15 Best Bachelor's in Special Education Degrees of 2021



A bachelor's in special education prepares graduates to teach students with cognitive, behavioral, physical, and learning disabilities. This special education degree fulfills requirements for teaching licensure in most states.

As the number of students in public school systems with special needs continues to grow, so does the demand for qualified special education teachers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects steady job growth for these professionals in the coming years, particularly as more students with special needs are identified and require skilled teachers.

This guide ranks the best special education degrees, what students can expect from a special education degree, and what careers are available to graduates.

2021's 10 Best Special Education Schools

Rank School Location
1 University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX
2 Ohio State University Columbus, OH
3 Brigham Young University Provo, UT
4 Gonzaga University Spokane, WA
5 Providence College Providence, RI
6 The College of New Jersey Ewing, NJ
7 Cedarville University Cedarville, OH
8 Bethel University St. Paul, MN
9 Miami University Oxford, OH
10 University of Georgia Athens, GA
See Detailed Rankings

What Is Special Education?

The field of special education is relatively new. Prior to the mid-1950s, schools often expelled or banned students with special needs and disabilities, denying them a place in classrooms. After the landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling, many states passed laws to guarantee all students, regardless of ability, a place in school.

As the number of students in public school systems with special needs continues to grow, so does the demand for qualified special education teachers.

Since then, special education has grown immensely. Now, colleges and universities offer degrees in special education at all levels, allowing educators to focus their research and practice on working with students with special needs. In 2019, 443,700 special education teachers were employed across the country. The BLS projects that the economy will add another 14,300 special education teacher jobs from 2019 to 2029, making now a great time to start a career in special education.

A bachelor's degree in special education is the basic requirement for working in special education and eventually pursuing advanced degrees in the field.

Why Get a Special Education Bachelor's?

Earning a special education degree leads to a fulfilling career working with students who benefit from specialized instruction. Most states allow prospective teachers to earn licensure with a bachelor's degree, including a degree in special education. Additionally, graduate programs in special education typically require a bachelor's for admission. Students interested in pursuing further degrees, research, or teaching at a college or university must first begin with a bachelor's.

Consider the following benefits to earning a special education degree:

Gain Experience

Special education teacher programs often include teaching internships. These field experiences provide valuable mentorship and training for pre-service teachers.

Career Options

Due to continued demand, there are an abundance of special education teacher job opportunities. Through further education and experience, special education teachers may also find employment in more advanced positions.

Collaborative Workplace

Special education, as a field, involves collaboration between teachers, administrators, school psychologists, and even social workers. These teams work together to provide the best education and accommodation for students with disabilities, making it a great field for students who like collaborative environments.

2021's Top Bachelor's in Special Education Degrees

Explore the top 15 bachelor's degrees in special education for 2021. Our list allows prospective students to compare schools based on practicum experience, program concentrations, online courses, tuition rates, and other notable features. Visit the link below for more information about our ranking methodology.

Our Ranking Methodology

What the Best Special Education Degree Programs Have in Common

The U.S. boasts many high-ranking education programs, and the top-tiered schools offering special education degrees tend to share some common traits. These include:

  • They are accredited. Regional accreditation ensures that schools meet recognized standards for education, demonstrating programs' efficiency and quality. All programs on this list are regionally accredited, meaning they meet the highest expectations based on expertise in the field and equip students to succeed in the education job market. The U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation recognize the following regional accrediting agencies:
    • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
    • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
    • New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
    • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
    • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
    • WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • Their programs are reputable. Similar to accreditation, reputation is a key factor to assess a program's strength. Schools with competitive admission and high graduation rates, diverse and knowledgeable faculty, and impressive post-graduate professional success tend to indicate a school's ability to prepare special education instructors. For example, Ohio State University ranks as the No. 1 producer of Fulbright scholars in the country.
  • They foster academic excellence. Schools must earn their reputations, and those ranked here have done so through high standards for student success. Schools with academic excellence provide students with resources like talented faculty, funding opportunities, and professional development programs. Admissions yield and retention rates also measure a school's academic excellence.
  • They are affordable. A bachelor's degree is a significant investment. The programs on our list offer affordable options for students. These options match prospective learners with the best programs for their needs through scholarships, grants, and other kinds of financial aid. New Mexico State University, for instance, provides an easy net price calculator for prospective students seeking financial aid.

