30 Best Online Bachelor’s in Special Education Degree Programs 2021

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According to U.S. News & World Report’s description of special education teachers, over 80 percent of those with a bachelor’s in special education say their careers make the world a better place. Students interested in embarking on this rewarding career can now earn a degree online. Accredited and top-ranked institutions are offering online bachelor’s in special education degree programs that are designed to provide flexible learning options to busy and working students.

We examined over 70 accredited institutions that offered online bachelor’s degrees in special education, education with a specialization in special education, or early childhood education and behavioral science with courses in special education and related topics. Our original pool of schools was gathered from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) College Navigator. From this list, we chose the most affordable institutions from among those with regional, national, or program rankings from major publications like U.S. News & World Report. We then listed the schools according to raw affordability.

Ranking the 30 Best Online Bachelor’s in Special Education and Related Degree Programs

30 Best Online Bachelor’s in Special Education Degree Programs

#30 – Drexel University

Online Bachelor’s in Elementary Education – Special Education

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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A reputable online special education program offering – Drexel University.

Undergraduate Tuition: $56,238

Drexel University offers an online bachelor’s in special education for individuals seeking a personalized degree program culminating in a bachelor’s degree and special education endorsement. The program prepares students to achieve teacher certification in the state of Pennsylvania, but it also meets most other states’ requirements. Students who wish to become certified teachers must participate in the 12-week student teaching experience. Those who are seeking non-teaching careers may graduate without student teaching but are required to take additional courses. Drexel has a dedicated field placement office that secures all in-class experiences, including student teaching. U.S. News & World Report ranks Drexel #64 in best online education programs.

#29 – Buena Vista University

Online Bachelor’s in Special Education

Storm Lake, Iowa

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Buena Vista University ranks as one of the top schools for offering online special education programs.

Undergraduate Tuition: $36,426

Buena Vista University ranks as one of the top online special education programs, offering both online and in-person instruction. This hybrid program features weekly in-person classes combined with online coursework. On-site classes are held in 14 convenient locations throughout Iowa. The program features general education and specialized teaching and learning classes. In addition, students can specialize in one of six special education areas, which include autism spectrum disorders, emotional and behavioral disorders, multiple disabilities, physical disabilities, and more. Special education courses may include behavioral interventions and supports with field experience, curriculum development and instruction with field experience, and special education law and professional practices. The institution ranks #44 in best regional universities in the Midwest, according to U.S. News & World Report.

#28 – Colorado Christian University

Online Bachelor’s in Special Education

Lakewood, Colorado

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CCU offers a top-ranked online special education program!

Undergraduate Tuition: $34,750

Colorado Christian University offers a bachelor’s in special education online for current or aspiring special education teachers and staff. The program is designed for adult students living anywhere in the United States, or in locations abroad, who desire both a bachelor’s degree in special education and a teaching license that is valid in the state of Colorado. Out-of-state students should check with their own state on licensure requirements. Students can also choose a non-licensure track, in which they are not required to complete the student teaching portion of the degree but will have to take further courses. The program is administered by the Colorado Christian University School of Education Professions. The institution is ranked #68 in best regional universities in the West by U.S. News & World Report.

#27 – Nova Southeastern University

Online Bachelor’s in Exceptional Student Education

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

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Prepare for certification in special ed – Nova Southeastern University!

Undergraduate Tuition: $33,430

Nova Southeastern University offers an online bachelor’s in special education that prepares students for certification in the state of Florida. Students take coursework instructing them on how to offer quality teaching and learning to students with disabilities, including mental, emotional, and physical challenges. Graduates are not only prepared to become certified in special education in Florida, they also earn an endorsement in ESOL and Reading. Non-Floridian students should check with their own state on certification requirements. In most instances, state requirements are very similar in scope. The program can be completed entirely online and is an excellent option for working professionals. Nova ranks #227 in national universities by U.S. News & World Report.

#26 – Notre Dame College

Online Bachelor’s in Education – Mild/Moderate Intervention

Cleveland, Ohio

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Ranked with U.S. News! Notre Dame College is a top choice for an online special education degree.

