About Mary McLaughlin

Mary has always loved learning, but was a struggling learner who couldn’t read until one day, the right teacher came along with the right methodology, and everything clicked for Mary. Understanding the struggles of children who just “don’t get it,” Mary has spent her career supporting children with learning difficulties and finding ways to excite them about education. Over her career, Mary has taught Second Grade, Third Grade, and served as a Middle School Administrator in Michigan, most often in the urban setting. In 2015, Mary relocated to Arkansas in search of new opportunities and is excited at all that has been placed before her. She currently teaches Special Education in a self-contained setting for children in grades 2-4.

30 Fastest Online Special Education Master’s Degree Programs

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Getting a master’s in special education online quickly while teaching is an excellent way to advance your education career. Graduate special education programs go beyond the basics of instructing PreK-12 students with disabilities to receive added endorsements. Taking the voluntary step to obtain a master’s can pay off with a 15-30 percent salary bump to the median annual wage of $57,910 in special education. The BLS predicts increased hiring of an additional 28,100 special ed teachers nationwide through 2024, but master’s graduates could also become educational diagnosticians, reading specialists, behavior analysts, ESL teachers, curriculum developers, and school administrators.

We’ve ranked the following 30 Fastest Online Special Education Master’s Degree Programs to help teachers save time and avoid enormous debt. We began by searching for advanced special education degrees available by distance education in the NCES College Navigator. The 14 pages of results were narrowed based on length. Each degree had to be 36 credits or less with accelerated online courses, transfer availability, or minimal practicum. Preference was given for education schools recognized by the CAEP and Council for Exceptional Children. We then consulted with the U.S. News and Niche online rankings to arrange the fast programs by quality.

Here are our selections for the 30 Fastest Online Special Education Master’s Degree Programs:

1. University of Florida

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What later would become the University of Florida was originally founded in 1853 as the East Florida Seminary, the first state-supported institution of higher learning in Florida. Since its inception, the school has become one of the leading universities in state, as well as a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), the only one in Florida. The Association of American Universities is an association of 62 leading comprehensive research universities – Of all the doctoral degrees awarded in the United States, almost half are awarded by members of the AAU, and 55% of those are in science and engineering.

The University of Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award bachelor’s, master’s, specialist, engineer, doctoral and professional degrees. In its 164 years, UF has grown from a school of under 200 students to having a student population of more than 50,000; 33,000 of whom are undergraduate. U.S. News and World Report ranks the University of Florida #1 for Best Online Graduate Education Programs, #14 for top Public Schools, and #50 for National Universities.

The University of Florida’s CAEP-accredited College of Education offers a 30-credit master’s degree through the Online Live Well Program. Special educators choose fast tracks like Dyslexia, Autism, and Disabilities in Society. Students in the Live Well program are required to take four courses designed to increase their knowledge and awareness of those with disabilities and the sociopolitical issues associated with them.  These courses also qualify students a Disabilities in Society Graduate Certificate in addition to their master’s degree.

Tuition: $448/hour (in-state) or $690/hour (out-of-state)

Learn more about the Fastest Online Special Education Master’s Degree Programs at the University of Florida here.

2. Indiana Wesleyan University

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Founded in 1890 as Marion Normal College, the school was only incorporated in 1919 and began classes in 1920. Today, Indiana Wesleyan University is a private, evangelical Christian, liberal-arts university of The Wesleyan Church. Located on a 350-acre residential campus in Marion, Indiana; IWU is the largest private college in Indiana as well as being the largest member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) – a higher education association of 180 Christian institutions around the world. To better understand Indiana Wesleyan University, here is the CCCU’s Mission.

“To advance the cause of Christ-centered higher education and to help our institutions transform lives by faithfully relating scholarship and service to biblical truth.”

IWU has a student population of 14,730 (10,187 undergraduate) and a student-to-faculty ratio of 15 to 1. As of 2015, 93 percent of Full-time Beginning Undergraduate Students at IWU were receiving financial aid, the average amount being $9,948. As a whole, Indiana Wesleyan University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, while many of their programs are nationally accredited by the appropriate agencies. U.S. News and World Report ranks Indiana Wesleyan #27 for Regional Universities Midwest, and Niche ranks IWU as the third best online college in America.

Indiana Wesleyan University grants a quick, 33-credit M.Ed. in Special Education that’s approved by the CAEP and Council for Exceptional Children. The program was designed for teachers seeking initial licensure in special education for students with mild to moderate disabilities. Graduates qualify for Indiana’s Intervention Specialist Mild/Moderate licensure in under two years. Applicants to the program are required to have completed either a three-credit hour course in phonics (with grade requirements) or a passing score on one of four of Indiana’s CORE exams:

  • Early Childhood Generalist Subtest 1: Reading and English Language Arts
  • Elementary Education Generalist Subtest 1: Reading and English Language Arts
  • Reading
  • Exceptional Needs – Mild Intervention: Reading Instruction

Tuition: $462/credit

Learn more about the Fastest Online Special Education Master’s Degree Programs at Indiana Wesleyan University here.

3. Capella University

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Founded in 1993 by former Tonka CEO Stephen Shank and Dr. Harold Abel, a former president of three universities, the Graduate School of America would go on to become Capella University in 1999. Capella University was established with the goal of bringing higher education to an underserved adult population. Today Capella University offers 52 different degree programs with 149 graduate and undergraduate specializations, and has (since 1993) awarded 68,750 degrees and certificates to over 63,000 alumni.

As of March 2017, Capella University has 38,802 learners enrolled, 89% of whom are part-time. In order to serve that many students, Capella has 1,583 faculty members and faculty administrators; of those, 85% have doctorates. Niche has ranked Capella University as the Seventh Best Online College in America. As a whole, Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), though many of their programs have earned additional accreditation from the appropriate agencies.

Capella’s CAEP-accredited Master of Science in Education in Special Education Teaching program was designed to help instructors learn to effectively teach children with a variety of learning disabilities. The program is part of Capella University’s Education Preparation Provider Unit, and is also accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). Teachers take accelerated, 10-week courses and can transfer up to 12 credits for accelerating the 58-quarter credit curriculum. Thanks to Capella’s structure, all classes are offered entirely online, though students will still participate in field exercises, allowing them to put their newly-learned skills to the test in real-life situations.

Tuition: $444/credit

Learn more about the Fastest Online Special Education Master’s Degree Programs at Capella University here.

4. Michigan State University

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The Agricultural College of the State of Michigan, the forerunner to Michigan State University, was established on February 15, 1855, just 18 years after Michigan became a state. At the time of its founding the college was the first institution of higher learning in the United States to teach scientific agriculture. Located in East Lansing, Michigan, MSU is today a leading research university and frequently ranks among the top 100 universities globally. Michigan State University offers over 200 programs of undergraduate, graduate, and professional study, as well as over 275 study abroad programs in more than 60 countries on all continents.

Michigan State University is home to some 50,538 students, 39,143 of them undergraduates, and has a student-to-faculty ratio of 17 to 1. MSU ranks very well both globally and here in the United States. U.S. News and World Report ranks MSU #78 for Best Global Universities, #82 for Best National Universities, #21 for Best Graduate Education Schools (specifically #1 for Secondary Teacher Education), and #8 for Best Online Graduate Education Programs. Michigan State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

The Master of Arts in Special Education program from Michigan State University’s CAEP-accredited College of Education prepares teachers to advance the quality of education for students with disabilities in K-12 schools. The fully-online program is 30 credits long, though endorsements for Autism Spectrum Disorders, and Learning Disabilities require an additional six credits. While in the MA/ASD program, students can also pursue a graduate certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).

Tuition: $698/credit (in-state) or $1,372/credit (out-of-state)

Learn more about the Fastest Online Special Education Master’s Degree Programs at Michigan State University here.

5. Pennsylvania State University

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Originally chartered in 1855 as one of the nation’s first colleges of agricultural science, Pennsylvania State University has grown to become one of the nation’s top state universities, with 24 campuses spread across Pennsylvania. In 2000, Penn State and the Dickinson School of Law merged, which is why Penn State now has two law schools, Dickinson Law (in Carlisle, Pennsylvania) and Penn State Law (on University Park campus). While Penn State has been offering distance education since 1892, they firmly established their commitment to it in 1998 with the creation of their World Campus, which graduated its first students in 2000, and today serves over 12,000 students.

Across its 24 campuses Pennsylvania State University has an enrollment of over 99,000 students. The Main Campus with a student population of 47,307, has a student-to-faculty ratio of 17 to 1, while the World Campus and its student population of 12,242 has a student-to-faculty ratio of only 12 to 1. Penn State World Campus currently offers over 125 accredited graduate degrees, undergraduate degrees, certificates, and minors. Pennsylvania State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and many of their individual programs have additional accreditations from the appropriate.

Requiring just 32 credits, the CAEP-accredited Masters in Education in Special Education program from Penn State World Campus is one of the online programs for which Pennsylvania State University earned its U.S. News and World Report ranking of #9 for Best Online Graduate Education Programs. The program heavily focuses on current issues and topics in the field of special education, and allows students to customize their experience by choosing an emphasis in Academic and Behavioral Supports; Applied Behavior Analysis; or Autism. The emphasis in Applied Behavior Analysis includes an 18-credit BACB-approved course sequence and can prepare you to sit for the Behavior Analysis Certification Board certification exam.

Tuition: $821/credit

Learn more about the Fastest Online Special Education Master’s Degree Programs at Pennsylvania State University here.

6. George Washington University

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George Washington University began its life as Columbian College, which was established by an act of congress on February 9, 1821. The school’s name was changed to Columbian University in 1873 and to George Washington University in 1904. With three campuses and 10 schools, the university is not only the largest institution of higher education in Washington DC, it is also one of the largest private employers in D.C. as well. GW has a unique connection to the Peace Corps – For 11 years in a row, GW has been recognized as a top-5 provider of Peace Corps volunteers among medium-size universities. Since the Peace Corps’ founding, over 1200 GW graduates have served.

George Washington University has a student population of 26,212, 11,157 of whom are undergraduates, and a student-to-faculty ratio of 13 to 1. GW is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. U.S. News and World Report ranks George Washington University #56 for Best National Universities, #38 for Best Graduate Education Schools, and #16 (tied) for Best Online Graduate Education Programs. The George Washington University’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development (GSEHD) currently offers 58 programs, 20 of which are online. The GSEHD has a total enrollment of 1,405 students, and 72 full-time faculty members.

The M.A. in Special Education for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners program from George Washington University’s GSEHD is CAEP-accredited and offered online. The 33-credit program emphasizes theory-to-practice, and employs cutting edge research and practical experience to instill in teachers the skill necessary to ensure the success of students from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds as well as those with social or learning disabilities. The program takes just 1.5 years complete and in the end graduates will find themselves qualified for the SPED PRAXIS and ESOL PRAXIS exams.

Tuition: $1,035/credit

Learn more about the Fastest Online Special Education Master’s Degree Programs at George Washington University here.

7. Ball State University

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When the Indiana Normal Institute was foreclosed less than 20 years since its founding in 1899, the land and buildings were acquired by Frank C. Ball and his brothers, young New York industrialists who then donated them to the state of Indiana. The new Indiana State Normal School Eastern Division was opened in 1918. In light of the Ball family’s generosity the school was renamed the Ball Teachers College in 1922, and again in 1929 to Ball State Teachers College. It was only in 1965 that the school finally become Ball State University, an acknowledgment of its growth in both size and quality of education.

Since its final name change Ball State has continued its phenomenal trend of growth, now serving a student population of 21,196 and offering seven associate’s, 178 bachelor’s, 99 master’s, 2 specialist, and 16 doctoral degrees in seven academic colleges. Ball State University reaffirmed their accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) on January 14, 2014, and are now accredited through 2023–24. U.S. News and World Report ranks Ball State University #176 for Best National Universities, #101 for Best Graduate Education Schools, #93 for Best Public Schools, and #16 (tied) for Best Online Graduate Education Programs.

The Master of Arts in Special Education program from Ball State is recognized by both the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). The 30-credit program can be completed in five semesters, and offers a total of eight focus areas – three blended programs, and five that are fully-online: Applied Behavior Analysis, Autism, Director of Special Education/Exceptional Needs, Response to Interventions, and Severe Interventions.

Tuition: $394/credit (in-state) or $590/credit (out-of-state)

Learn more about the Fastest Online Special Education Master’s Degree Programs at Ball State University here.

8. University of North Texas

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The Texas Normal College and Teacher Training Institute would eventually grow to become the University of North Texas, one of the nation’s largest public universities and the largest in the North Texas region. Founded in 1890 by Joshua C. Chilton, the school originally had only 70 students and was housed in a rented space above a hardware store in downtown Denton. For over 125 years the university has striven to live up to the words Chilton spoke upon the school’s founding:

“It will be our aim to become leaders in the education of the young men and women of Texas, fitting them to creditably fill the most important positions in business and professional circles. We desire the cooperation of all who believe in higher education and who want to see our state in the very front of intellectual as well as material progress.”

Today, the University of North Texas is home to more than 37,299 students and 1,578 faculty members, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 23 to 1. UNT has 13 colleges and schools and offers over 200 degree choices. The University of North Texas is accredited to award bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, while many individual programs are accredited through the appropriate agencies.  U.S. News and World Report ranks UNT #130 for Best Graduate Education Schools, #16 (tied) for Best Online Graduate Education Programs.

The online M.Ed. in Special Education program from the University of North Texas allows students to choose between concentrations in Autism Intervention (AI) or Educational Diagnostician (EdDiag) depending on their preference in working with individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), or working as an Educational Diagnostician. The CAEP-accredited, 33-credit program can be completed in as little as 15 months. You could begin one summer and graduate the next.

Tuition: $1,400/course

Learn more about the Fastest Online Special Education Master’s Degree Programs at the University of North Texas here.

9. Central Michigan University

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Central Michigan University was founded in 1892, and was originally known as the Central Michigan Normal School and Business Institute. The 31 original students attended classes in teaching, business, and stenography, all of which were held in second-floor rooms over an office in downtown Mount Pleasant. From its humble origins, the school has grown to become one of the largest universities in Michigan, and is one of the 100 largest public universities in the United States. Today, Central Michigan University offers over 200 academic programs, and has 150 study abroad programs in more than 40 countries, as well as having more than 220,000 alumni around the world.

CMU has a student population of 26,825, and a student-to-faculty ratio of 20 to 1. Central Michigan University distributes more than $361 million in financial aid annually; in fact 74% of all undergraduate students at CMU receive some sort of grant or scholarship aid. CMU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). U.S. News and World Report ranks Central Michigan University #202 for National Universities, #110 for Top Public Schools, and #29 (tied) for Best Online Graduate Education Programs.

CMU’s online Master of Arts in Special Education program is only available to Michigan educators with a valid Michigan Teaching Certificate and a Special Education Endorsement. The CAEP-accredited program begins with a base of 18 credit-hours’ worth of core courses, students then take additional classes to qualify for endorsements in Autism Spectrum Disorder (SV endorsement) or Learning Disabilities (SM endorsement).

Tuition: $548/credit

Learn more about the Fastest Online Special Education Master’s Degree Programs at Central Michigan University here.

10. Western Governors University

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Western Governors University was originally incorporated in 1997, but only began accepting students in 1999. Founded with the intention of maximizing the potential for distance learning, five primary themes went into the initial design of the school: Responsiveness to employment and societal needs, a focus on competency-based education, expanding access, cost-effectiveness, and development of a technology infrastructure. A unique aspect of WGU is that as a competency-based school, students have the ability to accelerate and complete their degrees faster, since progress is based on performance rather than time spent in a class.

As an online university, Western Governors University has a student population of 70,504 and a student-to-faculty ratio of 40 to 1. Luckily, each student is assigned a student mentor, someone to serve as a guide and help motivate their mentee during their time in the program. WGU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). Niche ranks Western Governors University the 33rd Best Online College in America.

Western Governors University’s Master of Science in Special Education (K-12) program is entirely online and is nationally recognized by the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). WGU Teachers College is the first exclusively online university to receive National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) accreditation for its degree programs that lead to teacher licensure. The 31-unit, competency-based program can be completed in as little as 12 months.

