Online Special Education Degrees 2022

Special education teachers educate K-12 students with one or more physical or mental disabilities, providing a modified learning experience for their needs.

Updated September 6, 2022

Reviewed by ACO Rankings Team
Online Special Education Degrees 2022

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Special education teachers educate K-12 students with one or more physical or mental disabilities. Their work ensures that these learners receive a modified educational experience aligning with their unique needs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that these professionals earn a median $61,030 annual salary. The BLS projects the field to grow 3% from 2019-2029.

Special education teachers working in a public school need a state-issued license to practice. Attaining a license involves earning a bachelor's in special education. Many reputable institutions offer online education degrees providing students the same academic experience as on-campus learners.


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Questions and Answers about Special Education


What kind of jobs can you get with a special education degree?

A special education bachelor's degree qualifies graduates for licensure in their home state. Licensed educators pursue jobs at K-12 public schools. Other potential job sites include preschools and private schools.

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

Like other bachelor's degrees, a special education program takes approximately four years to complete. Incoming students with an associate degree or significant transfer credit may only need two years.

What certification do you need for special education?

States regulate K-12 education by requiring all public school educators to possess a teaching license. Earning a license involves completing a state-approved program and student teaching under a licensed educator.

Are special education teachers in demand?

Although the BLS projects only 3% growth in the special education field from 2019-2029, many states report significant teacher shortages. Employers value highly qualified applicants more than those with only a provisional teaching license.

Why Get a Degree in Special Education?

Potential benefits of working in special education include personal and professional satisfaction. A teaching license provides career flexibility, as teachers can obtain additional endorsements by just passing an exam or earning a certificate. These endorsements allow educators to teach different subjects or qualify for an administrative position.

Online special education programs may offer learners advantages on-campus programs do not provide, such as an asynchronous curriculum. Asynchronous classes do not convene at set times, allowing students to continue working while in school. Online degree-seekers hone technological and time-management skills.

How Much Does a Special Education Degree Cost?

A bachelor's in special education's total cost depends on numerous factors, including whether students attend a private or public school. The latter offers the most affordable tuition rate to in-state learners. However, some online public institutions waive out-of-state tuition. Typically, private schools cost more, but charge all degree-seekers the same tuition rate.

Online special education programs may offer additional cost savings, such as a facilities fee waiver. Many top schools include textbooks in the tuition price, saving students hundreds of dollars per semester. Other discounts may apply to select groups, such as veterans and their dependents.

Fees unique to bachelor's in special education programs may include a criminal background check, a requirement to teach. Degree-seekers pay a fee when submitting their teaching license application. Please consult a special education program's admissions or academic advisor to learn more about fees and waivers.

How Much Do Special Education Majors Make?

Special education majors' annual salaries depend on where they work. Secondary special education teachers in New York, Washington, D.C., and Maryland earn approximately $20,000 over the national median salary for special education teachers. California and Oregon school districts also use a high median salary to attract highly qualified educators. However, teachers in these states may encounter a high cost of living.

Students should consider top-paying employers. Public schools offer approximately $7,000 more annually than private schools. Special education teachers working in high schools earn slightly more than their peers at elementary or middle schools.

Special education teachers increase their salary potential by gaining on-the-job experience. Public school systems offer an annual salary increase and grant raises to educators with National Board Certification. Other ways to increase salary potential include earning a master's in special education or one or more graduate certificates.

Courses in Special Education

Top bachelor's in special education programs convey the knowledge and skills educators need while qualifying graduates for a teaching license. In class, students learn to work with children with mild to moderate physical or intellectual disabilities. Some programs emphasize elementary or secondary education, as children and adolescents in both groups face different challenges.

Typical bachelor's in special education programs offer some if not all of the following courses. Curricula vary by program, and not all schools provide students with the same academic experience and learning outcomes. Please consult a program's website or contact an admissions advisor for additional information and guidance.

Certifications and Licensure for Special Education

Special education bachelor's degree-holders may need more than a college degree to attain an entry-level position. Professionals must possess a state-issued license to apply to open positions at a public school. Other pathways to increase employability include professional certifications. Private organizations award certifications to educators demonstrating mastery of special education best practices.

Special education teachers with a master's degree may qualify for the credential. Candidates earn five certifications by taking courses and passing examinations with a minimum 80% score. National Association of Special Education Teachers members receive a discount on the certification process. Educators maintain their certification by paying an annual fee. A teaching license qualifies professionals to educate K-12 public school students. Eligibility criteria include graduating from an approved teacher-preparation program involving student teaching at one or more schools. Candidates also submit to a criminal background check. Educators maintain their license by completing continuing education courses. Licensed educators planning to transition to special education need an endorsement. This process involves enrolling in a college or university program lasting approximately one year. Learners complete graduate-level coursework in different disabilities and education best practices. After graduation, educators receive the endorsement by filing forms with their state's board of teacher licensure.