Top Bachelor's in Special Education Degrees

1. University of Texas at Austin

Public university in Austin, TX, accredited by SACSCOC


Often called UT Austin for short, the University of Texas at Austin was founded in 1883 and has since become one of the country's top research institutions, serving 51,000 students and employing 300 teaching faculty.

Bachelor of Science in Applied Learning and Development

UT Austin's College of Education offers a broad-based all-level special education major as part of its bachelor of science in applied learning and development. This specialization prepares students to teach K-12 special education, utilizing an interdisciplinary curriculum with courses in child psychology, sociocultural learning, and contemporary special education theory.

The program also provides students with fieldwork in the classroom through a professional development sequence program, which offers candidates up to 1,500 hours of student-teacher experience. The degree both teaches and trains special education instructors, providing new teachers with sufficient first-hand experience to kick off their careers.

UT Austin's Special Education Concentrations

Early Childhood Through Grade 6 ESL Specialist | All-Level Generic Special Education | Youth and Community Studies

Applying to UT Austin

High school transcripts and any previous college transcripts, a written essay, three short answer questions, and a completed online application form are all required for all UT undergraduate applicants. The application fee is $75.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $5,481/semester (in state); $19,412/semester (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 127 credits
  • Delivery Format: On campus

2. Ohio State University

Public university in Columbus, OH, accredited by HLC


Founded in 1870, Ohio State's main campus in Columbus, Ohio, has become the third-largest university in the country, serving nearly 50,000 undergraduates.

Bachelor of Science in Education, Special Education

Offering three special emphases in childhood intervention, the BSEd in special education at Ohio State provides detailed training and practical experience for prospective educators. The program is made up of 12 faculty members teaching a broad spectrum of coursework covering methods, assessment, behavioral analysis, and pedagogy.

This special education major offers three specialities: early childhood intervention, mild to moderate intervention, and intensive intervention. The program's emphasis on specialized approaches to intervention allows students to hone in on specific practices and further strengthen their professional expertise on the job market, for both schools and extracurricular institutions.

Ohio State's Special Education Concentrations

Early Childhood Intervention | Mild to Moderate Intervention | Moderate to Intensive Intervention

Applying to Ohio State

Applicants must complete an online application through Common App and submit official high school transcripts. SAT or ACT scores are typically required, but 2022 applications don't require them.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $11,518/year (in state); $33,502/year (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 120 credits
  • Delivery Format: On campus

3. Brigham Young University

Private university in Provo, UT, accredited by NWCCU


Educating over 30,000 undergraduate learners from 105 countries and 50 states, Brigham Young University was founded and is primarily supported by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

BS in Counseling Psychology and Special Education

BYU's bachelor's degree in special education provides a guided focus for both learning and service. To qualify, students must meet with an advisor and complete 12 hours of volunteer service as part of a prerequisite course in preparation for the program.

For this four-year degree, students spend most of their last two years focusing intensively on special education theory and practice. Learners also select one of two areas of concentration for teaching special-needs classrooms. BYU students take on heavier course loads in their emphasis toward the end of the program.

BYU's Special Education Concentrations

Mild/Moderate Disabilities | Severe Disabilities

Applying to BYU

Applicants must create an account with BYU's application system and complete the 15-step application for the special education major. Prospective learners must include their high school transcripts, be at least 17, and submit their applications by deadline.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $5,970/2 semesters (Latter-day Saint members); $11,940/2 semesters (non-Latter-day Saint members)
  • Required Credits: 63-66 major credits
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: On campus

4. Gonzaga University

Private university in Spokane, WA, accredited by NWCCU


A small Catholic university in eastern Washington, Gonzaga notes that 98% of its students receive some sort of financial aid. It features smaller class sizes to provide more focused coursework for its 15 undergraduate degrees across seven colleges.

Bachelor of Education in Special Education

Offering both a major and a minor in special education, Gonzaga's program works closely with Washington to ensure that graduates qualify to teach in special education fields as soon as they complete their degree. Graduates ideally focus on a specific area to further establish their credentials. The program provides two specific endorsements: one in early childhood special education and the other with an emphasis in K-12 education.

Gonzaga's Special Education Department also emphasizes non-academic professional development, including courses to help students become board-certified behavioral analysts in clinical professions.