Tuition: $2,890/term

Learn more about the Fastest Online Special Education Master’s Degree Programs at Western Governors University here.

11. Purdue University

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Following Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Morrill Land Grant Act in 1862, the Indiana General Assembly voted to participate in the plan. Purdue University was established in 1869, following a donation of $150,000 from John Purdue, $50,000 from Tippecanoe County and 100 acres from local residents. Located in West Lafayette, Indiana, Purdue University is a public research university and is the main campus in the Purdue University System. Purdue University is sometimes referred to as the “Cradle of Astronauts” as 24 Purdue alumni have been selected for space travel, including Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. In all, Purdue alumni have flown on more than one-third of all U.S. manned flights.

Purdue University has a student population of 40,472, and a student-to-faculty ratio of 12 to 1. Purdue has been accredited continually since 1913, and is currently accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Purdue has more than 400 research laboratories and 116 university-approved research centers and institutes, all in the name of expanding the frontiers of knowledge. U.S. News and World Report ranks Purdue University #90 for Best Global Universities, #60 for Best National Universities, #20 for Top Public Schools, and #35 for Best Online Graduate Education Programs.

Purdue University currently offers an online Master of Science in Education, in a special education program that can be completed in as little as 20 months. The core of the program focuses on mild intervention, and develops the skills necessary to help assist students with learning disabilities, mild developmental disabilities, emotional behavioral disorders, and high functioning autism. The 31-credit master’s only track is designed for those only seeking knowledge in the field of special education. Students intending to pursue licensure have three additional programs available to them.

Tuition: $329/credit (in-state) or $650/credit (out-of-state)

Learn more about the Fastest Online Special Education Master’s Degree Programs at Purdue University here.

12. University of Cincinnati

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The University of Cincinnati can trace its origins back to 1819, with the foundation of Cincinnati College and the Medical College of Ohio. When the University of Cincinnati was established in 1870, it absorbed Cincinnati College and the Medical College of Ohio. In 1906 the university created the first cooperative education program in the world – Cooperative Education is essentially a structured combination of both in-class education and practical work experience. Today, UC is classified as a Research University (Very High Research Activity) by the Carnegie Commission, and offers hundreds of academic programs for students to choose from.

The University of Cincinnati has a student population of 36,042; 25,009 of whom are undergraduates, and a student-to-faculty ratio of 18 to 1. As a whole, UC is accredited through the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), though many of its individual programs have earned accreditation through their appropriate agencies and organizations. UC is ranked as one of America’s top 25 public research universities by the National Science Foundation. U.S. News and World Report ranks the University of Cincinnati #135 for Best National Universities, #64 for Top Public Schools, #89 for Best Graduate Education Schools, and #43 for Best Online Graduate Education Programs.

The Master of Education in Special Education program from UC can be completed in six semesters/two years. The CAEP-accredited online program consists of 30 semester credits, and aims to give teachers the necessary skills to not only aid special needs students in learning, but to also help improve their quality of life. Students are free to choose from one of four concentrations: Advanced Studies, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Transition to Work, or Behavior Disorders.

Tuition: $724/hour

Learn more about the Fastest Online Special Education Master’s Degree Programs at the University of Cincinnati here.

13. Concordia University – St. Paul

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Founded in 1893, Concordia University, St. Paul was established to provide a Christian learning environment for young men preparing to enter the professional ministries of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Located in St. Paul, Minnesota, the school is part of the Concordia University System. Operated by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the Concordia University System is an organization of ten colleges and universities – each of which is named Concordia.

Concordia University, St. Paul is one of the smallest schools on the list, and has a student population of only 4,380, and a student-to-teacher ratio of 16 to 1. Concordia University has been continually accredited since 1967, its most recent reaccreditation occurring in 2008 through the Higher Learning Commission. Niche ranked Concordia, St. Paul the 59th Best Online College in America. U.S. News and World Report ranks Concordia University, St. Paul #103 for Regional Universities Midwest, #81 for Best Online Bachelor’s Programs, and #113 for Best Online Graduate Education Programs.

Master of Arts in Education – Special Education program from Concordia University holds accreditation for its accelerated, seven-week courses. Students will engage in courses such as: Ethical Issues for Professional Educators, Collaboration in Inclusive Settings, and Collaborative Consult. SPED. The 36 credit-hour program was designed so that students would complete one three credit course every seven weeks. There’s also a 30-credit Master of Arts in Differentiated Instruction online for PK-12 teachers.

Tuition: $395/credit

Learn more about the Fastest Online Special Education Master’s Degree Programs at Concordia University – St. Paul here.

14. University of Missouri

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The University of Missouri actually has a rather interesting origin. The University came to be when in 1939, 900 citizens of Boone County came together and pledged $117,921 in cash and land to win the bid to locate the new state university in Columbia. Its establishment made it the first public university west of the Mississippi River, and the first in Thomas Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase Territory. Today, the University of Missouri awards 25 percent of the bachelor’s degrees from Missouri public universities. MU currently offers over 300 undergraduate degree programs through 19 colleges and schools, as well as 100 master’s degree programs, over 70 doctoral degree programs.

MU has an overall student population of 35,424 and a student-to-faculty ratio of 20 to 1. Amazingly, 92 percent of percent of full-time, ranked faculty at Mizzou hold doctorates or the highest degree in their field. The University of Missouri is a member of the Association of American Universities, and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). U.S. News and World Report ranks Mizzou #111 for Best National Universities, #51 for Top Public Schools, #43 for Best Graduate Education Schools, and #61 for Best Online Graduate Education Programs.

The University of Missouri’s CAEP-accredited College of Education offers a 30-credit Master of Education in Special Education with an emphasis on Early Childhood Special Education. The program is delivered completely online, with no required campus visits. Students typically finish the program within two-years, during which time they learn from the program’s specific emphasis on:

  • Assessment methods
  • Creating inclusive classrooms
  • Curriculum development and implementation
  • Language and early literacy development
  • Research-based intervention strategies
  • Problem behavior and positive behavioral supports

Tuition: $12,225 total

Learn more about the Fastest Online Special Education Master’s Degree Programs at the University of Missouri here.

15. Florida International University

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Founded in 1965, Florida International University only truly began its life in 1969, as an abandoned airfield. FIU founding president Chuck Perry gathered three men to help him forge his vision into a reality, Butler Waugh, Donald McDowell and Nick Sileo. Set in an abandoned air traffic controller’ tower, which had no phones, no drinkable water and no furniture, it was decided that the tower should never be destroyed. From an abandoned airfield, Florida International University has grown into one of the largest universities in the United States, and at the heart of the campus there still sits an air traffic controller tower, FIU’s Ivory Tower.

Today, Florida International University belongs to the State University System of Florida and has a student population of 49,702, and a student-to-faculty ratio of 25 to 1. To date, FIU has collectively graduated almost 200,000 alumni, and currently offers over 200 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs, as well as a plethora of fully-online programs. U.S. News and World Report ranks FIU #161 for Best Graduate Education Schools, and #66 for Best Online Graduate Education Programs. Florida International University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), in addition, FIU’s College of Education is accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

The CAEP-accredited Online Master of Science in Special Education: Autism Endorsement program from Florida International University focuses on providing teachers with the knowledge and skills to support and educate learners on the autism spectrum. The 36-credit hour program includes courses like: Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Exceptional Learners, Instructional Technology, and Working with Families of Students with Disabilities through Collaborative Approaches. The program is designed for students to enroll in four courses (12 credits) per semester, completing two courses each eight-week term in the semester.

Tuition: $18,300 total

Learn more about the Fastest Online Special Education Master’s Degree Programs at Florida International University here.

16. Walden University

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Walden University was founded in 1970 by teachers Bernie and Rita Turner, under the shared vision of a new kind of institution for higher education; an institution that allowed professionals to continue working while earning a degree. In 1979 the Minnesota Higher Education Coordinating board approved Walden for licensure, allowing them to grant PhDs and EdDs in the state of Minnesota. Today, Walden University consists of five colleges: The Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership, the College of Management and Technology, the College of Health Sciences, the Barbara Solomon School of social work and human services, and the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, which between them offers 167 programs for students to select from.

Walden University has a student population of 52,799 and a student-to-faculty ratio of 18 to 1. Niche ranks Walden as the 73rd Best Online College in America. Walden University has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) since 1990, with its most recent reaccreditation occurring in 2013. Many of Walden’s individual programs are further accredited by the appropriate agencies for the field.

For those interested in pursuing a special education major, Walden currently offers a Master of Science in Education – Special Education (Non-Licensure) (Grades K-12) program. The program spans 30 credit hours and is offered through the CAEP-accredited Riley College of Education. Teachers develop their ePortfolio with courses like behavior intervention and adapted curriculum in only 12 months.

Tuition: $570/hour

Learn more about the Fastest Online Special Education Master’s Degree Programs at Walden University here.

17. Old Dominion University

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Located in Norfolk, Virginia, Old Dominion was originally founded in 1930 by the College of William and Mary. Established as an extension William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg, Virginia, Old Dominion began as a two-year school for teachers and engineers. Following continued growth, the school was awarded its independence in 1962 and became Old Dominion College, and later Old Dominion University. Today, Old Dominion University has six colleges: Arts and Letters, Business and Public Administration, Education, Engineering and Technology, Health Sciences and Sciences; and offers 73 bachelor’s, 43 master’s, 22 doctoral, and two education specialist programs, including 100 online programs that are offered through ODU Online.

Old Dominion has a student population of 24,672 and a student-to-faculty ratio of 19 to 1. ODU has more than 140,000 alumni in all 50 states and 69 countries; additionally Old Dominion has the second largest percentage of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and health (STEM-H) graduates in Virginia. Old Dominion is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), the Special Education program is further accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). US News and World Report ranks Old Dominion University #210 for National Universities, #118 for Top Public Schools, #112 for Best Graduate Education Schools, and #77 for Best Online Graduate Education Programs.

The Master of Science in Education – Special Education program from Old Dominion University is online and is offered through the CAEP-accredited Darden College of Education. The 30-credit program focuses on research, advanced instructional strategies, and the foundations of special education leadership. Aligned to CEC standards, the accelerated program suits fully licensed teachers in Virginia or Washington. Furthermore, the advanced competencies can qualify as prerequisite course work to the PhD concentration in special education.

Tuition: $496/credit (in-state) or $538/credit (out-of-state)

Learn more about the Fastest Online Special Education Master’s Degree Programs at Old Dominion University here.

18. Lamar University

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Founded in 1923 as South Park Junior College, the school would enroll 125 students in its first fall semester. The school’s name was changed to Lamar College in 1932, in honor of Mirabeau B. Lamar, second president of the Republic of Texas and the “Father of Education” in Texas. In 1951 Lamar became the first junior college in Texas to make the transition to a state-supported four-year institution, its name altered to Lamar State College of Technology to reflect the change. Following the introduction of its first doctoral program in 1970, Lamar became Lamar University in 1971, and later joined the Texas State University System in 1995.

Today, Lamar University offers 96 undergraduate, 50 master’s, and eight doctoral degree programs across 7 colleges: The College of Arts and Sciences Majors, the College of Engineering, the College of Fine Arts and Communication, the College of Business Majors, the College of Education and Human Development Majors, the College of Graduate Studies, and the Reaud Honors College. LU has a student population of 14,965 and a student-to-faculty ratio of 19 to 1. Lamar University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate, baccalaureate, master’s, and doctorate degrees. U.S. News and World Report ranks Lamar University #77 for Best Online Graduate Education Programs.

The Online Master of Education in Special Education program from Lamar University is offered through the CAEP-accredited College of Education & Human Development. The 36-credit hour course can be completed in as few as 18 months. The five-week courses span from psychoeducational evaluation to school law for advanced SPED endorsements.

Tuition: $275/credit

Learn more about the Fastest Online Special Education Master’s Degree Programs at Lamar University here.

19. Ashford University

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Ashford University was originally founded in 1918 as Mount St. Clare College, a junior college for women. Established by the Sisters of St. Francis, Clinton, Iowa, the school was first accredited in 1950 by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, and was awarded approval to award baccalaureate degrees in 1979. In 2002, Mount St. Clare College became The Franciscan University, and conferred its first master’s degrees in 2004. The university was acquired by the Higher education organization Bridgepoint Education, Inc. in 2005, and the school was renamed Ashford University.

Ashford University has a student population of 42,452 and a student-to-faculty ratio of 13 to 1. Niche ranks Ashford University as the 90th Best Test Optional University College in America, and the 77th Best Online College in America. Today, Ashford University consists of four colleges: The Forbes School of Business & Technology, the College of Education, the College of Health, Human Services, and Science, and the College of Liberal Arts – and offers over 60 degree programs between them. Ashford University is accredited by WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

The online Master of Arts in Special Education program from Ashford University is not CAEP-accredited. The 30-credit program combines theory and application through rigorous and coursework and practice. The six-week courses have 24/7 tech support, and instill the skills necessary for teachers to better develop learning and behavioral interventions, and ways to provide special education students with the means to reach their utmost potential.

Tuition: $452/credit

Learn more about the Fastest Online Special Education Master’s Degree Programs at Ashford University here.

20. Eastern Kentucky University

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In 1906, the Kentucky General Assembly enacted legislation that would establish the Eastern Kentucky State Normal School. In 1922 the school became a four-year institution, promptly changing its name to the Eastern Kentucky State Normal School and Teachers College. While the school conferred its first degrees in 1925, it wouldn’t be until 1928 that the school would be accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. Following another two name-changes in 1930 and again in 1948, the Eastern finally came to be known as Eastern Kentucky University in 1966; to go along with this final change the university was given permission to award graduate degrees in academic fields other than education.

Today, Eastern Kentucky University has a student population of 16,844 and a student-to-faculty ratio of 16 to 1. EKU maintains six campuses between three regions, with Hazard and Manchester in the EKU East Region, Danville and Lancaster in the EKU Central Region, and Corbin and Somerset in the EKU South Region. Eastern Kentucky University is accredited by the Commission of Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). U.S. World and News Report ranks EKU #29 for Top Public Schools, #79 for Regional Universities South, and #92 for Best Online Graduate Education Programs.

Eastern Kentucky University’s, CAEP-accredited Master of Arts in Special Education program comes in a variety of manners. Whichever specialization you decide to pursue: Early Childhood, Deaf and Hard of Hearing, or Learning and Behavior Disorders, each program has specific options that can affect both credit requirements and certification upon completion. While a master’s advanced study course consists of only 30 credit hours, the master’s, plus certification, adds between six and 12 extra credit hours.

Tuition: $500/hour

Learn more about the Fastest Online Special Education Master’s Degree Programs at Eastern Kentucky University here.

21. California Baptist University

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Founded in 1950 as the California Baptist College, the school began with 42 students in fall 1950; 120 were enrolled during the 1950-51 academic year. In 1954, eight students became the first to earn undergraduate degrees from California Baptist College. By 1955 the school’s continued growth necessitated a move to larger facilities in Riverside, California. Today, California Baptist University stands as a private, Christian, liberal arts university with 11 schools and colleges that offer 75 bachelor programs, including 159 concentrations and 50 minors; 30 master’s degree programs, with 46 concentrations; and two doctoral programs.

California Baptist University has a student population of 8,541 and a student-to-faculty ratio of 18 to 1. As a whole, CBU is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), though many of the CBU’s various schools and programs hold accreditation or membership with organizations related to their particular disciplines. Likely in reference to their style of Spanish architecture, Niche has ranked California Baptist University 6th for Best College Campuses in America. U.S. News and World Report ranks CBU #37 for Regional Universities West, #21 for Best Colleges for Veterans, and #101 (tied) for Best Online Graduate Education Programs.

Approved by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC), California Baptist University’s Dr. Bonnie G. Metcalf School of Education currently offers an online Master of Science in Education with a Specialization in Disability Studies Program. Designed for professionals with an interest in serving those with disabilities, the 30-credit program can be completed in as little as 12 months, and should prepare graduates to provide leadership in disability ministries as well as helping to integrate of persons with disabilities into local churches.