Undergraduate Tuition: $30,750

Notre Dame College ranks on our list of top-ranked online special education programs due to its affordable tuition, quality coursework, and convenient online delivery. The program is appropriate for aspiring teachers who desire to provide in-class instruction or for those seeking non-licensing careers such as support staff, administration, and childcare. The program specializes in teaching proper learning interventions for children with mild to moderate disabilities. Students applying for the program must possess a high school diploma or GED and a minimum 2.75 GPA in education prerequisite courses. Students must also pass a background check. Notre Dame College is ranked #119-#156 in best regional universities in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report.

#25 – Fontbonne University

Online Bachelor’s in Special Education

Saint Louis, Missouri

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Flexible and tailored! Fontbonne University offers online special ed programs.

Undergraduate Tuition: $27,790

Fontbonne University offers a bachelor’s in special education online for current paraprofessionals seeking career advancement by obtaining a bachelor’s degree and preparation for teacher certification. The program is an excellent fit for paraprofessionals who have classroom experience but are missing the credentials and additional training to be certified teachers. The curriculum is career-focused and specifically tailored to the needs of paraprofessionals. Graduates exit the program with a degree in special education and certification in K-12 mild/moderate cross-categorical disabilities. The program is accredited by the Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation. Fontbonne is ranked #51 in best regional universities in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report.

#24 – Chaminade University of Honolulu

Online Bachelor’s in Special Education

Honolulu, Hawaii

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Transfer credits accepted! Chaminade University’s bachelor’s in special education online degree.

Undergraduate Tuition: $26,914

Chaminade University offers a bachelor’s in special education online through its School of Education and Behavioral Sciences. The program can be completed entirely online and is for students transferring from Leeward Community College. Transfer students must have completed 90 prescribed credits at Leeward. Major requirements must be taken at Chaminade. Featured courses include mild and moderate disabilities, SPED: math, and student teaching seminar. Graduates are prepared for state licensure in Hawaii and therefore meet the state’s educational requirements. Students planning on teaching outside of Hawaii should check with the state they are interested in. Chaminade ranks #29 in best regional universities in the West by U.S. News & World Report.

#23 – Liberty University

Online Bachelor’s in Special Education Interdisciplinary Studies

Lynchburg, Virginia

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Study special education online at Liberty University!

Undergraduate Tuition: $21,587

Liberty University offers a non-licensure online bachelor’s in special education. The program is appropriate for those seeking to teach in Christian and private schools as classroom instructors, as well as for those pursuing a public school career as a paraprofessional. Graduates can also move into Liberty University’s online master’s in special education degree, or they can continue in a special education licensure track at a different institution. The program is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. Featured education courses include autism educational and theoretical approaches, introduction to autism spectrum disorders, and intervention for students with intellectual disorders.

#22 – Grand Canyon University

Online Bachelor’s in Special Education

Phoenix, Arizona

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GCU offers an online bachelor’s in special education that prepares students for initial licensure.

Undergraduate Tuition: $17,800

Grand Canyon University ranks as one of the best online special education programs due to its quality curriculum, experienced professors, and online delivery. The program is designed for all students, especially working professionals who need the flexibility afforded by an online program. Graduates are prepared for initial licensure in a K-8 general classroom or a K-12 mild-to-moderate special education setting. The degree is 120 credits and features general education coursework as well as education classes related to pedagogy, instruction, disability law, and more. Courses may include assessment in eligibility in special education, instructional methods and strategies for integrating science and health, and methods and strategies for integrating social studies and the arts. Grand Canyon University is ranked #298 in best national universities by U.S. News & World Report.

#21 – University of Massachusetts

Online Bachelor’s in Children’s Learning and Development

Amherst, Massachusetts

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UMASS Amherst is a top choice for online special education programs.

Undergraduate Tuition: $16,439

The University of Massachusetts at Amherst offers a degree very similar to a bachelor’s in special education online. The official degree conferred is a bachelor’s in children’s learning and development, and it is designed for professionals working with children in a variety of settings. The program is customizable to meet the career needs in areas such as special education, child psychology, educational administration, non-profit administration, and social work. Students can transfer in up to 105 credits thanks to the generous transfer policies at the institution. Credits must be approved, however. Sample classes within the program include foundations of education, introduction to special education, the practice of teaching English to speakers of other languages, and young children in families and schools. UMass Amherst ranks #66 in best national universities, according to U.S. News & World Report.

