Saint Leo University’s online master’s of education with a concentration in exceptional student education is for general educators in Florida who want to build on their understanding and experience in special education. Upon completion of the program, students will gain the values, skills, and knowledge to become leaders with a vision. Three tracks of this program are available, depending on the type and experience of the student: Students who wish to become teachers or are working toward certification in Florida; those who are already teachers with a professional certificate in the state; those who already have ESE certification and want to augment their training with additional program classes (this third track is not state approved).
Tuition and Fees: $8,442/yr
23. Campbellsville University
Master of Arts in Special Education
The online master’s degree in special education program at Campbellsville University offers an alternate route to certification in the field of special education. Students can earn a Master of Arts in Education: Special Education – Learning and Behavior Disorders completely online. This program is for those exploring the option of a teaching career but lack the requisite training. Upon completion of the program, teachers will have the knowledge and the skills they need to create a caring and nurturing learning classroom environment that will positively impact student success rates. Qualified individuals will have the opportunity to interview for positions in the Kentucky school districts.
Tuition and Fees: $8,370/yr
22. Eastern New Mexico University-Main Campus
Master of Special Education
Eastern New Mexico University’s affordable online master’s in special education offers two tracks: General emphasis and Early Childhood Special Education emphasis. Both concentrations require four core courses as well as 15 additional hours of special education classes and nine hours of advisor-approved electives. Graduate candidates select either the thesis or non-thesis option. The former requires 30 hours of course work, a written thesis or graduate project, and an oral defense. The latter requires 36 hours of course work and a written compressive exam. Upon completion of this degree, graduates will have the advanced knowledge base they need to apply for work as licensed special education teachers or move up the ladder within their current teaching position.
Tuition and Fees: $5,312/yr (In-State), $11,256/yr (Out-of-State)
20. University of Central Arkansas
Special Education (MSE)
University of Central Arkansas’ master’s in special education online is a 36-credit hour program designed to provide graduate candidates with the skills, strategies, and knowledge they need to work with special needs learners. Students can learn about a broad range of topics including medical conditions, assessment, behavior guidance, litigation and legislation, and instructional strategies. This program also contains two tracks that graduate candidates can follow: Collaborative Instructional Specialist Ages 0-8 Years and Collaborative Instructional Specialist Grades 4-12. Except for the required practicum, all course work is online.
Tuition and Fees: $6,004/yr (In-State), $10,018/yr (Out-of-State)
19. Wilmington University
Master of Education: Special Education
The online special education degree program at Wilmington University trains learners to identify, assess, and teach individuals with exceptionalities or special needs. The program, created primarily for teacher candidates, has three tracks from which to choose: Those who want to earn a master’s degree and are already K-12 certified; those who want a master’s degree with an instructional focus; and finally, those who want a master’s degree with an administrative focus. The final two options do not lead to certification. Wilmington University’s online program provides the same quality and real-world academics as is found in the traditional classroom.
Tuition and Fees: $7,862/yr
18. Minot State University
Master of Science in Special Education with an Early Childhood Special Education Emphasis
Minot State University offers a Master of Science in Special Education with an emphasis on Early Childhood Special Education. Upon completion of this program, graduate candidates can work with young children and their families who have or are at-risk for developmental delays. They will also learn to assess children with suspected delays, develop intervention programs, and coordinate community and service programs. The master’s program ranges from 43 to 45 credit hours. Besides core requirements, courses include “Infant/Toddler Development,” “Family and Community Systems in Early Intervention,” and “Physical & Medical Needs of Persons with Severe Disabilities.”
Tuition and Fees: $7,819/yr
17. University of Arkansas at Monticello
M.Ed. in Special Education
University of Arkansas at Monticello’s online master’s degree in special education offers four online tracks for graduate candidates seeking advanced learning in special education, including an option for special education instructional specialists, a certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders, and a certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis. The 36-semester hour program does not require a thesis, but students need to complete a written comprehensive examination. Students who enter the program can transfer up to six hours of previous graduate level course work and must complete all of their required classes within six years of admission.
Tuition and Fees: $5,065/yr (In-State), $10,015/yr (Out-of-State)
16. Graceland University Lamoni
Master of Education in Special Education
The Master of Education in Special Education from Graceland University is a 30-credit hour program designed to enhance the teaching strategies of K-12 special education teachers or teachers who work with students with disabilities. The instructional metrologies-based and curricular degree focuses on behavior management, transitional programming, and assistive technology. The program also places a focus on Autism Spectrum Disorder topics, including instructional strategies and managing behavior. Most graduate candidates complete the program in about two years. The master’s program does not offer a licensure with this degree.