Tuition: $615/unit

Learn more about the Fastest Online Special Education Master’s Degree Programs at Calfornia Baptist University here.

22. Boise State University

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Founded in 1932 by the Episcopal Church, Boise Junior College went on to earn its independence a mere two years after its establishment. With their introduction of baccalaureate degrees, the school became a four-year college in 1965, and entered the state system of higher education in 1969, resulting in a name change to Boise State College. In 1974, BSC was officially awarded university status, and its named changed one final time to Boise State University. Today, Boise State is designated as a doctoral research institution by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.

Boise State University has a student population of 22,086 and a student-to-faculty ratio of 17 to 1; 7,380 (33 percent) of those students are taking at least one online course. BSU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), and many of its academic programs have special accreditation from organizations related to those fields.  U.S. News and World Report ranks Boise State University #57 for Best Graduate Education Schools, and #101 (tied) for Best Online Graduate Education Programs.

Boise State University’s CAEP-accredited College of Education grants a fully online Master’s in Teaching for Special Education or Early Childhood Intervention. Admitting cohorts each July, these 36-credit online degrees take just four semesters to complete, and focus on collaboration and teamwork in classroom and clinical settings.Completion of the program enables you for initial licensure in special education K-12 (SPED) or Early Childhood Education/Early Childhood Special Education (ECE/ECSE) with the Idaho State Department of Education.

Tuition: $305/credit (in-state) or $600/credit (out-of-state)

Learn more about the Fastest Online Special Education Master’s Degree Programs at Boise State University here.

23. Brandman University

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Established in 1958 by Chapman University, the Chapman University College was created to provide quality education to the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station. Though now a separate university, Brandman has maintained its military-friendly attitude while having expanded to encompass adult learners as well. Still part of the Chapman University System, Brandman University stands today as a private, non-profit university that seeks to provide higher education to working adults.

Brandman University has a student population of 8,004 and a student-to-faculty ratio of 16 to 1. With 26 locations across California and Washington, Brandman University and its more than 50 accredited undergraduate and graduate degrees are readily available to those looking to expand their education. Brandman University is accredited by the WSCUC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).  U.S. News and World Report ranks Brandman #101 (tied) for Best Online Graduate Education Programs.

Brandman University’s CAEP-accredited School of Education currently offers a fully online Master of Arts in Special Education program with five unique concentrations: Emphasis in Teaching and Learning, Advanced Methodology, Autism, Behavior Analysis, or Early Childhood. Whichever concentration you decide upon, the program is divided into two sections, an 18-credit core block that includes courses like: Advanced Assessment and Program Evaluation in Special Education, Research and Evaluation Methods, and Collaborative and Cooperative Teaching – and a concentration block that varies in length, from 12 to 18 credits.

Tuition: $620/credit

Learn more about the Fastest Online Special Education Master’s Degree Programs at Brandman University here.

24. Indiana State University

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The Indiana State Normal School was established in 1865 with the goal of providing education to elementary and high school teachers. Indiana State University still celebrates January 6th as Founders Day, the day in which 23 students presented themselves to a faculty of three on the first day of classes at the Indiana State Normal School. The school awarded its first baccalaureate degrees in 1908, and its first master’s degrees in 1928, which precipitated a change of name to Indiana State Teachers College. As the school continued to grow and expand its focus it was renamed twice more, once in 1961 to Indiana State College, and finally to Indiana State University in 1965.

ISU has a student population of 13,584 and a student-to-faculty ratio of 20 to 1. Today, Indiana State University offers more than 100 undergraduate majors, over 75 graduate programs, including master’s, educational specialist, and doctoral degrees, as well as more than 30 bachelor’s and master’s degree programs offered entirely online. Indiana State University has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) since 1915; in addition, many of its programs are accredited by specialized agencies and organizations. U.S. News and World Report ranks ISU #156 for Best Graduate Education Schools, and #113 for Best Online Graduate Education Programs.

Indiana State University’s Bayh College of Education currently offers an online Master of Science in Special Education program. The CAEP-accredited program allows for tailoring depending on a student’s prior licensure, and experience. Those looking to add a special education teaching license to an existing teaching license are required to only complete 30 credits of coursework, and can complete the program in as little as 12 months. Alternatively, there is a 39-credit hour program that can be completed in 14 months of full-time study.

Tuition: $396/credit (in-state) and $499/credit (out-of-state)

Learn more about the Fastest Online Special Education Master’s Degree Programs at Indiana State University here.

25. George Mason University

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Founded in 1949 as a branch of the University of Virginia, the Northern Virginia University Center of the University of Virginia obtained its independence in 1972 and was summarily renamed George Mason University.  Today, George Mason University has three campuses: in Fairfax, Arlington and Prince William Counties in Virginia and an international campus in Songdo, Korea. Mason is the largest public research university in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Fairfax campus alone consists of over 677 wooded acres and its residential areas are home to more than 6,000 students.

Mason has a total student population of 33,929; 23,066 are undergraduates. The school also has a student-to-faculty ratio of only 16 to 1. George Mason University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC) to award bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Mason ranks very well among various institutions, Forbes ranks Mason #64 in Public Colleges and #111 in Best Value Colleges. Niche has ranked it 94th for Best Colleges for Education in America, 85th for Top Public Universities in America, and #76 for Best Big Colleges in America. U.S. News and World Report ranks Mason #143 for National Universities, #14 for Most Innovative Schools, #62 for Best Graduate Education Schools, and #123 for Best Online Graduate Education Programs.

George Mason University’s College of Education currently offers a Masters of Education in Special Education with Emphasis on Applied Behavior Analysis program. The program consists of three credit requirements, totaling between 30 and 42 credits: 18 credits ABA courses, 12 credits MEd courses, 15 credits optional practicum. Since practicum is optional, the 30-credit degree leads to BACB certification in one year.

Tuition: $563/credit (in-state) or $763/credit (out-of-state)

Learn more about the Fastest Online Special Education Master’s Degree Programs at George Mason University here.

26. University of Minnesota

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Originally founded as a preparatory school in 1851, seven years before the territory of Minnesota became a state, the school was forced to close its doors during the Civil War due to financial difficulties. Thankfully, John Sargent Pillsbury, University regent, state senator, and governor, used what pull he had to establish the school as the recipient of the Morrill Land-Grant Act. As the state’s land-grant institution, the University of Minnesota soon began to flourish, awarding its first bachelor of arts degrees in 1873, and its first doctor of philosophy degree in 1888. Over the years the University of Minnesota has added four new campuses: the Duluth campus in 1947; the Morris campus in 1960; the Crookston campus in 1966; and the Rochester campus in 2006.

Today, the University of Minnesota consists of 19 colleges and schools, and has a total student population of 50,678 – with a student-to-faculty ratio of 17 to 1. While the Twin Cities campus has been continually accredited since 1913, all campuses of the University of Minnesota operate with the accreditation of the Higher Learning Commission. Each campus is accredited to award bachelor’s degrees, while only the Twin Cities and Duluth campuses are accredited to offer master’s degrees, and only the Twin Cities campus is accredited to grant doctoral and professional degrees. U.S. News and World Report ranks UMN #38 for Best Global Universities, #71 for National Universities, #26 (tied) for Top Public Schools, #21 for Best Graduate Education Schools, and #123 for Best Online Graduate Education Programs.

The College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota currently offers an online Master of Education in Special Education program and teacher licensures. The CAEP-accredited program teaches students to use the IDEAL Problem-Solving Model in special education. A minimum of 30 credits are required for completion of the M.Ed. degree. The program has numerous options, allowing students to choose between various single or dual programs. Depending on the licensure you choose, an additional 12.5 – 31 credits may be required.

Tuition: $676/credit (in-state) or $1,046/credit (out-of-state)

Learn more about the Fastest Online Special Education Master’s Degree Programs at the University of Minnesota here.

27. University of Kansas

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The University of Kansas was founded on March 21, 1865. Located in Lawrence, Kansas, the university is one of 62 members of the Association of American Universities. Since its founding, the University of Kansas has grown to encompass five campuses: the Lawrence Campus, the Medical Center Campus in Kansas City, The Wichita Campus, the Salina Campus, and the Edwards campus. Between the five campuses KU has a total of 13 schools, including the only schools of pharmacy and medicine in the state, and offers more than 370 degree programs.

Today, the University of Kansas is a major public research and teaching institution, and has a total student population of 27,259 with a student-to-faculty ratio of 16 to 1. The University of Kansas has been continuously accredited since 1913, and is currently accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Forbes ranks the KU #71 for Top Public Colleges. U.S. News and World Report ranks Kansas #118 for National Universities, #56 for Top Public Schools, #17 for Best Graduate Education Schools, and #136 (tied) for Best Online Graduate Education Programs.

The University of Kansas School of Education is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) Standards through the CAEP Accreditation System. With their most recent reaccreditation, as of 2015, the school is accredited through 2021. The Master’s in Education – Special Education program from the University of Kansas features accelerated, eight-week courses in two concentrations: Autism or Secondary Special Ed and Transition.

Tuition: $575/hour

Learn more about the Fastest Online Special Education Master’s Degree Programs at the University of Kansas here.

28. University of Texas of the Permian Basin

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Authorized by the Texas Legislature in 1969, the University of Texas of the Permian Basin was officially founded in 1973. Between 1973 and 1991 UT Permian Basin only offered junior, senior, and graduate-level courses, though this changed to a more traditional curriculum in 1991 when Permian Basin became a four-year university. The change from an upper-level institution to a four-year campus allowed students to complete their education requirements without having to leave Permian Basin. An interesting fact is that the majority of Permian Basin students work part-time or full-time, and as a result many upper-level and graduate courses now are offered with scheduling options like evening hours, distance education, or weekend programs.

UT Permian Basin has a relatively small student population of only 6,077, and a student-to-faculty ratio of 20 to 1. The University of Texas of the Permian Basin is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award baccalaureate and master’s degrees. Many of the university’s programs and schools are accredited by specialized organizations, such as the Educator Certification Program and its accreditation through the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). U.S. News and World Report ranks UT Permian Basin #93 for Regional Universities West, #37 for Top Public Schools, and #136 (tied) for Best Online Graduate Education Programs.

The Master of Arts in Special Education program from University of Texas Permian Basin is offered entirely online. The 33-credit hour program is accredited by the CAEP, the CEC, and the SBEC and can allow you to earn your Master’s degree in just 12 months with eight-week, online courses. Every course taught in the online program is taught by the same teachers that instruct on campus, and the flexible curriculum can be tailored towards specialization in Autism or Developmental Disabilities.

Tuition: $261/credit

Learn more about the Fastest Online Special Education Master’s Degree Programs at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin here.

29. Liberty University

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Founded in 1971 as Lynchburg Baptist College, the school came about due to a challenge from Pastor Jerry Falwell Sr. Falwell challenged his congregation at Thomas Road Baptist Church to establish a Christian college whose students would “go out in all walks of life to impact this world for God.” The name of the school was changed to Liberty Baptist College in 1976. By 1985 the school was fully accredited and had changed its name to Liberty University when it obtained university status in 1984. Following the death of Jerry Falwell Sr. in 2007, his son Jerry Falwell Jr. took over as president of the university.

In its 46 years in operation, Liberty University has grown to become the fifth largest university in the United States, and the world’s largest Christian university. Today, Liberty University has a student population of 80,494; 49,863 are undergraduates, and they can boast of a student-to-faculty ratio of only 18 to 1. Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate, bachelor’s, master’s, specialist, and doctoral degrees. Niche ranks Liberty University 1st for Most Conservative University in America, and 3rd for Best College Campuses in America. U.S. News and World Report ranks Liberty University #174 for Best Online Graduate Education Programs.

The Master of Arts in Teaching – Special Education program from Liberty University’s CAEP-accredited School of Education is delivered in a format that requires students to be on campus from time to time. Note that the program cannot be completed entirely online. The 36-credit Online M.A.T. in Special Education is designed specifically for those who have no prior teaching experience, and are interested in initial teaching licensure in special education. The program welcomes up to 13 transfer credits for acceleration toward the inclusive student teaching internship.

Tuition: $565/credit

Learn more about the Fastest Online Special Education Master’s Degree Programs at Liberty University here.

30. Florida Atlantic University

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In order to meet the growing educational demands in South Florida, the state legislature authorized the establishment of a new university in Boca Raton. From its earliest stages, Florida Atlantic University was envisioned as the herald of a new generation of universities, institutions that would eschew the traditional trappings of established universities and invent new and better ways of making higher education available to any who sought it. FAU officially opened in 1964, in fact it was Lyndon Baines Johnson, 36th President of the United States, who declared the university open. President Johnson firmly believed in the idea of FAU as a revolutionary force in the world of academia; in his dedication he said that America had entered an era “when education is no longer only for the sons of the rich, but for all who can qualify.”

Today, Florida Atlantic University offers over 180 degree programs through its 10 colleges. FAU has over 149,412 living alumni, and a current student population of 30,380, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 23A to 1. As a whole FAU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), though many of its colleges and academic programs within those colleges are colleges are also accredited by field-specific organizations and associations. Forbes ranks Florida Atlantic University #196 in Public Colleges, and #208 in Research Universities. U.S. News and World Report ranks FAU #193 for Best Online Graduate Education Programs.

The Master’s in Education in Exceptional Student Education from Florida Atlantic University is offered with several areas of concentration: Instructional Practices in ESE, Gifted Education, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Early Childhood, Reading, Applied Behavior Analysis, or Professional Development. FAU’s CAEP-accredited program has a 36-credit hour minimum requirement, this includes College and Department Core, as well as the student’s choice of a concentration area.

Tuition: $369/hour (in-state) or $1,024/hour (out-of-state)

Learn more about the Fastest Online Special Education Master’s Degree Programs at Florida Atlantic University here.

All schools shown here have been contacted and informed of their inclusion on this list. Schools that do not wish to be featured are immediately removed. School names are the registered trademarks of their original owners. The use of any trade name or trademark does not imply any association with the school.

The Top 20 Online PhD in Special Education Degree Programs

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The Census Bureau reports that only 1.68 percent of U.S. adults over age 25 have finished a terminal doctorate degree. Attending graduate school for a PhD in Special Education can set you apart in the teaching field with top-level knowledge of childhood disabilities. Doctoral programs in special education develop the research and pedagogical skills required to adapt Common Core curriculum. Earning a doctorate in education leads to mean lifetime earnings at $2.80 million, which is significantly higher than the master’s-level average of $2.26 million. Advanced training can unlock jobs like special education administrator, educational diagnostician, applied behavior analyst, assistive technology specialist, and early intervention director. Some PhD graduates become tenured college faculty to train tomorrow’s special educators.

Thanks to digital technology, finishing your doctorate can happen wholly online too. We’ve devoted the following article to the Top 20 Online PhD in Special Education Degree Programs nationwide. We aligned our order with the U.S. News and World Report rankings for the best graduate online education offerings. Next, we narrowed down the list to universities offering doctoral concentrations for special education teachers primarily online. Strong preference was given to programs recognized by the Council on Accreditation of Teacher Preparation (CAEP) and/or Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). Other factors we considered were post-grad enrollment, curriculum model, academic rigor, teacher licensing, financial aid, dissertation support, and flexibility.

Here are our selections for the Top 20 Online PhD in Special Education Degree Programs:

1. University of Buffalo-SUNY

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Endowed for $619.3 million, the University of Buffalo-SUNY is a flagship public, sea-grant and space-grant RU/VH doctoral institution with over 9,800 post-grad Bulls studying in New York’s Southern Tier and online. The U.S. News recognized UB for the10th best online graduate education programs nationwide. With CAEP approval, the Graduate School of Education confers a 72-credit PhD in Curriculum, Instruction and the Science of Learning online with research clusters like Spatial Literacy and Special Education.

Learn more about the Online PhD In Special Education Program at the University of Buffalo – SUNY here.

2. St. John’s University

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Headquartered on Utopia Parkway in Queens, St. John’s University is a private, nonprofit Catholic NAICU member endowed for $644 million that’s upholding Vincentian values to educate over 5,600 post-graduates on-site and online. The U.S. News distinguished SJU for America’s 22nd best online graduate education degrees. Special educators with current NYSED certification could enter the CAEP-accredited School of Education to pursue the 42-credit PhD in Literacy for Diverse and At-Risk Learners online.

