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Liberty University
Special Education MAT
Special Education MEd

Monmouth University
Special Education/Autism MS
Special Education/Teacher of Students with Disabilities MS

Northcentral University
Special Education MEd


Autism and ABA
Differentiated Instruction
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Special Education

Special Education, Special Needs Education

Enormous Need for Special Education Teachers
There are over 6 million special education students in the U.S., according to the NEA. These children have a wide array of disabilities: autism, mental retardation, physical disabilities, speech or hearing disabilities, learning disabilities, and more. Special education teachers play a vital and indispensable role in these students' daily lives and future potential. Unfortunately, there has been and continues to be a a severe shortage of special education teachers. The shortage results from high turnover, retirement, and increase in diagnoses.
>> See DOE's Teacher Shortage Areas Full Listing

Special Education Overview
Special education is one of the most in-demand fields of education in our country. The National Education Association (NEA) estimates there are more than 6 million special education students in the United States. Special education students present a wide variety of learning disabilities including autism, language or speech impairments, auditory processing disorders, or physical impairments that impact classroom performance or participation, such as hearing or vision impairments. Some states, such as Tennessee, also classify academically gifted or talented students as special education students because of their need for increased rigor and challenge in the classroom.

A small number of special education teachers work with students with severe cognitive, emotional, or physical disabilities. These teachers focus primarily on life skills (such as cooking, cleaning, shopping, and self-grooming) and basic literacy and mathematics. The majority of special education teachers work with children with mild to moderate disabilities and classroom teachers to modify the curriculum and assist with the selection of teaching and assessment methods most advantageous for the student. Most special education teachers instruct students at the preschool, elementary, middle, and secondary school level, although some work with infants and toddlers.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that all individuals determined to have learning or physical disabilities be taught in the “least restrictive method possible.” This has caused a paradigm shift in the field of education. Only individuals with severe disabilities are taught outside the main classroom. Those with moderate disabilities often receive what is known as “pull-out services” where a special education teacher will pull student(s) out of the regular classroom to work on basic or remedial skills. Individuals with mild disabilities will receive assistance in the regular classroom or the classroom teacher may merely consult with the special education teacher to modify lessons, projects, or assessments.

Special education teachers work in a variety of settings. Some have their own classrooms and teach only special education students; others work as special education resource teachers and offer individualized help to students in general education classrooms; still others teach together with general education teachers in classes including both general and special education students. Some teachers work with special education students for several hours a day in a resource room, separate from their general education classroom. Considerably fewer special education teachers work in residential facilities or tutor students in homebound or hospital environments.

Special Education Teacher Qualifications
Special education teachers are required to be licensed by their state department of education. Teachers can accomplish this with a bachelor's degree or by pursuing a graduate-level certificate program or masters degree in special education. Because of the high demand for special education teachers, most states have approved alternative certification routes.

Special education assistants are also in high demand. Most states require teaching assistants working in special education to have completed college coursework, usually the equivalent of an associate's degree, in special education.

Individuals studying early childhood education will cover topics such as:

  • Child Growth and Development
  • Assessment Methodologies
  • Adaptive Technology
  • Instructional Strategies

Most States require a prospective teacher to pass a professional assessment test. Some States have reciprocity agreements allowing special education teachers to transfer their licenses from one State to another, but many others still require that experienced teachers reapply and pass licensing requirements to work in the State.

Special Education Career Advancement
Special education teachers can advance their careers. They can become supervisors or administrators. They also may earn advanced degrees and become instructors in colleges that prepare others to teach special education. In some school systems, highly experienced teachers can become mentors to less experienced teachers.

Special Education Teacher Career Outlook
Job opportunities for special education teachers is excellent. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of special education teachers needed is expected to increase by 17 percent (81,000 jobs) from 2008 to 2018.

Job Title

Median Annual Salary (50th percentile)

Annual Salary 90th Percentile

Special Education Teacher



Instructional Coach



Classroom Teacher (K-12)



Figures by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010
Sponsored Schools Offering Special Education
Monmouth University

U.S. News & World Report’s annual list of "Best Colleges" featured Monmouth as one of the top forty schools in the "Regional Universities North" category for four straight years. The Princeton Review has included Monmouth University in its lists of best colleges for the last 12 years, including the 2017 edition of "The Best 381 Colleges."

Special Education/Autism
Master of Science in Education

NCATE Accredited

Monmouth's 30-credit Master's Degree in Special Education-Autism track prepares teachers to focus on the design of educational services for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Within the course sequence instruction will be provided related to laws and policies, evidence-based best practices, behavior management, assessment, and research related to teaching and working with children and adults with ASD. Fieldwork requirements within each course reinforce content with assignments necessitating the implementation assessments and interventions related to behavior change and skill acquisition with students on the autism spectrum. Monmouth also offers an 18-credit Certificate in Autism program.

As part of your graduate degree or certificate program, you'll learn assessment tools to determine student areas of need, and how to use evidence-based practices to increase student goal attainment. You will also learn behavior management strategies and data-based decision-making skills. Individuals within this program will leave the program prepared to teach and supervise students with autism with an understanding of best practices to meet their students' needs.

