Most special education graduate programs are master’s programs. (Doctoral programs in special education do exist, but they tend to focus on research rather than teaching methods.) There are many options for online master’s in special education programs, including both generalist and specialist tracks.
In addition to coursework, most master’s students must complete a practicum or student teaching experience before graduation. Some universities even offer dual master’s/certification degrees that incorporate student teaching into the program curriculum so graduates will already have some hands-on experience when they begin their careers.
With an online special education degree, you will gain the knowledge and strategies needed to teach students with physical or mental disabilities, including those with emotional or behavioral disorders. You will learn how to create and implement effective instructional plans, develop classroom management strategies and work closely with parents, caregivers and other professionals to ensure all students have access to a quality education.
The first step toward a career in special education is obtaining a bachelor’s degree in special education. This degree can be obtained at many online universities. With this degree, you will learn all about educating exceptional learners across various age groups, including preschoolers and adolescents with disabilities or developmental delays.
With a bachelor’s degree in special education, you will be able to work with children and teenagers who have conditions like ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, dyslexia, Down syndrome, and other learning or physical disabilities. You may also be able to help students who are struggling with emotional challenges or behavioral issues.
Once you have completed your bachelor’s degree in special education, you may decide to move on to obtain your master’s degree in special education. A master’s degree in special education will allow you to focus on a specific area of study within the field of special education. You may choose to study how to teach individuals with specific types of disabilities or how to assist students with emotional issues that impede their learning process.
There are several degree options available for students interested in special education: associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees. Associate degrees prepare entry-level workers for administrative or teaching assistant positions. Bachelor’s degrees help students gain the skills needed to become teachers in elementary or secondary schools. Master’s and doctorate degrees provide advanced training that prepares graduates for leadership positions as supervisors, program directors, or principals.
A bachelor’s degree is the most common entry point into the profession. Students pursuing this degree must complete general education requirements as well as specialized courses like Introduction to Special Education, Behavior Management Theory and Practice, Psychology of Exceptional Individuals, and Instructional Technology in Special Education.
Most programs allow students to specialize in one particular area of interest such as early childhood education or autism. This allows them to gain more experience working with a specific population while also learning about different types of disabilities and how they impact learning styles.
The requirements to earn an online degree will vary by program. Most programs require a minimum grade point average in undergraduate studies, some courses may need to be completed before entering the program, and there may be internships or other field experience required.
Online special education programs are available at all levels of study: associate degrees for those just beginning their studies, bachelor’s degrees for those who already have some college credits, master’s degrees for those wishing to advance their expertise, and doctoral degrees for those interested in conducting research or teaching at the university level.