Learn more about the Online PhD In Special Education Program at St. John’s University here.

3. University of Colorado – Denver

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Attracting over 18,000 students and $375 million in research funding, the University of Colorado-Denver is a public, land-grant RU/H institution created in 1912 that’s offering courses at the Auraria Campus, Anschutz Medical Campus, and online. According to the U.S. News, UC-Denver houses the country’s 47th best online graduate education programs. The CAEP-accredited School of Education grants its 75-credit PhD in Education and Human Development in seven concentrations, including Early Childhood Special Education, online.

Learn more about the Online PhD In Special Education Program at the University of Colorado – Denver here.

4. University of Pittsburgh

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Classified as a public, doctoral-granting RU/VH institution with a community impact of $1.7 billion, the University of Pittsburgh has grown since 1787 to enroll more than 9,800 post-grad Panthers on its 132-acre urban campus in Oakland and online. The U.S. News honored Pitt for awarding the United States’ 47th best online graduate education degrees. Aligned to CAEP guidelines, the three-year, part-time EdD in Special Education offers hybrid online courses with specializations like Autism and Early Intervention.

Learn more about the Online PhD In Special Education Program at the University of Pittsburgh here.

5. Regent University

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Affiliated with five Fulbright Scholars, Regent University is a private, nonprofit evangelical Christian institution led by Chancellor Pat Robertson with a $186 million endowment that’s serving 3,900 post-grads in Virginia Beach and online. The U.S. News applauded Regent for America’s 56th best online graduate education degrees. Maintaining CAEP accreditation, the Graduate School of Education awards a 66-credit EdD or 75-credit Online PhD in Special Education with only one four-day campus residency each year.

Learn more about the Online PhD In Special Education Program at Regent University here.

6. Concordia University Chicago

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Established by Lutheran followers of Johann Konrad Wilhelm Lohe in 1864, Concordia University Chicago transformed from a private teacher’s seminary into a liberal arts institution with over 3,600 post-grad Cougars studying in River Forest and online. The U.S. News lauded CUC for the 66th best online graduate education degrees nationwide. The CAEP-accredited College of Education confers a 61-credit EdD or 67-credit PhD in Special Education Leadership online for master’s-level teachers with LBS1 Endorsement.

Learn more about the Online PhD in Special Education Program at Concordia University Chicago here.

7. Drexel University

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Opened in 1891, Drexel University is a private, nonprofit RU/H institution that’s enrolling over 10,900 post-grad Dragons in the AITU both online and on-site in Philadelphia’s Powelton Village. As a USDLA Best Practices Award winner, Drexel grants America’s 84th best online graduate education degrees according to the U.S. News. Within the CAEP-accredited School of Education, online cohorts can enter the three-year, part-time EdD in Educational Leadership and Management with a 15-credit Special Education Leadership Concentration.

Learn more about the Online PhD in Special Education Program at Drexel University here.

8. University of West Georgia

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Originally called the Fourth District A&M School in 1906, the University of West Georgia has evolved into a public, doctoral-granting RU/H institution with a $20.49 million endowment and around 2,000 post-grad Wolves studying from Carrollton to Dalton and online. The U.S. News tied UWG for America’s 84th best online graduate education programs. With CAEP approval, the three-year, 60-credit Online EdD in School Improvement degree confers an Area of Concentration in Special Education.

Learn more about the Online PhD in Special Education Program at the University of West Georgia here.

9. Nova Southeastern University

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Sprawling across 480 acres in the Sunshine State’s eighth-largest city, Fort Lauderdale, Nova Southeastern University is a private, nonprofit RU/H distance learning hub endowed for $102.7 million to educate nearly 20,100 post-grad Sharks yearly. The U.S. News designated NSU as America’s 84th best online provider of graduate education degrees. The CAEP-accredited Fischler College of Education awards a 54-credit Doctor of Education concentrated in Special Education online with an optional BACB-approved Applied Behavior Analysis track.

Learn more about the Online PhD in Special Education Program at Nova Southeastern University here.

10. University of the Cumberlands

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Nestled in Williamsburg, Kentucky, around 70 miles north of Knoxville, the University of the Cumberlands is a private, nonprofit Baptist institution that’s holding a $73.3 million endowment to educate around 3,150 post-grad Patriots on-site and online. According to the U.S. News, UC delivers the country’s 92nd best online graduate education offerings with CAEP accreditation. Tracing back to 1888, the School of Education began a 60-credit Doctorate in Educational Leadership with specialty areas like Special Education.

Learn more about the Online PhD in Special Education Program at the University of the Cumberlands here.

11. Texas Tech University

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Belonging to the ORAU, Texas Tech University is the Longhorn State’s sixth-largest public, doctoral-granting research hub educating over 6,050 post-grad Red Raiders within the Big 12 Conference in Lubbock, Abilene, Dallas, and online. The U.S. News ranked TTU 108th nationally for the best online graduate education degrees. Adhering to CAEP and CEC standards, the College of Education offers a 90-credit Special Education PhD online for master’s-level teachers with optional Educational Diagnostician Certification.

Learn more about the Online PhD in Special Education Program at Texas Tech University here.

12. Portland State University

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Occupying a 50-acre, LEED-certified campus in Oregon’s “Rose City,” Portland State University is a public, co-educational APLU research center endowed for $58.4 million that’s welcoming around 5,600 post-grad Vikings on-site and online. The U.S. News recognized PDX as America’s 101st best graduate education school and ninth most innovative college. The CAEP-accredited Graduate School of Education offers an Educational Leadership Doctoral (EdD) in Special Education with hybrid, 11-week sessions with online D2L components.

Learn more about the Online PhD in Special Education Program at Portland State University here.

13. West Virginia University

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Enrolling around 6,600 post-grad Mountaineers, West Virginia University is a public, land-grant and space-grant RU/VH institution carrying a $515 million endowment for online and on-site teaching in Morgantown. The U.S. News congratulated WVU for America’s 123rd best online graduate education degrees. Approved by the CAEP and CEC, the College of Education and Human Services awards a 42-credit, post-master’s Doctoral Program in Special Education online for PreK-12 certified teachers with two full years of classroom experience.

Learn more about the Online PhD in Special Education Program at West Virginia University here.

14. New Mexico State University

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Featuring nearly 121,000 living alumni like Alvy Ray Smith and Paul W. Klipsch, New Mexico State University is a public, space-grant Hispanic-serving RU/H institution endowed for $214.8 million to teach 3,700 post-grad Aggies in Las Cruces and online. The U.S. News ranked NMSU the 101st top graduate education school countrywide. The CAEP-accredited College of Education offers a hybrid, tech-based PhD in Educational Leadership for 78 credits with cognates like Child Development and Special Education.

Learn more about the Online PhD in Special Education Program at New Mexico State University here.

15. University of Northern Colorado

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Established as the Colorado State Normal School in 1890, the University of Northern Colorado is a public, doctoral-granting institution located in Greeley to educate over 2,800 post-grad Bears online and on-campus. According to the U.S. News, UNCO houses the nation’s 123rd best online graduate education degrees. Through the Bresnahan-Halstead Center, the 72-credit Special Education PhD is conducted online with CAEP-accredited categorical emphases like Autism, Visual Impairment, Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and Behavioral Disorders.

Learn more about the Online PhD in Special Education Program at the University of Northern Colorado here.

16. Slippery Rock University

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Positioned 52 miles north of Pittsburgh on western Pennsylvania’s largest campus, Slippery Rock University is a public, co-educational PASSHE member that’s endowed for $16.5 million to educate around 700 post-grads on-site and online. The U.S. News placed SRU as the North’s 75th best college and 23rd top public school. Maintaining CAEP accreditation, the College of Education offers a three-year, part-time Doctor in Special Education program primarily online with weekend face-to-face teaching during summers.

Learn more about the Online PhD in Special Education Program at Slippery Rock University here.

17. Liberty University

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Started by Southern Baptist televangelist Jerry Falwell of Thomas Road Baptist Church in 1971, Liberty University is a private, nonprofit faith-based NAICU institution endowed for $1.05 billion to educate over 12,500 online post-grads from Lynchburg, Virginia. The U.S. News crowned Liberty the 174th best online college nationwide for graduate education. Charging $595 per credit full-time, the CAEP-accredited School of Education grants a 60-credit EdD in Curriculum & Instruction for Special Education online.

Learn more about the Online PhD in Special Education Program at Liberty University here.

18. Gwynedd Mercy University

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Founded in 1948 on Willowbrook Farm in 1948, Gwynedd Mercy University is a private, nonprofit CIC member rooted in the Sisters of Mercy’s Catholic tradition to educate around 650 post-grad Griffins from eastern Pennsylvania and online. According to the U.S. News, GMU is the North’s 137th best regional college with a 10:1 student-faculty ratio. Online master’s-level cohorts finish the CAEP-accredited, 54-credit Accelerated Executive PhD in Educational Leadership in Special Education in just three years.

Learn more about the Online PhD in Special Education at Gwynedd Mercy University here.

19. Capella University

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Given the CHEA Award for Outstanding Practice, Capella University is a publicly traded, for-profit online learning system established by Tonka CEO Stephen Shank in 1993 that’s headquartered in Minneapolis and attracting over 35,800 scholars from 61 countries. On Niche, Capella was graded “A” for value as America’s seventh best online college. Recognized by the CAEP and CEC, the 92-credit PhD in Special Education Leadership program offers flexible, 10-week online courses and in-person residency at seven locations.

Learn more about the Online PhD in Special Education at Capella University here.

20. Walden University

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Owned by Laureate Education, Walden University is a global publicly traded, for-profit network led by President Jonathan A. Kaplan that’s enrolling over 48,900 online students in 50 states and 29 countries from Minneapolis-St. Paul. Niche ranked Walden as America’s 73rd best online college and Minnesota’s 22nd top value. Featuring two in-person and two virtual residencies, the CAEP-accredited Riley College of Education’s 86-unit PhD in Education grants nine specializations, including the NAEYC-sponsored Early Childhood Special Education track.

Learn more about the Online PhD in Special Education at Walden University here.

Related

The Top 20 PhD Programs in Special Education
The Top 15 Accredited Online Special Education Doctoral Degree Programs
The Top 15 Accredited Schools Online Offering Doctoral Degrees in Special Education

All schools shown here have been contacted and informed of their inclusion on this list. Schools that do not wish to be featured are immediately removed. School names are the registered trademarks of their original owners. The use of any trade name or trademark does not imply any association with the school.

Top 20 PhD Programs in Special Education

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Heading to graduate school for a Doctor of Philosophy is an option worth considering for special educators seeking career advancement. The PhD in Special Education is a terminal degree that provides the highest level of research-based methods for studying and developing new pedagogical tools that improve outcomes for exceptional children. Many PhD graduates enter faculty positions in higher education to teach tomorrow’s teachers. The BLS predicts faster-than-average job growth in academia at 13 percent through 2024. University-level education professors report a mean annual wage of $70,260. Education PhD holders could also become special education directors, school principals, curriculum developers, superintendents, and childcare administrators.

Therefore, we’ve constructed the following list of the Top 20 Ph.D. Special Education Programs in the United States. We consulted with the U.S. News and World Report rankings to narrow down the best campus-based colleges for graduate teaching degrees. We visited the website for each high-ranking school to find Ph.D. programs, which are more scientific and lab-oriented than Ed.D. degrees. Our ranking favored programs offering several degree specializations. Special priority was given to teacher programs accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) or similar entities. Other conditions considered were doctoral tuition support, graduate assistantships, student-faculty ratio, admission selectivity, academic rigor, and dissertation opportunities.

1. University of Wisconsin – Madison

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As a “Public Ivy,” land-grant institution with RU/VH status, the University of Wisconsin-Madison stands upon 936 urban acres along Lake Monona to educate over 13,800 post-graduates. The U.S. News applauded UW-Madison for the third best graduate education school nationally. Within the NCATE-accredited School of Education, advanced cohorts of four to eight students pursue the 56-credit Special Education Ph.D. program yearly. Over $50 million in extramural funding supports dissertations in the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER).

Doctoral Tuition: $791 (in-state) or $1,623 (out-of-state) per credit

Learn more about the Top PhD Programs in Special Education at the University of Wisconsin – Madison here.

2. Columbia University

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Endowed for $9.04 billion, Columbia University is a private, Ivy League AAU member founded in 1754 before the Declaration of Independence that’s now enrolling around 19,500 post-grads on 299 urban acres in Upper Manhattan. The U.S. News ranked Columbia’s Teachers College seventh nationally for best graduate education. Special educators have several doctoral options, including a Ph.D. in Applied Behavior Analysis, Ph.D. in Intellectual Disability/Autism & Severe/Multiple Disabilities, or Ph.D. in Deaf and Hard of Hearing, with CAEP approval.

Doctoral Tuition: $9,072 (half-time) or $18,144 (full-time) per semester

Learn more about the Top PhD Programs in Special Education at Columbia University here.

3. Vanderbilt University

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Attracting 5,800 post-grads from 90 foreign countries, Vanderbilt University is a private, nonprofit RU/VH institution in the 568 Group that’s located on a 330-acre urban campus in Middle Tennessee near midtown Nashville. According to the U.S. News, the Peabody College is tied for America’s seventh best graduate education school. The NCATE-accredited Ph.D. in Special Education provides four tracks: Early Childhood, High Incidence, Severe Disabilities, and Visual Impairments. Doctoral candidates also contribute to Vanderbilt’s premier Kennedy Center Research on Human Development.

Doctoral Tuition: $1,854 per credit hour

Learn more about the Top PhD Programs in Special Education at Vanderbilt University here.

4. University of Washington

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Affiliated with seven Nobel Prize laureates, the University of Washington is a public, land-grant APRU institution in the Pac-12 Conference that’s endowed for $2.9 billion and serving over 14,600 post-grad Huskies from 703 acres in Seattle. The U.S. News placed the UW College of Education ninth nationally for graduate teaching programs. Offering tuition waivers and $1,700 monthly stipends, the Ph.D. in Special Education degree has three specializations: High- and Low-Incidence Disabilities, Secondary Education, and Applied Behavior Analysis.

Doctoral Tuition: $5,992 (in-state) or $10,404 (out-of-state) per quarter

Learn more about the Top PhD Programs in Special Education at the University of Washington here.

5. University of Texas at Austin

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Led by president Gregory L. Fenves, the University of Texas at Austin occupies 434 urban acres as a flagship public, space-grant RU/VH institution with 11,350 post-graduates. UT-Austin has America’s 11th best graduate education according to the USNWR. Linked to the Texas Center for Disability Studies, the Ph.D. in Special Education program lets Longhorns choose from four concentrations: Autism & Developmental Disabilities, Early Childhood Special Education, Learning Disabilities & Behavioral Disorders, or Multicultural Special Education.

Doctoral Tuition: $5,062 (in-state) or $9,232 (out-of-state) each semester

Learn more about the Top PhD Programs in Special Education at the University of Texas at Austin here.

6. New York University

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New York University is a private, nonprofit RU/VH institution with an $8.04 billion budget to educate over 24,300 post-grad Violets from a 230-acre urban campus in Greenwich Village. Founded in 1890, NYU’s Steinhardt School was ranked 13th nationally for best graduate education by the U.S. News. Holding CAEP accreditation, the 60-credit Ph.D. in Teaching and Learning program offers a Special Education emphasis. Students work with poverty-impacted children at 25 partnering schools in East Harlem and South Bronx.

Doctoral Tuition: $10,390 (half-time) or $20,368 (full-time) per year

Learn more about the Top PhD Programs in Special Education at New York University here.

7. University of Oregon

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Boasting over 195,000 living alumni, including Columbia’s President Lee Bollinger, the University of Oregon is a flagship public, Pac-12 RU/VH institution endowed for $758 million on a 295-acre urban campus in Eugene along the Willamette. The U.S. News ranked the UO College of Education 14th nationally. Linked with the award-winning Pearl Duck Autism Center, the Ph.D. in Special Education offers five emphases in Positive Behavior Support, Low-Incidence Disabilities, Early Intervention, Prevention & Academic Intervention, and Secondary/Transition Services.