Scholarships for Special Education

Learners avoid student debt in multiple ways, such as attending an affordable college or university. Another option involves applying for private scholarship opportunities. Scholarships like those below award funding to online learners and undergraduates pursuing a special education bachelor's degree. Please use the embedded links to learn more about each scholarship's application requirements.

Scholarships for Special Education
Scholarship Amount Who Can Apply

Alma Exley Scholarship Program

$5,000 Connecticut upperclassmen part of a minority group apply to the Alma Exley Scholarship Program. Applicants submit recommendation letters, two brief essays, and a resume by October 31.

Kansas Teacher Service Scholarship

Up to $5,536 annually The Kansas Board of Regents awards this scholarship to in-state undergraduates preparing to teach a hard-to-fill subject, including special education. Interested students submit one recommendation letter, official transcripts, and a personal essay by May 1.

National American Sign Language Honor Society National College ASL Scholarship

$1,750-$2,500 Undergraduates preparing for a career educating deaf children and adolescents may qualify. NASLHS considers student members in good standing and requires two essays and two recommendation letters by April 16.

Online Special Education Degrees 2022

#1

Liberty University

School Information
Location Lynchburg, Virginia
Admission Rate 51%
Graduation Rate 47%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 92% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

From its Lynchburg, Virginia, campus, Liberty University offers multiple online degrees, including a top-ranked online special education degree. The private institution enrolls learners in traditional, hybrid, and online programs. The bachelor of science in special education interdisciplinary studies prepares professionals for entry-level special education careers.

Busy students and working professionals benefit from the program's flexible learning format. Online special education courses focus on discipline-specific knowledge and skills. Enrollees work with faculty advisors to craft an individualized degree plan based on their interests and career goals. The school's online student services include experiential learning opportunities, academic advising, and career counseling.

Students at the accredited institution can expect to pay around $750 per credit for their degree. Online learners can pay for school with scholarships, grants, and federal aid programs like the Pell Grant.

Liberty University Facts:

Online Student Enrollment: 78,511

Online Bachelor's Programs: 30

Online Master's Programs: 67

Admission Rate: 51%

Graduation Rate: 47%

Accepts Transfer Credits Toward Degree: Yes

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#2

The University of Wisconsin-Stout

School Information
Location Menomonie, Wisconsin
Admission Rate 91%
Graduation Rate 60%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 46% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Degrees at the University of Wisconsin-Stout prepare degree-seekers for new career opportunities and advancement. The school admits 91% of its applicants. Those interested in a special education career can pursue the bachelor of science in special education.

Students use the college’s generous transfer policy to finish bachelor’s degrees faster. Learners pay the in-state tuition rate of $7,014 for bachelor’s degrees. Enrollees pay for tuition with an average aid package of $4,954.

Full-time students complete the degree in four years on average. The institution may allow students to earn credit for internships and service-learning experiences. Working students transfer credits to finish degrees faster. University of Wisconsin-Stout has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, an independent accrediting agency.

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#3

Chaminade University of Honolulu

School Information
Location Honolulu, Hawaii
Admission Rate 95%
Graduation Rate 59%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 55% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Chaminade University of Honolulu, a leader in online learning, offers a comprehensive catalog of programs.  The options include a bachelor of science in special education for degree-seekers looking to earn their degree remotely. 

Online enrollees complete special education coursework in a flexible learning environment. With transfer credits, learners can finish bachelor’s degrees in 18-36 months. The school charges $26,020 in-state tuition for bachelor’s degrees. 

Students can choose from multiple start terms. Prospective applicants can expect a 95% admission rate. The school requires submission of school transcripts. Degree-seekers can use test scores to bolster their application. The school holds accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission.

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#4

Dakota State University

School Information
Location Madison, South Dakota
Admission Rate 77%
Graduation Rate 43%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 68% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Located in Madison, South Dakota, Dakota State University enrolls degree-seekers in many on-campus and online programs. Learners in the public school's bachelor of science in education in elementary special education train for entry-level careers in special education.

Busy students and working professionals benefit from the program's flexible learning format. Online courses build communication, critical thinking, and analytical skills. Faculty advisors help learners build a degree plan to customize their course of study. The online school also supports distance learners through academic advising, experiential learning opportunities, and career services.

Undergraduates can meet with the financial aid office to learning about different funding options available. Online students use scholarships, grants, and other forms of financial aid like the Pell Grant to cover costs.

Dakota State University Numbers:

Online Student Enrollment: 2,206

Online Bachelor's Programs: 13

Online Master's Programs: 6

Admission Rate: 77%

Graduation Rate: 43%

Transfer Credits Allowed: No

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#5

Fontbonne University

School Information
Location Saint Louis, Missouri
Admission Rate 79%
Graduation Rate 54%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 58% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

A degree from Fontbonne University prepares graduates for new career opportunities and advancement. The academic catalog includes a bachelor of science in special education. In the special education program, online students complete coursework in a flexible learning environment. Participants learn core special education topics and receive specialized training.