Tuition and Fees: $7,797/yr
15. Arkansas State University
MSE in Special Education-Instructional Specialist 4-12
Arkansas State University’s accredited special education degree offers expertise in two areas: one for people who aspire to teach students who exhibit behavioral, developmental, and learning disabilities, and one for those who would like to work as general education teachers or consultants on topics related to disabilities. The 36-credit hour program takes just two years to complete and is full or relevant coursework, including “Special Education Law,” “Behavior Intervention and Consultation,” “Characteristics of Individuals with Disabilities,” and “Educational Procedures for Individuals with Mild Disabilities.” The online program uses Live Text e-portfolios and assessment management web applications to keep students engaged and interested even when they’re learning from home.
Tuition and Fees: $5,576/yr (In-State), $9,968/yr (Out-of-State)
14. Bemidji State University
Master of Special Education(MSpEd)
Bemidji State University is becoming a leader in online learning. Its affordable online master’s in special education degree is for teachers specializing in specific learning disabilities or behavioral disorders. This 39-credit hour program offers full licensure in emotional behavioral disorders or specific learning disabilities and places significant emphasis on practical learning. In addition to practicums, students also take classes that teach them how to develop and modify curriculum for students with special needs, as well as how to interpret relevant research and literature. A graduate assistantship is available to some students who qualify, and these lucky students receive both a tuition waiver and attractive stipend!
Tuition and Fees: $7,769/yr
13. Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
Master of Arts in Special Education
The master’s in special education online degree from Saint Mary’s University offers options for both licensed educators and those seeking their initial teaching licensure. The degree program also offers preparatory courses for Autism Spectrum Disorder licensure. The 36-credit hour program offers core courses such as “Foundations of Special Education,” “Assistive Technology, Instruction & Interventions,” “Behavior Theories,” and “Assessment & Evaluation of Learners of Exceptionalities.” Upon completion of this program, graduate candidates will be able to create a more inclusive classroom environment for learners, become an authority on special education strategies and research, and enrich their teaching careers with new skills that give them greater flexibility.
Tuition and Fees: $7,668/yr
12. Greenville College
Special Education, M.A.E.
Greenville College’s online special education degree is a 33-credit hour program that not only broadens a teacher’s qualifications as an educator working with students with special needs, but also strengthens and renews his or her understanding of special education in general. The 18-month program includes classes such as “Managing Learning Techniques,” “Trends & Issues in Education,” “Equity in School and Society,” “Person Centered Planning,” and “Special Education: From Law to Practice.” Although this program takes less time to complete than some of the alternatives, the trade off is that it does not offer certification or licensure options.
Tuition and Fees: $7,524/yr
11. The University of Texas of the Permian Basin
MA in Special Education
The accredited special education degree from The University of Texas at the Permian Basin prepares professionals for careers in special education or other related disability fields. Both established teachers and those new to the field are candidates for the degree, but those in the latter category may be required to take additional courses (if they are seeking initial licensure). The 36- to 45-credit hour program offers three tracks: Generic Special Education, Educational Diagnostician, and Autism & Developmental Disabilities in Early Childhood. The two year program is both comprehensive and in-depth, from classes like “Current Trends in Programs & Services for Exceptional Learners” and “Methods for Teaching Exceptional Learners,” to “Characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorders.”
Tuition and Fees: $4,042/yr (In-State), $10,558/yr (Out-of-State)
10. Minnesota State University Mankato
MA in Special Education
Minnesota State University Mankato’s affordable online master’s in special education offers five plans of study: Autism spectrum disorder, developmental disabilities, emotional and behavioral disorders, early childhood special education, and learning disabilities. Each stands on its own or can serve as an emphasis for a master’s degree, and these tracks are also available as an add-on to an existing license or undergraduate degree. All classes are available online but are not completely asynchronous, as students must be available for intermittent group phone calls, live chats, and face-to-face sessions. Minnesota State University Mankato offers a course equivalency chart online so prospective students can compare plans of study.
Tuition and Fees: $7,265/yr
9. Western Governors University
Master of Science Special Education (K-12)
Western Governors University’s online master’s in special education prepares teachers to work with students who have mild-to-moderate, cross-categorical disabilities. This K-12 program enhances an educator’s teaching skills and provides her with instructional design skills to help meet the needs of all students. This program is for licensed teachers with bachelor’s degrees who want to move into special education instruction. The key subject areas include special education, instructional design, and research fundamentals. A special capstone project is also required in order for students to successfully acquire their diploma.
Tuition and Fees: $6,790/yr
8. Spring Arbor University
Master of Special Education
Spring Arbor University’s master’s in special education online is a 36- to 37-credit hour program that prepares teachers to become agents of change in the classroom. The program offers two tracks: A 12-course learning disabilities concentration and a 13-course autism spectrum disorder concentration. Graduate candidates will also learn how to integrate Christian values into a professional teaching role. Upon completion of the program, graduates will know how to assess, teach, and modify instruction and curricula for students in grades K-12 with learning disabilities. The program takes about two years to complete.