Applying to Gonzaga

Gonzaga requires a completed online Common App, including a teacher evaluation, a school report, official transcripts, and a $50 application fee. SAT or ACT test scores are optional for 2021 applicants.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $47,560/year
  • Required Credits: 44 major credits
  • Delivery Format: On campus

5. Providence College

Private university in Providence, RI, accredited by NECHE


A Catholic university in New England with roots in the Dominican tradition, Providence College offers a traditional liberal arts education through its colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, and Professional Studies.

Bachelor of Arts in Elementary/Special Education

PC's program is one of few that certify undergraduates to teach both elementary and special education for grades 1-6. This permits graduates to teach at any grade school in Rhode Island upon completing their degree, also qualifying them to teach in 45 other states. As of 2019, 86% of PC's elementary/special education graduates were either employed or pursuing a graduate degree in their field.

Candidates in this program complete two semesters of supervised student teaching as part of the degree, putting into practice the pedagogical theory they tackle in the program's curriculum.

Applying to PC

PC requests high school transcripts, a personal statement, and at least one letter of recommendation from a high school counselor or college advisor if transferring. Prospective students apply using Common App. Standardized test scores are optional for all students, and the application costs $65.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $53,440/year
  • Required Credits: 120 credits
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: On campus

6. The College of New Jersey

Public university in Ewing, NJ, accredited by MSCHE


The College of New Jersey has built a strong reputation as a center of undergraduate research, garnering recent recognition from the Council on Undergraduate Research and a robust first-year experience program for incoming freshmen.

Early Childhood Special Education Program

Through TCNJ's special education, language, and literacy program, students can pursue a five-year combined bachelor's and master's degree in special education focusing on kindergarten through sixth grade. The degree is also available in early childhood special education, emphasizing preschool through third grade.

These five-year programs certify students to teach children with disabilities in New Jersey. Students spend the program's fifth year studying toward a master's degree in special education after finishing the bachelor's requirements. The degree combination allows candidates to leave the program as highly qualified teachers in their field, giving them an added advantage on the job market.

TCNJ's Special Education Concentrations

Early Childhood Special Education (PreK-3) | Special Education (K-6)

Applying to TCNJ

To apply to TCNJ, prospective students should submit a completed application, 2-3 letters of recommendation (at least one of which must be from a teacher), an essay, and standardized test scores. The application costs $75.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $16,100/year (in state); $28,076/year (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 32 major credits
  • Program Length: 5 years
  • Delivery Format: On campus

7. Cedarville University

Private university in Cedarville, OH, accredited by HLC


Cedarville University was founded in 1887 as a small Christian university, and it remains dedicated to its original mission today. Cedarville also boasts high placement rates across the board for students.

Bachelor of Arts in Special Education

Emphasizing professional success after graduation, Cedarville provides ample opportunities for students to do fieldwork in a variety of schools, including international schools when available. The program requires candidates to take licensure exams to teach in Ohio, and candidates also qualify for certification with the Association of Christian Schools International.

The program works alongside local Christian schools and ministries as part of its hands-on approach. Field experiences include the Student Education Association in Cedarville and the study abroad program for international student-teaching experiences.

Applying to Cedarville

In addition to a reference from a Christian leader and a written profession of faith, Cedarville requires high school transcripts as part of its application form.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $16,587/semester
  • Required Credits: 133-147.5
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: On campus

8. Bethel University

Private university in St. Paul, MN, accredited by HLC


Bethel University has evolved over its long history, beginning as a Baptist seminary in Chicago before relocating to St. Paul as a private university. The school offers both a liberal arts education and a graduate seminary.

Bachelor of Arts in Special Education

Bethel offers a primarily online format for its special education bachelor's degree. Candidates take courses in education theory, pedagogy, psychology, classroom technology, and behavioral analysis, with courses beginning every six weeks.

Candidates develop pedagogical and clinical approaches to teaching students with a variety of needs, and Bethel offers specialized licensure catering to individual students' needs based on specific disabilities. The program's online format is more flexible for candidates involved in other degrees or non-academic roles.