Nontraditional learners transfer credits to complete a bachelor’s in an accelerated timeframe. Enrollees pay $26,760 in-state tuition for bachelor’s degrees. Online students can use private and institutional scholarships to help pay for their degree.

Programs help enrollees gain the knowledge and skills they need to impress employers. Bachelor's degree-seekers can add a minor to explore a niche area of their field. Nontraditional learners watch lectures and complete assignments at convenient times. Students complete at least 120 credits to earn a bachelor’s degree. Fontbonne University holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, an independent accrediting agency.

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#6

The University of Southern Mississippi

School Information
Location Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Admission Rate 97%
Graduation Rate 49%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 70% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

An online degree from The University of Southern Mississippi helps professionals advance their careers and pursue new opportunities. Special education programs provides online students with a flexible learning environment. Prospective applicants can expect an admissions rate of 97% and an admissions yield of 21%.

Learners in the master of education in special education program gain knowledge and skills to impress employers. Enrollees watch lectures and complete assignments at convenient times. A master’s degree usually takes students 1-2 years to complete. University of Southern Mississippi has been accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting agency.

The University of Southern Mississippi Statistics:

Undergraduate School Tuition Rate: $8,786 in-state; $10,786 out-of-state

Average Total Aid Per Learner: $8,843

Average Cost With Financial Aid: $14,485

Rate of Graduation: 49%

Transfer Credits Allowed: No

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#7

The University of West Florida

School Information
Location Pensacola, Florida
Admission Rate 31%
Graduation Rate 46%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 66% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

With a degree from the University of West Florida, graduates move into new fields and advance their careers. The school's academic catalog includes a bachelor of arts in exceptional student education. Program participants complete online special education coursework in a flexible learning environment. Learners receive specialized training and study core special education topics.

The school’s generous transfer policy facilitates faster degree completion. The school charges $3,735 in-state tuition for bachelor’s degrees. Enrollees use an average of $8,789 in aid to pay for their education.

The school’s multiple start dates provide enrollment flexibility. Prospective students can expect a 31% admission rate. Applicants submit school transcripts. The school may request some learners’ test scores. The University of West Florida has received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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#8

Western Governors University

School Information
Location Salt Lake City, Utah
Graduation Rate 21%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

Western Governors University, located in Salt Lake City, Utah, offers many top-ranked online programs, including a special education degree. At the private institution, degree-seekers choose from in-person and online courses. The bachelor of arts in special education and elementary education uses a rigorous curriculum that emphasizes career-ready knowledge and skills.

Busy students and working professionals benefit from the program's flexible learning format. Online special education courses focus on discipline-specific knowledge and skills. Faculty advisors work closely with enrollees to select electives and minors that individualize the degree. The online school also supports distance learners through academic advising, experiential learning opportunities, and career services.

The accredited school reports that students pay an average cost-per-credit fee of $3,478. Learners pay for their degree with scholarships, grants, and loans, including federal programs like the Pell Grant.

Western Governors University Numbers:

Online Bachelor's Programs: 30

Online Master's Programs: 29

Graduation Rate: 21%

Transfer Credits Permitted: No

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#9

East Carolina University

School Information
Location Greenville, North Carolina
Admission Rate 79%
Graduation Rate 66%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 48% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Located in Greenville, North Carolina, East Carolina University offers a top-ranked online special education degree. Students choose between in-person and online course options at the public institution. With a degree from the master of arts in education in special education program, graduates pursue special education careers.

The distance learning format appeals to degree-seekers who require a more flexible schedule. During an online special education degree, learners take courses that build in-demand knowledge and skills. Faculty advisors recommend a custom degree plan to meet each enrollee's interests and career goals. Program participants benefit from support services like online academic advising and career services.

Students at the accredited institution can meet with the financial aid office to learn about different funding options. Distance learners may qualify for scholarships, grants, and loans, including Pell Grants and federal loans.

East Carolina University Numbers:

Online Student Enrollment: 13,890

Online Bachelor's Programs: 18

Online Master's Programs: 41

Admission Rate: 79%

Graduation Rate: 66%

Transfer Credits Counted: No

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#10

The University of Georgia

School Information
Location Athens, Georgia
Admission Rate 45%
Graduation Rate 87%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 14% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The University of Georgia offers a comprehensive catalog of 419 online and on-campus programs, including bachelor's programs. One option among these is the bachelor of science in education in special education. In an online special education program, learners complete coursework in a flexible learning environment. The curriculum teaches core special education topics and provides participants with specialized training.

The school delivers some of the most affordable online bachelor's programs in the nation. Students can access support services online and in person. Enrollees can access peer and professional tutoring. The University of Georgia holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting agency.

The University of Georgia Fast Facts:

Tuition for In-State Undergraduates: $9,790 per year 

Tuition for Out-of-State Undergraduates: $28,830 per year

Average Price After Financial Aid: $15,961

Students Awarded Financial Aid: 97%

Percentage of Learners Awarded Student Loans: 32%

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