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What Kind of International Special Education Jobs Are Available?

intljob Special education is one of the most rapidly growing careers in the United States, Canada and many other countries. (I had special education teachers myself when I was in high school; I am what you call I high-functioning autistic. It is amazing that such a person can write an article such as this one.) This article will deal specifically with international careers in the field of special education.

Teaching overseas

Handicapped children live in every nation in the world, so an individual who has a certificate in special education can find a job almost anywhere that he or she searches. According to the State Department, there are two main types of special education jobs open to the international teacher: that of the general teacher, and that of the tutor who works with children living in areas where the special education programs at the schools are not enough to suit their needs.

The Department of State has two teaching programs for those who would like to go into special education abroad. One is the FAST TRAIN (Foreign Affairs Spouses Teacher Training Project) program, which began as a collaboration among three different institutions: the Office of Overseas Schools (part of the State Department), the Virginia State Department of Education and George Mason University. Special education is one of two certificate programs offered by FAST TRAIN (the other being in international business). A training program for tutoring the learning disabled is also available each fall from the Lab School of Washington, a small private school for disabled students in all grades.

The FAST TRAIN program

At FAST TRAIN, the training program for becoming a special education teacher abroad is one that leads to an M.Ed. (Master of Education) degree. It consists, first, of five core courses with a total of twelve credit hours:

  1. Education and Culture: teaches how to analyze educational contexts and extend strategies to address “puzzlements” in the practices of students
  2. Inquiry into Practice: fosters “systematic and thoughtful inquiry” into the practices of the classroom
  3. How Students Learn: how to increase the ability of students to learn by studying a variety of learning systems and understand each student “in the context of the learning process itself”
  4. Designing and Assessing Teaching and Learning: developing strategies in the curriculum and teaching process in response to what the students both need and in what they are interested; also covers the ways of knowing brought by teachers into the classroom
  5. Educational Change: examines the various factors that influence changes in educational systems on all levels, from federal to classroom; helps students reflect on their own learning experiences

Then there are numerous specialization courses which total eighteen credit hours, divided among the following areas of concentration:

  • Applied Behavior Analysis: The titles of five of the seven courses in this area include the course name followed by a colon (Principles, Procedures and Philosophy; Empirical Bases; Assessments and Interventions; Applications; and Verbal Behavior).
  • Assistive Technology (There are two programs in this area, each including a slightly different set of courses.)
  • Teaching Students with Autism: Students with this condition typically have a limited ability to relate socially to other people but may possess special skills such as an ability to memorize various lists (I memorized all the states, capitals, U. S. presidents and chemical elements when I was eleven!).
  • Visual Impairments Licensure, PK-12
  • Students with Disabilities who Access the General Curriculum Concentration
  • Students with Disabilities who Access the Accepted Curriculum Concentration

Some of the courses are offered only during the spring, summer or fall.

Lab School of Washington

The lab operates under the belief that each student, despite his or her handicap, is capable of achieving great things and gears every aspect of its teaching process towards accomplishing that end. There is a global learning program here in which students discover discover the food, music and customs of other nations and study poets and other writers from around the world. A study program is also included, and students have gone to China, Ecuador, France and other places.

Written By Treasures

Where Can Parents of Special Needs Children Get Support?

parentalsupportIf you are the parent of a child with special needs such as a terminal illness, learning disabilities, developmental delays, cognitive damage or psychiatric problems, then you may have found it difficult to find support in your area. Many times when you are the parent of a child with special needs such as autism, you may find yourself faced by friends and family who do not fully understand your unique situation. They may withdraw from you, purely out a sense of not knowing how to help, leaving you with a feeling of having no support system. Support groups can offer you a wealth of information that has been assembled over years of experience from many parents who have faced similar struggles.

The experience of a support group can put you in touch with children who may share interest which your child enjoys. Family get-togethers or outings can be a more positive experience when shared with a family who is both comfortable with, and familiar with the social requirements of, a special needs child.

Finding a new friend as a playmate for your child is a nice perk of attending a local support group, but support groups are also a great time for parents to find new friends for themselves. Take a moment to socialize and see what you might have in common with attending parents.

The Value of Shared Experiences

Parents are presented with empowering opportunities to share their experiences with others who are raising a child with special needs, in hopes of bettering one another’s knowledge base. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes one to raise a community. Social and emotional support is available from people who probably live close by in your neighborhood. Take advantage of the assistance that is available for you. Establishing contact with other parents of special needs children can open doors to assistance which you may not have been aware of, such as educational classes, inclusive events and other community support.

Important, first hand knowledge can be presented from other parents in regards to medications, education, recreational services such as summer camps, doctors and therapy services, as well as recommended locations to obtain a haircut. You may not be aware of certain funding, services or strategies that you can turn to and speaking to other parents of special needs children can reveal the proper procedures for requesting assistance from any state run assistance programs. Speaking with other parents in a support group is also a great opportunity to talk over any decisions about ideas you may be considering engaging in with your child. Other parents can offer advice on how to approach a given situation from their own experiences.

There are many services specialized for your child’s specific needs. The Autism Source is but only one. It is a resource database that offers resources through a nationwide network of autism organizations throughout the USA. Your child’s school as well as non-profit organizations may have groups that meet monthly or once a week and sometimes offer a guest speaker. Ask faculty or staff if they can point you in the right direction for local options. If you are having difficulty finding a local support group in your area you can locate a vast majority of support groups through the internet. Blogs, Social networking sites, chat forums and more, can be easily located online. This is great for parents who have a busy schedule and limited time available for travelling.

Do Private Special Education Programs Exist?

privpubMore often than not, special education programs are found in public schools that receive funding directly related to serving students with special needs and learning disabilities. Special education programs in private schools are fewer and further between. In part, this is because of the lack of designated funding, and in part, because most private educational institutions have smaller class sizes and are more readily able to cater to the special needs of any given student. There are, however, private school and private tutorial options at all levels for students with special needs.

According to the National Association of Private Special Education Centers (NAPSEC), there are 6.6 million students being served through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and 3.4% of those students are being served by a private schools of some sort. A group like the NAPSEC connects parents and students with private schools and organizations that serve special needs students from preschool to adulthood. Some of these learning centers are more traditional private schools, and some of them are organizations that offer tutorial services from private educators.

Private institutions like The Summit School in Edgewater, Maryland provide a range of educational services to special needs students with dyslexia and other learning differences. Summit educates students in grades one through eight and works to integrate students into traditional high schools. The tuition is $28,472 for the 2013-2014 academic year, which is comparable to many traditional private schools. Also, like most traditional private grade schools, financial aid is available in different forms.

An excellent resource for finding private preschool, elementary, middle, and high schools in any given state is the site Private School Review. This site allows you to narrow your school search to find private special education schools in your home state. An investigation of these institutions will show schools with small student populations – for example, their list of private special needs high schools in Missouri shows a range of student totals from 6 to 194 while elementary school student totals range from 11 to 194 – that allow teachers greater freedom to concentrate their attention on the individual needs of each student. Schools on this list focus on providing education to students with vastly differing special needs, from mild learning disabilities to severe mental handicaps. Many offer individualized learning programs geared towards specific needs students. In addition to fairly traditional classroom settings, many of these schools offer tutoring and other services from education professionals who are trained to help special needs students. The yearly tuition rates at most of these schools range from $10,000 to $30,000 and many have financial aid opportunities.

There are also plenty of options for special needs students preparing for college. Colleges designed exclusively to serve the needs of these students are far more rare than are private preschools, elementary, middle, and high schools. However, many colleges have programs that are designed to meed special educational needs, and some are better than others. The website Best Colleges Online ranks twenty colleges that excel at catering to students with special needs. The University of Iowa, which tops the list, has designated residence halls and community-based internships for students with intellectual, cognitive, and learning disabilities. At West Virginia Wesleyan College, students with learning disabilities, attention disorders, and other special needs can make use of the Mentor Advantage Program which offers a wide range of support to help with the college transition. Other colleges have special programs to assist students with autism, Down Syndrome, dyslexia, and physical impairments like blindness of hearing-impairment. The assistance often includes services that help with specialized study skills, job placement, and even self advocacy and social skills. These colleges and universities are all subject to ever increasing tuition costs, and some of these special services are fee-based.

There are many options for private schooling and tutoring from preschool through high school for students with special needs. When college is in view, the specialized options become more limited. However, many college programs work to ensure that their special needs students are equipped study, work, and social skills to help them succeed.

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

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 .


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.

Top 15 Accredited Schools Online Offering Doctoral Degrees in Special Education

top 15Deciding to obtain a doctoral degree in special education is a big step, and it is not one to be taken lightly. Earning a doctoral degree not only requires an advanced level of intelligence, but it also requires a considerable amount of time and hard work as well. While obtaining a doctoral degree is decidedly worth it for those individuals who wish to become true experts and leaders in their field, there is no reason to make obtaining a doctoral degree more difficult than it already is. Universities that offer online doctoral degree programs in special education allow their students the flexibility of working on their doctoral degree programs wherever and whenever they need to.

Sponsored Doctoral Programs

  1. PhD in Special Education Leadership from Capella University
  2. EdD in Special Education from Northcentral University

The schools listed below are the best choices for students who want to be at the top of their profession. These universities all provide online doctoral degrees that students can be proud to earn. Each of these schools provides exceptional and competitive academic quality from industry professionals who are experts in their fields. The faculty who teach the courses for these programs have spent many years in the field, so they truly know the subject matter they teach. Not surprisingly, these schools have received numerous awards and recognition for their outstanding programs.  All of these factors combined explain our methodology: innovative curricula, accreditation, expertise of faculty, education costs, and recognition by ranking authorities like the U.S. News and World Report, Forbes, and the Princeton Review.

These ten well known universities also offer a great variety of Special Education degree programs as well as a number of specializations.   Their programs are rigorous and their standards are high. Furthermore, these schools are affordable, and they offer an excellent value for the money that students spend obtaining degrees from them.

1. John Hopkins University

John Hopkins University is synonymous with world class research, education, and quality. Since founding in 1876, the University’s mission of “bringing knowledge for the world” has stood as a testament to its prestigious means of exploration, learning, and discovery. It’s online programs are no exception. With programs accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the University’s online Doctor of Education program gives students essential knowledge in the ever changing field of education paired with the refined information of specialized studies in Special Education. Ranking number 2 on the U.S. News and World Report’s Best Graduate School for Education, this program yields graduates ready to reform all aspects of special education policy, teacher development, service implementation, public policy, and service delivery through research and theory. Plus an enhanced focus on special and general educator relationships, administration, management, and leadership provides an in-depth understanding of every level of special education. The estimated cost of pursuing an online doctoral degree at John Hopkins is $39,930 per academic year.

For more about John Hopkins University’s Online Doctoral Degree Programs, go here.

2. Boston College

Benedict Joseph Fenwick founded Boston College during 1825 in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, as a private Roman Catholic Jesuit research institution. In attempt to meet not only the needs of his congregation but also the community, the College’s original blend of spiritual principle and academic excellence gradually earned the school the worldwide recognition it has today as “the nation’s Catholic intellectual powerhouse.” Ranked in the Top 20 in the nation by The U.S. News and World Report as well as Forbes among the Best Education Schools, Boston is a great choice for academic excellence. It’s Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction maintains the College’s foundational principles and provides candidates the opportunity to major in the most innovative aspects of education – including Special Education. Tuition is $1,212 per credit hour. Accreditation through the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council ensures a quality educational experience for all students who enroll at Boston College.

For more about Boston College’s Online Doctoral Degree Programs, go here.

3. University of Florida

The University of Florida is Florida’s oldest and most comprehensive university. It is a major public research university that is proud of its academic diversity. The university has received regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and it belongs to the Association of American Universities as well as recognition for being the 18th Best Graduate Education School per the U.S. News and World Report. The University of Florida Online offers four online doctorate degree options, such as Doctor of Education Curriculum and Instruction with a Specialization in Curriculum and Teaching, Doctor of Education Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in Educational Technology, Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership, and Doctor of Education in Higher Education Administration. All programs offered through the University allow students to augment their knowledge base with electives in the most advanced Special Education topics to qualify them as experts in the field upon graduation. Tuition for off-campus graduate students is $12,640 for in-state students and $30,034 for out of state graduate students beginning programs for the first time. Tuition may be lower for continuing students.

For more about the University of Florida’s Online Doctoral Degree Programs, go here.

4. Indiana University

indiana university

Indiana University is a research institution that strives to create partnerships with local communities in order to provide leadership and creative solutions for current problems. The university offers online doctoral degrees in the most advanced fields including Ed.D. in Instructional Systems Technology with a minor in Special Education and the Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Studies. Both programs offer a blended course of study with specializations in Early Childhood Special Education, Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and Teaching of students with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Severe Disabilities. Indiana University receives its accreditation from The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association, and individual programs have their own professional accreditations and affiliations as well. Tuition for doctoral programs ranges from $338.56 to $363.22 per credit hour for Indiana residents and from $986 to $1,088.65 per credit hour for non-residents. And best of all, as the 14th Best Online Graduate School for Education according to the U.S. News and World Report, Indiana University’s affordability, accreditation, and academics are rated A+!