BU's Special Education Concentrations

Autism Spectrum Disorders | Developmental Cognitive Disabilities | Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

Applying to BU

BU requires high school transcripts and college transcripts when applicable, a resume, and an online application form.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $430/credit hour
  • Required Credits: 66 major credits
  • Program Length: 30 months
  • Delivery Format: Online with some in-person requirements

9. Miami University

Public university in Oxford, OH, accredited by HLC


Miami University was founded in 1809, making it the 10th-oldest public university in the United States. Often referred to as a "Public Ivy," Miami University is known for both its prestige and its affordability.

Special Education, Inclusive (Grades K-12)

MU's program pairs the university's bachelor's degree in education with Ohio licensure in mild to moderate and moderate to intensive disabilities. The program also provides interstate licensure for K-12 education, and enrollees take courses with a broad grounding in education, psychology, and developmental theory for students and classrooms.

To enter the program, learners must declare a pre-major in special education. They are then selected to join a cohort of similarly declared students in the College of Education, Health, and Society. This ensures that smaller, close-knit classrooms can effectively work together with faculty and each other.

Applying to MU

Miami University requires a Common App and self-reported test scores. Admitted students submit transcripts upon enrollment. ACT and SAT scores are optional.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $16,224/year (in state); $36,650/year (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 101 major credit hours
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: On campus

10. University of Georgia

Public university in Athens, GA, accredited by SACSCOC


One of the country's oldest public universities, the University of Georgia was originally chartered in 1785. Among the top three producers of Rhodes scholars and other distinguished graduates, UGA alumni include U.S. senators and nationally recognized authors.

BSEd in Special Education

UGA's special education program requires more practicum experience than many others, allowing students to teach in a K-12 classroom at least once per semester. Undergraduates pursuing the special education degree join a cohort at the beginning of their junior year, spending the next two years working in a small, collaborative student community. This program offers regular practical experience teaching kindergarten, preschool, and/or special education.

UGA's general special education curriculum covers an array of disabilities, along with general early childhood education. The program certifies candidates to teach students with mild disabilities.

Applying to UGA

The special education program requires two application processes. The university application requires high school transcripts, a letter of recommendation, and optional SAT/ACT scores. The Mary Frances Early School of Education asks for UGA student credentials.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $9,790/year (in state); $28,830/year (out of state); $4,682/semester (online)
  • Required Credits: 120 credits
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (synchronous) or on campus

11. Concordia University, Nebraska

Private university in Seward, NE, accredited by HLC


A private Lutheran university in eastern Nebraska, Concordia is known for its music program's many student ensemble groups. The school offers a wealth of liberal arts degrees across three departments.

Special Education BSEd

Students in Concordia's special education major begin their studies with the university's first-year student program. Concordia's special education program offers coursework in behavioral science, general education, and individual disability studies, along with American Sign Language and family development.

In addition to a standard number of practicum hours that can go toward most teaching certificates, Concordia grants a Lutheran Teaching Diploma to members of the university-affiliated Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. This permits graduates to teach at any affiliated school in the U.S. and globally.

Applying to Concordia

Concordia's application is free, and prospective students self-report their GPA on their application. Applicants also self-report test scores if they graduated high school with a GPA of at least 3.0. The application process requires ACT/SAT scores for anyone with a GPA below 3.0.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $35,600/year
  • Required Credits: 120 credit hours
  • Program Length: 8 semesters
  • Delivery Format: On campus

12. New Mexico State University

Public university in Las Cruces, NM, accredited by HLC


New Mexico State University is a land-grant R2 institution. The U.S. Department of Education recognizes NMSU as a Hispanic-serving university, highlighting the school's longstanding success in serving first-generation college students.

Undergraduate Degree in Special Education Program

NMSU's special education program grants licensure in both general education and special education. The program's first two years are devoted primarily to meeting the requirements for general education licensing, with coursework preparing students to teach primary and secondary education. Students focus on initial fieldwork and early childhood development in sociological and psychological contexts.

In the second half of the major, students apply for the teacher education program, through which they can select an education concentration (e.g., math, science, language arts). The teacher education program places enrollees in student-teacher positions for extended practicum experience.

NMSU's Special Education Concentrations

Special Education (Elementary Education) | Special Education (Secondary Education)

Applying to NMSU

Prospective students must complete an online application detailing the semester they want to start, the campus where they plan to enroll, and the degree they intend to pursue. Applicants also provide their Social Security number and evidence of citizenship, state residency, and military service, if applicable. SAT or ACT scores are required. The application costs $25.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $8,044/year (in state); $25,666/year (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 129-136 credits
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: On campus

13. Seton Hall University

Private university in South Orange, NJ, accredited by MSCHE


The oldest diocesan Catholic university in the U.S., Seton Hall is now known for its successful men's basketball team and robust Greek organizations along with the school's academic prestige.