#20 – Touro University Worldwide

Online Bachelor’s in Psychology – Special Education

Los Alamitos, California

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Study psychology and special education online at Touro University.

Undergraduate Tuition: $14,600

Touro University offers a bachelor’s in special education online with an emphasis in psychology. The program is for those interested in applying psychological principles within educational contexts while working with students with disabilities. Students can also use the program to prepare for graduate degrees in special education or psychology. The entire program can be completed online and is geared towards working professionals who need flexible coursework that emphasizes job skills and career mobility. Students can transfer up to 90 of the 120 total credits. Admission requires either a high school diploma, a GED, or status as a college transfer student in good standing.

#19 – City University of Seattle

Online Bachelor’s in Education – Special Education

Seattle, Washington

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Ranked and accredited! City University of Seattle is a top choice for special education online programs.

Undergraduate Tuition: $13,658

Ranked #19 on our list of online special education programs, City University of Seattle offers a bachelor of arts in education for individuals seeking teacher certification in the state of Washington. Admission requirements include successful completion of lower-division requirements and a passing score on the Washington Educator Skills Test-Basic (WEST-B). The program is administered by City University’s Albright School of Education and is accredited by the Washington State Professional Educator Standards Board. Courses may include American school law and issues in special populations, curriculum modifications and adaptation, and language arts and literacy education. City University is ranked #95 in best regional universities in the West by U.S. News & World Report.

#18 – Texas A&M University

Online Bachelor’s in Education – Special Education

College Station, Texas

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Ranked with U.S. News! Texas A&M offers online special education programs.

Undergraduate Tuition: $12,783

Through its College of Education and Human Development, Texas A&M University provides future teachers with an online bachelor’s in special education that culminates in three certifications, which are early childhood–12th-grade special education, early childhood–6th-grade general education, and English as a second language. The three endorsements make graduates extremely competitive candidates for positions upon graduation. Moreover, the program provides students with over 800 hours of in-class experience upon graduation. In addition to financial aid for those applicants that qualify, the institution offers the Charles Butt Scholarship, which provides $8,000 in annual funding for up to four years for 100 student recipients. Texas A&M has been ranked #66 in national universities by U.S. News & World Report.

#17 – University of South Carolina

Online Bachelor’s in Special Education

Columbia, South Carolina

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Ranked and reputable online special education degrees are offered at the University of South Carolina.

Undergraduate Tuition: $12,688

The University of South Carolina offers a bachelor’s in special education online that prepares graduates for teacher certification in the state of South Carolina. The program is for those seeking to work with students with a variety of emotional, learning, and intellectual disabilities in a K-12 setting or other professional settings. Currently certified South Carolinian special education teachers can also work towards additional certifications. To apply to the online program, students must have a minimum of 45-60 transfer credits, and they must have completed a list of prerequisite courses. A minimum 2.75 GPA is also required. South Carolina is ranked #118 in best national universities by U.S. News & World Report.

#16 – University of Georgia

Online Bachelor’s in Special Education

Athens, Georgia

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The University of Georgia’s online special ed degrees are highly affordable and ranked!

Undergraduate Tuition: $12,080

The University of Georgia’s Mary Frances Early College of Education offers students an online bachelor’s in special education that prepares graduates for their initial teacher certification in Georgia. In addition, students can choose to complete the bachelor’s degree and immediately begin work towards an accelerated graduate degree in special education. The program takes two years to complete and requires students to have 60 transferable college credits and a 2.8 minimum GPA. The program is based on a cohort model, and students take a full load of courses each semester with the expectation of graduating in four semesters. Students unable to complete the full-time program can choose a three-year program. The University of Georgia is ranked #10 in best online bachelor degree programs by U.S. News & World Report.

#15 – Pacific Oaks College

Online Bachelor’s in Elementary Education and Special Education

Pasadena, California

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Study elementary ed and special ed online at Pacific Oaks College.