Special Education/Teacher of Students with Disabilities
Master of Science in Education

NCATE Accredited

The Teacher of Students with Disabilities (TSD) program and endorsement prepares teachers who seek to enhance their skills related to working effectively with diverse populations, families, colleagues, and the community. Comprehensive theoretical and practical experiences are provided to ensure that candidates are well prepared to address the learning, language, and social needs of a diverse population of students from preschool to high school.

Liberty University

Known for its affordability and exceptional student support, LU Online is consistently ranked among the top 10 online universities by the Online Education Database, for its high retention and graduation rates.

Special Education
Master of Arts in Teaching

NCATE Accredited
Reciprocity with Other States
No Prior Teaching Experience Required

Liberty University's Master of Arts in Teaching, with a specialization in Special Education is specifically geared toward individuals with no prior teaching experience who are interested in gaining initial teaching licensure in special education. Along with core courses in this program, you will study behavior management, educational assessment and intervention, collaboration for special transitions, and build strategies for successful inclusive classrooms. In addition, you will complete your student teaching requirement in the area in which you are seeking licensure. A three-credit hour student teaching internship is required, and on-campus intensives may be required. This program is approved through the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and is a state-approved program for initial licensure (reciprocity with other states) or endorsements. As the world's largest evangelical university, Liberty University incorporates core Christian values into all of their degree offerings in order to provide all students a thorough academic and spiritually enriching program of study.

Special Education
Master of Education in Teaching & Learning

NCATE Accredited
Reciprocity with Other States

Liberty University's Master of Education - Teaching and Learning program with a concentration in special education prepares you for teaching in Christian, public and private schools. This program teaches the skills needed to become an effective teacher, focusing on special education. Courses provide specialized preparation for individuals seeking credentials for a K-12 school position or those with a desire to further their education and pursue either an Ed.S. or Ed.D. A three-credit hour student teaching internship is a required part of the M.Ed. program, and on-campus intensives may be required. This program is approved through the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and is a state-approved program for advanced licensure (reciprocity with other states) or endorsements.

Northcentral University

For the third consecutive year, Northcentral University has been awarded the designation of Military Friendly School for the third straight year by G.I. Jobs.

Special Education
Master of Education

No Residency Requirement
Weekly Start Dates

The special education specialization prepares educators to address the needs of students with disabilities and gifted abilities by preparing such students to develop, implement and assess specially designed curriculum. Attention is given to teaching methods and strategies that illustrate an advocacy for these student groups. The specialization can be customized to meet the student's unique professional and personal goals, and allows the student to concentrate their coursework on the advanced and the disabled student, or select a single focus.

Northcentral University is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). 985 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 100, Alameda, CA 94501 1.510.748.9001, www.wascsenior.org.
Sponsored Schools
Special Education
Financial Assistance

Individuals seeking careers in special education are eligible for the financial assistance available to all students. In addition, the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), funds programs that support students becoming special educators. Special education teachers may also qualify for up to $19,000 in forgivable loans if they meet specific conditions. Special education teachers may also find tuition assistance from their own State's Department of Education.
Special Education Students

Special Education students require specially designed instruction because of:

• Cognitive impairments, such as mental retardation
• Learning disabilities that require specific teaching strategies
• Physical disabilities that limit mobility
• Sensory loss, such as hearing loss and vision impairments
• Emotional disorders
• Traumatic brain injury
• Autism
• Speech or language impairments
• Chronic health problems

Special Education
Graduate Programs
TEAC Accredited

Special Education
Graduate Degrees

Northcentral University

  • Online Graduate Level Programs
  • Monthly Starts
  • Special Education Career Profiles
    (Downloadable PDFs)

    Adapted Physical Education Teacher
    Art Therapist
    Early Childhood Special Educator
    Educational Audiologist
    Educational Diagnostician
    Interpreter for Students Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
    Music Therapist
    Rehabilitation Counselor
    School Counselor
    School Nurse
    School Psychologist
    Special Education Administrator
    Special Education Resource Teacher
    Special Education Technology Specialist
    Therapeutic Recreation Specialist
    Common Special Needs Diagnoses

    • Speech and/or language delays
    • Autism Spectrum Disorder
    • Cognitive delays
    • Social & emotional disorders
    • Learning differences/disabilities
    Strong Demand for
    Autism Professionals

    The demand for qualified Autism professionals is very strong , as diagnoses of ASD have increased significantly in recent years and there is still a lack of trained ASD-specific professionals. More than 500,000 individuals under the age of 21 are currently diagnosed with autism. According to the U.S. Department of Education, autism is expected to have a continued growth rate of 10 percent to 17 percent annually. The Centers for Disease Control estimates an increase from 1 in 150 to 1 in 110 children have an autism spectrum disorder. Such dramatic numbers and a shortage of qualified autism specialists create a strong demand for trained professionals. In fact, according to the Florida Association of Behavior Analysts, there are 4 job openings for every BCBA.

    >> Read more on Autism and Training for a Career in Autism