Early intervention is a fast-growing special education field devoted to addressing developmental delays and disabilities at the earliest age possible. Under the IDEA Act Part C, all 50 states must make early intervention available to at-risk infants and toddlers. Research has proven many benefits of early intervention, including higher intellectual achievement, less grade retention, better graduation rates, and improved health outcomes. Early intervention specialists are child development experts who design and modify evidence-based plans to improve young children’s ability. Whether in a school, childcare center, clinic, or home consulting firm, early intervention jobs reward an average yearly salary of $45,653. Early intervention specialists generally must hold master’s-level training with state teaching certification. In this article, we’ll countdown the Top 10 Early Intervention Master’s Degree Programs for assessing young children from birth to 5. We began by narrowing down the regionally accredited colleges in the United States offering this unique specialization. Preference was given to education schools approved by the NCATE or CAEP. Then, we used the U.S. News and World Report’s rankings to guide our selections. Extra points were given to schools with rankings from other publications, such as the Princeton Review. All programs had to satisfy that state’s teaching certification requirements. Early intervention master’s degrees must have included practical experience, i.e. student teaching or field practicum. Other factors considered were exam pass rates, class size, flexibility, faculty strengths, and financial aid.
Individuals with a vocational calling to work with very young children before kindergarten should consider becoming an early intervention specialist. The job outlook is excellent because present demand for early intervention services are growing. According to the NCES, the number of children diagnosed with disabilities grew by 2 million from 1991 to 2005. Early intervention is crucial during these most formative years to give children an increased chance at success.
Earning any of the following Top 10 Early Intervention Master’s Degree Programs will prepare you for playing a pivotal role in children’s development!
1. University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Established as America’s first public higher learning institution in 1789, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill educates over 29,000 from its 729-acre suburban campus just 28 miles outside of Raleigh. Named a “Public Ivy” by Richard Moll, UNC Chapel Hill is ranked the 30th Best National University with the 35th Top Education School in the U.S. World and News Report survey. The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) accredited School of Education awards a Master of Education with Early Childhood Intervention and Family Support (Birth-K). The cohort-based, two-year program has tracks for licensed teachers and initial endorsement students. M.Ed. students benefit from working with the Frank Porter Graham (FPG) Institute and potential full tuition support.
Tuition: $9,143 (in-state) or $26,354 (out-of-state)
2. University of Pittsburgh
Endowed for $3.5 billion, the University of Pittsburgh is mega public, state-assisted research institution serving more than 28,600 Panthers from a 132-acre urban campus in the Oakland neighborhood. Included in Princeton Review’s “Colleges That Pay You Back,” Pitt is recognized by the U.S. World and News Report as America’s 66th Top University with the 30th Best Education school. Leading to PA Behavior Specialist licensure, the School of Education offers a M.Ed. in Special Education for Early Intervention with an optional Autism specialization. The 46-credit curriculum centers on serving children with disabilities from birth to five years. Educators practice their skills in the on-campus Falk Laboratory School and Office of Child Development (OCD).
Tuition: $21,260 (in-state) or $34,944 (out-of-state)
3. University of Oregon
Sitting along the Willamette River on a 295-acre urban campus in Eugene, the University of Oregon is the state’s flagship public, co-educational RU/VH research institution with over 24,100 students. Ranked Kiplinger’s 93rd Best Public Value, Oregon was crowned the 103rd Best National University with the third Best Special Education Program by the U.S. World and News Report. The College of Education offers licensed teachers a M.Ed. in Special Education with Early Intervention-Early Childhood Endorsement. The four-term program teaches activity-based, family-guided practices for serving young children with special needs. Master’s students apply their skills with two supervised practicum on-campus in the HEDCO Clinic and in local school districts.
Tuition: $14,256 (in-state) or $24,165 (out-of-state)
4. Ohio University
Classified as a selective public, doctoral-granting RU/VH research institution, Ohio University is headquartered on a main 1,850-acre suburban campus in Athens along the Hocking River with over 23,000 students. Recognized for Princeton Review’s #16 “Most Beautiful Campus,” OU is America’s 135th Best University and 99th Top Education School according to the U.S. News and World Report. Within the Patton College of Education, there’s an NCATE-accredited Master of Education in Special Education for Early Childhood Intervention Specialist (ages 3-8). Ranging from 30 to 71 credits based on teacher licensure, the program meets Ohio endorsement requirements. ECIS majors complete a student teaching internship and research at on-campus facilities like the Stevens Literacy Center.