For more about Indiana University’s Online Doctoral Degree Programs, go here.

5. Liberty University

Liberty University is a private Christian university that has been developing Christ-centered men and women to impact the world since 1971. As one of the top 125 best providers of Online Graduate Education per the U.S. News and World Report’s annual rankings, Liberty University has received regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and many of its individual programs are accredited as well. Liberty University’s Doctor of Education and Education Specialist online doctoral degree programs require candidates to complete the courses essential for their degrees as well as means of maximizing their educational opportunities with a minor in Special Education. Plus the University’s unique Degree Completion Plans help all students stay on track to fulfill their goals. Liberty University’s tuition rates are very affordable. In fact, they are some of the lowest in the nation. Ph.D. and Doctorate programs cost $570 per credit hour for students enrolled part time and $520 per credit hour for students enrolled full time. Plus, Liberty University offers discounts for students in the military.

For more about Liberty University’s Online Doctoral Degree Programs, go here.

6. Regent University

Regent University provides it’s students the ability to not only prepare for their profession but also secure an education based in faith and instruction founded in a Christian perspective. Graduates from all of Regents’ programs advance as well qualified Christian leaders ready to impact the world with their knowledge and spirituality. It’s Doctor of Philosophy in Special Education program combines the best this educational institution has to offer to ensure the success of candidates as they embark on their journey as leaders, advocates, and innovators in the field of Special Education. Regent University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and with the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Every school within the University has its own accreditations as well – including Regent’s School of Education which is accredited by the Teacher Education Accreditation Council. Tuition ranges from $870 to $1,110 per credit hour. This program requires a one week residency during the summer.

For more about Regent University’s Online Doctoral Degree Programs, go here.

7. Ball State University

Originally founded to bolster city development, Indiana’s Ball State University has historically given its students the ability to not only connect but also lead. It’s Doctor of Education in Educational Administration and Supervision provides the academic foundation necessary to advance as special education managers in the field. Candidates may pursue specializations in Community Education, Community College Leadership, Higher Education, or major in Special Education to acquire the refined skills needed to succeed. The program does require students to visit campus one weekend a year. Ball State is currently under review for accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and should be in effect as of April 2014. The estimated cost of tuition is $25,168 per year.

For more about Ball State University’s Online Doctoral Degree Programs, go here.

8. George Mason University

Since 1957, George Mason University has been a forerunner in advanced education. And in the days since, the school has only continued to provide students with an exceptional learning experience. As the 6th Best Up-and-Coming School of 2012 per the U.S. News and World Report, George Mason is a great fit for today’s online doctoral degree candidate. It’s online programs are no exception since they allow students to apply advanced placement credits as well as earn dual credits to complete their degree faster than many of the University’s competitors. It’s Doctoral of Philosophy in Education with a Professional Specialization in Special Education online program requires students to gain and process knowledge through theory and research. Upon completion, candidates not only apply their abilities to help solve some of the most pressing educational issues, but continue to careers as accomplished advocates, leaders, and innovators. Tuition for 9 credits per semester for in-state students is $9,075 and for out of state students is $28,584.

For more about George Mason University’s Online Doctoral Degree Programs, go here.

9. University of Nebraska at Lincoln


University of Nebraska classes—both online and on campus—are taught by faculty who are highly regarded as experts in their fields of study. The university’s online programs have all received full accreditation from The Higher Learning Commission and many also carry specific professional accreditations as well. Listed on the U.S. News and World Reports’ Best Online Graduate Education Programs list, the University of Nebraska offers several online doctoral degree programs, including the Ph.D. in Educational Studies with a Specialization in Educational Leadership and Higher Education with a Supervisor of Special Education Endorsement. Candidates have the additional opportunity to pursue areas of study in both special education and communication disorders. The University also offers an alternative for those who want to prepare for their advanced degree at an expert level, they can pursue an Ed.S. in Special Education and Communication Disorders. Program tuition varies widely for students at the University. Nebraska residents can expect to pay between $269 and $1,541 plus fees per credit hour. Students who are not residents of Nebraska can expect to pay between $393 and $1,541 plus fees per credit hour.

For more about the University of Nebraska’s Online Doctoral Degree Programs, go here.

10. University of Northern Colorado

A school that focuses on positive social change and unique flexibility, the University of Northern Colorado was founded in 1889 with dedication to “Eternal wisdom.” This motto holds true for students of all backgrounds and ages – including working adults. Those who wish to pursue a degree without giving up their jobs may do so within the Special Education, PhD program. Recognized among the nation’s Best Public Colleges and Research Universities by Forbes, the online Special Education, PhD program available at the University of Northern Colorado is a practical and affordable choice for today’s doctoral candidates. The University’s challenge of creating an individual academic path to meet their educational and career goals has given many working adults the chance to expand their knowledge and experience in the field of special education. The University of Northern Colorado is accredited regionally by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education and the Colorado Department of Education as well as nationally by the Higher Learning Commission of (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges of Schools. Additional international accrediation for this program is through the Council for Exceptional Children. Tuition is $7,733 (in state) and $19,277 (out of state).

For more about the University of Northern Colorado’s Online Doctoral Degree Programs, go here.

11. Valdosta State University

The Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) in Teacher Leadership offered online through Valdosta State is truly one of a kind. It offers students the ability to not only refine their skills with electives in special education but prepare for their futures as professionals in the field. The university’s commitment to academic excellence begins with it’s faculty of experts in their fields, and ends as they prepare their students to become experts as well. This school is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and many of its degree programs have additional accreditations as well. Online graduate tuition for this program is $453.50 per credit hour for in-state students and $1,051.50 for out of state students with a total estimated cost of $16,514. Best of all, Valdosta is listed in the top 30 of the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Public Schools for its ability to pair affordability and quality to prospective PhD candidates.

For more about Valdosta State University’s Online Doctoral Degree Programs, go

12. Northcentral University

Northcentral University is unique in that it operates based on a one-to-one teaching model, where one student is partnered with one faculty member in each course. Northcentral University offers the Doctor of Education, the Education Specialist, and the Doctor of Philosophy in Education online degrees. Each offering combines the most advanced knowledge available with the opportunity to refine studies in the field of special education. Northcentral University has received its accreditation in the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). Tuition for online doctoral programs varies from $2,461 to $2,570 per course.

For more about Northcentral University’s Online Doctoral Degree Programs, go here.

13. Nova Southeastern University

Nova Southeastern University was first established in 1964 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida as Nova University of Advanced Technology. From its small beginnings, Nova Southeastern grew to a larger school that now offers a number of online doctoral degrees including the Doctor of Education with a concentration in Special Education. Nova Southeastern University has received its accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and 83 of Nova Southeastern’s online degree programs are also certified by the Southern Regional Education Board. Tuition varies between $600 and $945 per semester credit hour, not including additional education related fees.

For more about Nova Southeastern University’s Online Doctoral Degree Programs, go here.

14. Capella University

Capella University began in 1993 as The Graduate School of America, a school focused on bringing higher education to an underserved adult population. Since then, the school has been renamed Capella University, but its mission remains the same. Capella University receives its accreditation from The Higher Learning Commission, and it is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Capella University offers Council for Exceptional Children recognized online Doctor of Philosophy in Special Education Leadership program to suitable candidates with an interest leading and managing the diverse aspects of the field of special education. Tuition at Capella for it’s online PhD program is based upon the number of credit hours and degree level. Most courses are between 10 and 12 weeks in length and tuition ranges from $505 to $768 per credit or $2,780 to $5175 per quarter. As the 23rd school listed on the Guide to Online’s 2012 Online College Rankings, Capella is growing increasingly competitive with many of the world’s top schools and programs.
For more about Capella University’s Online Doctoral Degree Programs, go here.

15. Grand Canyon University

Since 1949, Grand Canyon University has provided private Christian based education to students who wish to expand their knowledge and advance their careers. The University’s offerings in doctoral degrees for those interested in Special Education involves participation in the Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in Special Education. This program is not only licensed and approved by the Arizona State Board for Private Post Secondary Education but also accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Tuition is $630 per credit hour plus additional education related expenses and fees. Candidates are required to complete two in person residencies.

For more about Grand Canyon University’s Online Doctoral Degree Programs, go here.


The Top 20 PhD Programs 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.

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.

What are the Highest Paying Jobs in Special Education?

caerersjobsMany people are motivated to work with special needs students due to their sincere desire to help these individuals and to enrich the quality of their client’s lives. When considering a career, however, many believe that in addition to personal fulfillment, there are other factors to consider like salary. Earning a decent living is especially important in today’s tough economy. Many professionals working in the field of special education spend years getting college degrees, expend time and resources to complete educational and licensing requirements, and then continue studies within specialized certifications and advanced educational/training programs. Many find that ensuring their investments requires focusing on the top-paying careers within the special education field. To help with the process of selecting a high paying career path, here are some of the Highest Paying Jobs in Special Education. Any of these rewarding careers will ensure individuals get to do what they love while still being able to make ends meet, paying back student loans, and building a future.

Speech and Language Pathologist

Speech and language pathologists, also known as speech therapists, assess, diagnose and treat students with speech and communication disorders. Special education professionals interested in this field must earn a master’s degree in speech and language pathology. Schooling typically takes about six years to complete and includes classes in special needs, speech disorders and alternative ways to communicate. In most states, speech and language pathologists must obtain a license. In addition, they seek certification through accrediting bodies such as American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. The median annual salary for speech and language pathologists was $66,920 as of May 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This means that 50 percent of all speech and language pathologists made more than $66,920 in 2010 and 50 percent made less than this amount. The range in salaries for speech and language pathologists was $42,970 to $103,630.

Featured Programs To Qualify As Speech and Language Pathologists

  1. The Top 10 Master’s of Speech Pathology Degree Programs
  2. The Utah State University’s Online Bachelor of Communication Disorders
  3. Top 10 Bachelors of Communicative Disorders Degree Programs
  4. Top 10 Special Education Masters Degree Programs
  5. Top 10 Special Education Masters Degree Programs Online
  6. Top 15 Accredited Special Education Masters Degree Programs Online

Educational Audiologist

After obtaining their bachelor’s degree in special education, some students decide to spend another four years in college, learning to work with hearing impaired students. Educational audiologists typically hold a doctorate in audiology. Typical coursework includes anatomy, physiology and communication development. As of 2013, all states required educational audiologists to earn a license. Typically, they also seek certification through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association or the American Board of Audiology to add to their credibility and fulfill part of their licensing requirements. Educational audiologists visit students at school and take referrals in their clinics to assess clients’ degree of hearing loss and help manage hearing disabilities in the classroom. Educational audiologists earned a median annual salary of $66,660 as of May 2010, according to the BLS. The range in salaries was between $42,590 and $102,210.

Featured Programs To Qualify As Educational Audiologists

  1. University of Western Kentucky’s Online Masters in Speech Language Pathology
  2. Top 15 Accredited Online Special Education Doctoral Degree Programs of 2016
  3. Top 15 Accredited Schools Online OFfering Doctoral Degrees In Special Education
  4. Top 10 Online Special Education Certificate Programs
  5. Top 10 Doctor of Audiology (AuD) Degrees

Special Education Teacher

Special education teachers work with children with a wide range of disabilities including autism, emotional disorder, behavioral disorder, learning disability or speech disorder. To become a special education teacher, you’ll need to earn your bachelor’s degree in education, special education or a specialized field, such as math or biology. During your schooling, you’ll complete fieldwork, including student teaching. Every state requires public special education teachers to have a license, which typically requires providing certified evidence you completed your degree and passing an examination. The median pay for special education teachers as of May 2010 was $53,220, according to the BLS. The lowest paid ten percent made an average salary of $35,580, while the highest 10 percent earned an average salary of $83,410. Salary greatly depends on the grade level an individual teaches. High school special education teachers, for example, earned a median income of $53,810 in 2010; middle school special education teachers earned $53,440; and preschool, elementary and kindergarten special education teachers earned an average yearly salary of $52,250.

Featured Programs To Qualify As Special Education Teachers

  1. Western Governor’s Online Bachelor’s of Arts in Special Education
  2. Top 10 Special Education Masters Degree Programs
  3. Top 10 Special Education Masters Degree Programs Online
  4. Top 15 Accredited Special Education Masters Degree Programs Online

Adaptive Special Education Teacher

Adaptive special education teachers enjoy helping people with disabilities overcome their challenges to achieve physical goals. These professionals develop, implement and monitor a special needs student’s physical education program. Approximately 13 states require adaptive special education teachers to have a separate license in addition to a teaching degree. While requirements vary by state, typically you have to demonstrate taking a certain number of semester hours in adaptive physical education and pass an examination. Once you are hired, adaptive special education teachers must follow the adapted physical education national standards. As of 2013, the average salary for adaptive special education teachers was $52,286, with a range of $30,867 to $57,442.

