How Can You Specialize in a Master’s in Education in Special Education?

You can specialize in a Master’s in Education in Special Education in both traditional and online programs at many private and public universities. In general, such programs are targeted at people who already have completed undergraduate programs in education and are seeking additional credentials or certifications. Since┬álicensure is the mandate of individual states, the specific path to licensing and certification may vary slightly from state to state and thus applicants should ensure that the programs they are considering are appropriate for the region in which they wish to teach. The non-profit National Board for Professional Teaching Standards also offers certification in teaching students with exceptional needs, which gives educators an additional credential.

Types of Master’s in Special Education

Master’s degrees in education focusing on special education include several different types of program. The first major distinction is between the Master’s in Teaching (M.A.T.) and Master’s in Education (M.Ed.). According to, an M.A.T. degree is more focused on the classroom and the M.Ed. on policy, administration, and instructional design. In both of these types of program you can focus on special education or exceptional needs pedagogy and follow curricula geared towards obtaining specific certifications within those fields. Next, programs can be offered in traditional, online, and hybrid formats. Even, however, purely online programs will require that you complete some form of practicum or clinical component which requires you to be physically present in a classroom for a certain number of hours.

Specialties and Certifications Within Special Education

At the master’s level, programs focus on training you for specific types of certification and endorsements and offer coursework and practicums geared towards those areas. At this level, you can focus on working with students in specific age brackets, such as early childhood or secondary school. You can also choose to focus on specific types of special needs. You can work towards certification in teaching students with learning disabilities or autism spectrum disorders or choose to focus on working with hearing-impaired or visually-impaired children. Other possible areas include High-Incidence Disabilities and Low-Incidence Disabilities. You could also choose to focus on learning how to work with children with health and physical impairments or on special needs students who are learning English as a second language. Within a master’s program, you can work towards multiple certifications. So, for example, if you want to work with young children on the autism disorder spectrum, you might obtain both autism and early childhood credentials or authorizations, a combination that would make you attractive to a wide range of potential employers.

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Master’s Degrees and Teaching Careers

When you specialize in a Master’s in Education in Special Education, you are opening up a wide range of career opportunities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for special education teachers is likely to grow at a annual rate of six percent over the next decade. Having a master’s degree may increase your salary in many states and qualify you for advanced renewable credentials. As you choose a program, key factors to look for are that the program is accredited, that it has a clear path towards licensure in the state or states in which you plan to teach, and that it offers endorsements or specializations in the particular areas of special education that interest you.