30 Most Affordable Master’s in Special Education Online

30 Most Affordable Master’s in Special Education Online
Advertisement GradSchoolHub.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
Best Online Badge

A master’s in special education prepares you to work with students with special needs in a variety of settings, including as a teacher, educational diagnostician, and behavior intervention specialist. If you pursue an online master’s in special education program, you can also take more control of your time and manage flexibility.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the overall employment of special education teachers is projected to rise eight percent through the year 2026. School enrollment and the demand for special education services should drive employment growth. In order to qualify for these highly specialized teaching opportunities, proper education is required. While a bachelor’s degree is necessary, a graduate degree such as a Master’s or Ph.D. can set you apart from the competition and increase your earning potential. Thankfully, special education online degrees have become available so that you do not need to quit your current teaching job to go back to school.

Below is our list of the top 30 most affordable master’s in special education online degree programs.

Advertisement GradSchoolHub.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Explore these promoted online degree programs.

These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online graduate degree programs. Figuring out where to apply? Consider one of these online Master’s or PhD programs.

Best Master’s in Special Education Online Program

  1. Fitchburg State University
    Location

    Fitchburg, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Fitchburg State University offers the most affordable master's in special education online degree program on our list. The program is open to students seeking licensure or a non-licensure degree. Classes are delivered online, though limited Saturday sessions for select courses may be required. Rolling admission makes the program convenient for working students. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution, three letters of recommendation, and official transcripts. While students can complete the program in as little as two years, six years are allowed to finish degree requirements. Major publications like U.S. News and World Report rank the institution as the 137th best regional university in the North and 46th top public school. Also, the online graduate education programs rank #224-#291 out of more than 1,200 programs surveyed by U.S. News.

  2. Fort Hays State University
    Location

    Hays, KS

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Fort Hays State University offers one of the most affordable special education online degrees on our list. The online master's in high-incidence special education program is designed for students wanting to pursue a career in special education. This fully online degree takes 18-24 months to complete, and classes are taught by Fort Hays State's experienced professors. The degree is accredited by both the KSDE and CAEP and is aligned with the state standards. Admission requirements include a personal statement, two outside personal recommendations, official transcripts and the completion of an accredited baccalaureate degree, and a copy of your current teaching license if you are a licensed teacher. U.S. News and World Report ranks Fort Hays State as a top regional university in the Midwest. Also, the online graduate education programs rank #62 out of more than 1,200 surveyed programs.

  3. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
    Location

    Edinburg, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley offers one of the most affordable online master's in special education degree programs on our list. The online program is designed to provide teachers with today's most effective instruction methods to meet a growing population of special education students. Classes are delivered online and taught by UTRGV professors. These classes include advanced individual differences, applied behavior analysis for educators, assessment of learning, evidence-based practices for students with high incidence disabilities, and strategies for teaching individuals with low incidence disabilities. Official transcripts and an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 are necessary for admission. The school and its online graduate education programs are accredited.

  4. Western Governors University
    Location

    Salt Lake City, UT

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Western Governors University offers special education online programs that are both highly affordable and flexibly designed. Over seventy percent of graduates finish the degree in just 12-36 months. The program is ideal for current teachers who want to pursue careers as special educators and diversify their knowledge in the classroom to work with special needs students. Classes are delivered online and include behavioral management and intervention, issues in instructional design, psycho-educational assessment practices and IEP, and research design and analysis. This degree program is nationally recognized by the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). Western Governors is accredited and recognized by U.S. News and World Report as a top regional university in the West.

  5. Kennesaw State University
    Location

    Kennesaw, GA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Kennesaw State University's special education online degrees include the master's in special education. This fully online graduate degree is designed to help prepare practicing educators and future teachers with special education curriculum. Successful candidates complete the program in just 18-24 months. The program is approved by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission and is fully accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). Some of the online classes offered include assessment for diverse learners, collaborative practices, foundations of special education, and instructional approaches. U.S. News and World Report ranks Kennesaw as a top 300 national university. Also, the online graduate education programs rank #219 out of more than 1,200 surveyed programs.

  6. University of North Texas
    Location

    Denton, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    University of North Texas offers an accredited online M.Ed. in special education that is one of the most affordable programs on our list. The program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and designed to prepare individuals in evidence-based practices. The master's degree may be earned in just 15 months, which means students may begin one summer and graduate the following summer. Some of the courses include characteristics of individuals with learning disabilities, educational research and evaluation, introduction to educational psychology, and special education programs and practices. U.S. News and World Report ranks University of North Texas as a top 300 national university. Also, the online graduate education programs rank #4 out of more than 1,200 programs surveyed by U.S. News and World Report.

