Top 7 Online Special Education Programs

In recent years, the demand for qualified special education professionals has been on the rise. With an increasing number of students requiring personalized attention and support, the need for educators with specialized training in special education has never been greater.

Best Special Education Online Degrees

Facing a significant shortage of qualified special education teachers in the U.S., the demand for professionals in this field is higher than ever before. In 2017, there were only 389,500 teachers catering to six million students under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, and not all of them were adequately trained for special education roles. Given this pressing need, pursuing a degree in special education emerges as a strategic career move for aspiring educators.

Individuals passionate about making a difference in the lives of students with disabilities can opt for an online bachelor’s degree in special education. Numerous reputable institutions offer specialized programs within their education departments. Whether one aims to make special education their primary focus or integrate it into a broader educational framework, the flexibility of online programs caters to diverse career aspirations.

To assist prospective students in making informed decisions, we’ve meticulously curated a list of the top five online bachelor’s degrees in special education. Our selection criteria prioritize programs that deliver high-value and comprehensive training. For a broader overview of distance learning opportunities, explore our ranking of the best online colleges.

Top Online Special Education Degrees

Advantages of Pursuing an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education

Flexibility and Convenience

One of the primary advantages of pursuing an online bachelor’s degree in special education is the flexibility it offers. Online programs allow students to complete coursework at their own pace and from the comfort of their own homes, making it an ideal option for individuals with busy schedules or other commitments.


Online education also enhances accessibility for individuals who may face barriers to traditional forms of learning. Students with disabilities, caretaking responsibilities, or geographical constraints can benefit from the accessibility of online programs.

Diverse Learning Opportunities

Online special education programs often provide a diverse range of learning opportunities, including interactive multimedia resources, virtual simulations, and real-world practicum experiences. These diverse learning modalities cater to the varied needs and learning styles of students.

The Best Universities For Special Education Degrees

When considering pursuing a degree in special education, it’s essential to find the right program that aligns with your career goals and personal preferences. In this article, we’ll compare five top institutions offering online special education degrees, focusing on key aspects such as curriculum, affordability, and student support.

Drexel University:

Drexel University stands out as a premier institution known for its excellence in education. With a net price of $39,021 and a total enrollment of 24,232, Drexel offers an online BS in education with a specialization in special education. This comprehensive 180-credit program covers essential topics such as inclusionary practices, special education referral and assessment, and atypical child development. The flexible timeline, spanning 10 terms over 2.5 years, appeals to career-driven individuals seeking quality education.

University of West Florida: 

For over five decades, the University of West Florida (UWF) has prioritized community-centric learning, nurturing individual career aspirations. With a net price of $11,175 and a total enrollment of 12,996, UWF offers an online bachelor’s in teacher education and educational leadership, specializing in special education. Graduates emerge highly qualified, equipped with skills aligned with the No Child Left Behind Act standards, and ready to excel as educators or educational leaders.

Mayville State University: 

Mayville State University (MSU) prides itself on providing personalized attention through small class sizes in its online courses. With a net price of $12,104 and a total enrollment of 1,130, MSU offers a BS in elementary education with a special education specialization. The curriculum emphasizes social and emotional development, special education law, and other crucial areas, ensuring graduates are well-prepared for diverse educational settings.

St. Petersburg College:

St. Petersburg College (SPC) in Florida offers affordable, student-centered education with a net price of $7,089 and a total enrollment of 30,028. Their online BS in exceptional student education focuses on K-12 classrooms, catering primarily to children with mild to moderate disabilities. With core courses covering classroom management, the needs of exceptional students, and learning principles, SPC prepares future educators for impactful careers in special education.

University of South Carolina: 

The University of South Carolina (USC) is globally recognized for its excellence in academia, offering an online BA in special education with a net price of $19,913 and a total enrollment of 34,099. USC’s program emphasizes personal and professional growth, providing flexible degree pace options and opportunities for specialization through certifications in special education.

University of Georgia :

The University of Georgia offers an online Bachelor of Science in Special Education that emphasizes evidence-based practices and inclusive teaching strategies.

Arizona State University:

Arizona State University’s online Bachelor of Arts in Special Education prepares students to work with individuals with mild to moderate disabilities in various educational settings.

Penn State World Campus :

Penn State World Campus offers an online Bachelor of Science in Education in Special Education that focuses on preparing educators to address the diverse needs of students with disabilities.

What types of jobs can I pursue with a degree in special education?

Graduates of special education programs can pursue various roles, including special education teacher, educational diagnostician, behavior analyst, and curriculum specialist.

How long does it typically take to complete an online bachelor’s degree in special education?

The duration of an online bachelor’s degree program in special education varies depending on factors such as enrollment status (full-time or part-time) and program requirements. However, most programs can be completed within four to five years of full-time study.


FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Can I pursue a career in special education with an online degree?

Yes, many reputable universities offer accredited online bachelor’s degree programs in special education that can lead to fulfilling careers in the field.

Are online special education programs as rigorous as traditional on-campus programs?

Yes, online special education programs are designed to be just as rigorous and comprehensive as their on-campus counterparts, often incorporating hands-on practicum experiences and interactive coursework.

Are there scholarships available for students pursuing special education degrees online?

Yes, many universities offer scholarships specifically for students enrolled in special education programs, both online and on-campus. Additionally, external organizations and foundations may provide financial assistance to aspiring special educators.

In conclusion, choosing the right online special education degree program requires careful consideration of factors such as curriculum content, affordability, and institutional reputation. Whether you prefer the flexibility of Drexel University, the community-centric approach of the University of West Florida, the personalized attention of Mayville State University, the affordability of St. Petersburg College, or the globally recognized excellence of the University of South Carolina, there’s a program tailored to meet your needs and propel you towards a successful career in special education.

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