Tuition: $9,510 (in-state) or $17,502 (out-of-state)
5. University of Maine
With enrollment over 10,900, the University of Maine is the state’s largest flagship public, land-grant research institution standing atop a 660-acre rural campus in Orono near Bangor. According to the U.S. News and World Report, UMaine is the 168th Best University with the 93rd Best Teacher’s College nationwide. The College of Education and Human Development holds NCATE accreditation for its M.Ed. in Special Education with Early Intervention Concentration. Available wholly online, the 36-credit program leads to Maine certification as Teacher of Children with Disabilities (Birth-K). Students benefit from small classes, virtual simulations, and applied field practicum. Applicants with a minimum 3.0 GPA have no GRE or MAT requirement.
Tuition: $7,524 (in-state) or $23,940 (out-of-state)
6. Pace University
Founded in 1906 by the Pace Brothers, Pace University is a private, non-sectarian institution serving over 12,700 students from the quiet suburbs of Pleasantville, New York, and bustle of Manhattan’s Financial District. Placed in PayScale’s Top 15 percent for Return On Investment (ROI), Pace is ranked the 180th Best National University by the U.S. News and World Report. Within the NCATE-accredited School of Education, students can pursue a Master of Science for Teachers (MST) in Early Childhood Development, Learning, and Intervention. This 45-credit program offers dual early childhood and special education certification (Birth-Grade 2). Two student teaching experiences are required in preschool and primary years. In 2015, 98 percent of Pace graduates passed NYS certification exams.
7. Portland State University
Located on a 50-acre urban campus in downtown Portland since 1946, Portland State University is a public, co-educational research institution enlightening over 28,200 students. Ranked 11th Nationally in Princeton Review’s “Top 50 Green Colleges,” PSU was recognized by the USNWR for the country’s 140th Best Graduate Education Programs. Among them is the Master’s in Special Education with Early Intervention Special Education (EISE) Licensure. The online, part-time program consists of 64 credits. Cohorts learn the provide culturally competent services to children (Birth-5) with disabilities. Fieldwork exposes students to classroom, home-based, and child care models. M.Ed. students also participate in the Parent-Infant Interaction Project to enhance infant development.
Tuition: $12,816 (in-state) or $20,016 (out-of-state)
8. University of New Orleans
Within the Urban 13 Association, the University of New Orleans is a mid-sized public, research institution serving over 8,400 students from its 195-acre urban campus in “The Big Easy.” Noted among Princeton Review’s “Best 380 Colleges,” UNO was deemed the South’s 147th Top School by Forbes magazine. The College of Education and Human Development has been NCATE-accredited for 30+ years to confer 17 programs, including a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) for Special Education Early Intervention (Birth-5). Encompassing 36 credits, the curriculum satisfies Louisiana’s initial teaching certification qualifications. For the capstone internship, past placements have included GulfSouth Autism Center, Sensational Kids, and Families Helping Families.
Tuition: $7,234 (in-state) or $20,673 (out-of-state)
9. Boise State University
Although founded by the Episcopal Church in 1932, Boise State University has grown into a public, research institution with over 22,200 students on a 175-acre urban campus in Idaho’s capital. With America’s 71st Best Education School, BSU is the West’s 61st Best Regional College according to the U.S. News and World Report. Over four full-time semesters, students can earn the College of Education’s Master in Teaching (M.I.T.) in Early Childhood Intervention. Offered fully online, the NCATE-accredited program unlocks Idaho’s early childhood special education licensure. For 37 total credits, the curriculum includes evidence-based practices for exceptional children from birth to kindergarten. Graduates benefit from BSU’s collaboration with the Lee Pesky Learning Center.
Tuition: $6,058 (in-state) or $20,108 (out-of-state)
10. Lindenwood University
Affiliated with the Presbyterian Church, Lindenwood University is a private, co-educational liberal arts institution serving over 12,200 students from its 500-are urban campus in Saint Charles, Missouri, just 24 miles from St. Louis. According to the USNWR, Lindenwood is the Midwest’s 108th Best Regional University. The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) accredited School of Education awards a Master of Arts in Education with an Early Intervention emphasis. Within the 33-credit curriculum, licensed teachers take courses in three strands: autism, vision impairment, and deaf/hearing impairment. To satisfy Missouri certification, the program includes field practice, including home-visit observations. M.A. applicants should have satisfactory Praxis scores and two or more years of teaching experience.