Featured Programs To Qualify As Adaptive Special Education Teachers

  • South Western College’s Online Masters of Special Education Program
  • Top 10 Special Education Masters Degree Programs
  • Top 10 Online Special Education Certificate Programs Online
  • Top 15 Accredited Special Education Masters Degree Programs Online
  • Early Intervention Specialist

    If you’re interested in helping disabled children prevent problems throughout their lives, consider parlaying your special education career into a rewarding career as an early intervention specialist. These special education professionals work with children and young adults to diffuse crises, help problem-solve before a situation escalates and teach new skills. You’ll focus on problems including academic difficulties, teen pregnancy and behavioral issues.
    After achieving your certification as a special education teacher, earn your certificate in early intervention by taking a college course, which is typically about 15 – 20 semester hours. This training typically requires an internship. As of 2013, the median salary for early intervention specialists was $35,686. The range in salaries, according to the Indeed salary survey website, was $23,970 to $60,760.

    Featured Programs To Qualify As Early Intervention Specialists

  • Portland State University’s Master of Special Education in Early Intervention
  • Top 10 Special Education Masters Degree Programs
  • Top 10 Special Education Masters Degree Programs Online
  • Top 15 Accredited Special Education Masters Degree Programs Online
  • What are Inclusive Special Education Programs?

    inclusion Inclusion is a term used to describe one option for the placement of special education students in public schools. These inclusive programs are sometimes referred to as mainstreaming, which is the selective placement of students with disabilities in regular education classrooms. This controversial educational concept has its share of advocates on both sides and continues to be a source of contention with educators and parents. They all agree that schools must focus on meeting the needs of students with special needs in the most appropriate setting for each individual.

    The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) is a federal law that requires students to be educated in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). They must receive an education with supports set forth in their Individual Education Plan (IEP), which is different for each student. The federal laws that govern the education of special needs children do not require that they receive an inclusive education. They only require that all students with disabilities be educated in the least restrictive environment and that their unique needs are met.

    What Inclusive Education Programs Provide For Special Needs Students

    Inclusive education programs provide educational services for all students including those with special needs. These programs serve all children in the regular classroom on a full-time basis. If a student requires extra services such as speech therapy, these services are brought into the classroom. This program allows the student to remain in the regular education classroom setting at all times. This program is intended to meet the objectives of IDEA by educating students in the regular classroom while still providing for their unique needs.

    There are variables in inclusive education programs, which make a standard definition of inclusion misleading. Full inclusion is described as placing all students, regardless of disabilities and severity, in the regular classroom on a full-time basis. These students do not leave the regular classroom for services specified in their IEP, but these services are delivered to them in the regular classroom setting. Inclusion or mainstreaming refers to students being educated with non-disabled peers for most of their school day. A special education teacher collaborates with a general education teacher to provide services for students. The general education teacher is responsible for instructing all children, even those with an IEP. The special education teacher collaborates with the general teacher on strategies.

    Another placement option places disabled students in the general classroom with the special education teacher providing support and assisting the general education teacher in instructing the students. The special education teacher brings materials into the classroom and works with the special student during math or reading instruction. The special education teacher aids the general education teacher in planning different strategies for students with various abilities.

    When the IEP team meets to determine the best placement for a child with disabilities, they must consider which placement constitutes the least restrictive environment for the child based on individual needs. The team must determine which setting will provide the child with the appropriate placement. The primary objective of inclusive education is to educate disabled students in the regular classroom and still meet their individual needs. Inclusive education allows children with special needs to receive a free and appropriate education along with non-disabled students in the regular classroom.

    Effectiveness of Inclusive Special Education Programs

    Even though several studies have been conducted to determine the effectiveness of inclusive special education programs, no conclusion has been reached. Many positive signs have been observed with both special education and regular students. Some proponents of inclusive education programs argue that segregated special education programs are more detrimental to students and fail to meet their educational goals.

    Those who favor inclusion see some positive evidence that all students can benefit from these inclusive programs when the proper support services are enacted and some changes take place in the traditional classroom. Professional development classes for both special and general education teachers produce a better understanding of the concept of inclusive education. When provided with the proper tools, special needs students have the opportunity to succeed along with their non-disabled peers.

    How to Source Scholarships and Other Means of Paying For Tuition

    scholarships There are many different ways to find out about the different ways to cover the costs of tuition and other educational fees as you pursue your degree in Special Education. One easy way is to ask the financial aid office within your school. Other options include federal agencies, a high school counselor, your state grant agency, your employer, ethnicity-based organizations and various other organizations that are in your particular field of interest. Here is a list of the different types of scholarships, grants, loans, private sources, and other programs which help students meet the costs of college:

    Scholarships and Grants

    Scholarships are a type of financial gift offered by private companies, schools, nonprofits, religious groups, social organizations, professional organizations, employers, individuals and more. These gifts are offered with the intent to help students get through the tuition blockade that stops many people from affording a run through university, and the best part is that they do not need to be repaid.

    Some scholarships are offered based on merit, meaning you’ll need to meet some prerequisites as set by the entity offering the scholarship. Some might be rewarded based on how well you do in high school or a combination of this and other special interests. Others are offered to those with low income.

    There are actually many scholarships offered to particular types of people, such as women or seniors in high school. Some are offered due to your background or because of where your parents work, such as scholarships for military families.

    Depending on the entity offering the scholarship, it might cover the entire cost of going to university, or it might just give you a few hundred dollars. In any case, it is definitely worth looking into as every dollar counts.

    When you apply for a scholarship or grant ultimately depends on when the deadline is. Some may require an application a full year before the beginning of college, which means high school juniors should start to look into these before becoming seniors. If it’s too late, there are still plenty of grants that can be applied to later.

    How you apply for the grant also depends on the specific requirements. The website should provide prerequisites that must be met as well as instructions on how to apply. Ensure that you read this thoroughly and meet the deadline provided to be considered for a scholarship.

    Each scholarship will have different means of delivering the money, such as going directly to the college or sent to you via check. In either case, the provider should tell you what will happen with the money and when they will inform you of the award.

    Scholarships affect your financial aid in a way because everything you receive for college cannot be more than what it costs to go to that college. This means you’ll need to inform the university whenever you are awarded with a grant or college so this amount can be subtracted from how much it will cost you to attend the university. The rest that remains can then be covered by other grants or loans.

    There are many different scholarships to find, such as:
    – Scholarship America
    – Holocaust Essay Contest
    – Coca-Cola Scholarship
    – Association of Hispanic Certified Public Accountants
    – Breakthrough to Nursing Scholarships for Ethnic People of Color
    – Jackie Robinson Foundation
    – Microsoft Minority Scholarship
    – ROTC Scholarship
    – Freeman Asia
    – UIC Study Abroad Office

    Student Loans

    Scholarships and grants may not cover the entirely of tuition, however. This is where student loans can come in, which are another form of financial assistance that college students may get. There are many different kinds to get, and some even come with rather favorable terms of repayment and interest rates. These loans can be used for both tuition and housing expenses, as well as what it would cost to transport yourself and get computers, and so on. The general goal is to ensure that students have reasonable access to education, and the lender banks on the thought that graduates will have marketable skills to help repay the loan.

    When attending a university, students can apply for financial aid, which provides access to scholarships, grants and loans offered on merit and needs. Students will be informed whether they quality for certain loans, and they can either accept or reject them at that point.

    The government may administer some loans, and these usually have the best terms of repayment and interest rates. Some come with interest deferment programs, meaning the government pays the interest as long as the student is still in school; you will not need to pay anything until after graduation. Parents can also get these student loans; they need to pay them right away, but the terms are generally still favorable.

    Private companies also offer student loans, though this can come with a few disadvantages that you should keep in mind if you wish to go this route. For example, a loan offered through a private company will have a higher interest rate than what the government offers, and some may even require immediate payments without deferring the interest or the payments at all. It is also true that a private lender tends to be less forgiving when it comes to the terms of repayment.

    It is very important to find a private company that offers a legitimate service as some companies have a history of being predatory when it comes to providing students with loans. You will want to discuss all options with a financial aid officer so that you can have someone who is experienced help with finding an appropriate lender.

    The idea of going into such debt may turn off many students, causing them to avoid student loans. While it’s certainly admirable to see young students wanting to be prudent about their finances, you should not compromise the potential education you can receive with the sole reason of not going into debt, especially when there are many different avenues that are affordable.

    Of course, it is best to go for scholarships and grants first since these do not need to be repaid, but if a loan is the only thing that stands in the way of attending college, then it is worth looking into getting a manageable loan.

    How to Select the Best School to Meet Your Child’s Special Educational Needs

    helpA child in an Individualized Education Program (IEP) has as much potential as any other student. To maximize that potential, however, it’s important to choose the right school for him or her to attend. This educational environment should be supportive and nurturing, a place where he or she will not only learn but thrive.

    In order to find that right school, you’ll first need to determine what sort of classes you want for your child. A school might offer classes comprised entirely of special-education students. On the other hand, students with special needs might take classes with all other classmates. Such heterogeneous classes typically provide extra help to students who need it, such as personalized instruction from a teaching aide. Or special-needs students might be allowed one-on-one time with educators at some point during every school day.

    When deciding between those options, it’s important to consider your child’s social and emotional strengths. Will your child feel more comfortable being with other students with special needs all day — would he or she make friends more easily that way? Or do you believe that being around students without disabilities will help your son or daughter learn how to adapt in various social situations?

    In addition, your child’s academics will likely improve if teachers employ a variety of teaching styles. That is, teachers ought to combine lectures with individual and small-group assignments, interactive lessons, and visual presentations. That way, if your child tends to lose focus when taking notes, he or she will still be able to grasp the material by virtue of those other teaching methods.

    Once you know precisely what you’re looking for, you can begin the process of choosing the right school. The first step is to compile a list of every school near your home. You can check with a services coordinator or with a nonprofit organization that specializes in a certain disability to ensure that you have a full list. Further, you should look at private as well as public options. Obviously, private school tuition can be a financial strain for many families. But if a certain private school in your area offers exceptional services, you might consider those tuition payments to be worthy investments in your child’s future. Moreover, a disabilities organization could help you find out if you’re eligible for government tuition assistance under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which Congress passed in 1975.

    Visits are key to determining which school represents the best option. On a visit, you can meet with teachers and administrators to discuss how the school would meet your child’s needs. When you visit a school, you also get a sense of the teaching styles, the class sizes — roughly speaking, the smaller the class size the better — the nutritional value of the lunches, and all sorts of other particulars. Further, meeting with teachers and principals is a way to initiate relationships with those professionals. Whenever you have a concern about your child’s progress, it’s easier and often more productive to contact an educator you know personally. Finally, if you visit a school and discover that staff members are brusque or unwilling to discuss your questions, you should definitely think twice about sending your child there.

    Once you have found a great school, you can start working with its staff on formulating your child’s IEP. This IEP will list the specific academic goals that your child should meet by the end of the school year as well as the services your child will receive. Bear in mind that you have the right to disagree with what the school wants to include in the IEP. It can be difficult for parents to contradict experts, but always remember that you know your child best. Therefore, if you believe that he or she requires more personalized attention than the IEP allows for or if you feel the plan’s academic benchmarks are too challenging or not challenging enough, politely refuse those parameters. At the same time, carefully mull over the IEP team’s arguments. Perhaps they’ll raise an issue that you hadn’t considered before.

    When disagreements arise, IEP meetings continue; you and the school’s team will negotiate until acceptable compromises are reached. If you find that you’re at an impasse, you can reject in writing the entire IEP. At that point, you may request a due process hearing, at which a hearing officer will listen to both points of view and arbitrate. Note that it’s helpful to employ an attorney for such a hearing.

    Of course, if you find a school that accommodates the educational vision you have for your son or daughter, such IEP conflicts shouldn’t come up in the first place. That’s just one more reason why finding the ideal school is so vital.

    How to Select the Best School to Meet Your Educational Needs

    bestschoolThe choice of which college to attend is a major decision for many high school graduates. Choosing the right college can mean the difference between an amazing four years that launches a person into a career they love and a miserable four years that does little to improve the person’s future. The school a person picks will determine his or her friends, living arrangements and future job opportunities. This is why smart high school graduates weigh their options carefully in order to pick the right school. There are several factors high school students should take into consideration when selecting the right college or university for them.


    For students planning on attending a traditional college—as in, not an online college—the college they pick will determine where they will live for the next four or more years of their life. Some students cannot imagine being too far from the comforts of home or are simply unable to leave their city or state because of work or family responsibilities. Others see college as the perfect opportunity to venture out and explore the world. Students have many options of where to attend colleges—from big cities to small towns or even foreign countries. If there is a place or type of place a student has always wanted to live, college can be an excellent time to move there.


    While most people do not choose a school based on the cost, the cost is most definitely a factor in which schools students will be able to afford to attend. In-state tuition is generally cheaper than out-of-state tuition and community colleges are generally cheaper than private universities, though not always. Grants and scholarships can make even the most expensive schools affordable when a student’s tuition is paid for in part or in whole. When determining the cost of various schools, students should also consider the cost of living in various areas, as everything tends to cost more in big cities. Even if a student is able to comfortably afford tuition, the costs of housing, groceries and transportation may be more than a student can handle.