Bachelor of Science in Education (BSE): Integrated Elementary and Special Education

The BSE in integrated elementary and special education offers students a variety of career options. The program certifies students for three professional organizations: the Association for Childhood Education International, the Council for Exceptional Children, and the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium.

The degree's curriculum prepares students for all three licensures upon graduation.

Candidates spend their senior year in a yearlong clinical student-teaching practicum, following the previous three years of study and training. To prepare for the program, first-year learners work with advisors in pre-education.

Applying to Seton Hall

Seton Hall applicants may use the Common App or Seton Hall's online application form. Prospective learners submit high school transcripts, a counselor report, and electronic SAT or ACT scores.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $21,460/semester (full time); $1,315/credit (part time)
  • Required Credits: 123-126 credits
  • Delivery Format: On campus

14. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Public university in Urbana-Champaign, IL, accredited by HLC


The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is the state's flagship land grant university, founded in 1867. It boasts membership in the Big Ten and features alumni who have received Pulitzers, Nobel Prizes, and Olympic medals.

Special Education, BS

U of I students can enroll in the special education program their sophomore year if they have achieved a minimum 2.5 GPA. The College of Education provides several pathways for licensure, including coursework in curriculum development, teaching students with special needs, family collaboration, and alternative literacies.

The program culminates in a professional development education sequence covering five semesters. Upon completion, students work with the Council on Teacher Education for state licensure teaching preK-12. Council on Teacher Education programs are accredited by both the Illinois State Board of Education and the State Educator Preparation and Licensure Board.

Applying to U of I

University applicants submit optional SAT or ACT scores and required high school transcripts. The application fee is $50. U of I's special education program requires a minimum 2.5 GPA.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $12,254/year (in state); $29,704/year (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 125 credits
  • Delivery Format: On campus

15. Ohio University

Public university in Athens, OH, accredited by HLC


Chartered in 1787, Ohio University is a longstanding public research institution that has expanded from its main campus in Athens to encompass 11 satellite campuses and facilities in the state. The school features over 600 student organizations.

Bachelor's Degrees in Special Education

OU's special education program offers two degree options for enrollees aiming to teach students with educational needs: mild to moderate educational needs and moderate to intensive educational needs. Each bachelor's degree leads to the relevant form of licensure in K-12 special education. Degree candidates work closely with advisors for content specialization and to study and train for education practices in math, science, or social studies.

OU offers a teaching internship abroad through the Consortium for Overseas Student Teaching. This opportunity allows degree-seekers to complete a semester-long teaching practicum in another country. The experience pairs easily with the program's main requirements.

OU's Special Education Concentrations

Science | Mathematics | Social Studies

Applying to OU

Prospective first-years may apply using Common App or OU's alternative online application. Applicants must submit high school transcripts, and SAT or ACT scores are optional. The application costs $50.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $12,612/year (in state); $22,406/year (out of state or international)
  • Required Credits: 133-138 semester hours
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Delivery Format: Primarily on campus

What To Expect From Bachelor's Degree in Special Education

Special education programs are similar to general teaching programs, though they have an emphasis on educating students with disabilities. These programs explore lesson planning strategies, the design and implementation of individualized education programs, and procedures for working with students with different types of disabilities, including autism and emotional disorders.

Bachelor's programs in special education typically require 120 semester hours, which students usually complete in four years of full-time study. However, program length may vary for students who take classes part time, enroll in accelerated programs, or bring transfer credits from placement tests or previous institutions.

Students in special education degree programs often take courses in areas like educational psychology, child development, and early intervention strategies. Major courses in special education typically emphasize procedures for teaching different subjects to students with disabilities.

Read More About Bachelor's Degrees

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements for special education degrees vary by school. Admission requirements for first-year applicants can also differ from requirements for transfer students.

Typically, all special education program applicants must submit high school transcripts and/or transcripts from any prior college courses, an admissions essay, and standardized test scores from the ACT or SAT. Some programs may require additional materials like a resume, letters of recommendation, or a letter of interest. Many schools now use the Common App, a tool that allows applicants to create one universal application to send to multiple institutions.