Undergraduate Tuition: $11,692

Pacific Oaks College offers a bachelor’s in special education online that qualifies graduates to teach in K-12 settings. The program focuses on quality pedagogical strategies for general classrooms and for students with a variety of physical, mental, emotional, and learning disabilities. Students will spend more than 600 hours in the classroom by the time they graduate. Students enrolled in the California teachers preparation program are required to complete all 600 hours. Those who are not enrolled in this program may choose to take additional coursework instead. Students should have a minimum of 40 transferable credits at the time of admission to the program but can matriculate without them. Students must also pass the California CBEST test or meet the basic skills requirement.

#14 – Old Dominion University

Online Bachelor’s in Special Education

Norfolk, Virginia

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Old Dominion University offers an online bachelor’s in special education that is ideal for busy students.

Undergraduate Tuition: $10,800

Old Dominion University offers an online bachelor’s in special education designed for students with some amount of college credits who are seeking to complete their degree and move into an educational career working with students with disabilities. Students can choose the general curriculum or adapted curriculum tracks. The general track prepares graduates to teach children with mild disabilities in a K-12 setting, while the adapted track prepares students to teach students with moderate or severe disabilities in the K-12 classroom. Graduates will be eligible for a Virginia teaching license at the end of the general or adapted curriculum. Old Dominion is ranked #126 in top public schools by U.S. News & World Report.

#13 – Southern Oregon University

Online Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Development

Ashland, Oregon

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One of the top online special education programs is offered at Southern Oregon University!

Undergraduate Tuition: $10,710

Ranked as one of the top online special education programs, Southern Oregon University offers a bachelor of science in early childhood education that can be completed in two years or less. The program is designed for students who have completed approximately two years’ worth of college credits and are prepared to finish their last two years at Southern Oregon. While this is the most common pathway, it is not required that students complete a full two years’ worth of credits before transferring into the program. Southern Oregon has transfer agreements with several two-year institutions in the Pacific Northwest, but students from outside that geographic region may also transfer into the program.

#12 – Stephen F. Austin State University

Online Bachelor’s in Special Education

Nacogdoches, Texas

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Stephen F. Austin University offers an interdisciplinary bachelor’s degree with a concentration in special education.

Undergraduate Tuition: $10,600

Ranked #12 on our list of top online special education programs, Stephen F. Austin University offers an interdisciplinary bachelor’s degree with a concentration in special education. The degree allows students to teach in early childhood through 12th-grade special education settings or early childhood through 6th-grade general classrooms. In addition to federal financial aid for those who qualify, the program offers the TEACH grant that provides up to $4,000 a year for students who plan on teaching in high-need fields or low-income areas. They also provide a community college transfer grant of up to $1,000 per year for students with a 3.49 GPA or above. Stephen F. Austin is ranked #298 in best national universities by U.S. News & World Report.

#11 – University of Northern Colorado

Online Bachelor’s in Special Education

Greeley, Colorado

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The University of Northern Colorado offers online special education programs that are highly affordable!

Undergraduate Tuition: $10,062

The University of Northern Colorado offers one of the most innovative online special education programs available. The program features both online coursework and a paid internship. The program is designed so that students only take one class at a time every five weeks. In addition, they participate in a paid apprenticeship program that gives them experience in urban classrooms while also paying consistently. Graduates can become licensed K-12 special education teachers or K-6 generalist elementary teachers. The program totals 122-126 credits and can be completed in four years. The University of Northern Colorado ranks #154 in top public schools, according to U.S. News & World Report.

#10 – University of Nebraska

Online Bachelor’s in Child, Youth, and Family Studies

Lincoln, Nebraska

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Innovative and flexible! The University of Nebraska’s online special education programs.

Undergraduate Tuition: $9,690

The University of Nebraska offers an innovative and unique bachelor’s in special education online focusing on the needs of children in mobile families that frequently move due to certain circumstances, such as military obligations. The program prepares graduates to work in programs and settings where families are highly mobile with children from birth to eight years old. Common career paths include childcare centers, preschool programs, Head Start, and before and after school programs. There are several options for students to complete the entire program online. Core classes may include ECEMS administrative and supervision in early childhood settings, ECEMS child development birth to three, and ECEMS child development four to eight. The university is ranked #133 in best national universities by U.S. News & World Report.