Doctoral Tuition: $16,602 (in-state) or $27,591 (out-of-state) each year

Learn more about the Top PhD Programs in Special Education at the University of Oregon here.

8. University of Kansas

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Chartered in 1864 after “Bleeding Kansas” ended, the University of Kansas is a flagship public, land-grant AAU member with a $1.86 billion endowment and 28,100 Jayhawks enrolled on its spacious 1,100-acre urban campus on Mount Oread. Kansas placed 17th for best graduate education school according to the U.S. News. Taking a scientific-practitioner model, the Ph.D. in Special Education maintains CAEP accreditation for six specializations, such as Early Childhood Unified, Instruction Design and Technology, and Special Education Policy.

Doctoral Tuition: $402 (in-state) or $909 (out-of-state) per credit

Learn more about the Top PhD Programs in Special Education at the University of Kansas here.

9. Ohio State University

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Reporting $652 million in research expenditures, Ohio State University is a public, sea-grant RU/VH institution contributing to the Big Ten Academic Alliance with over 13,500 post-grad Buckeyes studying on its 1,765-acre headquarters in Columbus. The U.S. News ranked the NCATE-accredited College of Education and Human Ecology 18th nationwide. In Ramseyer Hall, students begin the 63-credit Ph.D. in Educational Studies, Special Education program every Autumn with self-designed specializations like Applied Behavior Analysis or Urban Issues in Special Education.

Doctoral Tuition: $12,888 (in-state) or $33,334 (out-of-state) each year

Learn more about the Top PhD Programs in Special Education at Ohio State University here.

10. University of California – Berkeley

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Created under the Dwinelle Bill of 1868, the University of California-Berkeley is a public, land-grant IARU member noted for the Free Speech Movement that’s teaching 10,800 post-grad Golden Bears across its 1,232 urban acres in Alameda County. The Berkeley Graduate School of Education was tied for 18th nationally by the U.S. News. Partnering with San Francisco State University, the Joint Doctoral Program in Special Education offers a Ph.D. and access to the UC SPEDDR Center for Research.

Doctoral Tuition: $11,220 (in-state) or $26,322 (out-of-state) per year

Learn more about the Top PhD Programs in Special Education at the University of California – Berkeley here.

11. University of Virginia

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Since becoming the South’s first AAU member in 1904, the University of Virginia has grown its $5.85 billion endowment as a flagship public, land-grant RU/VH institution to engage over 6,500 post-grad Cavaliers upon its 1,682-acre historic campus in Charlottesville. UVA’s Curry School of Education holds CAEP accreditation as the 18th best teacher educator nationwide according to the U.S. News. Advanced cohorts can enter the 72-credit Ph.D. in Special Education program specialized in High-Incidence Disabilities or Gifted/Talented Education.

Doctoral Tuition: $15,224 (in-state) or $25,174 (out-of-state) per year

Learn more about the Top PhD Programs in Special Education at the University of Virginia here.

12. Michigan State University

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Split into 17 colleges with 11,400 post-grad Spartans total, Michigan State University is a public, land-grant and sea-grant RU/VH powerhouse with a $2.25 billion endowment that occupies 5,200 acres on the Red Cedar River in East Lansing. The U.S. News applauded MSU for America’s 21st best graduate education degrees. Within the CAEP-accredited College of Education, there’s a 67-credit Special Education Ph.D. program available. Doctoral students conduct dissertations in state-of-the-art labs like the Research on Teaching and Learning Institute.

Doctoral Tuition: $698 (in-state) or $1,372 (out-of-state) per credit

Learn more about the Top PhD Programs in Special Education at Michigan State University here.

13. University of Minnesota Twin Cities

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Sitting atop a 2,730-acre urban campus in Minneapolis-St. Paul overlooking the Mississippi River, the University of Minnesota Twin Cities is a public, land-grant and space-grant BTAA member with nearly 15,900 post-grad Golden Gophers enrolled. Minnesota’s CAEP-accredited College of Education & Human Development is ranked 21st nationally by the U.S. News. Teachers could earn the 69-credit Special Education Ph.D. degree on-campus. Several are recruited for the National Center for Leadership in Intensive Intervention (NCLii) Fellowships.

Doctoral Tuition: $8,120 (in-state) or $12,560 (out-of-state) per semester

Learn more about the Top PhD Programs in Special Education at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities here.

14. University of Illinois – Chicago

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Easily accessed from the UIC-Halsted Blue Line, the University of Illinois-Chicago is a public, state-funded GCU Coalition member that will “Teach, Research, Serve” with 11,400 post-grad Flames yearly from 244 urban acres on Chicago’s Near West Side. Illinois was ranked 24th for best graduate education by the U.S. News. Adhering to NCATE standards, the 96-hour Ph.D. in Special Education offers practice in the UIC Educational Assessment Clinic and research in the Center for Urban Education Leadership.

Doctoral Tuition: $5,740 (in-state) or $11,860 (out-of-state) each semester

Learn more about the Top PhD Programs in Special Education at the University of Illinois – Chicago here.

15. Utah State University

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Established in 1888 from Anthon H. Lund’s vision, Utah State University is a public, land-grant and space-grant RU/VH institution drawing over 3,900 post-grad Aggies from the “Beehive State” and beyond to its 400-acre suburban campus in Logan. According to the U.S. News, USU’s Emma Eccles Jones College is the 26th best graduate education school. Special educators could pursue the 70-credit Disability Disciplines Doctoral Program for seven Ph.D. specializations, including Applied Behavior Analysis, Rehabilitation Counseling, and Special Education.

Doctoral Tuition: $3,138 (in-state) or $9,793 (out-of-state) per term

Learn more about the Top PhD Programs in Special Education at Utah State University here.

16. University of Connecticut

Learn more about the Top PhD Programs in Special Education at the University of Connecticut here.

Belonging to Universitas 21 Global with Ohio State, the University of Connecticut is a public, land-grant, space-grant RU/VH hub located on 4,400 rural acres in Storrs to educate 8,300 post-grad Huskies in New England’s Knowledge Corridor. The NCATE-accredited Neag School of Education has America’s 27th best graduate degrees according to the U.S. News. Full-time students could earn full-tuition coverage for the Ph.D. in Special Education tracks for Literacy Supports, Positive Behavior Supports, Postsecondary Transition, or Early Childhood.

Doctoral Tuition: $7,998 (in-state) or $18,516 (out-of-state) each semester

Learn more about the Top PhD Programs in Special Education at the University of Connecticut University here.

17. University of Pittsburgh

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Positioned on 132 urban acres in Western Pennsylvania’s Schenley Farms Historic District, the University of Pittsburgh is a public, land-grant RU/VH center tracing back to 1787 that’s endowed for $3.52 billion and educating 9,800 post-grad Panthers. The NCATE-accredited School of Education is tied for 27th place according to the U.S. News. Special educators have three doctoral options: the Ph.D. in Early Intervention, Ph.D. in Education of Students with Mental & Physical Disabilities, or Ph.D. in Vision Studies.

Doctoral Tuition: $21,260 (in-state) or $34,944 (out-of-state) per year

Learn more about the Top PhD Programs in Special Education at the University of Pittsburgh here.

18. University of Florida

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Continuously operating in Gainesville since 1906, the University of Florida is a public, land-grant and sea-grant RU/VH superpower with a $1.46 billion endowment and more than 16,200 post-grad Gators gobbling knowledge on its 2,000-acre suburban campus. The U.S. News ranked UF 29th for best graduate education programs. With NCATE accreditation, the 90-hour Ph.D. in Special Education gives research-oriented training in cutting-edge institutes like the CEEDAR Center. Doctoral candidates could add the Graduate Certificate in Dyslexia or Disabilities in Society.

Doctoral Tuition: $12,740 (in-state) or $30,134 (out-of-state) per year

Learn more about the Top PhD Programs in Special Education at the University of Florida here.

19. University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

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Under Chancellor Carol Folt’s leadership, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill educates more than 10,600 post-grad Tar Heels as a public, land-grant SURA member with a $2.89 billion endowment and sprawling 729-acre urban campus near Raleigh. The CAEP-accredited School of Education stood out for America’s 31st best graduate degrees on the U.S. News survey. The 64-credit Ph.D. in Education program offers an Applied Developmental Sciences and Special Education track with emphases like Autism and Early Childhood.

Doctoral Tuition: $11,940 (in-state) or $29,150 (out-of-state) each year

Learn more about the Top PhD Programs in Special Education at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill here.

20. Indiana University – Bloomington

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Occupying a 1,937-acre urban campus atop Salem Limestone near Giffy Lake Nature Preserve, Indiana University-Bloomington is a public, land-grant URA research institution endowed for $1.98 billion that’s training 10,150 post-grad Hoosiers. According to the U.S. News, the NCATE-accredited W.W. Wright School of Education has the 32nd best graduate teaching degrees. Admitting each January, the Ph.D. in Special Education program grants seven unique specializations, such as Family Supportive Practices, Emotional/Behavioral Disabilities, and Autism Spectrum Disorders Intervention.

Doctoral Tuition: $4,002 (in-state) or $12,161 (out-of-state) per semester

Learn more about the Top PhD Programs in Special Education at Indiana University – Bloomington here.

All schools shown here have been contacted and informed of their inclusion on this list. Schools that do not wish to be featured are immediately removed. School names are the registered trademarks of their original owners. The use of any trade name or trademark does not imply any association with the school.

Top 20 Colleges For Students With Special Needs

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Finding the ideal college match is considerably harder for individuals with physical, learning, psychological, and cognitive disabilities. Although the American Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 protects students with special needs from discrimination on any campus, some universities aren’t as disability-friendly as others. One survey found that just 86 percent of U.S. institutions enroll learners with diagnosed impairments. Attending a college with a track record of accommodating exceptional students is beneficial because nearly two-thirds of young adults with disabilities don’t finish their degree. That’s problematic since bachelor’s degrees provide an average lifetime advantage of $1 million over high school grads. Luckily, students with disabilities can beat the odds and maximize their career potential by choosing the right school.

We’ve created the following article the Top 20 Colleges for Students With Special Education Needs. Forming our ranking began with an online search of universities with strong, effective programming for disabled learners. We looked beyond minimum ADA accessibility requirements to find colleges paving the way for equal opportunity. Each prospective school had to include a fully-equipped disability center offering free accommodations, even if extras were available for added tuition. Being regionally accredited for high-quality, transferrable education was mandatory. Preference was given to disability-friendly colleges with top rankings in the U.S. News and World Report, especially for student support. Other factors included financial aid, academic choice, graduation rate, technology, faculty credentials, and personalized attention.

Here are our selections for the Top 20 Colleges For Students With Special Education Needs:

1. University of Iowa

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Endowed for $1.25 billion, the University of Iowa is a public, space-grant RU/VH institution in the Big Ten Academic Alliance that’s educating over 33,300 Hawkeyes in Iowa City. The U.S. News ranked Iowa the 82nd best university and 33rd top public college nationally. Students with disabilities can be empowered with a two-year, transitional certificate from the UI REACH Program. The Student Disability Services (SDS) Center also offers accommodations within Iowa’s 200+ majors, such as the Music B.A. and Geoscience B.S.

Learn more about the University of Iowa’s College For Students With Special Education Needs here.

2. University of Michigan

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Classified as a public, sea-grant RU/VH institution, the University of Michigan educates over 44,700 Wolverines of various ability levels in Ann Arbor, Detroit, Flint, and Dearborn. According to the U.S. News, UMich is America’s 27th best university and ninth most innovative school. The 14 undergraduate schools offer 265+ majors from Judaic Studies to Drama. In Haven Hall, the Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) offers free accommodations, including Modern Language Aptitude Testing. Dyslexic students could obtain the Karine Eide Memorial Scholarship.

Learn more about the University of Michigan’s College For Students With Special Education Needs here.

3. Gallaudet University

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Officially bilingual with English and ASL used, Gallaudet University is a private, federally-chartered institution serving over 2,200 deaf and hard-of-hearing students in Washington, DC. The USNWR recognized Gallaudet as the North’s 16th best school and top value. Hearing impaired students can choose from 30 bachelor’s, including the Government B.A. and Interpretation B.A. The Office for Students with Disabilities (OSWD) provides various accommodations from Braille textbooks to guide dogs and wheelchair repair service.

Learn more about Gallaudet University’s College For Students With Special Education Needs here.

4. University of Southern California

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Enrolling over 42,400 Trojans, the University of Southern California is a private, sea-grant AAU member endowed for $4.6 billion in Los Angeles’ University Park district. USC was ranked America’s 23rd best university and 56th top value by the U.S. News. The Office of Disability Services and Programs (DSP) accommodates special needs with note taking, extra testing time, assistive technology, and more. These help finish USC’s 95+ majors, such as the Astronomy B.S. and Political Economy B.A.

Learn more about the University of Southern California’s College For Students With Special Education Needs here.

5. Northeastern University

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Established in 1898, Northeastern University is a private, non-sectarian RU/VH institution rooted in cooperative education to teach over 24,900 Huskies in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood. The U.S. News ranked NEU as the 39th best national university and seventh most innovative school. Located in Dodge Hall, the Disability Resource Center is well-known for its comprehensive Learning Disabilities Program (LDP), which costs $2,750 per semester. Basic accommodations are free within Northeastern’s 150+ majors from the B.S. in Psychology to B.S. in Physics.

Learn more about Northeastern University’s College For Students With Special Education Needs here.

6. American University

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Chartered by Congress under President Harrison in 1893, American University is a private, nonprofit Methodist institution enrolling over 12,100 Eagles in Washington, DC. The U.S. News applauded American as the country’s 74th top university and 66th best value. Undergrads with disabilities benefit from free accommodations in AU’s 100+ majors from Economics to Spanish Studies. For a one-time $4,500 fee, there’s also the Learning Services Program (LSP) for freshmen with weekly meetings, peer mentoring, course advising, and writing assistance.

Learn more about American University’s College For Students With Special Education Needs here.

7. Southern Illinois University

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Based on 1,133 rural acres in Carbondale, Southern Illinois University is a flagship public, research hub endowed for $111.6 million with more than 15,900 Salukis. The U.S. News placed SIU as America’s 214th best university and 122th top public college. Southern Illinois’ 10 schools hold HLC-NCA accreditation for 300+ programs, including a Dental Hygiene B.S. and Theater B.A. The Disability Support Services (DSS) provides free programmatic help for hearing, visual, learning, psychological, and mobility impairments.

Learn more about Southern Illinois University’s College For Students With Special Education Needs here.

8. University of Arizona

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Belonging to the Pac-12 Conference, the University of Arizona is a public, co-educational RU/VH institution with over 43,000 Wildcats studying in Tucson. According to the USNWR, Arizona is the 124th top university and 60th best public college nationwide. The Disability Resource Center supports special needs in UA’s 334 fields of study like the B.A. in Education and B.S. in Animal Science. There’s also the SALT Program for $2,800 per semester for tutoring and life skills workshops with strategic learning specialists.

Learn more about the University of Arizona’s College For Students With Special Education Needs here.

9. Rochester Institute of Technology

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Featuring the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, the Rochester Institute of Technology is a private, doctoral-granting research powerhouse with 16,800 Tigers studying in western New York. The U.S. News crowned RIT the 107th best national university and 33th top value. The Academic Support Center offers various special needs services for RIT’s 200+ programs, such as the Accounting B.S. or Bioinformatics B.S. Extra, weekly support is available for $660 per semester via the highly esteemed EMPOWER Program too.

Learn more about the Rochester Institute of Technology’s College For Students With Special Education Needs here.

10. University of Connecticut

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Named a “Public Ivy,” land-grant RU/VH institution, the University of Connecticut enrolls over 32,000 Huskies on its campuses in Storrs, Mansfield, and Stamford. The USNWR congratulated Connecticut as America’s 60th best university and 20th top public school. Accommodations for UConn’s 100+ majors, such as the Geography B.A. and Marketing B.S., are offered freely by the Center for Students with Disabilities. Learning disabled students can also join the Beyond Access Program for $1,800 per semester for social skills training, career preparation, and more.

