Operating as an essential part of educational offerings, special education was designed to ensure every student — regardless of learning style or ability — is provided an equitable opportunity to learn. Professionals in this field are specially trained to develop differentiated lesson plans that take into account how students with special needs learn best and develop teaching tools to aid in knowledge growth. If you’re passionate about ensuring every child has the opportunity to learn, special education could be a great fit for you.
After completing an online special education degree, you’ll have both knowledge about differentiated instruction and the skills to create lesson plans that meet the needs of an inclusive classroom. Courses offered in a special education degree online underscore the foundations of the discipline while also providing practical knowledge of literacy facilitation, early childhood disabilities, lifespan development, technological assistance, and the importance of consultation and collaboration.
Graduates of an online special education degree have a wealth of opportunities available to them, including positions in both public and private settings working with students ranging from Kindergarten to high school. While some teachers may prefer to be in a classroom, others may decide to work as a tutor for children with learning and/or intellectual disabilities — the options are truly far-reaching. Individuals in these roles can expect to bring home an average annual salary of nearly $57,000 and those considering this career path can expect to see the field grow by more than 28,000 new jobs between 2014 and 2024.
Completing an online special education degree enables you to enter a meaningful career, while our Top 50 ranking ensures have access to online schools for special education that balance low tuition rates with high returns on investment. Because special education won’t net you six-figure salaries, it’s important to find a program that not only provides flexible online learning, but also maintains the accredited status you’ll need to be licensed after graduation. The schools on this list fit the bill perfectly.
5 Affordable Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Special Education
Fort Hays State University
|Value Score 7.61||
The bachelor of science in elementary education offered by Fort Hayes qualifies graduates to pursue licensing in grades K-6; with a special education minor graduates will be qualified to teach in inclusionary classrooms through 12th grade. The addition of the special education minor can boost graduates’ earning potential and increase job prospects. Program courses cover general and professional education, pedagogical theory, and field experience. Online courses use Blackboard. Distance learners are required to earn 136 credit hours, this includes 12 hours of student teaching. Students may choose from a diverse range of courses, from Elementary Art Methods to Literacy Assessment & Intervention.
This affordable online special education degree prepares students for licensure in Kansas. Learners who plan to teach in other states should contact their state’s department of education for license transfer requirements.
East Carolina University
|Value Score 6.90||
State Employees Credit Union Partnership East is an East Carolina University (ECU) degree completion program with North Carolina community colleges. Students who complete the first two years of the program at a partnering school can transition to ECU and graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Special Education degree completion after taking ECU courses online. This makes the degree more affordable. The program prepares students to teach in grades K-12.
Students are required to earn 127 credits to graduate, choosing from courses like public speaking, ethnocultural psychology, music for exceptional children, and managing the learning environment. Coursework covers academic, social, and behavioral components of student development legal requirements, assessment, and technology. Students are assigned to classrooms to observe and implement teaching methods learned during their studies, culminating in a full-time public school internship in their senior year.
The ECU Online Writing Lab enables off-campus students to meet with experienced writing center consultants online to improve their writing skills.
|Value Score 6.85||
Liberty offers a cheap special education degree online taught from a Christian perspective. This non-licensure program familiarizes students with educational trends practiced in private and public schools. Courses cover instructional practices, learning theory, educational philosophy, and behavioral problems. The program teaches methodology of Christian education, essential for those planning to tutor, home school, or work in Christian schools and churches. Distance learners need 120 credits, including 45 major hours and 30 hours of advanced courses; the major includes an optional 90-hour practicum. Students may gain credit toward their degree based on prior schooling, training, or on-the-job experience. Graduates are eligible to receive a teaching certificate from the Association of Christian Schools International, qualifying recipients to teach in most Christian schools.
Liberty, the largest Christian university globally, has student resources including an online library, writing resources, study aids, and IT support. Online students can watch campus events streamed online, including over 80 nationally-known speakers each year; previous speakers have included Vice President Mike Pence, Larry the Cable Guy, and Steve Forbes.
|Value Score 5.83||
Graduates with a degree in special education degree online through Fontbonne will earn a certification in K-12 mild/moderate cross-categorical. The program is designed for professionals who need to work while they complete coursework. Student teaching can be completed outside the Pathways program, depending on school district policy. The general education curriculum, Culture and the Common Good, underscores Fontbonne’s commitment to a global perspective, history, social justice, and diversity.
This cheap online special education degree program includes two 16-week fall/spring courses, two 8-week summer courses, and a clinical experience. Courses include Developmental Psychology and Analysis and Correction of Reading Disabilities. One Religion course is mandatory.
Student career services include counseling, mock interviews, workplace etiquette training, job and internship search advice, and Purple Briefcase, a career network. Educational resources include a library with over 95,000 volumes and nearly 100 other online research tools like Blackboard tutorials and free online tutoring.
Dakota State University
|Value Score 5.11||
Teachers-in-training at Dakota State learn how to teach students of all abilities, whether they have autism, behavioral, cognitive, or learning disabilities. The education in elementary education/special education program has students learn best practices in planning curriculum, teaching methods, and assessments. With a student-teacher ratio of 17:1 and a 94% job placement rate, Dakota State graduates achieve success with plenty of hands-on fieldwork and experienced faculty. The program lasts eight semesters and includes a one-year residency with two semesters of student teaching in public schools. Courses range from Children’s Literature to American Indian Culture & Experience. Online students can listen to in-class recorded lectures and communicate with professors through Skype. Many professors create collaborative assignments that bring online and on-campus students together. Prospective teachers can join the Teachers of Tomorrow Club, a group that nurtures tomorrow’s educators and promotes the teaching profession.
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|Value Score 4.57||
Students graduating with a bachelor of arts in special education from Prescott College will be qualified to teach students with mild or moderate mental disabilities, emotional disabilities, and other learning disabilities. Working professionals often gravitate toward this limited residency program which focuses on core competencies, current and emerging approaches, classroom management techniques, and adaptation of teaching strategies to learner styles and cultural backgrounds. Classes include Normal and Atypical Language Development and Literacy in Early Childhood Special Education. At least 120 semester credits are needed to graduate. Students pursuing the cheap special education degree online must also complete a full-time, 12-week student teaching assignment during their final semester demonstrating what they’ve learned.
Prescott’s mentored study program encourages a “high touch,” face-to-face experience tailored to each student. Graduates can earn a post-degree teaching certificate in early childhood education, early childhood special education, elementary education, secondary education, and special education.