To become a special education major, some schools allow students to declare a major with their initial application. Other institutions require students to complete general education requirements before they can apply to the special education major during their second year.

Degree and Concentration Options

When choosing the best special education degree program for you, you should also consider what type of degree best suits your goals. Students can pursue special education with a BA, BS, or bachelor of education (B.Ed.). Each degree type prepares students for careers in special education; however, the general education and core courses in each often vary.

Students can pursue special education with a BA, BS, or bachelor of education (B.Ed.).

BA curricula emphasize liberal arts and humanities general education courses. BS programs generally place a stronger emphasis on science-based learning and coursework. B.Ed. programs keep education at the center of all coursework, providing a comprehensive approach to teacher preparation. Students can also tailor their degree in special education if the program offers concentrations or specializations. Typically, these concentrations include grade level (elementary, middle, secondary) or subject area focuses.

Before deciding which kind of degree or concentration to pursue, consider your career goals. Apply to schools whose course offerings align with your aspirations to better prepare yourself for specific careers.

Comparing Special Education to General Education Degrees

When choosing between general education and special education degrees, consider your personal goals and how each program type aligns with them, as each program offers different courses and training. Special education programs emphasize teaching students with disabilities specifically. General education programs may include one or two special education courses, but often provide a broader exploration of education and teaching.

The table below offers some key factors on how these programs compare to one another.

Bachelor's in Special Education Bachelor's in Education
Program Length Four years or 120 minimum credit hours (may require additional coursework or a longer internship period) Four years or minimum 120 credit hours
Course Requirements In addition to classes about best teaching practices, courses emphasize working with students with disabilities Courses are more general and often focused on subject mastery, curriculum planning, and classroom management
Available Jobs Job field continues to grow to meet demand for teachers trained to educate students with disabilities General education teachers are also in demand because of widespread teacher shortages
Top Bachelor's in Education Programs

Popular Special Education Courses

The curricula in special education programs vary by school. Some programs may culminate in a capstone seminar or project, and others may include student teaching requirements. Though the particulars differ, there are a number of classes that many special education degree programs have in common:

Popular Courses

Educational Psychology

This course explores the psychological aspects of learning and communication in the classroom. Students learn about the intersection between psychology and teaching practice, including assessment, curriculum planning, and classroom management. The course discusses human development and principles of cognition.

Curriculum and Instruction for Students with Disabilities

This course emphasizes teaching practices for educators working with students with disabilities. The class examines curriculum planning that aims to teach foundational skills in special education classrooms. Students learn planning strategies and curriculum implementation in classrooms with students at varied ability levels.

Introduction to Communication and Cognitive Disorders

This course introduces students to communication and cognitive disorders that students have. Learners study how these disorders manifest and how best to teach students with these disorders.

School and Family Collaboration

Special education teachers work with other instructors, school psychologists, parents, and administrators to implement learning plans for special needs students. This class prepares future teachers for these collaborative environments, focusing on best practices for interacting with parents and families to ensure school and home educational environments are aligned.

Child Development

This course provides a basic outline of child development, including physical, emotional, social, and cognitive developmental stages. Through the study of these growth processes, aspiring teachers learn to create classroom experiences that connect appropriately to students' development.

How Much Will a Bachelor's in Special Education Cost?

The cost of a bachelor's degree in special education varies due to several factors, including whether students live in state or out of state, whether the program is online or on campus, and whether the institution is public or private.

For the 2018-19 academic year, undergraduate tuition and fees at public, in-state institutions cost $9,212 on average. For private schools, these expenses totaled $31,875 for the same academic year. Students should keep in mind that these costs only reflect tuition and required fees, excluding additional expenses like textbooks, housing, and meal plans.

Fortunately, students in special education degree programs can take advantage of a variety of funding and financial aid options including scholarships, fellowships, grants, and loans. The pages linked below explore financial aid options for students, and offer guidance on completing the FAFSA.

Jobs for Bachelor's in Special Education Graduates

Although most graduates from bachelor's in special education programs ultimately pursue careers in special education, this degree prepares students for several jobs.