#9 – Franklin University

Online Bachelor’s in Intervention Specialist – Mild to Moderate

Columbus, Ohio

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100% online and transfer friendly! Franklin University is a top choice for online special education programs.

Undergraduate Tuition: $9,577

Franklin University offers an online bachelor’s in special education for future special education teachers. The program prepares students for certification in Ohio but may also meet certification requirements in other states. As an intervention specialist, graduates may teach any subject in K-12, and they will know how to educate students with a variety of disabilities. The coursework can be completed 100% online and has a transfer-friendly policy. Students spend plenty of time in the classroom and are placed in a school during their first term. Courses may include collaborative instructional strategies, creative experiences and play for all, and transition planning and career issues.

#8 – University of Wisconsin

Online Bachelor’s in Special Education

Menomonie, Wisconsin

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Ranked with U.S. News! The University of Wisconsin’s online bachelor’s in special education program.

Undergraduate Tuition: $9,488

Ranked eighth on our list of online special education programs, the University of Wisconsin at Stout offers a fully online undergraduate degree in special education that allows graduates to teach in K-12 special education settings, generally with students who are dealing with behavioral, emotional, intellectual, or learning disabilities. The program is designed for working adults and offers a strong support network of faculty and staff, such as advisors, tutors, and librarians who are all dedicated to distance education students. Applicants can transfer their associate’s or technical degrees from community colleges as well as credits from other four-year institutions. The University of Wisconsin at Stout ranks #71 in best regional universities in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report.

#7 – Saint Cloud State University

Online Bachelor’s in Special Education

Saint Cloud, Minnesota

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Saint Cloud University’s bachelor’s in special education online is designed for future educators.

Undergraduate Tuition: $8,779

Saint Cloud University’s bachelor’s in special education online is designed for future educators seeking to teach kindergartners through age 21 students with disabilities. Graduates meet the educational requirements for the state of Minnesota as dictated by the Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board. There is also a non-teaching minor for individuals interested in working with students with disabilities in non-instructional contexts. The program is offered in a hybrid format with select classes available online. Students have the opportunity to complete their fieldwork experience at St. Cloud’s campus, working with 18-21 year-olds with developmental and cognitive disabilities. St. Cloud ranks #22 in top public schools by U.S. News & World Report.

#6 – Appalachian State University

Online Bachelor’s in Special Education

Boone, North Carolina

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App State’s online bachelor’s in special education could be an excellent opportunity for you!

Undergraduate Tuition: $7,410

Appalachian State University’s online bachelor’s in special education has an excellent reputation for preparing top special education teachers. The online program leads to licensure in K-12 general curriculum or adapted curriculum. The program also has an accelerated admission option for those matriculating to graduate school. Graduates will have met educational requirements for North Carolina and may also meet standards in other states. The institution has a generous transfer policy and requires students to complete at least 30 credits of coursework at Appalachian State. The institution ranks in several U.S. News & World Report categories, including sixth in best regional universities in the South and #107 in best online bachelor’s degree programs.

#5 – Mayville State University

Online Bachelor’s in Special Education

Mayville, North Dakota

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Ranked and accredited! Mayville State University’s online special education degrees are highly affordable.

Undergraduate Tuition: $7,381

Mayville State University lands in a top spot on our list of best online special education programs. Designed with the adult learner in mind, the program’s coursework is entirely online and can be paired with a major in elementary education or secondary education. Completion of the program meets the educational requirements for North Dakota. Candidates interested in teaching in another state should check with that particular state to see if there are any additional requirements. The program is very transfer-friendly and accepts credits from several institutions upon approval. The “Fast-Track” option allows students to earn their bachelor’s degree in special education in between two and three years. Mayville has been ranked #54 in best regional universities in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report.

#4 – East Carolina University

Online Bachelor’s in Special Education

Greenville, North Carolina

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Ideal for K-12 licensure prep – ECU’s online bachelor’s in special education.

