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Special Education Degree Online

Earning an online special education degree strive to teach the skills and knowledge so you can have a positive impact on lives of children with disabilities. Typically, this

is through courses that look at how to design a course of study and safe environment that helps exceptional students learn. Many schools also teach how to communicate with parents about needs, process, and learning.

Fun Fact

Even though special education laws weren’t passed until 1975, Jean-Mark-Gaspard Itard, a French physician considered to be the Father of Special Education, was attempting to teach children with mental disabilities in a systematic fashion in the late 1700s and early 1800s.

What is Special Education?

Special education is made to prevent, eliminate, or overcome obstacles that might keep a student with disabilities from learning and experiencing full and active participation in school and society.

Therefore, online special education programs teach how to create a course of study that takes into account the ways that special needs students learn. Many courses also teach how to partner with parents and other teachers to help special needs students achieve their academic goals.

Guide to Earning Your Degree Online in Special Education- Online Special Education Degree

Online Special Education Degree: What You’ll Learn

Many online special education degrees look at how to create a safe and encouraging classroom experience for exceptional students. Often, programs ask that you participate in field exercises that allow you to apply newly acquired skills and knowledge to real-world situations. However, each school and degree level has a unique make-up.

Common Online Special Education Courses

While earning an online special education degree, courses focus on how to create better ways of learning for students with special needs. Topics include how to adapt the course of study to meet the needs of each student. It also includes how to address the intellectual, emotional, and behavioral needs of your students.

Some of the common online special education courses include those listed here.

  • Children with Exceptionalities
  • Implications of Special Education
  • Literacy Facilitation for All Learners
  • Foundations of Learning Disabilities
  • Instruction for Learning Disabled Students
  • Assessment and Planning for Special Education Students
  • Classroom Management Strategies
  • Education of Students with Severe and Multiple Disabilities
  • Transition for Adolescents with Disabilities: Content and Process
  • Individual with Disabilities in Schools and Communities

Remember that each school and degree level is has a unique make-up. Therefore, each school may not offer these specific courses. You should check out a few schools to find one that fits your goals.

Online Special Education Degree Concentrations

As you pursue a special education degree online, there may be a number of concentrations available. Concentrations may range in a variety of topics and may provide a custom course of study in one aspect of special education. This may help make you an expert in the field through a more in-depth study of those topics.

Some of the many concentrations are listed here.

  • Instructional Design
  • Special Education Transition
  • Autism and Developmental Disabilities
  • Rehabilitation Counselor
  • Childhood Special Education, Birth to Grade 2
  • Childhood Special Education, Grades 1 – 6

This is only a sample of some of the concentrations available. Therefore, some schools may offer others that aren’t listed. Typically, concentrations are available for certificates, masters, and doctorates degree levels. However, each school may have a unique make-up. Check with a few schools to find one that fits your goals.

Different Online Special Education Degrees

Normally, there are five different levels of online special education degrees. Each of them strives to teach how to work with families and communities to shape skills in students with special needs. Typically, this is through grasping all of the ways that children grow, learn, and process information. The special education degree levels are listed below.

Online Associates in Special Education

Online associates degrees in special education typically provide students with an introduction to how to teach special needs students. This may include methods, best practices, and techniques. Many programs also provide an introduction to promoting on the behalf of special needs students.

Most associate degree schools ask that students have earned a high school diploma or equivalent degree. Some also ask that you had a minimum GPA and take a placement exam, but specific rules change at each school. Typically, it takes full-time students two years to earn their associates degree. However, that may vary depending on when courses are available.

Bachelors Degree in Special Education Online

Earning an online special education bachelors degree teaches you how to teach and mentor students with disabilities. Courses usually also cover how to assess their progress and how to discuss that progress with parents.

When applying for a bachelors degree, many schools ask that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent degree with a minimum GPA. Some schools also ask that you submit a personal essay as well. Most full-time students complete their bachelors degree in four years. However, each school has their own admissions and graduation requirements.

Online Certificate in Special Education

Online special education certificates are shorter, non-degree programs that teach current issues in special education. Most certificate programs also look at how to help students with high and low incidence disabilities.

Because certificates are typically designed for students who are already professionals in education, many programs require that you have a teaching certification in your state. Other requirements may include a bachelors degree from an accredited university. Most special education certificate programs ask that you take four to eight classes. Most students earn their certificate in one to two years.

Online Masters in Special Education

Masters in special education online programs are typically designed for students who are licensed special education teachers. Courses focus on developing your leadership skills and knowledge. Many masters degree programs take two to three years for full-time students. However, this may vary depending on when courses are available and the make-up of each school.

Masters degree programs teach how to plan and put in place an effective course of study. Many courses also look at how to make a supportive learning environment for your students.

Online Doctorates in Special Education

Online doctorate degrees in special education teach how to make a course of study to address the needs of exceptional students. Other topics may include how disabilities affect individuals and families. Typically, you can choose between a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) and an EdD (Doctor of Education).

Most schools ask that you’ve earned a masters degree from an accredited university with a 3.0 GPA or higher. Many doctorate programs ask that you write, present, and defend a dissertation upon completing all required courses. Some, but not all, EdD programs have the same requirement.

Common Careers in Special Education

After earning your online special education degree, there are a number of different teaching roles that you may pursue. Typically, this involves teaching exceptional students at different levels. According to the BLS, the 2015 median annual salary for special education teachers at the different levels of school are listed here.

  • Preschool: $53,990
  • Kindergarten and Elementary School: $55,810
  • Middle School: $57,280
  • Secondary School: $58,500[i]

Each state has their own licensing and certification requirements. Therefore, the specific requirements to become a special education teacher vary from state to state. For instance, most states require a bachelors degree and a state-issued certification. Other states require a masters degree.[ii] Check with your state for specific requirements.

Take the Next Step to Earn Your Online Special Education Degree

Take the next step to earn your online special education degree to help make sure that all children have a chance to reach their academic goals. Click on any of the sponsored listings on this page to learn more about each school. You can find program descriptions and even contact your favorite schools directly to request more information.


[i] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/special-education-teachers.htm#tab-5 [ii] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/special-education-teachers.htm#tab-4

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