  7. Texas Tech University
    Location

    Lubbock, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Texas Tech University offers special education online programs like the master's in special education. This graduate and online degree consists of 36 credit hours and offers several areas of focus, including autism, applied behavior analysis, deaf education, orientation and mobility, and transition. Applicants must provide unofficial transcripts from all colleges and universities previously attended. While GRE scores are not required, they are recommended. Required coursework depends on the area of focus. Some students will find courses like applied behavior analysis, advanced issues in ABA, and ethics and professional conduct a part of their required curriculum. Texas Tech is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as a top national university and the 95th best top public school in the country. Also, the online graduate education program ranks #150 out of more than 1,200 surveyed programs.

  8. Kentucky State University
    Location

    Frankfort, KY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Kentucky State University's School of Education offers an accredited online M.Ed. in special education with certification in learning and behavior disorders (P-12). This fully online degree program consists of a series of interactive and accelerated courses and field experiences. To be admitted to the online program, applicants must have an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution with a GPA of at least 2.75. GRE test scores are also required. The university is ranked and accredited. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranks the school as the 33rd best regional college in the South, the 12th best value school, 6th top public school, and the 38th best historically black college and university.

  9. Bemidji State University
    Location

    Bemidji, MN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Bemidji State University offers accredited special education online programs designed for students with a current teaching degree who want to gain additional experience in special education. This 36-credit hour program is offered fully online to accommodate the busy schedules of educators. Courses are taught by Bemidji State instructors and include curriculum techniques, due process in special education, math and reading difficulties – diagnosis and interventions, professional practice in special education, and study of the learner with special needs. The school is ranked and accredited. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranks the institution as the 109th best regional university in the Midwest and the 32nd top public school. Also, the online graduate education programs rank #224-#291 out of more than 1,200 surveyed programs.

  10. Liberty University
    Location

    Lynchburg, VA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Liberty University's low-cost online master's in special education is designed for individuals who want to become licensed teachers and pursue a career in the field of special education. The MAT in Special Education at Liberty offers online courses taught by experienced university instructors. Some of the required courses include collaborating for successful transitions, curriculum fundamentals, and principles of behavior management. The online teaching degree is accredited by the NCATE, and state teaching licensure may be acquired in less than two years. Liberty is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as a top national university. Also, the online graduate education programs rank #190 out of more than 1,200 programs surveyed by U.S. News.


  • Our Methodology, Explained


    Grad School Hub compiles rankings based on public data released from educational, commercial, and government databases. Sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics play a significant role in how we source our educational data. After collecting insight for each institution, we organize information into five weighted categories.

    Metric Data Used Percentage
    Academic Quality Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates 30%
    Affordability Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid 10%
    Reputation Admission and enrollment rates 30%
    Program Offerings Number of program options 20%
    Online Enrollment Score Portion of learners taking at least one online course 10%

    A more comprehensive evaluation of how each category is determined and scored is accessible on our Ranking Methodology page.


Answering Your Questions About Master’s in Special Education Programs


  • What can you do with a master’s in special education?

    There are many career paths open to you with a master’s in special education. Many graduates go onto work as a special education teacher in a classroom setting. But that’s not the only career path available. You can also go onto become an educational diagnostician to help assess learning disabilities in students. Other options include behavioral specialists, special education testers, and rehabilitation counselors.

  • Is a master’s in special education worth it?

    You might be wondering whether the financial investment and time spent on your master’s in special education is worth it. Aside from the fact that the job can be very rewarding and personally fulfilling, you also have the opportunity to significantly increase your salary by earning a master’s degree.

  • How long does it take to get a master’s degree in special education?

    How long it takes to complete your master’s in special education program depends on several factors, including the program you choose and how much time you have to devote to it. Many of the programs on your list can be completed in as little as 18-24 months. One can be completed in as little as 12 months with a lot of time to devote to it.

  • Do you need a master’s to teach special education?

    A master’s degree isn’t necessarily required to teach special education. All states require that special education teachers hold at least a bachelor’s degree. Some schools may prefer a more advanced degree, and holding a master’s degree can set you apart from the crowd when you’re applying for jobs.


What Can I Expect From a Master’s in Special Education Online?

A master’s in special education program prepares you to work with students who have special needs above and beyond what they can get in a traditional classroom setting. Coursework will focus on learning to understand the disabilities your future students may face, including identifying learning disabilities and providing a curriculum to make their lessons more accessible.