Undergraduate Tuition: $7,239

As a long-time leader in distance education, Eastern Carolina University offers a bachelor’s in special education online for working professionals that need flexibility and convenience combined with a cutting-edge curriculum. Completion of the program prepares students for K-12 special education licensure in general curriculum in North Carolina and may meet the requirements for other states. ECU may not be able to advise students whether the program meets the requirements of other states. Courses may include assessing students with disabilities, foundations of American education, instructional methods for students with disabilities in the general curriculum, and issues and strategies for students with disabilities in the general and adapted curriculum. ECU ranks #217 in best national universities by U.S. News & World Report.

#3 – Western Governors University

Online Bachelor’s in Elementary Education and Special Education

Raleigh, North Carolina

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WGU – an affordable school for online special ed programs.

Undergraduate Tuition: $6,670

Western Governors University offers an online bachelor’s in special education with dual licensure in K-8 elementary and K-12 special education. The coursework is completed online, but students are given plenty of opportunities to gain experience in the classroom. WGU’s website states that 62% of students finish their degree in 42 months, and on average, students transfer 28 credits. Courses may include educational psychology and development of children and adolescents, educational technology for teaching and learning, and managing engaging learning environments. Students must possess a high school diploma or a GED as part of the admission requirements. In addition, students must pass a background test and may need to complete a basic skills exam, depending on the state they live in.

#2 – Florida International University

Online Bachelor’s in Exceptional Student Education

Miami, Florida

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Highly affordable online bachelor’s in special education! Florida International University.

Undergraduate Tuition: $6,565

Ranked second on our list of online special education programs, Florida International University’s program gives graduates the skills and knowledge to be effective educators for individuals ages five to 22 who are dealing with cognitive and emotional disabilities. The program does not lead to licensure but may meet the education requirements for some states. Individuals interested in certification should check with their specific state about licensure requirements. The 120-credit program features courses such as educational needs of students with exceptionalities, instructional and assistive technology in special education, and instructional practices in exceptional student learning. FIU ranks #187 in best national universities according to U.S. News & World Report.

#1 – The University of West Florida

Online Bachelor’s in Exceptional Student Education

Pensacola, Florida

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#1 most affordable bachelor’s in special education online program – The University of West Florida!

Undergraduate Tuition: $6,360

Similar to an online bachelor’s in special education, the University of West Florida offers a bachelor of arts in exceptional student education designed for adult learners. The program culminates in a student teaching experience and leads to Florida certification in K-12 exceptional student education and K-6 in elementary education. Students also earn endorsements in both reading and teaching English for speakers of other languages. The program may also meet certification requirements for other states. The program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparations. Courses may include applied foundations of education, methods in inclusion and collaboration, and survey of normal and abnormal language and speech development. West Florida has been ranked #36 in best regional universities in the South by U.S. News & World Report.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What can you do with an online bachelor’s in special education degree?

Special education graduates have several career paths to choose from after completing their program. Most choose to go on to teach in K-12 settings, focusing on teaching students with disabilities. Most programs offer licensure in K-6 general education classes or K-12 special education classes. Some programs provide additional endorsements, such as reading or English as a second language. These additional endorsements add value, as they highlight additional areas of expertise. Special education teachers’ duties differ depending on the type and severity of the disability. Some of these teachers work in classrooms with students that have a variety of disabilities, including cognitive, emotional, and physical ones, while others may work with only a single type. No matter what population the special education teacher is in, they all must perform direct instruction, curriculum adaptation, and collaboration with other educators and stakeholders.

Aside from classroom instruction, there are additional career paths for special education majors. Careers include educational specialists, instructional coordinators, childcare administrators, preschool teachers, and social services professionals. Because individuals with disabilities face many more challenges while navigating society, they require extra support services inside and outside of the classroom. That means those graduates who want to positively impact the lives of individuals with disabilities can still make a difference even if they do not teach in the classroom.

What is the job outlook for individuals with an online bachelor’s in special education degree?

According to the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job growth for special education teachers is expected to be three percent from 2019 to 2029. In addition, preschool teacher openings are expected to increase eight percent during the same time period. The three percent increase is close to the average occupational growth rate for all other occupations tracked by the BLS. Demand is mainly driven by the retirement of current special education teachers, as well as an increase in the population needing special education services in schools.