    School Size

    The size of the college is another factor students should take into consideration when choosing a college, though this factor is more a matter of personal preference than anything. Smaller colleges tend to offer advantages such as small class sizes and personalized instruction. Students and professors can really get to know each other and students can receive the help and direction they need, both academically and personally. On the other hand, larger colleges usually offer more opportunities such as clubs and sororities or fraternities. Larger colleges may be more established, have more resources and offer more connections. Larger colleges also often tend to be more diverse than smaller colleges. Students choosing a college should decide if they value the personalized education of a small school or the expanded opportunities and resources of a larger school.


    It only makes sense that students look into a school’s academics when comparing colleges to find the right fit. Not all degree programs are the same. Some colleges require many general education classes on various subjects, while others mostly stick to the core subject matter for the fields students are pursuing. Some schools are challenging and expect students to excel in all areas, while others simply expect students to meet minimum competency requirements.

    Students should research which degrees and majors are offered at various colleges. Even students who have already determined their major may want a school that offers other related majors in case they decide to shift their education focus slightly. Students should investigate the particular focus of the majors, as degrees do not match up at all schools. Students should look through course catalogues and see which classes are offered in particular, taking note to see if any classes are missing. This way, students hoping to work in a particular niche find the school that best equips them for it.

    Practicums and Internships

    While practicums and internships are helpful for all majors, they are absolutely vital to students majoring in special education, for example. Classroom teaching simply cannot be taught solely from textbooks; so much of the knowledge must be gained from hands-on experiences with real children in real special education classrooms. Students hoping to major in special education should inquire as to the number of field experiences offered and required within the major at various schools. They should also research the area around the school to ensure that the internships they receive will actually be beneficial. Students obtaining a special education degree should attend college in areas that actually have special education classes for them to observe and work in.

    Good Fit

    Lastly, once students have found a few colleges that look promising, students should schedule a few campus visits to determine which college is a good fit for them. “Good fit” is entirely subjective and will vary widely based on individual personalities and preferences, but it is essential to school success. Some students simply do better in some schools than others. While asking others their opinions on various schools and programs can be exceedingly helpful, students must decide for themselves where exactly they best belong.

    It is not uncommon for high school graduates to spend months or even years agonizing over the choice of where to attend college. No one can blame them for wanting to make the absolute best decision and sometimes there is no easy way to know what that decision is. Students should keep in mind, however, that while not all colleges are created equal, some are not all that different either. Unless students are going into a very competitive and elite field, there are likely several excellent choices for which college to attend. Making the choice is not so much about avoiding the wrong college as it is choosing the very best one. By carefully considering the above factors, students hoping to make the best choice cannot go wrong.

    Related Links:


    The 15 Best Websites for Parents of Special Needs Children

    websitesRaising a child with special needs can be difficult enough, but thanks to the worldwide web, the Internet is full of tons of informational websites that can help you and your little one.

    Below are twelve helpful sites that are loaded with useful information for parents with a special-needs child, including information on Autism, deafness, blind-deafness, hearing impairment, intellectual disabilities, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairments, serious emotional disorders, specific learning disabilities, speech or language impairments, traumatic brain injuries, Down’s Syndrome, and more.

    You do not have to feel alone when there are so many other parents out there going through the same thing you are. These twelve amazing sites include information about your child’s condition, stories from parents who have been through it, local help guides, forums, blog entries, and learning tools.


    AutismNow.Org is hands down one of the best online resources for information on Autism. It includes latest news, information, an easy to use search engine, upcoming events, and even a local agencies map for finding help in your area. Coming in at a close second is Autism Learn , a site is dedicated to the process of teaching Autistic children how to learn. It is jam-packed with visually stimulating activities geared toward helping develop skills with people, fine motor control, creating a connected hierarchy, learning about the seasons and weather, money, and much more.


    Hearing Like Me is a wonderful resource for parents who have deaf children or hearing loss. Their website is clean, easy to browse, and full of helpful information. It also has an amazing forum where you can share your story and talk with other parents. This is an excellent resource for parents who wish to share their story and communicate with other parents who are going through the same thing.


    The Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children has a lot of information and services for parents of children who are deaf-blind. In addition to their resources, they help parents and their children get involved in activities, as well as provide latest news and updates in the deaf-blind community.

    Hearing Impairment

    The Hearing Loss Association of America is a great resource for any parent with a hearing-impaired child, as it not only offers support resources, news, recommended reading, personal stories, and articles, it also has a section on laws and how your child with hearing loss has rights.

    Language and Speech Delays/Impairments

    Created by a practicing speech and language pathologist,
    is a fantastic site for anyone involved in the life of a child who has language and speech delays or impairments. The site features tips to stimulate language development, a forum to interact directly with other families and speech-language pathologists, a wealth of links to other sites, a comprehensive reading list, and even a sign language section.

    Intellectual Disabilities

    Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities is an excellent and resourceful website for parents with children who have dyslexia, are ADHD, or have other learning disabilities. The site focuses on empowering parents with knowledge and a strong supportive community. It also has a section on success stories for those that may be feeling overwhelmed.

    Multiple Disabilities

    Support for Families of Children with Disabilities has been around for a long time, since 1982, offering information to parents with multiple disabilities in children. It offers newsletters and resources, as well as upcoming events and services for educating parents and loved ones of children with disabilities.

    Orthopedic Impairment

    Orthopedic Impairments is a friendly website project with a comprehensive mission to inform, educate, and help walk through parents, teachers, and students with orthopedic impairments. If you are finding that you are having a difficult time communicating with your child’s school, they have a special section designed to help you through any bumps along the way.

    Serious Emotional Disturbance

    One of the most prominent mental health websites within the U.S., Healthy Place, offers an interesting and informative blog entry detailing the long and difficult journey parents of mentally ill children travel. Although the entry is short, there are over eighty-five comments from various parents and loved ones of children who have serious emotional disturbances and disorders, each with a story to tell.

    Specific Learning Disability

    The Guardian has an inspiring article about a mother and her son, who has Autism. It discusses one of the biggest challenges a parent and their disabled child faces: other people. At the end of the article there are over 165 comments from others who have something to say about the issue, including information, stories people want to share, and support for those who are faced with these daily criticisms.

    Learning Disabilities/Reading Impairment/Communication Difficulties

    If your child has a specific learning disability, such as trouble reading or communicating, then this site is for you. Not only does it have a section solely for parents, but it has sections for teachers, principals, librarians, and other professions. It is also available in Spanish.

    Traumatic Brain Injury has an impressive guide for parents who have a child with a traumatic brain injury. It covers information on how to help your child adjust, cope, develop, and rehabilitate after an injury. It also helps parents understand cognitive changes in their child and has useful information into peer networks and gaining self-esteem.

    Down Syndrome

    Though a controversial site, offers a highly touching and incredibly heartfelt article about the parents of a child with Down Syndrome and what they need to hear. It discusses how parents can often times slip into depression, but that it is important to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It focuses highly on the positive aspects of taking care of a child with Down Syndrome. While things may seem hopeless from time to time, it is imperative to remember that there really is no limit to what your child can accomplish, and that although he or she may be facing daily struggles that they will persevere.

    Although there are many people out there who are still relatively uninformed and unfamiliar with special needs children, it is important not to let hurtful statements deter you from doing the very best you can for your little one. It is entirely okay not to always know the answer, and it is certainly okay for parents of disabled children to find communities, programs, and other forms of support in which they are able to speak with others who share similar experiences. While the above links are not comprehensive and the only ones available, they are a good start.

    Many of these sites are also great resources for other sources and are not merely limited to the category in which they are found. If you are a parent with multiple special-needs children, you may find ChildrenWithSpecialNeeds.Com useful as it has information regarding just about any type of condition out there. What makes it remarkable is that it is run by parents, for parents. This site has several different areas of interest, including a large section on web links in easy to view categories.

    Related Links

    The Top 12 Websites For Children WIth Learning Disabilties

    Special Education Teacher Qualifications, Employment Requirements, Work Environment, and Salary

    jobmagnifiedSpecial education is considered a specialized career field within the realm of education. Though working as a professional in the field of special education is a demanding career choice, it can be very fulfilling and rewarding. The increasing demand for licensed special education teachers within schools and organizations provides qualified graduates with plenty of employment options. Those who aspire to change the lives of individuals with disabilities combined with the motivation to complete the required education and certification yields a stable work environment and

    Education and Certification

    Special education teachers require a degree in education or a similar career field and then a specialization in special education. It is common for teachers to obtain a bachelor’s degree in education and then a master’s degree in special education.

    Coursework for special education is similar to that of other teaching fields with special emphasis on behavioral, learning and physical disorders in children. Special education teachers will also take additional classes dealing with legality surrounding special needs students, including the additional responsibilities of services , IEP (individual education plans) and reporting practices.

    Teaching degrees commonly end with no less than two semesters of student teaching. Student teaching is similar to an unpaid internship when a student will work in the classroom under the supervision of a licensed teacher. Most special education teachers complete three sets of student teaching experience comprised of two sets in a traditional classroom and one set in a special education classroom.

    Special education teachers may also choose to specialize in a specific area of disability, such as speech and language pathology.

    Special education teachers are licensed by the department of education in the state where they are employed. State requirements for licensure vary, but generally an appropriate degree with specialization is required in addition to passing state skills tests.

    Job Requirements and Work Environment

    Special education teachers commonly work in public or private school settings. Their salary is based on regular school hours, but they will do a variety of tasks beyond working with students. These include meeting with parents and other teachers and specialists. They may also do home visits. The amount of paperwork associated with special education should not be underestimated. Each child in a special education environment will have an accompanying IEP which may range from a few dozen pages to hundreds of pages in length. The teacher will be required to read and review each IEP in its entirety. The IEP is a legally binding document that the teacher is expected to follow, report on and update periodically.

    Students in a special education situation will require individualized and modified teaching strategies and lessons. Special education teachers may also be called on to support general education teachers in the classroom in cases where students with special needs have been mainstreamed, or placed into general education classrooms on a part time or regular basis. Mainstreaming is a common occurrence in today’s classrooms.

    Special education teachers should be prepared to work on teams regularly. They may be paired with other specialized teachers and may be assigned to manage one or multiple classroom aides. They will regularly meet with teams assigned to their student’s cases.

    Special education teachers should be extremely organized, detail oriented, patient and flexible. They may manage large caseloads of thirty students or more. They will also be dealing with a variety of behavior issues at once, and will need to be able to carefully and appropriately handle each child.

    Salary and Job Outlook

    The median annual salary of special education teachers in 2010 was $53,220. This is slightly higher than the salary of general education elementary teachers, which was $51,380. These values are strongly determined by state budgets with some states which pay more, or dramatically less, than the median salary range. Wage is also influenced by the budget of each school district and the teacher’s personal education and experience. Master’s degree teachers will earn more than those with only a bachelor’s degree even if they hold the same position in the same school. Teacher wages commonly increase for each year of experience in a district.

    Most teachers are hired on a contractual basis with a goal to achieve tenure with a school district. A tenured teacher has incredible job security and is extremely difficult to legally fire. Tenure requirements vary, but they are usually based on a combination of job performance review and years of experience with a district.

    The job outlook for special education teachers is very good compared with that of elementary general education teachers. The legal requirements surrounding special education hold districts to much stricter standards regarding class sizes and the availability of special education services. This ensures that special education teachers are always in high demand, even in districts that may not be hiring general education teachers.

    Related Links:

    California Virtue Academies

    What is Special Education Certification?

    whatisSpecial education certification is a requirement for teachers working with disabled children. The certification qualifications required for each state vary, and different types of degrees are available. Specifics regarding each state’s legislation on education topics can be found here.

    Since the No Child Left Behind act of 2001, U.S. states have had to redefine their special education teaching certification systems. In order to be involved in the teaching of special education, a teacher must acquire certification(s) depending on which state is involved. Different levels of education will result in different possible teaching degrees and specialized areas of certification can be utilized depending on the state in which it will be used.

    Types of Certification

    There are three classifications of certification systems generally recognized, and each state’s system can be categorized accordingly. They are:
    States with this classification do not require specialized certification in order for their teachers to work with children that have specially categorized disabilities, but many states that fall into this classification have endorsed programs where additional certification can be utilized. These include, but are not limited to, certificates for early childhood education, blind/visually impaired education and deaf/hard of hearing education.

    This classification applies to states that make a distinction between educators with general certification and those with certifications specialized to help children who are severely disabled.

    States that require specialized certification for all of their special education teachers fall into this classification, though each state determines which certifications are recognized.

    One very helpful resource produced by the Education Commission of the States breaks this information down many different ways. It shows each state’s classification, including which specialized certificates are recognized, as well as other pertinent information for anyone interested in teaching special education in the U.S.

    The special certifications that states recognize include the following:

  • General Special Education Certification
  • Mild / Moderate
  • Severe / Profound
  • Early Childhood
  • Blind / Visually Impaired
  • Deaf / Hard of Hearing
  • Speech / Language or Communication (not pathologist)
  • Orthopedic / Physical Disabilities
  • Specific Learning Disabilities
  • Mental Retardation
  • Cognitive (Mental) Disability
  • Emotional Disabilities
  • Behavior Disorders
  • Autism
  • Adaptive Physical Education
  • Special Education Degrees

    Depending on the type of educator one would like to be, there are a number of degrees attainable in the field of special education. Each state has different teaching requirements and each school offers differing courses which help special education students realize their long term goals.