Learn more about the University of Connecticut’s College For Students With Special Education Needs here.

11. DePaul University

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Noted for recruiting first-generation, disadvantaged students, DePaul University is a private, Catholic liberal arts institution with enrollment over 22,900 in Chicago’s Lincoln Park. The U.S. News ranked DePaul as America’s 124th best university and 70th top value. The Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD) offers individualized accommodations for DePaul’s 130+ majors like the Animation B.A. and Neuroscience B.S. Students with learning disabilities, including ADHD, also benefit from the year-round Productive Learning Strategies (PLuS) program.

Learn more about DePaul University’s College For Students With Special Education Needs here.

12. Hofstra University

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As Long Island’s largest private, non-sectarian institution, Hofstra University utilizes a $411.7 million endowment to educate 10,800 diverse students in Hempstead. According to the USNWR, Hofstra is America’s 133rd best college and 89th most veteran-friendly school, including those disabled in combat. Hofstra’s 10 divisions offer 120+ degrees like the B.A. in Urban Ecology and B.A. in Japanese. In the Mack Student Center, Student Access Services offers several accommodations and the fee-based Program for Academic Learning Skills (PALS).

Learn more about Hofstra University’s College For Students With Special Education Needs here.

13. University of the Ozarks

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Affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA), the University of the Ozarks enrolls 680 Eagles as a private, Christian nonprofit located in Clarksville, Arkansas. The U.S. News ranked Ozarks the South’s third best university and top value. With a 100 percent referral rate, the Jones Learning Center (JLC) fulfills special needs with ASD support, peer tutoring, assistive, technology, and academic skills workshops. Ozarks’ close-knit community assists disabled learners through 31 programs of study, including Biology and International Business.

Learn more about the University of the Ozarks’ College For Students With Special Education Needs here.

14. Creighton University

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Opened in 1878, Creighton University is a private, co-educational Jesuit institution enlightening over 8,400 faithful Bluejays from its 140 urban acres in Omaha, Nebraska. The USNWR placed Creighton as the Midwest’s best regional university and third most innovative school. Across Creighton’s nine colleges, 72 percent of applicants are accepted into 50+ majors like the Mathematics B.S. and Theology B.A. Special education, accessible housing, and counseling needs are readily fulfilled by the Office of Disability Accommodations (ODA).

Learn more about Creighton University’s College For Students with Special Education Needs here.

15. Gonzaga University

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Occupying 152 acres on the Spokane River in eastern Washington, Gonzaga University is a private, co-educational Catholic AJCU member enrolling over 7,300 Bulldogs. The U.S. News honored Gonzaga as the West’s fourth best university and 13th top value. In Foley Center Library, the Disability Access Office offers auxiliary academic and housing aids, including class note takers. Students with special education needs can feel confident entering Gonzaga’s 92 programs like BBA in Entrepreneurship and B.A. in Sociology.

Learn more about Gonzaga University’s College For Students With Special Education Needs here.

16. Fairleigh Dickinson University

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Attracting over 12,200 Knights, Fairleigh Dickinson University stands in Teaneck and Madison as New Jersey’s largest private, non-sectarian institution. According to the U.S. News, FDU is the North’s 67th best university with a 14:1 student-faculty ratio. The Regional Center for Learning Disabilities (RCLD) in Hennessy Hall offers free accommodations, such as tech support and priority registration. A two-semester Course for Success could improve students’ ability to finish FDU’s 140+ degrees like the Chemistry B.S. and Humanities B.A. too.

Learn more about Fairleigh Dickinson University’s College For Students With Special Education Needs here.

17. Marshall University

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Regionally accredited by the HLC-NCA, Marshall University is a public, co-educational research institution located in Huntington, West Virginia, with a Thundering Herd of over 13,600. The U.S. News distinguished Marshall as the South’s 47th best college and 16th top public school. Free accommodations in the Office of Disability Services are available for Marshall’s 57 bachelor’s programs, including the Forensic Chemistry B.S. and Nursing B.S. The Higher Education for Learning Problems Center also offers extra, fee-based support like skills development.

Learn more about Marshall University’s College For Students With Special Education Needs here.

18. Abilene Christian University

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Nestled in West Texas just 150 miles from Fort Worth, Abilene Christian University is a private, nonprofit CCCU member affiliated with the Churches of Christ and serving over 4,400 Wildcats. The U.S. News ranked Abilene Christian as the West’s 18th top college and 12th best value. With a 90 percent graduation rate, the Alpha Scholars Program offers coaching, tutoring, and disability accommodations. Upward Bound could prepare students for ACU’s 70+ SACS-accredited majors from the B.S. in Agribusiness to B.S. in Nutrition.

Learn more about Abilene Christian University’s College For Students With Special Education Needs here.

19. Mercyhurst University

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Founded by Mother Eagan in 1926, Mercyhurst University is a private, Catholic liberal arts institution serving more than 4,400 Lakers in Erie, Pennsylvania. The U.S. News recognized Mercyhurst as the North’s 61st best college and 37th top value. For 30 years, the Learning Differences Program (LDP) has provided free academic adjustments and in-depth support for $2,450 annually. The Summer PASS can help stay on track for Mercyhurst’s 50+ majors, such as the B.A. in Intelligence Studies and B.A. in Social Work.

Learn more about Mercyhurst University’s College For Students With Special Education Needs here.

20. West Virginia Wesleyan College

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Endowed for $42.4 million, West Virginia Wesleyan College is a private, Methodist liberal arts institution attracting over 1,450 Bobcats from 26 countries to Buckhannon. WVWC stands as the South’s 47th best university and fifth top value according to the U.S. News. The Learning Center grants free disability support 12.5 hours daily for West Virginia Wesleyan’s 43 majors, including Political Science and English. There’s also a fee-based Mentor Advantage option with advisers applying the Lindamood-Bell approach.

Learn more about West Virginia Wesleyan College’s For Students With Special Education Needs here.

All schools shown here have been contacted and informed of their inclusion on this list. Schools that do not wish to be featured are immediately removed. School names are the registered trademarks of their original owners. The use of any trade name or trademark does not imply any association with the school.

The 20 Best Private Special Needs Schools in the U.S.

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Approximately 6.5 million U.S. youth are diagnosed with a disability that qualifies for special education services. These children represent around 13 percent of school-aged Americans. The most prevalent disabilities include ADHD, autism, Down syndrome, dyslexia, hearing loss, and visual impairment. Under the IDEA Act of 2004, federal law requires disabled students have access to free, appropriate public education (commonly referred to as FAPE). Many parents feel their children get lost in the shuffle of public schooling though, especially with Common Core. Private schools provide an excellent alternative for specialized instruction that’s often delivered by Highly Qualified Teachers in small class sizes. We help parents choose by researching the 20 best private special needs schools in the U.S.

To begin, we focused on schools recognized by the National Association of Private Special Education (NAPSEC). We narrowed down the hundreds of options by checking for state licensing and national accreditation, such as CARF. All private schools had to offer daytime or residential programs specifically for disabled students. We looked for low student-faculty ratios where individualized instruction was prioritized. Priority was given to schools providing 1:1 intensive therapy plans. All selected schools must have earned industry awards for excellence in special education. Other factors we considered were curriculum type, teacher qualifications, experiential learning, financial assistance, and young adult transitions.

According to the Council for American Private Education (CAPE), there are 30,861 private schools in the United States. Not all are created equal when it comes to fostering learning for students with disabilities though. Special needs schools adapt research-based teaching methods that cater to exceptional students. It’s easy for parents to get sticker shock when looking at tuition rates for these specialized private schools. Many rival annual Ivy League costs at Harvard and Yale. However, the following 20 Best Private Special Needs Schools in the U.S. provide valuable education with financial aid.

1. Kennedy Krieger School

Special Education Degrees

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The Kennedy Krieger School is a Maryland certified special needs school with four campuses and over 165 students across downtown Baltimore. As a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, Kennedy Krieger won the 2012 Leadership and Innovation in Special Education Award. There are K-8, high school, and LEAP transition programs in least restrictive environments. Tuition is covered by state funds.

Learn more about Kennedy Krieger School’s Special Education Programs here.

2. May Center Schools

Special Education Degrees

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Based in Randolph, the May Center Schools operate in Massachusetts and California to provide full-day, year-round educational services to children with autism spectrum disorder. Featuring CARF accreditation, the May Center serves youth aged 2 to 22 using ABA methods. It’s known for winning SABA’s Enduring Programmatic Contributions in Behavior Analysis Award in 2007. Tuition currently costs $381 per day.

Learn more about the May Center Schools here.

3. T.C. Harris School

Special Education Degrees

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Established in 2000, the T.C. Harris School is certified in Indiana to serve students from 6-21 who have intellectual, behavioral, emotional, speech, and neurological disabilities. The Day School is located in Lafayette, but there’s also residential and group home programs. In 2015, T.C. Harris was chosen for the NASET School of Excellence Award. Funding is provided by local school districts.

Learn more about T.C. Harris School here.

4. Little Keswick School

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Celebrating its 53rd anniversary, Little Keswick School is a licensed, therapeutic boarding school serving boys aged 9-18 in Keswick, Virginia. Education sessions from August to June follow each student’s IEP with speech, art, occupational, clinical, or animal-assisted therapy. Little Keswick School has received the Excellence in Education Award from Woodbury Reports. Yearly residence costs $100,571.

Learn more about LIttle Keswick School here.

5. The Children’s Institute

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The Children’s Institute strives to “teach the whole child” with evidence-based, full-day education in Verona, New Jersey. With a student-faculty ratio of 2:1, youth with autism and development disabilities can join the preschool, elementary, middle, high school, or young adult programs. Two have earned the NIMH’s coveted Lela Rowland Award. Annual tuition at TCI is $53,480.

Learn more about The Children’s Institute here.

6. Brehm Preparatory School

Special Education Degrees

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Specializing in learning disabilities, including dyslexia, ADHD, and TBI, Brehm Preparatory School is an accredited, non-profit school founded in 1982 in Carbondale, Illinois. Brehm offers 24/7, family-style academics with tiered scheduling and differentiated instruction. There’s also a Summer Program for youth aged 12-18. Deemed a U.S. ED Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, Brehm charges $71,000 per year.

Learn more about the Brehm Preperatory School here.

7. The Ivymount School

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Located in Rockville, Maryland, The IvyMount School has been named a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence twice to educate over 200 students aged 4-21. Bethesda magazine also honored Ivymount as a “Readers’ Pick.” Parents can select from the Ivymount Multiple Learning Needs, Autism, or Model Asperger programs. Tuition averages $36,000, but most is funded by local school systems.

Learn more about the Ivymount School here.

8. The Center School

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Opened in 1971, The Center School is a state-accredited school in Somerset, New Jersey, that serves 112 learning disabled students with 10-month, daytime programs. The Center School was named among Noodle’s 41 Most Innovative K-12 Schools. Certified teachers use “Bulldog Bucks” for positive reinforcement. The Center’s also one of two special needs schools with a FIRST robotics team. Annual tuition is $49,689.

Learn more about the Center School here.

9. Central Institute for the Deaf

Special Education Degrees

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The Central Institute for the Deaf has 100 years of excellence serving children from birth to age 12. Primary education, pediatric audiology, and speech-language pathology are provided at the 42,000-square foot “Quiet School” in St. Louis. Financial aid helps cover the $27,000 yearly tuition. CID earned the Impact on Learning Award from School Planning and Management magazine in 2013.

Learn more about the Central Institute for the Deaf here.

10. Oakwood School

Special Education Degrees

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With small class sizes between 8 to 13, Oakwood School has a K-8 program to educate bright students with learning differences in Annandale, Virginia. Crowned a Blue Ribbon School in 2014, Oakwood uses a team model for child-centered, multi-sensory curricula. After-School Enrichment Clubs are available. More than 75 percent of teachers are master’s prepared. Tuition currently costs $33,750 annually.

Learn more about Oakwood School here.

11. Chamberlain International School

Special Education Degrees

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Chamberlain International School is a co-educational, therapeutic boarding or daytime school located in Middleboro, Massachusetts, since 1976. Using a multi-modality, project-based approach, Chamberlain offers general and specialized education like Auto Mechanics or Aviation to struggling teens aged 11-22. Chamberlain employs the NAPSEC’s 2014 “Direct Care Worker of the Year.” Tuition ranges from $56,376 to $137,103 each year.

Learn more about the Chamberlain International School here.

12. The Monarch School

Special Education Degrees

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Firmly rooted in “Four Core Goals,” The Monarch School is a licensed education provider serving K-21 students with neurological differences from Houston, Texas. Along with daytime education, Monarch offers a Get Out Program, Life Academy, and Summer Camp. With a faculty-student ratio of 1:2.5, Monarch earned the NAPSEC Leadership and Innovation Award in 2012. Programs cost from $16,100 to $47,500.

Learn more about The Monarch School here.

13. NewHope Academy

Special Education Degrees

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At $206.59 per diem, NewHope Academy has offered private, daytime educational and therapeutic programs from Niles, Illinois, since 2000. Fully accredited by the ABCT, NewHope was crowned a NASET School of Excellence for two straight years. Teaching staff hold LBS1 designations to promote learner-based, interactive classrooms. NewHope has diverse expertise areas, including depression, ADHD, autism, anxiety, and OCD.

Learn more about New Hope Academy here.

14. Henry Viscardi School

Special Education Degrees

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Henry Viscardi School is an accredited, non-profit organization offering safe, supportive PreK-12 education to students with severe physical disabilities, such as cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis. Located in Albertson, the school enrolls around 175 pupils in NYS Regents curriculum. Named a finalist for the 2015 Long Island Imagine Awards, Henry Viscardi School earns state funding for the $72,000 tuition.

Learn more about Henry Viscardi School here.

15. AIM Academy

Special Education Degrees

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Partnered with Wilson Language Training, AIM Academy enrolls 310 students from grades 1-12 as a college preparatory school in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. Devoted to “fearless learning,” AIM offers interactive, tech-enhanced education for learning disabled children with a one-to-one laptop program. AIM Academy is the state’s only “21 Century Skills Exemplar School.” Annual tuition costs an average of $32,352.

Learn more about AIM Academy here.

16. Genesee Lake School

Special Education Degrees

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On 160 wooded acres in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, the Genesee Lake School is an accredited education provider for students with autism, anxiety, mood disorders, and complex trauma. In 2015, Genesee Lake School was given NASET’s highest honor award. GLS has daytime, residential, and STEP programs with vocational therapy on the adjacent Homegrown Farms. Tuition averages $5,000 per month.

Learn more about Genesee Lake School here.

17. Overbrook School for the Blind

Special Education Degrees

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Founded in 1832, Overbrook School for the Blind is a private, non-profit school educating 215 legally blind students on a 22-acre campus in West Philadelphia. Using Braille, OBS has early intervention, elementary, middle, and high school programs. Granted the Lightspan Academic Excellence Award, OBS recently built a 25,000-square foot aquatic center for sports & leisure services. Tuition charges $198 per diem.

Learn more about Overbrook School for the Blind here.

18. Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch

Special Education Degrees

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Accredited by the Montana Office of Public Instruction, the Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch in Billings encourages disabled youth with experiential learning. YBGR offers daytime education and residential mental health treatment. Having helped over 10,000 teens since 1957, YBGR earned the 2012 NASET School of Excellence Award. Tuition varies based on income with most families paying under $25 monthly.

Learn more about Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch here.

19. St. Elizabeth School

Special Education Degrees

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Named among Maryland’s PBIS Gold Medal Schools since 2005, St. Elizabeth School is located in Baltimore to serve special needs students from 6-21. MSDE-certified teachers deliver differentiated instruction with clinical treatment, OT, PT, SLP, and behavioral support. St. Elizabeth’s Wright Center for Transition Services also offers work-based learning. SES 11-month programs cost $38,027 yearly.

Learn more about St. Elizabeth School here.