As of 2019, the BLS reports a total of 443,700 special education professionals with an estimated increase to 458,000 by 2029. Of the 443,700, there are 193,000 teaching in K-6 schools and 143,000 in secondary grades. There are 84,700 middle school special education teachers and 23,000 working in preschools.

When looking further at the data, special education jobs are available in every community and are fairly stable, given the federal laws that protect special education students and their right to public education. As with most other occupations, the highest numbers of job openings are in large metropolitan areas such as New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Boston. The states with the most special education teachers are New York, Texas, and California.

How much money can I earn with an online bachelor’s in special education degree?

Despite the reputation of low wages, the median pay for special education teachers is $61,500, as of May 2020. Compare that to the median wage of $41,950 for all other occupations and it’s clear that the majority of special education teachers earn far more than the average. When looking further at the data, the highest 10% earn $100,160, and the lowest 10% earn $41,120.

Secondary special education teachers earn slightly more ($62,320) than their middle ($61,820) and elementary ($60,620) peers. Public school special education teachers across all grades earn an average wage of $61,920, compared to their private school peers that earn $56,290.

Wages are impacted by multiple variables, including years of experience, education level, region, and industry – special education wages are no different. According to salary and remuneration research firm, PayScale, special education teachers hit the median salary level at the five-to-nine year mark of their careers, which represents about a 16% increase from their entry-level wage paid to them at the onset. In addition, those with master’s degrees earn more than teachers with bachelor’s degrees only. Nearly all public school systems have built-in wage increases for obtaining a master’s degree, no matter when the degree is earned during someone’s career.

The top-paying states for special education teachers are New York, Maryland, California, and Oregon.

Are there professional associations for individuals enrolled in online special education programs?

Being a special education teacher is both difficult and rewarding. Moreover, the field is constantly changing and evolving as science discovers more of the intricacies surrounding disabilities. In such a field, networking, continuing education, and support are tantamount. There are several organizations dedicated to these goals that can make a large difference in the development and fulfillment of special education teachers and their students.

Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD)

The ASCD has approximately 12,000 members and a rich 75-year history of advocating for educators. The organization is open to all educators, no matter their role. All of its core principles involve its main mission – to see children succeed both in and out of the classroom. The organization publishes books, holds conferences, offers mentoring, and provides networking channels across the country. ASCD believes in the whole-child philosophy rather than a narrowly focused achievement-based view.

Council for Exceptional Children

The Council for Exceptional Children is a major organization with local chapters in all 50 states, participants in multiple countries, and student chapters in hundreds of colleges and universities. The Council’s focus is on advancing the success of children with exceptionalities through advocacy, policy development, professional development, and education.

National Association of Special Education Teachers

Dedicated to the success of aspiring and current special education teachers, the NASET offers continuing education, advocacy, research, and social support. It is the only national membership organization dedicated solely to current and aspiring special education teachers.

What fieldwork experience is required for online bachelor’s in special education programs?

Classroom observations and student teaching experiences are required for all bachelor degree programs in special education. The number of hours required varies by program and state but can range from 200-600 hours in total. Moreover, the majority of education majors are required to have direct experience working with children in a formal capacity before being accepted to the major. Below we detail the different types of classroom experiences students complete as part of their degree program.

Classroom Observations

Passive observations take place throughout most programs. These initial observations require less student engagement and allow the participant to observe how classroom instruction takes place and how special education teachers spend their non-instructional time developing lessons, grading, attending meetings, and communicating with parents and co-workers. These observations are less intrusive and serve as an initial experience into the life of special education professionals. They can last anywhere from a week to more than a month and can occur on multiple occasions throughout the program.

Student Teaching/Internship

The student-teaching experience is typically the culmination of any special education program. It allows the student to lead a classroom on his or her own under the tutelage of an experienced professional. This experience takes place after all coursework is completed and usually lasts an entire term. Students engage in every aspect of the occupation, including curriculum development, IEP creation, parent meetings, staff meetings, curriculum adaptation, and assessment.

Related:

BDP Staff
June 2021

This concludes our article on the 30 best online bachelor’s in special education degree programs.

Brenda Rufener
Author

Julie McCaulley
Expert

Carrie Sealey-Morris
Editor-in-Chief