    A teaching preparation program is required in addition to a Bachelor’s degree in order for someone to begin teaching prechool, elementary and secondary school students. Often an additional year of specialized studies will be needed depending on the specific state’s regulations.

    A master’s degree is usually geared toward specialized certifications for teachers interested in specific areas of the field. Depending on the state in which certification is needed and the particular specialty chosen, either a Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Education (MED) degree would be attained.

    Comparable to a second master’s degree is an Educational Specialist Degree (EDS). This type of degree greatly benefits those intending to become psychologists, school counselors, and reasearch and development specialists.

    For those interested in teaching future special education instructors, doctorate degrees such as a PhD or EdD are available. Holders of these degrees often become leaders in the fields of teacher education and research.

    With many degree choices and specialties available for study, working with individuals with special needs can be very fulfilling for teachers in this field.

    Related Links/Resources:

    U.S. Department of Education
    Commission on Teacher Credentialing

    What Determines if a Child has Special Education Needs?

    Just as a parent is typically the first to recognize when their child is in need of special attention, when it comes to education, the parent plays one of the most important roles in determining if the child should be eligible for an Individualized Education Program (IEP).

    Nothing can begin in addressing the special needs of a child without the input of a teacher, physician, and parent/s initiating the IEP. This involves a parent requesting that the school evaluate their child. The school must have a parent’s written consent to perform this evaluation as it also sets the 60 day timer or the state’s time-frame constraint.

    The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

    IDEA 2004 and its preceding statute, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, are responsible for the national funding legislation established to protect the rights of children who are eligible for the special education services outlined in their individualized program. IDEA 2004 specifically guarantees a child’s right to what is referred to as a Free Appropriate Public Education, or FAPE, within the least restrictive environment, or LRE. What all of that simply means is that funding and protections exist for children of special needs to help prepare them for the furthering of education leading to employment and ultimately, independent living.

    What Defines a Child with a Disability

    IDEA 2004 identifies 13 different disability categories to help define a child’s eligibility for special education and the related services available to them. IDEA 2004 goes into detailed description of the categories listed here:

  • Autism
  • Deafness
  • Deaf-blindness
  • Hearing impairment
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Multiple disabilities
  • Orthopedic impairment
  • Other health impairment
  • Serious emotional disturbance
  • Specific learning disability
  • Speech or language impairment
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Visual impairment, including blindness
  • The Evaluation Process

    In addressing special needs, the child may certainly be able to articulate some level of struggling, but the effort put to discovering the subtle and sophisticated symptoms needs to follow a thorough protocol. These can best be identified through a series of tests, not just a single test. This includes taking a closer look at the child’s overall health, covering vision and hearing as well as general intelligence and performance within the school environment. Observing how the child communicates within the social environment gives an opportunity to evaluate emotional well-being and the child’s use of his or her body in this process. Determining a child’s disability must be a full and comprehensive process in order to be fair to the individual needs of the child. This includes the parent’s right to appeal the school system’s finding a child is “not eligible.”

    Parents must receive this finding in writing along with information regarding how to appeal and the various mechanisms available through which to resolve disagreements, including mediation. In addition, each state’s Parent Training and Information (PTI) center is one of the many resources available to help parents learn what next steps to take. Similarly, a parent may decline services that have been approved at any time. Suffice it to say, a parent has the right to change their mind about whether their child receives special education and related services. Reestablishing services is possible and may include another evaluation, again, in fairness to ensuring the child is receiving what is needed for them individually.

    The Evaluation Team

    It is important to have the right input both in evaluating the child and developing his or her IEP. Number one in this effort are the parents. In addition, there must be at least one teacher from the regular education curriculum and one special education teacher. Also on the team is a special education supervisor from the school system familiar with the regular education environment who brings knowledge of the available school resources. There must also be someone capable of interpreting the results of the evaluation and communicating those results to the rest of the team.

    When it is appropriate, the child may be able to contribute. Parents may invite other knowledgeable individuals or those of special expertise, a relative or a child care provider. The school can contribute specialists of their own, such as a physical or speech therapist. The school may also invite any other agency representatives that may be responsible for either paying for or providing services and only with the parent’s consent.

    The Individualized Education Program (IEP)

    Once it has been determined a child is eligible for special education and related services, a meeting to develop an IEP must be held within 30 days. IDEA 2004 clearly allows for parents to contribute as equal partners on the team both in writing and implementing their child’s IEP. This plan will include the child’s present levels of academic and functional performance and in what ways the child’s disability affects this performance. Goals will be established for the upcoming year and what the team agrees upon that the child can reasonably be expected to accomplish. These goals are intended to accommodate the child’s disability while still being able to progress in the general education curriculum including the subjects of math, science, reading, social studies and physical education, among others.

    The Special Aspects of Special Education

    The IEP must also include the provision of supplementary aids and services such as a one-on-one tutor, preferential seating or devices that aid in communication. Accessibility makes it easier for a child with a disability to better take part in school activities. The IEP also details any changes to school programs or the school personnel support that will be provided. Further, the IEP must also explain how much of the school day will have the child educated separately from other children without disabilities and whether this interaction includes extracurricular activities such as lunch time or clubs.

    Reevaluation of the child’s needs are performed at least once every three years or as determined by the IEP team when there is a need for additional data. Again, there is a time clock started on this reevaluation 90 days from the IEP team meeting. It is helpful to know that IDEA 2004 provisions also apply to private or religious elementary or secondary schools in which the child is placed.

    What Training, Certification, and Licensure Do You Need To Qualify as a Special Education Teacher?

    specialedteachCurrently, there are not enough licensed special education teachers to fill all open positions. Technical advances that have made it possible to better diagnose and treat learning disabilities have created a large pool of special education students, but there are not enough qualified educators to teach them. For someone with the desire to make a difference in the life of a child whose disability makes learning a challenge, a career in special education offers many rewards.


    A career as a special education teacher requires a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree. There are programs that offer training specifically in special education, but there are also programs that offer education degrees and an additional year of training in special education.

    Special education is a broad teaching area that encompasses many different areas based on the disabilities of the students. Special education teachers work with students who have learning disabilities, emotional disabilities, physical handicaps, behavioral challenges, and a combination of severe mental and physical handicaps as well as autism spectrum learners. Most state licensing boards will expect those looking to pursue a career in special education to choose an area of specialization, and their training will usually be geared toward that specialization.

    Those who already possess a Bachelor’s degree in an area other than education have the additional option of earning a Master’s degree in special education while accepting a temporary teaching position with special education students. All special education training, whether at the Bachelor’s or the Master’s level, will involve some form of in-classroom training. Temporary credentials can be granted to those with Bachelor’s degrees in other areas who are taking special education classes.

    For those who are still in high school, local Regional Occupational Programs (ROPs) may offer teacher’s aide classes that provide the opportunity to actually be in the classroom or other courses that would expose the student to a variety of children with different abilities. Another way to gain valuable experience before beginning formal training would be to volunteer either in a special education class or with an organization that provides services to special education students.

    Certification and Licensing

    All prospective teachers must take and pass the Praxis teaching exam, and special education teachers must take the Praxis II specifically for special education. The score needed to pass the exam varies by state, so it is important for test-takers to know what the passing score is for the state in which they intend to teach. The Praxis II may be taken as many times as needed to pass, and once passed, the new teacher may apply for licensure in that state.

    Applying for a Job In Special Education

    Licensed educators looking to work in special education will find the field wide open. Due to the high turnover rate and the decline in students entering this field, jobs in special education are readily available. Furthermore, the number of jobs in this area are expected to grow. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of special education jobs is expected to increase by 20% from 2008 to 2018.

    Salaries for special education positions are also attractive and expected to increase. While they vary by geographic location and education level, the middle 50% of elementary school special education teachers will earn anywhere from $40,000.00 to $63,000.00 annually. The majority of special education teachers work in elementary schools, but there are positions available at the junior high school and high school levels.

    Whatever the age level, degree of ability or part of the country where teaching is desired, a career in special education offers the chance to provide an essential resource to those who need it most.

    What are the Challenges of Being a Special Education Teacher?

    challengesSpecial education teachers have a higher rate of burnout than is found in most other professions. The burnout rate is the result of a number of issues that often culminate in these teachers leaving their jobs. It is estimated that 75 percent of those who teach special needs students will leave their job within 10 years of starting. The result of this turnover rate is a shortage of special education teachers and a lack of quality programs for the students they serve. While a special education teacher may start their career with the intention of helping disabled students become productive members of society, they face several challenges that make the task extremely difficult. The challenges of the special education teacher include:

    1. The Widespread Misperception That Teaching is Easy

    Teaching is a uniquely difficult job, one that comes with a set of huge responsibilities; however, many people fail to recognize the teacher’s role. The various disabilities of the students with whom special education teachers work multiplies the job’s difficulty. Special education teachers are largely unrecognized and unsupported by the public.

    2. Non-Instructional Responsibilities

    Many teachers are trained and willing to teach but find themselves burdened with responsibilities that remove them from the classroom. Special education teachers often find themselves being required to go to meetings, conducting assessments and dealing with loads of paperwork.

    3. Lack of Support

    At a time when many large school districts are experiencing high levels of growth, special education teachers are being asked to do more with less. Salaries are being cut in many districts, and there is often very little in the way of technical assistance provided by school administrations.

    4. Dealing With Multiple Disabilities

    A special education teacher’s classes may have students with various disabilities. Since each student is a unique case, the teacher must modify their lessons to suit each disabled learner by providing individualized education programs.

    5. Handling Death

    Among students in a special education classroom, there are often some with severe chronic illnesses that may result in death. Handling this is a challenge to which special education teachers will have to adapt.

    6. Handling the Problems of an Inclusive Classroom

    The concept of having classrooms that contain both special needs students and students who are developing typically is becoming a popular one. This type of education poses new challenges for a special education teacher. For example, many students who have no disabilities are unaccustomed to dealing with those who do. Teachers in these classes are charged with eliminating cruelty and insensitivity from among their students and ensuring that those with special needs are treated with respect.

    7. Professional Isolation

    The nature of a special education teacher’s work is very different from that of traditional teachers; the result of this is that standard classroom teachers may not view them as colleagues. There may be a professional stigma attached to the work of teaching “slow” students. Special education teachers often work with smaller groups and may focus on skills rather than content, thereby leading to the perception that their work is easier or less important.

    8. Lack of Support From Parents

    Some parents of special needs children are disinterested in the welfare of their children and fail to provide them with adequate care. Alternatively, they may be overly protective. Both can be problematic for the child and for their teacher. Disinterested parents may have no involvement with their child’s education or interaction with their teachers, whereas overprotective parents may have unrealistic expectations from the child and the child’s teachers. Both attitudes can shape children in negative ways. Parental disinterest may make special needs students less motivated and parents who are overprotective often diminish their child’s confidence and make it harder for them to learn.

    9. The Difficulty of Discipline in a Special Needs Classroom

    Disabled children may have behavioral issues including restlessness and moodiness. They may also exhibit problems like a short attention span or an inability to understand what is being taught. Special education teachers have to learn how to deal with these problems as well as how to take appropriate disciplinary measures.

    10. Budget Problems

    Across the nation, special education programs are facing increasing enrollment and decreasing budgets. The result is that there are fewer teacher assistants available, which results in a greater workload for special education teachers. They may also face shortages of essential resources and equipment for delivering effective lessons.

    Any one of these challenges would make the work of a special education teacher incredibly difficult; as a group, they turn the job into a set of arduous tasks. Unfortunately, the result of the pressures placed on teachers is that the students suffer. Anyone seeking to go into this area of teaching should be aware of what they will face and have the mental and emotional fortitude to overcome the challenges in order to improve the prospects of their students.

    What Personality Traits Do Special Education Teachers Have?

    personality spec edWhile children in general need plenty of love and attention from their parents and teachers, children with special needs are most benefited by people whose personality traits enhance the learning process. Both passion and concern for children with special needs are necessary to be a good special education teacher. In addition, a few commendable personality traits of special education teachers have been listed below. If you are considering teaching special needs kids prepare yourself for a challenging, life-changing yet rewarding career.

    1. Love and Acceptance

    In order to relate to any child, you must be able to love and accept them as they are. This is especially important for special needs children. Regardless of their capabilities or behavior each child is unique and worthy of your notice. Some special needs kids may demand excessive attention or completely disregard common etiquette, but it is important to respect and treat them as unique individuals with unique needs. By attempting to understand and encourage your students learning will be enhanced on all levels.

    2. Organizational skills and Intuition

    As is the case in any kind of education, students need structure to succeed. But with special needs students, structure is all the more important. The special education teacher must provide the class with a physical and academic structure favorable to learning. Whether the child is dyslexic, physically or mentally handicapped or has some auditory learning disabilities or other injuries, students may be incapable of expressing their feelings or communicating their needs. The special education teacher will need to be intuitive and involved so that any students’ needs can be foreseen and addressed even when students lack the ability to tell you about them themselves.