20. Park Century School

Special Education Degrees

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Situated in Culver City, California, Park Century School is a non-profit, co-ed daytime school founded in 1968 to serve learning disabled children in grades 2-8. PCS offers a remedial, child-centered curriculum that includes the arts, physical education, and technology. Fully accredited by CAIS, Park Century was selected among the NASET’s 2016 Schools of Excellence. FAST financial aid is available for affording the $41,000 tuition.

Learn more about Park Century School here.

Related Links

The 10 Best Online Universities For Students With Disabilities

School names are the registered trademarks of their original owners. The use of any trade name or trademark does not imply any association with the school.

Stephen Hawking: A Life Not Limited By Disabilities

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For disabled people, daily life can seem like an impossible challenge. Prior to his passing in 2018, Stephen Hawking was all too familiar with the challenge of living a fulfilling life while being limited by disabilities. In fact, since his birth in 1942, he battled a disability for the better part of his life. While most people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) die prematurely, Hawking had pushed through his illness and become a world-famous physicist and more importantly, an inspiration to us all. Over the years, his work in theoretical physics captured the public eye due to his intelligence, exceptional insight, tenacious research, and creativity.

A Life Lived to the Fullest

Before Stephen Hawking was diagnosed, he was an unexceptional college student. After experiencing some unusual symptoms, he was diagnosed with ALS. In moments, he went from being bored with life to having a life-threatening challenge ahead of him. He was expected to live only a few months after his diagnosis. As anyone who ever listened to him speak knows, Hawking outlived this prediction by more than half a century.

Instead of depressing him, the diagnosis gave him a renewed will to live. He knew that he may only have a few months, possibly years to live, and this changed his entire perspective. As his body began to deteriorate, he made great strides in theoretical physics. In the 1960s, Hawking showed that mathematically reversing the creation of black holes explained how the universe could have expanded.

ALS may have forced Stephen Hawking to live in a wheelchair and use a computerized voice synthesizer, but it didn’t damper his bright outlook and sense of humor. In fact, he used to joke around about using the voice synthesizer, “the only trouble is it gives me an American accent”.

Getting the Diagnosis

As any parent knows, having a child with a disability or special need is hard. Being that child can sometimes be impossible. Hawking was clumsy and not particularly good at hand-eye coordination as he was growing up. But he didn’t let that stop him from his studies. Years later at Oxford University, he took up rowing and finally found a sport that he excelled at. By his third year, Hawking began noticing that he was increasingly clumsy. The following year, his father made him go to the doctor for tests. Two weeks later, the diagnosis came back. Hawking had an incurable disease and was expected to die within months at worst, two or three years at best.

Initially, he was shocked to realize that his life would end so soon. For people with ALS, death often arrives when they are unable to swallow food or when the lung muscles stop working. Hawking began to dream that he was being executed at night or that he had the choice to die to save other people. Despite the grim prognosis, Hawking found that he was able to return to normal life and soon became engaged. The engagement gave him something to live for, and a research fellowship at Cambridge University gave him a purpose.

As the years progressed, Stephen Hawking became increasingly recognized in the scientific community. His new status and international fame made it easier to get accommodation close to his work, and colleges were more willing to hire him.

By the 1980s, his disability was starting to become too much. At the time, he was able to slur words that were interpreted by people who knew him well. After a case of pneumonia and a tracheotomy, Hawking was unable to speak at all. Luckily, a computer expert from California heard of his predicament and created a program called the Equalizer. Through a switch in his hand, Hawking was able to speak again. Over the years, Hawking’s voice synthesizer had been modified as his disability progressed, eventually identifying movements in his cheek muscles to understand the words he wanted to say.

Hawking’s Advice for People With Disabilities

In a 2009 edition of the Annals of Neuroscience, Stephen Hawking wrote an in-depth piece about life with ALS and how people with disabilities can continue to enjoy their lives. Hawking was frequently asked about how he feels about ALS, and his response was always that he didn’t feel anything significant about it. Instead of dwelling on his condition or worrying about the things he was unable to do, Hawking tried to live his life as normally as possible. He felt that worrying about things outside of his control was a waste of the limited time that he had on earth.

To other people with disabilities, Hawking recommended that life should be lived to the fullest without placing a focus on the disability. While some people may be disabled physically, they do not have to be disabled in spirit as well. Hawking enjoyed a rewarding career and raised a beautiful family despite his illness.

Although each disability and individual is unique, Hawking believed that it is always possible to live a fulfilling and rewarding life.

A lesson we all need to learn. And live.

Related Links

The National Center For Biotechnology Information
The Washington Post
Scientific American
The University of Washington
Annals of Neuroscience

How to Overcome Challenges in the Classroom As A Special Education Teacher

Teaching is a stressful profession by nature, but it is even more so in the field of special education. Working with special needs students is a challenging situation even for those teachers with a lot of academic and real-life preparation.

High Attrition Rate

High-stress professions are plagued by high burn-out rates, and educators are not exempt from this situation. Teachers who deal directly with the special needs population face situations that challenge their confidence, self-control and personal choices, including that of choosing to go into teaching. The attrition rate in this field is remarkably high compared to other professions. About 50 percent of teachers in special education settings leave their positions in five years. Another 50 percent of those who persevere through the challenges during the first five years of their careers will find themselves seeking employment elsewhere in the next 10 years. Both of these factors support the fact that the turnover rate every 10 years is about 75 percent for special education teachers based on a study published in the International Journal of Special Education. Compared to general education teachers, special education teachers are twice as likely to leave the profession based on annual attrition rates.

Identifying the Stressors

Heavy workloads can be a drag on teachers’ time and resources. However, in the case of special education teachers, the emotional aspect contributes to high turnovers in a job that is mentally and physically demanding. Finding a positive, healthy outlet for stress is a key element in relieving the less than positive aspects of a trying career as a special education teacher. Often exercise and creative pursuits (like painting, writing, reading, etc.) are great for helping alleviate stress. Talking with other professionals – like colleagues or even therapists – also helps. Sometimes even taking a “mental health” day or even hour is good at keeping stress under control. And as hard as it may seem, staying positive and in the moment is perhaps a special education teacher’s greatest means of keeping stress at bay.

Achievement Testing

For students who do not take the same assessment as their grademates, in many cases they take their state’s alternate assessment. It assesses the same standards of the grade level but at a very basic level. Special needs students cannot be assessed on the same standards as traditional students, and special education teachers should not be held to the same measure either. These teachers, as are all teachers, are operating on overdrive to cope with the demands of the children they teach and the system should reward these efforts rather than marginalize them.

Different Skill Levels within a Classroom

In an integrated classroom, special needs students receive extra support through paraprofessionals or teaching assistants who are assigned to the classroom. In a special education classroom, the children will have different capabilities and disabilities. The teacher is expected to create an environment that is conducive to learning and is supportive of all students regardless of their skills and mobility level. Each student has an individual education plan or IEP as required by federal laws. Special education teachers must follow the requirements outlined in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) regardless of the classroom format.

Managing Children with Behavioral Issues

Children with special abilities require sensitive yet firm attention. They are prone to overstimulation and are easily upset over stressors that would be minor annoyances to other children. Make sure to have a calm-down area in the classroom. This section should provide a safe yet comforting atmosphere to allow students to find their balance. It should not seem like a time-out corner but rather one that is cozy and peaceful. This way, teachers can carry on with the rest of the class even in the face of distractions.

Documenting the Issues

Children react differently to different circumstances. Special needs children express anger, sadness, joy and other emotions just as well as other children although the triggers may be less obvious. It is important to document these instances judiciously to understand the factors that may trigger aggression and emotional breakdowns. These records may also be useful to counselors and parents.

Consistent Schedules

Various studies have shown that special needs children thrive in an environment that respects their patterns and need for consistency. A minor change in the pattern of activities can be upsetting to special students. Make sure to create classroom schedules ahead of time and maintain a pattern of activities that children can easily get used to while ensuring a calm atmosphere.

Parent Engagement

Communication channels between parents and teachers of students with special needs and abilities should be open, honest and supportive at all times. Communicate by phone, email or written notes to provide parents with an update on their child’s progress or an insight into the child’s behavior patterns. Encourage parents to keep teachers informed about any factors that may be affecting their child’s temperaments.

Fostering a Collaborative Environment

Special education teachers are at the front line of a very trying function: educating and nurturing children who have disabilities. This is a task that requires patience, persistence and dedication. Make the most of available resources, including tapping into the expertise of general education teachers, therapists, counselors and administrative support. Collaboration generates creative solutions while lightening the burden on special education teachers.

The Top 30 Best Accessible Playgrounds Around the World

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All children deserve to experience the thrill and escapism of meaningful physical play. What’s more, it just takes a bit of thought and planning, and everyone can enjoy the exhilaration and magic that arguably only playgrounds can produce. Of course, more than anything it’s about social interaction – and in this respect no child should be left on the sidelines.
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Top 10 Free Classes Available Online For Special Education Teachers And Parents of Special Needs Children

freeclassesSpecial education, also referred to as special needs education, focuses on addressing the needs of children who experience a range of difficulties in learning, communicating, and managing their own emotions and behavior. They may also be facing challenges associated with physical disabilities, sensory impairments and development disorders.

Learning Strategies for Special Education

It’s imperative for parents, guardians, caretakers, teachers, and trainers to find both effective strategies and useful resources to help these students to do well in life. Moreover, the field of special education is far from static, new research and new laws change perspective. While a day-to-day common sense approach does help children with special needs, research-based strategies have proven time and again to be extremely effective. For this reason advanced training and certification is recommended for professional teachers.

Legal Protection for Special Education under IDEA

However, apart from improved educational methodology, there is also another component to the special education field that it is important for both parents and teachers to know well, the federal laws governing this field which is covered by the disability act known as IDEA. So, in most educational jurisdictions, special education is overseen by federal law under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). Under the law, special education must provide support, services, and placements to all educational needs without any cost to the parents.

The categories under IDEA include sensory impairments like deafness, hearing impairments, blindness, visual impairments, and speech and language impairments; mental and emotional impairment like autism, developmental delays, emotional disturbance, specific learning disabilities, and traumatic brain injury; and physical impairments like multiple disabilities, orthopedic disabilities, and other health impairments. Additionally, some jurisdictions may include a Gifted category as children with extraordinary talent also have considerable difficulty fitting into the curriculum of regular schooling.

With that in mind, we have researched free online classes that address either educational techniques or legal issues. It wasn’t easy to find the best of ten free online classes available for parents and special education teachers from leading universities, e-learning providers, the autism society, and from online education databases but we did. Without further delay, here are the Top 10 Free Classes Available Online For Special Education Teachers and Parents of Special Needs Children:

Special Education Classes from Leading Universities

There are innumerable free online classes offered by some of the world’s best universities available at your fingertips. These cover everything that is available through the regular educational system and they are taught by leading professors. The courses are delivered through video lectures, articles, and online tests.

In the field of Special Education, we found two highly informative courses from the University of Southern Queensland and Yale University.

1. Teaching Students with Special Needs: Behavior Management from the University of Southern Queensland

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The University of Southern Queensland, formerly called the Queensland Institute of Technology was established in 1967. As the name indicates, it is located in Southern Queensland, Australia. Its main campus is on Toowoomba and it has campuses in Springfield and Fraser Coast.

In Teaching Students with Special Needs: Behavior Management, students are shown a number of methods to help special needs children in different age groups and educational levels. The course explores researched teaching methods and discusses various researched techniques to maintain attention in a classroom.

This course includes the following themes and is most suitable for special education students:

• Classroom teaching, management, and procedures
• Comprehensive methods to positively influence children
• Cooperative learning strategies
• Tutoring by peers

The course also provides in depth lectures on the following behavior management theories:

• The Kounin model
• The Behavior Modification model
• The Assertive Discipline model
• The Reality Therapy model
• The Logical Consequences model
• The Social Skills training model

For more, visit Teaching Students with Special Needs: Behavior Management here.

2. The Legal Rights of Children with Autism and Related Disorders from Yale University

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Yale University is ranked as one of the top private Ivy League universities in the world. Located in New Haven, Connecticut, it has developed a formidable reputation as one of the best places for students interested in advanced research.

Yale University has a YouTube Channel that offers free courses. In the field of special education it has an excellent class called, “The Legal Rights of Children with Autism and Related Disorders.”

The Legal Rights of Children with Autism and Related Disorders covers some highly important and relevant topics on legal issues in considerable depth.

The course includes the following themes:

• A brief history of how special education laws evolved over time
• How the law gets involved in the life of a child after he or she is diagnosed with autism or another related disorder. It covers the law’s involvement in school, home, and adult life
• What legal rights pertain to education, therapy, medical services, and social services
• How parents and guardians can get assistance from local, state, and federal agencies

This course is most suitable for parents as it explains legal issues in a straightforward way without trying to comprehend complicated legal jargon.

For more, visit The Legal Rights of Children with Autism and Related Disorders here.

Special Education Course from E-Learning Providers

E-learning providers are pioneers in the field of learning education. They provide cloud-based learning solutions to thousands of people all over the world. Although not universities or colleges per se, they still offer most educational courses available through formal education.

In the field of Special Education, we found three excellent courses from Alison, Open Learning, and LD online.

3. Working with Students with Special Education Needs by ALISON

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ALISON is an acronym for Advance Learning Interactive Systems Online. This e-learning provider was founded in 2007 by Mike Feerick in Galway, Ireland.

Working with Students with Special Education Needs discusses the requirements for meeting the individual needs of special education students. Teachers who work with special educational needs students need to learn certain skills and specific strategies to deliver the most effective classes.

This free course introduces teachers to the following themes:

• The core requirements of special education
• Changes in educational legislature, particularly in the U.S
• Teacher and trainer responsibilities
• An individual educational plan (IEP)

The course also provides a description of the following disabilities:

• Learning disabilities
• Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
• Intellectual disabilities
• Behavioral disorders
• Physical disabilities
• Sensory impairments

Besides a description of each disability, it also goes into practical strategies teachers can use to assist students with each one.

The course is suited for special education teachers.

For more, visit Working with Students-with Special Educational Needs here.

4. The Nobody’s Normal Series by Open University

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The Open University is a British University. It is open to people who don’t have formal academic qualification.

The Nobody’s Normal series is a collaborative venture between the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and the OpenLearn team, which is a program and web team at The Open University. It is a documentary series to help educate families about the special needs and challenges of disabled people. It covers the five most significant stages in their lives, namely birth, schooling, dating, leaving home, and aging through real-life case studies.

Here are the themes covered in the series:

• Program 1 is titled, “Baby Love.” It covers birth and the early years
• Program 2 is titled, “Education, education, education.” It covers the school years
• Program 3 is titled, “Love is in the air.” It covers adolescent dating
• Program 4 is titled, “Moving on.” It covers early leaving home as a young adult
• Program 5 is titled, “Who cares.” It covers old age

This course is suitable for parents as it provides a non-academic perspective on all the social issues around raising a child with disabilities.

For more, visit The Nobody’s Normal Series by Open University here.

5. Advocacy in Special Education by LD Online

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LD OnLine is an authority website on learning disabilities. It is a valuable resource for both parents and teachers.

Andrea Sherwin Ripp, Ed.M., MS, OTR/L, has created a free course on Advocacy in Special Education for parents. The program is built around her approved study doctorate thesis for research in special needs education.

The course is structured to offer:

• 2 surveys
• 3 readings
• Self-study questions
• A short answer assignment

It provides the following lessons on Special Advocacy:

• Special education documentation
• Legal rights
• Practical strategies to get support and services
• References to nationwide parent support networks
• References to special education resources

The course is suitable for parents. Parents who complete the course receive a course certificate and a comprehensive resource list. They are also entered into a drawing for one of five Amazon.com gift certificates valued at $25 each.

For more, visit Advocacy in Special Education here.

Special Education Classes from the Autism Society of America

Dr. Bernard Rimland and Dr Ruth Sullivan founded the Autism Society of America in 1965 to support parents with children who had autism or related disorders. The Autism society offers two useful classes for parents: Autism 101 and Autism and the Environment 101.

6. Autism Society: Autism 101

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Autism 101 is principally for parents, but may also help those working with autism as caregivers. This course covers the autism spectrum, treatment options and assistance, transition to adulthood, and what parents can do every day. Participants can download a certificate of completion in PDF format to have a reminder of their course experiences.