An online master’s in special education provides a more flexible learning environment so you can complete your coursework while continuing to work in your current job. You’ll still have regular classes, homework, and access to your professors to ask questions and seek feedback.

Admissions and Requirements

While the requirements may vary per program, most master’s in special education programs expect candidates to submit materials like GRE scores, a resume/CV and professional recommendations. Schools will also require GPAs with scores ranging between 2.5 and 3.0. 

Also, you might offset your average GPA with a strong personal statement and professional experience. Your experience might include holding a teaching license, or a minimum amount of relevant practical experience related to the program. 

Career and Salary Outlook for Special Education Graduates 

The median annual wage for a special education teacher is about $61,420, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That being said, a master’s degree in special education will increase your earning potential. Salaries in the top 10% of the field are $100,160. With a more advanced degree, it’s likely you would be on the higher end of the earning spectrum.

The career outlook is positive for special education teachers. Employment is expected to grow 3% from 2019 to 2029. For preschool special education teachers, employment is expected to grow even more.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest paying states for this occupation are Oregon, Virginia, Michigan, Rhode Island, and Georgia.

Concentrations in Special Education Master’s Programs  

When you pursue a master’s degree in special education, you’ll have the choice of several concentrations. The concentration you choose will depend on the type of work you hope to do after graduating with your degree. Common concentrations include:

Mild/moderate disabilities

A concentration in mild/moderate disabilities focuses on K-12 students who participate in general education classes but have been diagnosed with mild to moderate disabilities. As a professional with this concentration, you’ll learn about social and emotional functioning, as well as non-cognitive skills. Other topics include the role of scientific research in theory development and school-wide behavioral needs. 

Behavioral intervention and support

An online master’s in special education with a concentration in behavior intervention and support will help you achieve a specialty that you can put into practice in related fields such as counseling, social work, teaching, and speech language pathology. Some courses within this concentration include Behavior modification, high incidence disabilities, and the option to choose internships for more hands-on experience. 

Trauma-informed education

Unline behavioral intervention, this concentration can prepare you to understand childhood trauma and mental health by emphasizing the effects that poverty can have on learning. You’ll be able to learn about attachment and psychological disorders in children, as well as implement trauma-sensitive practices in classrooms and other settings. 

Scholarships for Special Education Graduates


Pursuing a master’s degree in special education can require a significant financial investment. Below are several scholarships available to learners pursuing a master’s in special education degree. 

Early Childhood Educators Scholarship Program
Who Can Apply: Currently employed and out-of-school educators and providers who enroll in an associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree program in Early Childhood Education or related programs.
Amount: $9,000

Ab Irvine Scholarship Program
Who Can Apply: Students who have career plans to work with students with special needs, including but not limited to special education, learning disabilities, deaf/blind education, and more. Students must be enrolled as junior, senior, or graduate students in NM, CO, or TX.
Amount: $2,000

Joseph T. Weingold Scholarship for Special Education Students
Who Can Apply: Students enrolled in a New York State degree program leading to a special education certification.
Amount: $3,000

What are the Top 10 Affordable Master’s in Special Education Online Degree Programs?

Rank School Location
1 Fitchburg State University Fitchburg, MA
2 Fort Hays State University Hays, KS
3 The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Edinburg, TX
4 Western Governors University Salt Lake City, UT
5 Kennesaw State University Kennesaw, GA
6 University of North Texas Denton, TX
7 Texas Tech University Lubbock, TX
8 Kentucky State University Frankfort, KY
9 Bemidji State University Bemidji, MN
10 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA

Erin Gobler picture

Erin Gobler

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Erin Gobler is a freelance writer who covers education topics for Best Value Schools, Graduate School Hub, and Criminal Justice Degree Schools, among others. Her work has been published on sites like Fox Business, Rocket Mortgage, and The Balance.

Latest Posts

See All Posts
What’s the Difference Between a Master of Arts and a Master of Science Degree?

What’s the Difference Between a Master of Arts and a Master of Science Degree?

May 3, 2021   |   Hedy Phillips

Which's master's degree type is best for you? It depends on your career goals, your field of study, and even your learning preferences.

Creating Equitable STEM Curriculum for Low-Income Students

Creating Equitable STEM Curriculum for Low-Income Students

April 23, 2021   |   Lena Borrelli

A , which tracks nationally representative K-12 STEM data, sheds light on the impact of STEM education — especially computer science and engineering. For the first since its release in...

Advertisement GradSchoolHub.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Discover a program that is right for you.

Explore different options for you based on your degree interests.