    3. Creativity and Enthusiasm

    The ability to think out of the box and combine both creativity and enthusiasm are signs of the makings of a fine special education teacher. The ability to put difficult concepts in plain and interesting words or display a complexity in simple form is often the most effective trait a special education teacher can possess. The teacher’s creativity and enthusiasm will inspire the students to be creative and enthusiastic as well. By bringing creativity into the classroom the classroom environment will change from monotonous to inspiring.

    4. Confidence and Calm

    Many special needs students suffer intellectual disabilities and emotional disturbances and when special education teachers are not calm, kind, confident and helpful, even in difficult situations, students can lose their tempers and become violent. It is important that the teacher keeps his/her wits and deals calmly with the situation. Teachers must be self-assured and take the lead at all times. The confidence displayed by the teacher will eventually calm the antagonized student and peace will be restored in the classroom.

    5. Humorous and Easygoing

    Special education teachers with a fine sense of humor and easygoing manner will more easily be able to cope with the stress of teaching special needs kids. Regardless of their disabilities, students can sense when teachers enjoy spending time with them and sharing laughter and fun. This is especially so as teaching special education can sometimes be frustrating especially for teachers who are overly sensitive to thoughtless negative comments. Developing ones sense of humor will protect you from becoming overly hurt due to personal quips.

    6. Dedication and Optimism

    Sometimes even the simplest task can become long and difficult for a student to master. It is at times like this that teachers must offer hope and encouragement by celebrating any and all victories no matter how big or small the accomplishment. It is important to remember how frustrating it would be for you to have to try so hard to master subjects, techniques or actions. This will enable the teacher to see things from the student’s point of view and remain optimistic and dedicated to the cause. The teacher’s dedication to the students serves as a huge confidence builder for them. A teacher’s dedication bridge the gap in meeting the needs of these unique students.

    While there is no definite must have list of personality traits for special education teachers, the above traits point in the right direction. To build a rapport with ones students, trust is essential. And trust can only be cultivated by developing the personality traits discussed above. Someone once said every child is gifted; they only open their packages at different times. This is the perspective in which teachers must look at each exceptional student.

    How Do You Become a Special Education Teacher?


    You are compassionate, patient, caring, and kind… You believe all children deserve an equal opportunity to succeed… You are committed to seeing to it that children with disabilities receive the instruction and individualized support they need to support their unique needs… You have what it takes to become a special education teacher.

    According to the National Center for Education Statistics, as of the 2014-15 school year, about 6.6 million—about 13 percent of all children in public schools—received special education services.

    Better screening tools for identifying and assessing children, coupled with federal laws (Individuals with Disabilities Act-IDEA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973) that ensure the funds are there to help cover the costs have resulted in a comprehensive set of policies and protocols all aimed at delivering the most effective special education services to children with disabilities.

    In 2016, 48 states reported to the U.S. Department of Education that they had a shortage of special education teachers during the 2015-16 school year.

    Becoming a special education teacher isn’t an easy path, but it’s one that is undoubtedly filled with endless opportunities to feel good about what you do every day while making a difference in the lives of children with disabilities.

    How to Turn Your Vision of Becoming a Special Education Teacher into Reality

    While career opportunities in special education are favorable, only qualified candidates need apply. In other words, if you want to become a special education teacher, you must come prepared with the qualifications set by your state board of education. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

    Earn a Bachelor’s Degree and Complete an Approved Teacher Preparation Program

    First thing’s first: you’ll need to complete a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university that is recognized by your state board of education as an approved teacher preparation program—a program leading to initial state licensure or certification. Your state board of education likely maintains a list of approved programs (or details which types of programs meet this requirement).

    Many states defer to the Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Preparation (CAEP), the national accrediting agency for teacher preparation programs. CAEP accredits both on-campus and online teacher preparation programs.

    So, what does a bachelor’s degree for the aspiring special education teacher look like? It will be designed as either a Bachelor of Science (BS) or a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Special Education, which prepares you to work with students from K-12, in general education classrooms, resource classrooms, and self-contained classrooms.

    Some programs require students to choose a specialization, while others offer a specialization as an option. You might choose to focus your studies on students with mild/moderate disabilities, students with severe disabilities, or birth to age 5.

    You may also complete a dual bachelor’s degrees in both early childhood/childhood education and special education if you plan to work in the pre-K setting.

    Both a BS and BA provide a foundation in the liberal arts, and both include a fieldwork component. Bachelor’s degrees consist of about 120 credits and four years of study.

    Some of the core courses in a special education program include: Foundations of Assessment, which provides you with the theoretical and practical aspects of treating children with disabilities… Instructional Strategies, which allows you to develop effective instructional practices for students with disabilities… and Curriculum Development, which focuses on the principles of teaching students with disabilities.

    Student Teaching

    An approved teacher preparation program must include a student teaching experience—a period of classroom training completed under the supervision of a mentor teacher. The student teaching experience provides opportunities for students to develop and demonstrate their pedagogical skills. Most student teaching experiences last a full academic year.

    Pass the Required State Licensure/Certification Examinations

    Most states require that candidates take and pass a fundamental skills examination and a subject area competency examination to become state licensed. Many state boards use the Praxis Special Education: Core Knowledge and Applications exam when licensing special education teachers.

    Earn Initial State Licensure/Certification

    All teachers in public schools must hold a state license/certificate through their state board of education. In some states, you may be issued a general special education license/certificate, while in other states, you may need to be licensed (or receive an endorsement) in a specific disability category. Many states have various tiers of licenses, although an initial license is generally granted to those who have completed a teacher preparation program leading to state licensure.

    Have You Considered a Graduate Degree in Special Education?

    Your education as a special education teacher doesn’t need to end at the bachelor’s level. In fact, many states now prefer special education teachers to hold a master’s degree, and a select few even require a master’s degree for obtaining a professional license in special education.

    But master’s degrees in special education are also often the path of choice for career changers (those who have a bachelor’s degree in another field and want to become special education teachers), and current educators (licensed educators looking to make the switch to special education).

    Even if you live in a state that doesn’t require a master’s degree for teaching special education, you may choose to pursue a master’s degree to specialize in a specific area of special education. For example, many programs allow you to focus your graduate study on areas like high-incidence disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, and emotional or behavioral disorders. Further, if you want to transition to a career in administration, a master’s degree is usually a requirement.

    Your previous education and training will often determine the type of master’s degree you choose:

    • Master of Education (MEd): The MEd is a professional graduate program designed for licensed/certified special education teachers interested in focusing their career on a specific area of special education.
    • Master of Arts in Education (MAed)/Master of Science in Education (MSed): Both the MAed and the MSed are flexible programs that allow students to pursue advanced study in a wide array of special education areas. Some programs also lead to initial teacher licensure/certification.
    • Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT): The MAT is a unique program designed for career changers who hold a bachelor’s degree in another field or practicing educators who want to make the switch to special education.

    Master’s degrees consist of between 50-60 credits and about two years of full-time study. While admission requirements vary, most programs require a competitive undergraduate GPA (usually 3.0 or above). Depending on the program, you may also need a current teaching license and teaching experience, along with a current resume and professional letters of recommendation.

    Many colleges and universities offer master’s degrees in special education partially or fully online to accommodate busy, working professionals who need the flexibility that online study provides. While these programs are completed through distance-based study, many schools offer dynamic, interactive learning platforms that provide students with plenty of  opportunities to connect with their professors and peers throughout the program.

    Top 10 Special Education Masters Degree Programs (On Campus)

    degreesspec edTeachers that specialize in working with students with special needs fulfill one of the most vital roles in society. Their devotion helps students that deal with mental, emotional, learning and physical disabilities to lead more productive lives. Parents of special needs children benefit from teachers too. Teachers often partner with parents in assisting not only their students but also their parents in learning critical skills that enrich their lives. Additionally, the feeling that parents have towards seeing their child finish an educational program is immensely rewarding. These teachers help the students and parents in facing and overcoming hardships and difficulties. Through specified special educational coursework, students are able to achieve goals that normally seem impossible. Hence, special education teachers must have determination, patience and knowledge to successfully teach special needs students.

    Sponsored Masters Programs

    1. Master of Science (M.S.) in Special Education from Walden University
    2. M.Ed in Teaching & Learning Special Education from Liberty University
    3. M.S. in Special Education (K-12) from Western Governors University
    4. Master of Education in Mild/Moderate Special Education from Graceland University
    5. M.Ed. in Special Education from Grand Canyon University

    Several universities offer master’s degree programs with concentrations in special education. However, the following list will focus on the Top 10 Special Education Master’s Degree Programs in the United States. What is noteworthy regarding these programs is that each excels in preparing students with the skills, strategies and psychological training necessary to advance professional aspirations. Plus each of the programs on this list offer a dedication to their students by providing stellar academics, a long standing history of reputable accreditation, and an experienced faculty. With the arising need in Special Education, schools have now opened their own programs for diversity and even specifications to provide excellent support for teachers dreaming of being an integral part of the Special Education sector.  Each school mentioned has its own unique set of programs. Whether if its diversity that you are aiming for, or specific areas of teaching, any of these colleges can help you in reaching your goal.  So it falls to you to select your specification. Visit the school’s website to learn more about their programs.

    Each of the following programs and universities on our Top 10 Special Educaiton Masters Degree Programs (On Campus0 have been selected because of the combination of quality academics, sound accreditation from the world’s top education accrediting bodies, reputation, and ranking by authorities like the U.S. News and World Report, Academic Ranking of World Universities, Forbes, Times Higher Education, and more.

     1. Penn State


    Penn State University take pride in its special education programs. Since the national inception of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation, Penn State’s special education curriculum has expanded. The University’s College of Education offers two types of special education master’s degree (M.Ed.) programs. The first is the M.Ed. in Special Education. This master’s focuses mainly on the classroom teaching and professional aspects of the field. The second is the master’s of science in special education. The protocol behind this program gears towards students who wish to focus their careers in research and academic development. Penn State College of Education holds the 10th spot in the top 20 rankings of the U.S News and World Report. This University offers two types of special education master’s programs – the Master of Science in Special Education and the Master of Education in Special Education. Both options are available on campus or online. Tuition and fees per year for non-residents is $16,074 and $9,557 for residents.

    For more about Penn State University’s Masters Degree Programs in Special Education, go here

    2. University at Albany

    university of albany

    The College of Education in the University of Albany offers highly accredited programs and curriculum. The Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) accredits their education-focused programs. Their curriculum’s effectiveness rest upon the statistics that nearly 100% of their students pass of the New York State Exams for special education. The College offers five master’s programs; three lead to a M.S in Special Education and two lead to an M.Ed in Special Education. Each program offers different specifications and literacy education for children. With five special education master’s programs available to master degree candidates, students may concentrate their studies upon that which most interests them. Tuition and fees per year for a non-resident is $18,632.50 and $25,942.50 for a resident.

    For more about the University at Albany’s Masters Degree Programs in Special Education, go here

    3. State University of New York at Binghamton


    The Binghamton State University of New York offers its set of Master’s in Special Education degrees for various ages groups. Enrollees may select from programs aimed to educating toddlers, early childhood, and adolescence. This allows teachers to select courses aimed at specific age ranges instead of disability. The courses are open for either Pre-Service Programs (students who do not hold any certification for teaching) or the In-Service Program (specifically for students who already hold a certificate). The pass rate at SUNY Binghamton for the last three years remains at 100 percent, making this an ideal school to choose for many teachers who desire to work immediately. This University offers two degrees in Special Education – the Master of Science in Special Education as well as a Master of Education in Special Education. Tuition and fees per year for a non-resident are $16,074 and $9,557 for resident.

    For more about SUNY Binghamton’s Masters Degree Programs in Special Education, go here

    4. Castleton State College


    Castleton State College is one of the most populated colleges offering a special education master’s program. They have three master’s programs that features 15 master’s core courses. The college aims to build the basic requirements and key areas in teaching students. This program focuses in allowing graduates to teach children from ages up to 12 years old. Instead of offering separate courses for the ages, the college prepares its graduates to be able to teach at different ages. Castleton offers three special education master’s programs – the Master of Arts in Education with an emphasis in Special Education with Licensure, the Master of Arts in Education with an emphasis in Special Education without Licensure, and Special Education – Consulting Teacher/Learning Specialist. Tuition and fees per year for non-residents are $17,424 and $11,616 for residents.

    For more about Castleton State College’s Masters Degree Programs in Special Education, go here

    5. LeMoyne College


    Offering four different master’s programs geared for special education Lemoyne College offers distinct programs and accreditation. There are several programs inclined for special education offered. Students may enroll for Special Education Master’s program for those who are already certified and is looking for a certification in the areas of Special Education or a Master’s of Science course for those who have only completed a baccalaureate degree. Of course, the price of Lemoyne College results in a unique study experience. Opportunities include studying abroad, internship programs and service learning based programs, which often this results in students earning an international level of competitiveness. Leymone offers a Master of Science in Special Education and a dual Master of Science in Education in Childhood Education and Special Education. Tuition and fees are $29,470 per year.