Tuition and Fees: $6,669/yr
7. Fort Hays State University
Master of Science in Special Education
Fort Hays State University’s online special education degree is a 36-credit hour program that prepares teachers for today’s modern schools. And unlike some of the other options on this list, FHSU’s program offers an option in Gifted or High-Incidence Special Education. Fort Hays State University’s innovative online program allows learners to fit the degree around their busy schedules, thanks to flexible class schedules and the ability to interact with professors through responsive online portals. Courses incorporate a unique combination of communication and social media methods including Blackboard, Google Apps for Education, Blogs, Wikis, You Tube, Facebook, and other innovative technologies.
Tuition and Fees: $3,705/yr (In-State), $9,423/yr (Out-of-State)
6. Delta State University
Special Education Master of Education
The online master’s degree special education from Delta State University is a 30- to 33-credit hour program that prepares special education and general education teachers to effectively educate children in grade K-12 with mild disabilities. Graduate candidates must complete an internship in a special education setting or classroom, and an endorsement in severe/profound disabilities is available. Courses include “Special Education Assessment,” “Teaching for Inclusion,” and “Foundations of Special Education in Inclusive Settings.” Upon completion of this program, graduates can find work as an inclusion/teacher specialist, resource room teacher, or special education teacher.
Tuition and Fees: $6,562/yr
5. West Texas A&M University
Curriculum and Instruction, M.Ed., Special Education Option
West Texas A&M University’s curriculum and instruction master’s degree comes with a special concentration in special education. This 36-semester hour program is for graduate candidates who already hold standard classroom teaching certificates. Those students who do not have a special education background must take nine semester hours in addition to the required 36 hours. Required courses include “Theories of Learning Disabilities and Emotional/Behavioral Disorders,” “Management of Classroom Behaviors – Exceptional Learners,” “Assistive Technology,” and “Interpretation of Assessment Data for Instruction.” Graduate candidates must also have at least 18 hours of education courses before enrolling in the program.
Tuition and Fees: $5,938/yr (In-State), $6,488/yr (Out-of-State)
4. University of the Cumberlands
MAT-Special Education-Learning and Behavior Disorders
The Master of Arts in Teaching with a concentration in special education degree from University of the Cumberlands focuses on learning behavior disorders. The program is for who want to learn more about special education and want to make a lasting impression in students’ lives. Courses include “Reading and Writing Foundations,” “Teaching Math to Learners with Disabilities,” “Classroom and Behavior Management for Individuals with Disabilities,” and Special Education Evaluation.” Candidates can transfer a maximum of nine credit hours into this 39-credit hour program, which can shorten their time to degree completion by a semester or more.
Tuition and Fees: $5,538/yr
3. Georgetown College
Master of Arts in Education with Special Education (LBD) Certification
Georgetown College’s accredited special education degree offers a track in Initial/Alternative certification for non-certified teachers as well as an option for teachers who currently possess certification in an area other than learning and behavior disorders (LBD). Either way, students do not need to have any prior experience with LBD to qualify for this program. After completing this two and a half year course of study, students can apply for positions within Kentucky school districts as LBD teachers and specialists. Students can also feel confident in their education at Georgetown College thanks to the many qualified professors at the school, many of whom have personal experience in LBD classrooms.
Tuition and Fees: $5,520/yr
2. Fitchburg State University
M.Ed. in Special Education: Moderate Disabilities-Initial Licensure
The online master’s degree in special education at Fitchburg State University offers a variety of programs to meet teacher candidate and PreK-12 district needs. The program’s main focus is on moderate disabilities, but the classwork covers a breadth of topics that apply to all grade levels.. Upon completion of the program, graduate candidates are able to demonstrate advanced knowledge within the field of special education, showcase their competency in teaching, evaluate students, and collaborate with other teachers and parents to develop effective strategies. Graduates have the flexibility to work as special education teachers, general education teachers, inclusion specialists, or as resource room teachers for multiple age levels.
Tuition and Fees: $5,472/yr
1. Morningside College
Master of Arts in Teaching: Special Education
Morningside College’s Master of Arts in Teaching: Special Education program is for special educators at the elementary and secondary level. The degree program integrates technology, reflective thinking, best practice, and research. Students take the program in two parts: first a Professional Foundations Core, and next an Instructional Strategist I or II program. The 36-credit hour curriculum offers three core classes: “Educational Research,” “Instructional Technology,” and “Professional Seminar.” The more advanced Instructional Strategist courses focus on mild and moderate behavior disorders, as well as intellectual disabilities. There is a seven-year time limit to complete this affordable online master’s in special education.
Tuition and Fees: $4,800/yr
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A high resolution version of the award badge from this article can be found here. This concludes our ranking of the most affordable online master’s in special education degree programs for 2015.