For more, visit Autism 101 here.

7. Autism and the Environment 101 by the Autism Society

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Autism and the Environment 101 expands on the ideas introduced in the Autism 101 course to give a much broader understanding of Autism. This course covers a new model of autism, why there is a noticeable rise of autism spectrum disorders, and the role of government in helping children with autism. The course concludes with what parents and caretakers can do every day. Participants can receive a printable PDF certificate of completion.

For more, visit Autism and the Environment 101 here.

Special Education Classes from Open Education Database

Open Education Database (OEDb) may very well be the most comprehensive collection of both online university and free courses available in the world. Founded in 2007, it has been a pioneer in the open education movement. In fact, it offers information on as many as 10,000 free open courses. We found three course on special education offered by Liberty University. Liberty University is a private, Christian institution in Lynchburg Virginia. On campus, it has 12,600 residential students. Its online division has 90,000 students and is hosted on iTunes as part of the iTunes U course collection.

8. Current Trends in Special Education by Liberty University

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Current Trends in Special Education includes the following themes:

• Legal and ethical issues
• Documentation procedures
• The Individual Education Plan (IEP)
• The Individualized Family Service Plans (IFSP)
• Service delivery in school, church and community locations

For more, visit Current Trends in Special Education here.

9. Issues and Trends in Exceptionality by Liberty University

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Issues and Trends in Exceptionality by Liberty University includes the following themes:

• Trends influencing special education
• How to research, analyze and evaluate controversial issues when it comes to exceptionalities.

This course is most suitable for special education teachers.

For more, visit Issues and Trends in Exceptionality by Liberty University here.

10. Learning and Behavior Problems by Liberty University

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Learning and Behavior Problems includes the following themes:
• Characteristics of children with disabilities
• Learning and behavior problems
• Remediation goals

This course is suited for special education teachers.

For more, visit Learning and Behavior Problems here.

Bonus Links, Information, and Resources

In addition to these 10 free online courses there are many other helpful online resources. Classes, videos, podcasts, and articles on special education provide detailed knowledge about the characteristics of various disorders, the legal aspects of advocacy and assistance, and creative teaching methods.

Here are some additional resources for special education teachers to consider:

Visit Do to Learn for free activities and games
Visit Teacher Vision for free curriculum ideas and techniques for managing classrooms
The National Association of Special Education Teachers to stay informed on the latest special education teaching methods

14 Programs For Children with Special Needs

specneWhen you have a child with special needs, you want to make sure your child is still able to get the most out of their education. Many government programs exist to help children of all ages further their development. Children with special needs will not be able to take advantage of all of the programs that schools and the government have to offer. However, there are many programs that were created specifically for special needs children. Being aware of these programs will help you to make sure your child is included in the many beneficial services available.

1. Public or Private School

Your school will be the first resource for helping your child get the most out of his or her abilities while gaining access to education. Your special education representatives should sit down and create an Individualized Education Program, or IEP, for your child. They will take into account your particular child’s needs and challenges, and create a plan for incorporating them into the school and helping them to succeed. With your IEP, you can feel more confident that your school is going to take good care of your child.

For more information about this program, go to GreatSchools.Org to learn more!

2. DoD Special Needs Parent Toolkit

For those who don’t know where to start in taking advantage of the services available to their special needs child, the DoD Special Needs Parent Toolkit is a great resource. While this program is especially geared towards families in the military, their website has many resources and informational documents that will help you to visualize the amount of resources available to you. On their website, they list the links to even more resources for your child, including financial resources, community support, and educational services.

To see the DoD Special Needs Parent Toolkit and more, go here .

3. Autism Society of America

Certain programs exist to help bring awareness for children and adults with specific disabilities. For example, the Autism Society of America (ASA) educates the public about the particulars of autism, and lets them know how they can be more aware and more sensitive to the disability. They sometimes hold activities for special needs children, where families can meet each other and develop a support network. These awareness events also bring families together with community supporters of the disability. These type of programs exist for many different disabilities.

Visit the the Autism Society’s website by going here .

4. National Organization for Rare Disorders

Even for those with disabilities that aren’t so common, the government has support networks in place for families to find one another and get access to the resources they need. The National Organization for Rare Disorders collects and distributes information relating to rarer disabilities. Their information is geared towards helping people with rare disabilities find health resources, information, and services relating to their disabilities.

They can be found at the following link .

5. Special Needs Scholarship programs

Some states have developed funding programs to relieve the burden of educational costs on special needs families. Georgia’s Special Needs Scholarship program is one good example of this. Similar programs exist in other states; check with your local or regional education department to see what exists in your state.

To view Georgia’s program, click the following link .

6. Opening Doors program

The national government also has programs in place to disseminate information and provide resources to children with specific disabilities. One example of this is the Opening Doors program, which was designed for children with hearing loss problems. This program maintains up-to-date information on services for hearing loss indivuals, as well as providing technology resources to help these children cope with their difficulties in communication. National programs like this one exist for many individual disabilities, and they can be found through a simple internet search.

For more information on the Opening Doors program, go here .

7. Social Security Administration

The US government is sensitive to the additional costs related to caring for a child with special needs. For those families who need it, special financial assistance is available. Extra health benefits, Social Supplemental Income (SSI), and social security benefits may be available to families who qualify for special needs assistance.

To see the requirements and to apply for this assistance, follow this link to their website.

8. Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program

Medical expenses can be a major burden for those with special needs. Fortunately there are programs to help families get help in covering these costs. The Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program helps individuals with disabilities understand how health care coverage works, and allows them to find resources to help them cover their medical costs. The center is very knowledgeable about health insurance and the health care system, and they provide informational pamphlets and consultations.

Their website is available here .

9. Consumer Center for Health Education and Advocacy

The Consumer Center for Health Education and Advocacy is a resource that helps families gain access to health services and information. They have awareness programs and information for many different disabilities. They can guide you to the appropriate local resources that will help you get the best health care for your child, and help you find financial assistance for health care.

The Consumer Center for Health Education and Advocacy website is at this link
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10. Center For Emerging Leadership

Many programs exist on the local and regional level to help children with special needs to develop their leadership potential and higher functioning. The Center for Emerging Leadership is one such program. This program helps teens with disabilities to learn life skills and develop their leadership abilities. Parents can learn how to foster these qualities in their children on a daily basis.

For more information on this program, go here .

11. PACER

The PACER center is an example of a regional program that helps your child make the most out of the opportunities that are available for individuals with special needs. They keep their community aware of events and opportunities that are accessible to special needs chidlren, and encourage the families to help their child participate as much as possible in local activities. While the program is based in Bloomington, MN, they can guide individuals in other locations to similar programs that may exist in your area.

Their website can be found at this link.

12. Partners in Policymaking

Partners in Policymaking is an example of a program that wants to help families with special needs children to become more involved in helping lawmakers choose policies that will help, or at least not hinder, their children’s futures. The center offers training for parents in how to become more active in the local and national governments, how to create community support networks to advocate for their issues, and how to address regional and national policymakers to voice their concerns with the most effect.

For more information on this program, you can visit here.

13. 3E Love

3E Love is a program that was developed to help children with disabilities to feel included and to have high self esteem despite their challenges. The program fosters self-love, as well as community awareness. Their community building efforts help children with disabilities to embrace the diversity that they bring to the world, and to find others like them.
To find out more about their initiative, click on the link here .

14. Team of Advocates for Special Kids

The Team of Advocates for Special Kids is another program that provides community links to programs that help children with special needs. This California based program gives referrals for health, education, and financial resources, and they also sometimes host activities for awareness and community support.

Here is a link to their website .

This is only the tip of the iceberg, when it comes to the programs available to children with special needs and their families. By contacting one of the programs above, you may also gain more information about the programs that are available to you and your family. Building a community of knowledgeable individuals is important to allowing your child to grow and take advantage of many opportunities. The programs above are a great start to getting the help and benefits that your child needs.

10 Coolest Mechanical Custom-Built Wheelchairs

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A 2002 study stated that about 88,000 kids under the age of 18 in the U.S. used a wheelchair. For these children, their chairs are an essential mode of transport, but this doesn’t mean that the devices have to look boring. These days, there are a plethora of colorful and creative options out there that transform wheelchairs into fun as well as functional objects. However, in this article we’ll explore a selection of even more awesome alternatives that might help younger (and older) chair users inject yet more fun into their wheels. These ten custom-built wheelchairs allow their owners to express their individuality – and they may make the devices more desirable to children.

10. Steampunk Professor X Chair

10. Steampunk Professor X Chair

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X-Men founder and comic book hero Professor Charles Xavier, a.k.a. Professor X, is arguably one of the world’s most famous, albeit fictional, wheelchair users. However, the design of the custom chair pictured was clearly also inspired by another geeky subgenre. This incredibly detailed recreation of the erstwhile professor’s wheelchair draws its inspiration from steampunk. It was designed by Daniel Valdez of Smeeon Fabrications and is constructed out of a late-19th-century Eastlake platform rocker that was reupholstered with red fabric and fitted with pistons. It is completely drivable and includes an LED panel to inform the user when it’s time for a recharge. The vehicle also features an MP3 player-compatible sound system with a mini subwoofer, while compartments in the back of the chair can hold drinks. Perhaps far more period appropriate, though, is the steam-emitting pipe, which is perfect for making a dramatic entrance.

9. No Boundaries Off Road Wheelchair Kit

9. No Boundaries Off Road Wheelchair Kit

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Wheelchair users can often struggle with difficult and uneven terrain that able-bodied people simply take in their stride. Startup company Rehab Ideas sought to address this in 2008, when it developed the No Boundaries Off Road Wheelchair Kit. CEO Stephen Sundarrao set up the company at a research facility at the University of Southern Florida, where he works as an engineering instructor. Rehab Ideas aims to make life easier for disabled people through creative innovations and has already patented and licensed a handful of student inventions. These designs include a $110 foldable crutch that can be carried on to planes and the No Boundaries Off Road Wheelchair Kit, which allows wheelchair users to traverse more difficult ground. The latter design incorporates a 150-pound platform into which standard wheelchairs can fit, ensuring a safe and secure journey in spite of the conditions of the path being negotiated.

8. Action Trackchair

8. Action Trackchair

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The Action Trackchair is a modified wheelchair with a formidable look. Not only does this all-terrain vehicle (ATV)-like device feature two 6.5-inch-wide and 90-inch-long military-style tracks, but it also includes optional extras like gun racks and mounts and comes in a choice of colors. For some reason, we’re drawn to the camouflage style. This “go-anywhere” chair doesn’t skimp on comfort, either, as its tilting, 23-inch-high seat should make it as pleasant to sit in as more traditional models. Plus, it has all the usual wheelchair controls, which make it easy to use, too. The only thing it lacks is zip, as the 24-volt DC motor can only get it up to a top speed of 5 mph, with its maximum range 8 miles. The Action Trackchair retails from $9,000.

7. Solar-Powered Wheelchair

7. Solar-Powered Wheelchair

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Sustainable energy is all the rage these days – and with good reason – so a solar-powered wheelchair makes sense. The sprawling canopy may make the chair look ungainly, but its custom-built, 11-square-foot solar panel allows it to motor along at 1 mph for an indefinite period of time – and with no need for another power source. Users wanting to enjoy a faster speed will be pleased to learn that the chair can also travel at 5 mph for 4.5 hours. Its design earned a group of students from the University of Virginia the top prize in the 2013 Change My Life in One Minute competition, which was planned to coincide with World Cerebral Palsy Day. The team received $20,000, which they intend to spend on further improvements to the chair. At the moment, though, it includes handy USB ports for charging other electronic devices, while that solar panel also offers welcome shade for the user.

6. B-52 Ejector Seat Wheelchair

6. B-52 Ejector Seat Wheelchair

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Lance Greathouse established his company Greathouse Labs specifically to create awesome gadgets – not least one-of-a-kind wheelchairs. The B-52 Ejector Seat is perhaps the most James Bond-like of designer Greathouse’s range of rugged wheelchairs, and it may make you think twice before you sit down. The B-52 Ejector Seat Wheelchair features an authentic B-52 seat that was actually propelled from a plane on duty. Phoenix, Arizona native Greathouse purchased the seat from a market for $150, and it has made a startling addition to his life’s work of helping people with disabilities, as inspired by a younger brother who suffered from Parkinson’s disease. Greathouse’s hardy designs – which he donates – are intended to help users pursue their hobbies and dreams, no matter how outdoorsy or energetic. If the ejector seat just isn’t cool enough in your eyes, though, take note: the side guns also blast fire.

5. Speedster Wheelchair

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TC Mobility’s Speedster is a much more streamlined model than its Tankchair predecessor. The Speedster offers users speed and agility, with its 24-volt motor helping it reach up to 2,400 RPM. The striking color scheme on its aluminum body and the eye-catching chrome wheels also give it a sophisticated look and help it stand out from the crowd. The Phoenix, Arizona-based firm isn’t resting on its laurels, either, as there’s currently a new version of the Speedster being researched and designed which, according to TC Mobility, aims to “provide even more impressive performance and style” upon completion.

4. FighterJet Chair

4. FighterJet Chair

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This interesting Lance Greathouse creation is a three-wheeled chair that incorporates the seat from an F-4 fighter jet. “Most wheelchairs look too medical,” explained Greathouse to Wired. “If you want something done, you pretty much have to do it yourself.” His custom-made motorized wheelchairs are designed to match the personalities of each individual user. In fact, after making his brother a cool customized chair, Greathouse noticed that people starting treating him differently. Rather than feeling sorry for him, people started saying, “Oh, that’s awesome. Where did you get that?” This chair may not promise the speeds of the vehicle from which it claimed its seat, but it’s a distinctive and elegant creation that should win the admiration of all who see it.

3. Rocket-Powered Wheelchair

3. Rocket-Powered Wheelchair

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This customization brings physics to the forefront. Incredibly, the rocket-powered wheelchair pictured can zoom along at speeds exceeding 60 mph – according to its British creator, Briton Giuseppe Cannella, at least. What began as a gimmick soon got serious, as Cannella added a jet engine to the back of an old wheelchair owned by his mother-in-law, who has Parkinson’s disease. Canella, who loves model planes, used his knowhow to create the prototype, which was unsophisticated but effective. As he explained to the BBC, “It is just the wheelchair with the engine bolted on the back and steering on the front.” In 2004 the chair stole the show at a model plane championship in Lincolnshire, England, where Canella demonstrated his innovation. And best of all, it was all for a good cause, as the invention helped him raise money for the Parkinson’s Disease Society.

2. Lord Humongous Wheelchair

2. Lord Humongous Wheelchair

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This has got to be the most intimidating customized wheelchair we’ve ever seen. Once again, it’s the brainchild of Lance Greathouse, who first came up with the idea after visiting the studio where the U.K. version of Robot Wars was filmed. After chatting to the show’s special effects team, he was inspired to create the Lord Humongous chair. Lord Humongous took Greathouse a month to assemble, and he spent about $1,000 in the process. It includes a helicopter seat, rugged tires and repurposed dentists’ gadgets – as well as those super-cool flamethrowers. The result is a mobile, durable and powerful machine that shoots fire a distance of over 35 feet – and we’re not sure we’d want to get on the wrong side of anyone using it.

1. Submersible Wheelchair

1. Submersible Wheelchair

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In 2012 U.K. artist Susan Austin not only modified her wheelchair; she took it from land to water. Austin has used a wheelchair since 1996, and it seems as if she wanted to stretch her sea legs. To do this, she fitted dive thrusters, flotation devices and control surfaces to her standard National Health Service wheelchair, enabling her to navigate it underwater. The submersible chair is part of her Freewheeling project, which aims to explore art and disability. Austin filmed a dream-like performance art video of her using the chair in its new watery habitat, and with the success of the 2012 London Paralympics, the timing of Austin’s artistic innovation was perfect. She has now filed a patent for the wheelchair design and is hoping to launch a version of the chair that anyone can buy. So watch this space: wheelchair-using children could soon be getting much more enjoyment from trips to the swimming pool and the beach.