    For more about LeMoyne College’s Masters Degree Programs in Special Education, go here

    6. Notre Dame College


    An on-campus opportunity for becoming a specialist for mild/moderate intervention specialist is available at the Notre Dame College. It allows enrollees to be able to teach to individuals who have mild-moderate special needs in an environment of K-12. Students may also enroll for a different program aimed at helping their children with disabilities and reading problems in a K-12 environment. This specialization is accredited by the NCATE. Notre Dame College offers internationally competitive courses and is nationally renowned. Notre Dame’s on-campus and online masters programs offer students the ability to specialize their studies within common core, endorsement, and licensure categories. Tuition and fees are $25,694 annually.

    For more about Notre Dame College’s Masters Degree Programs in Special Education, go here

    7. Columbia University


    With a goal to prepare and develop teachers and trainers who are capable of using effective practices, strategies, and instructional materials, Columbia University soars in the study of special education. Columbia University offers a number of master’s program all inclined to the Master’s of Arts (M.A/ Ed.M). Enrollees can choose whether to specialize on the hard hearing or deaf, for intellectually challenged individuals suffering from disabilities such as autism, individuals who have severe or multiple disabilities, and even a Master’s of Education in Instructional practice. This goes without saying that the specific areas of teaching will allow teachers to be able to further specialize their careers with the courses offered at Columbia University. Tuition is $16,074 for non-residents per semester and $9,557 for residents per semester.

    For more about Columbia University’s Masters Degree Programs in Special Education, go here

    8. Clemson University


    Clemson University offers effective studies in the field of special education. These disabilities will range from simple learning disabilities to several emotion or behavioral disabilities and other mental disorders. The standards set by Clemson University are acceptable in state and nationwide certifications set by the NCATE. Faculty members of this school are certified ADEPT (Assisting, Developing, Evaluating Professional Teaching) team members. The University continues to adapt by modifying and enhancing their programs to suit the needs of the changing culture of our environment. A Master of Education in Special Education is $6,503 for a non-resident per semester and $3,456 for resident per semester.

    For more about Clemson University’s Masters Degree Programs in Special Education, go here

    9. Keuka College


    The candidates of this school can go through two Master’s of Science in Literacy Degrees. The courses available are aimed to instruct students in being capable to teach in a K-6 environment and another course for grades 5-12. Both courses will lead to initial education. The great deal that one can get in enrolling to this college is that both courses incorporate Special Education in their curriculum. This will allow students to hit a lot of birds with just one stone or in this case, one program. The diverse and well-organized programs and courses will allow students to maximize their time in learning a wide range of specialization. Tuition for a Master of Science in Literacy at Keuka or online is $615 per credit hour.

    For more about Keuka College’s Masters Degree Programs in Special Education, go here

    10. University of Colorado at Denver


    For licensed teacher who wish to get a specialization on the areas of Special Education, enrolling in the University of Colorado at Denver will be an ideal choice for you. It allows teachers to learn how to support students with disabilities in various forms. The school honors diversity and enrollees should expect different educational programs which will enable them to meet the needs of their students. The courses are quick and one can even complete it in as quickly as 18 months. This makes this school a popular choice for many teachers and even part time teachers. Graduate tuition for a Master of Arts in Special Education is income and family size based beginning at approximately $7,156 per semester for residents and non-residents.

    For more about the University of Colorado at Denver’s Masters Degree Programs in Special Education, go 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.

    What is Special Education?

    specialedSpecial education, in its simplest terms, centers on the education of children or adults who have special learning needs. Teaching occurs in a manner that touches upon these physiological, cognitive and/or behavioral differences and how they vary person-to-person. Traditionally, these special considerations in education are regimented through established policies and procedures. Teachers and other special education professionals have undergone training programs which prepare them in presenting a uniquely-designed curriculum; a curriculum they are charged with helping their students master. Special Education teachers and professionals make good use of tools such as preordained individual and group lesson plans, modified equipment and materials, user-friendly accessories and equipment, and other helpful inventions that are meant to prepare special education students for a productive and active life at work and in society.

    Special education students, as alluded to previously, have special needs. What does that mean? It means they cannot, for one reason or another, interpret or understand the scholastic material presented in standardized classrooms. Some of these special needs include, but are not limited to:

    • Learning challenges
    • Deficiencies in communication
    • Behavioral or emotional issues and
    • Disabilities of a physical nature or developmental challenges

    Often, with students falling into one or more of these categories, supplemental educational tools and resources are needed to round out their educational experience, such as:

    • Outside-of-the-box teaching methods
    • Technology and media
    • Tailored learning environments
    • Task-specific rooms or areas

    There are those students who excel academically, and often the world of academia chooses to label such prodigies as gifted, “exceptional,” or “special.” In this context we are speaking of a student who shows ability to not only grasp theoretical concepts, but they do it so well that they are typically earmarked for honors classes and other advanced educational opportunities. Special needs students of a different order are the topic of this narrative, and these students are those suffering from a slightly to greatly reduced capacity in their ability to learn on their own or in a classroom setting. These two forms of “special” could not be more different, and the distinctions are usually clear and concise.

    In practically all of the civilized countries of the world there is an increasing trend of eliminating the barriers associated with special needs students. In traditional classrooms, educating goes on as it always has. In addition, the curriculum and class sizes tend to be inflated in order to accommodate the burgeoning number of children entering the school system. While the school “systems” of the world are busy addressing the needs of their student body, special education “systems” are often treated as a separate entity; completely cordoned off from the typical teacher/student experience. This segregation perpetuates any existing negative associations with special needs students, and places them squarely on the periphery of academia. What many education professionals and researchers have suggested, especially those in special education itself, is that they would like to see an integration of some kind begin to take place – a trend which has increased over the past decade. The goal of such integrated and inclusive classrooms is to lessen the barriers between special needs children and their peers thereby rendering special education as a normal extension of the educational experience, rather than an highly separate learning experience.

    It is usually not a difficult prospect to identify those children, adolescents or adults who may stand to benefit from a Special Education program and curriculum. A person would, generally speaking, be labeled as having special needs were they to suffer from such maladies or conditions like:

    • Mental retardation
    • Brain damage
    • Developmental disorders
    • Physical, visual speech or hearing disabilities and impairments

    But there are indeed students who fall between the cracks. These students are operating at a level which might be described as “getting by.” There are many reasons this breed of special needs child is not easily identified, and it begins with the teacher and the school system. In the final analysis, quizzes and tests show a child’s progress to a large degree. If a teacher is inattentive or unable to make the necessary connections, borderline students can find themselves mired and frustrated in educational concepts that they are cognitively, developmentally or emotionally unable to comprehend; at the very least, unable to grasp said concepts at the same level as other students.

    This is where alternative approaches to pinpointing special needs children come into play. What many special needs programs do, working in tandem with traditional school districts and schools, is locate special needs children in the first or second year. A great amount of emphasis is placed on teachers reporting egregious lapses in educational progress to their superiors. As an aside, it has been pointed out by many educators that not only does a child’s cognitive ability in deciphering newly-acquired information need to be accounted for when determining if they have a learning disability, but extracurricular considerations such as sports, recess, band, and other school-approved activities need to weighed in on as well. The total package, not just the most noticeable attributes, needs to be considered in the assessment process.

    Top 10 Special Education Master’s Degree Programs Online

    top10listspecial ed
    Many students opt to receive their degrees through online courses. With rising living and educational costs, many graduate students do not have the time nor financial resources attend sometimes costly traditional, on campus courses. Such a luxury is only a real option if you’re going to college straight out of high school, or if you manage to get a scholarship that covers your educational expenses. Online courses are valuable to those willing to hone their graduate training in a flexible, technologically advanced format. Often completing a master’s degree online is a popular option which enables busy individuals and working parents the only chance to get their degree as they juggle family, employment, and educational responsibilities.

    Sponsored Online Masters Programs

    1. Master of Science (M.S.) in Special Education from Walden University
    2. M.Ed in Teaching & Learning Special Education from Liberty University
    3. M.Ed. in Special Education from Grand Canyon University

    Getting a master’s degree in special education is no easy task, but the following schools have excellent programs that also offer online options. The schools included on the following Top 10 Special Education Master’s Degree Programs Online list were chosen based on accreditation, affordability, ranking, and unique features that raise their programs above the rest to help you find the perfect program to meet your professional, personal, and educational needs.

    That said, our selection methodology required a lengthly research process.  Only schools listed by the most prominent ranking publications (like the U.S. News and World Report, Princeton Review, Times Higher Education, Forbes, and ARWU) were chosen for this list.  Additional factors like accreditation by the lead accrediting organizations (NCATE, the Department of Education, NEASC, and others), cost, curriculum, and faculty expertise were considered as well.

    1. Adams State University

    Adams State University is among the top western regional universities according to the U.S. News and World Report. Their Master of Arts With Special Education program is based firmly in the belief that the best way to gain insight into the challenges faced when teaching special needs children is to get involved. In order to ensure that students going through the special educational program at Adams State really know how to advance research in special education, a Capstone research project is required for the completion of all master’s degrees. This project is an internship where graduate students get to apply everything they learned throughout their two year program in a setting working with special needs clients and children. Graduate students are also allowed the opportunity to conduct research, apply, and analyze the information they have acquired throughout their Adams State experiences to better understand teaching techniques and gain knowledge into the field of special education. Adams State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, which is a commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Tuition is $320 per credit hour.

    For more about Adams State University’s online special education master’s degree program, go here

    2. Baker University


    Baker University offers graduate students the chance to participate in accelerated classes that enable you to fit graduate studies into your existing schedule and lifestyle. The Master of Science in Special Education program allows participants to take one class at a time and still complete the program in less than two years. This not only leads to licensure in special education, but it meets the Kansas State Department of Education standards for K-6, 5-8 or 6-12 special education licensure. Baker University’s programs rank 33rd overall on the US News Best Colleges Rankings and Reviews list. This and other programs are accredited by the Kansas State Department of Education, the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education, and is a member of the University Senate of the United Methodist Church.

    For more about Baker University’s online special education master’s degree program, go here

    3. Boston College


    Boston College prides itself on having the oldest and most established teacher preparation program in deafblindness in the United States. Their renown Master of Education In Special Education Teaching program allows graduate students the ability to concentrate in any of the following fields: Moderate Special Needs; Grades Pre-K-9 and Grades 5-12; Severe Special Needs; Students With Visual Impairments; or Students With Deaf-Blindness and Multiple Disablities. Additionally all graduate students must complete the Sign Language, Braille, Deaf/Blind, or Language acquisition seminars to complete the program. Boston College is accredited by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, and it has also been accredited by NEASC since 1935. Tuition cost is $1,212 per credit with research funds available to select candidates.

    For more about Boston College’s online special education master’s degree program, go here

    4. Hunter College

    One of the hallmarks of Hunter’s programs is the way they link theory to effective instruction which is why Hunter College has consistently ranked 34th among the Best Regional University’s in the North per U.S. World & News report. The online special education programs are organized into a set of cross-categorical core courses and disability-specific specializations. These core courses deliver knowledge and skills across a variety of disabilities to be applied across a range of education settings. Numerous specializations provide in-depth preparation for working with students within a particular disability area. Both of the core and specialization courses provide historical, theoretical, and clinical perspectives, as well as current research and direct experiences with students of different ages and profiles. Hunter College is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. This organization is recognized by the United States Department of Education as a professional accrediting body for teacher preparation and other professional school personnel. All tuition and fees are determined by the City University of New York Board of Trustees and are subject to change without tuition $245 per credit hour.

    For more about Hunter College’s online special education master’s degree program, go here

    5. California State University

    The highly ranking graduate programs in special education at California State University provide a solid special education credential backed by a strong liberal arts foundation. Their programs cover the full range of special needs issues deaf and hard of hearing, early childhood special education, mild/moderate disabilities, and moderate/severe disabilities. Their hands on approach in a nationally recognized “model classroom” site offers graduate candidates opportunities to not only complete their necessary field work but also gain the opportunity to apply their skills and knowledge in preschool, elementary, and middle school settings. With accrediation offered through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and tuition at $3,906 for up to 6 units or $6,738 for above 6 units, CSU is a great match for many!

    For more about California State University’s online special education master’s degree programs, go here

    6. Drake University

    Drake University ranks #27 among Forbes Top Colleges of the Midwest. Its Master of Special Education program participants gain an extra edge when first getting jobs upon graduation due to the high degree of specialty their education provides. Students have the option of receiving one of four endorsements while working toward their master’s degree. Graduate students can also complete an endorsement-only Master of Science program to obtain additional licenses from the following options: Consultant Endorsement, Instructional Strategist I, Instructional strategist II, or Work Experience Coordinator. These programs are designed to build upon skills already learned during a student’s time in the major to not only apply them but also better understand them. Since 2000, Drake University has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and remains a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Cost to complete a graduate degree through Drake is $450 per credit hour.