The skills emphasized in special education programs can qualify graduates for roles in general education classrooms, too. Students who pursue a graduate degree may excel as instructional coordinators, helping to plan curriculum for entire schools or districts. Students who have completed some but not all of their special education degree may work as teacher assistants during their program to gain valuable experience.

Learn more about some of the career options for graduates from special education degree programs below.

Jobs for Master's in Special Education Graduates

Special Education Teachers

Special education teachers provide education to students with cognitive, physical, emotional, and behavioral disabilities. They teach across disciplines, adapting lessons and curriculum to the needs of their students. Some of their teaching may also include basic life and communication skills.

  • Required Education: Bachelor's
  • Job Outlook (2019-29): +3%
  • Median Annual Salary: $61,030

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers work with students from kindergarten to fifth grade. They teach foundational knowledge in subjects such as science, math, writing, and reading. These teachers may work with mainstream students or special needs students, or may work in blended classrooms.

  • Required Education: Bachelor's
  • Job Outlook (2019-29): +4%
  • Median Annual Salary: $59,420

Teacher Assistants

This career entails working alongside a licensed teacher to assist in day-to-day classroom instruction. Many special education degree programs include field work experiences like this. Teacher assistants help with instruction, classroom management, and assessment.

  • Required Education: Some college
  • Job Outlook (2019-29): +4%
  • Median Annual Salary: $27,920

Instructional Coordinators

Instructional coordinators, also called curriculum and instruction specialists, often work as teachers for some time prior to entering this career. They hold at least a master's in the field, ideal for special education students wishing to help develop and implement curriculum standards on a wider scale.

  • Required Education: Master's
  • Job Outlook (2019-29): +6%
  • Median Annual Salary: $66,290

Explore Education Careers

Choosing the Right Special Education Teaching Program

Our rankings are a great place to start when choosing the best special education degree program. However, prospective students should also consider other important factors when making their decision. Examples include:

  • Accreditation

    Our rankings feature only accredited institutions. These schools have been vetted by accrediting institutions to ensure that their curricula meet standards of educational excellence. Some programs may also feature programmatic accreditation from industry-specific accrediting agencies. In special education, this often includes the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation, the Teacher Education Accreditation Council, and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

  • Program Cost

    Consider all tuition and required fees, as well as any additional costs you may incur like textbooks and housing. Seek out scholarships and other forms of financial aid to help pay these expenses.

  • Program Reputation

    Some schools are well-known for their teacher preparation programs. Look into schools with a positive reputation in the field, and examine any accolades each program has earned.

  • Location

    Each state has different teacher licensure requirements. If you plan to teach in your home state upon graduation, make sure you enroll in a program that meets your state's requirements for licensure. This entails researching your state's requirements, licensure reciprocity agreements, and individual program requirements.

Should You Get Your Degree in Special Education Online?

Online learning offers a flexible, accessible format for earning your special education degree. In fall 2018, 35.3% of students at degree-granting institutions learned online, including 16.6% of students enrolled exclusively in online education. This increasing prevalence of online education has led to more distance learning programs at schools nationwide.

Distance learning offers students the opportunity to earn a degree from a school of their choice without physically relocating to attend classes on campus. The flexibility of asynchronous programs is especially valuable for students with career and family obligations. However, online learning requires a great deal of self-discipline. Online students must demonstrate solid time management skills to stay organized.

Online learning environments can also offer unique opportunities for collaboration and technology integration. Students intending to pursue their bachelor's in special education online should research each prospective program's requirements for in-person student teaching to make sure they can fulfill these components of their degree.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to get a special education degree?

Bachelor's degrees generally require at least 120 credit hours. This usually takes four years of full-time study to complete. However, program length varies, and students with prior earned credits may complete their degrees faster.

What kind of degree do you need to be a special education teacher?

Typically, a bachelor's degree serves as the minimum requirement for working as a special education teacher. Special education teachers must earn a state teaching license, which most bachelor's degrees prepare students for.

What can I do with a special education degree?

Graduates of special education degree programs often pursue careers as teachers. The degree also prepares students for graduate studies in education, and potentially more advanced careers in roles like administration and curriculum planning.

Is special education a good major?

Yes! Special education serves as an engaging, interesting, and rewarding major. It provides skills and knowledge in a variety of subject fields, including psychology, human development, and literacy.

Directory of Accredited Bachelor's Degrees in Special Education Programs

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