    For more information about Drake University’s online special education master’s degree programs, go here

    7. Fairfield University

    Graduate candidates for master’s degree and certificate of advanced study degree programs at Fairfield get to learn from the second top best providers of online degrees in the nation. Students may choose one of several sequences of study by completing the Connecticut Initial Educator Certificate in teaching children and youth with disabilities in grades K through 12, or a cross-endorsement certificate in comprehensive special education when certification in classroom teaching has already been earned. Courses are based in theory, assessment, understanding the differences of children and youth with disabilities, the development and implementation of curriculum and intervention strategies, special education integration, and the improvement of teacher to teacher, teacher to child, and teacher to parent relationships involving special needs students. Fairfield University is fully accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges which accredits schools and colleges in the six New England states. Such an accreditation by one of the six regional accrediting associations in the United States indicates that the school or college has been carefully evaluated and found to meet standards agreed upon by qualified educators. Cost to complete a degree through Fairfield is $675 per credit hour.

    For more information about Fairfield University’s online special education master’s degree programs, go here

    8. Georgia State University


    Georgia State University’s College of Education not only offers a master’s degree in special education, but they also offer certificate programs to prepare future researchers and university leaders in special education. Their highly personalized programs are designed to match each individual student’s career goals in the fields of Behavior and Learning Disabilities or Multiple and Severe Disabilities. Master and certificate programs cover topics like Autism, Deaf Education, Early Childhood Special Education, Intellectual Disabilities, and Physical Health Disabilities. Georgia State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award baccalaureate, masters, and doctorate degrees.

    For more regarding Georgia State University’s online special education master’s degrees, go here

    9. Loyola University

    Loyola University’s Master of Education in Special Education online program offers candidates the knowledge and skills necessary to meet the multiple and unique needs of students with learning, behavioral/emotional, mental, and/or physical disabilities at the elementary, middle, and high-school levels. This non-categorical model better prepares teachers to work with a range of complex and/or multiple special needs. The curriculum is designed to provide a special emphasis on integrating research and practice. The School of Education is accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education and the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. All degree programs that lead to state certification are approved by the Illinois State Board of Education. Tuition is $930 per credit hour.

    For more regarding Loyola University’s online special education master’s degree, go here

    10. National University


    The Master of Science in Special Education programs offered online by National University are aligned with the mission to enhance student performance and ability. Graduate candidates learn how to assess, develop, and implement special needs instruction while promoting student independence. Graduate candidates have three options in terms of specializing their studies in the fields of Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Mild/Moderate Disabilities, and Moderate/Severe Disabilities. With three areas of specialization including the Master of Science in Juvenile Justice Special Education, Master of Science in Special Education, and the Master of Science with Nevada Licensure in Special Education and Endorsement for Generalist Resource Room, graduates often incur a significant advantage over their competition when seeking employment. National University has been accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges since 1977. National’s rank as 13th in the Top 20 of the Online Education Database’s annual accredited college online list ensures quality instruction. Tuition is $372 per quarter unit of study.

    For more regarding National University’s online special education master’s degree go here


    The Top 30 Fastest Online Special Education Master’s Degree Programs

    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 10 Bachelors in Special Education Degree Programs

    top10sp edSpecial education is increasingly a big priority in our schools.  The need for highly qualified teachers proficient in the field of special education is on the rise. Due to the number of college programs available to aspiring special education teachers, the selection process can be incredibly confusing and even daunting for someone just looking for the program which is right fit for them. Whether you’re looking for a prestigious research university or some real-world, hands-on experience to apply immediately in the classroom, there is a school on this list that will meet your needs.

    Featured Undergraduate Programs

    1. BS in Special Education from Liberty University
    2. B.S. in Elementary Education / Special Education (Dual Major) from GCU
    3. B.A. in Special Education from Western Governors University

    To try to simplify the selection process, we created the Top 10 Special Education Degree Programs list to help students select the undergraduate program which will help them meet their personal, professional, and educational goals. Since students interested in special education have diverse educational backgrounds, we’ve created a list not limited to specific undergraduate or graduate degrees.  We did, however, only include schools and programs which were best in terms of affordability, reputation, accreditation, rank, and most importantly, quality of not only education but also instruction.

    1. Vanderbilt University (Peabody College)

    peabod vandrt
    Peabody College at Vanderbilt University has offered the top special education program in the country for several years in a row. Their main focus is on producing exceptional research; in fact, a full 20% of the literature on special education is produced by Vanderbilt faculty, students, and alumni. The bachelor’s program allows emphasis in mild and moderate disabilities, multiple and severe disabilities, or visual impairment. In addition, they offer a Behavior Analysis Certification program alongside the degree program, which offers several additional programs and eighteen months of internship work to achieve the Behavioral Analyst certificate. The school is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and costs $42,118 per year for all students.

    For more information about Vanderbilt University’s Special Education Degree Programs, go here

    2. University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign)

    Ranked #46 out of national universities, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is consistently listed in the top ten special education programs in the country. The program is heavily field-based, so it involves a lot of hands-on experience with students ranging from kindergarten to 21 years of age with disabilities including learning disabilities, social and emotional disorders, cognitive disabilities, physical impairments, autism, and traumatic brain injury. It strongly advocates parental involvement and inclusion of children with disabilities in mixed groups with typical peers. The school is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and costs $14,428 for in-state students and $28.570 for out-of-state.

    For more information about University of Illinois’ Special Education Degree Programs, go here

    3. Ohio State University


    Ranked #56 among national universities, Ohio State University offers three different undergraduate specializations in addition to three licensure-only special education degree programs. Students can focus on early childhood special education, mild-to-moderate disabilities, or moderate-to-intensive disabilities. There are also non-degree programs which allow licensing in each of those specializations as well as an endorsement in pre-kindergarten special needs for those who already have a degree in education. The school is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Council for Exceptional Children. Tuition and fees are $10,037 for in-state students and $25,445 for out-of-state students.For more about Ohio State University’s Special Education Degree Programs, go here

    4. California State University

    California State University has a number of campuses, but the best special education program is found at Northridge, which is ranked #68 among regional universities in the west. Their Integrated Teacher Education Program offers a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies along with the special education credential. Their main draw is their three nationally-recognized model classroom sites which provide field work for students using the most up-to-date methods in preschool, elementary, and middle school settings. Additional concentrations in the field of special education are available at Northridge, including specializations in autism spectrum disorder and emotional disturbance. Additionally, CSU’s program offers focuses on early childhood special education, mild-to-moderate disabilities, mild-to-severe disabilities, and deaf/hard-of-hearing education. All special education programs are accredited through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. At $5,076 for in-state students and $21,312 for out-of-state, it is one of the top “bargains” on this list which maximizes your educational experience while minimizing tuition costs.

    For more information about California State University’s Special Education Degree Programs, go here

    5. Hunter College (CUNY)

    Hunter College, a branch of CUNY, is #38 among regional universities in the north. It offers a broad range of specialties, including learning disabilities, behavioral disorders, severe/multiple disabilities (including deaf-blindness), early childhood special education, and education for the blind and visually impaired. The courses are divided into core courses that can be applied across a range of educational settings and more specialized courses that prepare students in-depth for working with specific disabilities. It is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and recognized by the Council for Exceptional Children. Tuition and fees come to $5,529 in-state and $14,199 out-of-state.

    For more information about Hunter College’s Special Education Degree Programs, go here

    6. University of Maryland – College Park

    The University of Maryland at College Park is ranked #58 among national universities and has the #11 special education program. The program has a focus on special education for all ages and prepares students to teach an age range from infants to young adults. In addition to other programs, they feature a five-year undergraduate program that combines their Bachelor of Science and a Master of Education degrees. This is an extremely intensive program that provides specialized training in language and motor development, social and educational needs, assessment procedures, curriculum development, classroom management, effective communication with families and communities, and laws concerning children and youth with disabilities. It is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and costs $8,908 for in-state students and $27,287 for out-of-state

    For more information about the University of Maryland’s Special Education Degree Programs, go here

    7. Michigan State University


    Michigan State University’s School of Special Education is ranked #72 among national universities and focuses heavily on integrating special needs children into mainstream classrooms. The main focus of the program is on building connections between educational theory and practice in inclusive classroom programs, although there is also hands-on work in self-contained special needs classrooms. The special education program at Michigan State is combined with their elementary education program, so a degree in special education also brings certification as a regular K-5 teacher in addition to the K-12 certification in Learning Disabilities. Individually chosen endorsements in more specialized subject areas are also available. MSU is accredited by the Teacher Education Accreditation Council and costs $12,204 for in-state students and $31,148 out-of-state.

    For more about Michigan State University’s Special Education Degree Programs, go here.

    8. Graceland University

    Graceland University is ranked #88 out of regional universities in the Midwest. They offer endorsements in mild and moderate special education, as well as focuses in either K-8 education or 5-12. The chief focus of the program is on collaboration. There is a strong emphasis on working with peers to solve classroom problems. In addition, students shadow master teachers in order to learn effective real-world classroom techniques. The program is accredited by the Iowa Department of Education and the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. It costs $22,680 per year.

    For more information about Graceland University’s Special Education Degree Programs, go here

    9. University of Hartford

    Ranked #79 among regional universities in the north, the University of Hartford offers a professional preparation program with a focus on the in-depth understanding of disabilities as well as knowledge of developmental, academic, and social needs. There is an emphasis on building skills in a variety of settings, so student teaching placements are done both with general education classrooms and children with disabilities. It is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. Tuition and fees total $32,172 per year.

    For more information about the University of Hartford’s Special Education Degree Programs, go here

    10. Metropolitan State University of Denver

    MSU-Denver is classified as a Tier 2 western regional university, which means that it has no public ranking. It is unique because its entire educational program is focused entirely on special education, with that being the only full four-year degree offered. It offers concentrations in early childhood, elementary, linguistically diverse, or secondary special education. Much of the program is hands-on, and due to the urban location, most teaching experiences take place in a culturally diverse population. It is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, and costs $4834 for in-state students and $15,690 for out-of-state.

    For more information about Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Special Education Degree Programs, go 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.

    Overview: Special Education Degree Options


    For the individual who wants to join the ranks and engage special needs children as an instructor, there are many options available. A multitude of degrees will gain you access to different levels of the special education system, and a few of them include:

    • Associate’s degree in Special Education

    • Bachelor’s degree in Special Education

    • Master’s degree in Special Education

    • Doctorate (PhD) degree in Special Education

    An Associate’s degree in Special Education is geared toward acclimating attending students to the particulars of the special education field. Many, if not the majority, of these degrees are stepping stones to other more advanced degrees. The Associate of Arts in Special Education degree is often part of a transfer program where once the core curriculum has been mastered, the student then continues on to their Bachelor’s degree. An advantageous aspect to completing a degree at this level is that it affords a period of experimentation to would-be participants. A student gain the experience of examining all of the facets of Special Education and make an educated decision as to whether or not the field is right for them.

    A Bachelor’s degree in Special Education is a continuation of theories and methodologies gleaned from one’s Associate’s degree, but the work is more sophisticated, detailed and in-depth. The final four years of college, which is what a Bachelor’s degree covers, is the final push in a Special Education professional’s undergraduate academic career. Once a person has earned their Bachelor’s degree, they will have then mastered all of the requisite, basic and moderately-technical aspects of the field and be afforded the privileges that come with it. Plus graduates gain the hands on experiences necessary to either forward their education or find employment.

    Special Education undergraduates who wish to further their education advance to a Master’s degree. Graduate school, by all accounts, is considered a post-graduate degree. It is often thought to be an advanced degree where old theories and methods are reinforced, but also where new theories and concepts can be explored. The admission process for a great many graduate school is strict. They often cost more to attend then their undergraduate counterparts, and their entrance requirements are such that grade point averages must often be no lower than a 3.5 during one’s undergraduate studies. If a person qualifies and gains admission, they can expect a very rigorous and engrossing experience, academically speaking. Internships, residencies, and a thesis near the end of the Master’s program are standard operating procedures for most graduate schools. The benefits of attending graduate school cannot be under estimated, particularly if considering the areas of access in Special Education it will grant an individual. Necessarily, the more educated a person is, the more they will be considered for important, responsible and upper-echelon jobs. A master’s degree might qualify an individual to be a teaching administrator; planning the day-to-day operations of a classroom or school.

    Earning a PhD in Special Education is no small feat, but it is well worth the effort if someone is passionate enough to invest the time and energy into it. The PhD in this field generally revolves around teaching, research and administration and many supervisory tasks—stats and research weigh heavily into the PhD process, so this is something a person needs to consider while deciding if a Doctorate degree fits their wants and needs. All of the Doctoral coursework will center on advanced theories and methodology, but it all culminates in a student’s dissertation; an extensive compilation of qualitative and quantitative research topics undertaken to further a concept or expand upon pre-existing research.

    Being a PhD level professional does not mean the same thing to everyone, but most can agree that it opens up practically every door one could wish to walk through in the realm of Special Education. A PhD professional qualifies to work with disabled children or working with gifted students; those students who are not only void of any learning disabilities, but who show the ability to master complicated subject matter on a level far in advance of children of the same age. If the economics behind earning a PhD in Special Education is a concern, PhD degree holders earnings’ are $25,000 to $30,000 more when compared to their Bachelor degree counterparts. Plus these graduates are the trailblazers of the field – they lead in all of the research, development, implementation, and policy making of special education.