Earn Your Master's in Special Education Online
- $637/credit (36 credits total)
- Transfer up to 12 graduate credits
- Complete in as few as 15 months
- No GRE/GMAT required
- Learn to build inclusive classrooms
- Advance your career as an education leader
Online Master's in Special Education Concentration Overview
Help meet the needs of a diverse cross-section of students in the online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Special Education program. Designed to align with 21st century learning, this online special education master's degree program provides you with a deep understanding of the issues related to teaching and learning conditions for children with mild to moderate disabilities.
With a special education master's concentration, you'll learn traditional, innovative and research-based approaches that support the instructional and transitional needs of children in inclusive classrooms from preschool through high school. The history and legislation of special education at the federal and state levels as they relate to the Education and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) also are examined.
The online special education degree prepares educators in all settings to be leaders in their field, with a global awareness across cultures and geographies. You'll explore the role of "educational leader" and what that means in both a traditional and non-traditional learning setting.
By the end of your program, you'll emerge with a ready-to-implement curriculum, along with a professional portfolio that showcases your abilities as a leader in education.
The online MEd in Curriculum and Instruction program with a Special Education master's concentration includes nine core education courses and three courses specific to special education.
The online MEd in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Special Education degree program does not lead to licensure. SNHU also offers online post-licensure Master of Education (MEd) programs for currently licensed individuals who are interested in furthering their professional development and enhancing their credentials.
However, since state requirements for adding endorsements vary greatly, SNHU does not guarantee that the completion of those programs will result in rank, endorsements and/or salary increases and strongly encourages interested individuals to contact their state licensure board prior to enrolling.
SNHU provides additional information for education programs on our Licensure and Certification Disclosures page. View disclosure information.
What You'll Learn
- Theory-informed curriculum design that addresses learning complexities
- Unique needs of learners with different backgrounds, abilities and experiences
- Analysis of learner assessment data to guide teaching decisions
- Applications of technology in curricular design to aid students in problem-solving
- Leadership skills that promote ethical, reflective and inclusive education
How You'll Learn
At SNHU, you'll get support from day 1 to graduation and beyond. And with no set class times, 24/7 access to the online classroom and helpful learning resources along the way, you'll have everything you need to reach your goals.
The last century has seen major advances in the area of special education. From the emergence of advocacy groups in the 1930s to groundbreaking legislation in the Civil Rights-era, the nation has taken significant strides toward inclusive classrooms and learning.
According to the National Education Association (NEA), enrollment in special education programs has grown by 30% in the last decade.1 Recent numbers suggest even greater advancements to come. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also projects that about 33,500 jobs could be added for special education teachers through 2032.2
In addition, jobs for training and development specialists are projected to grow 6% and instructional coordinators 2% in the same time period.2
The message is clear: the world needs education leaders – especially those who can advocate for all learners.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for instructional coordinators is set to grow 2% through 2032.2
The median annual salary for instructional coordinators was $66,490 in May 2022.²
Understanding the Numbers
When reviewing job growth and salary information, it’s important to remember that actual numbers can vary due to many different factors — like years of experience in the role, industry of employment, geographic location, worker skill and economic conditions. Cited projections do not guarantee actual salary or job growth.
Patrice Pilgrim-Wright '19, understands the power of education.
In 2015, she moved to the U.S., determined to make a better life for herself, her kids and ultimately, her students.
That determination helped her earn two degrees – including an MEd in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Special Education – within 5 years.
"This degree has helped open doors for me," Pilgrim-Wright said. "It helped showcase to my administrator and principal that I have the technical knowledge I need to hold the SST Chair position at my school."
Beyond that, the program helped her "build in the supports and scaffolds necessary to support all learners in the classroom."
Now, Pilgrim-Wright is working toward a world where all children – regardless of their differences – can unlock their full potential.
"My hope for the future is to become an even bigger advocate and champion for the students in my district," she said. "Having a learning disability does not make them less than their fellow students, it just means that they need to be supported differently."
Please note: Instructional coordinators in public schools may be required to have a teaching license or an education administrator license.
Where Could You Work?
Common industries that employ special education teachers, according to the BLS¹, include:
Assess the skills of young students and adapt curriculum to meet their unique needs. Plan activities specific to each student's skillset.
Aid students and parents with transitions between grades. Discuss student progress with parents, teachers and school administrators as needed.
Develop Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) tailored to each student. Assess student performance and make changes to ensure their success.
In the Home
Work 1:1 with students — typically toddler or preschool-age — in their home environment. Assist with early learning, sensory processing, behavior and other skills.
Start Your Journey Toward an Online Master's in Special Education
Why SNHU For Your Master’s in Special Education
With no set class meeting times, you can learn on your schedule and access online course materials 24/7.
As part of our mission to make higher education more accessible, we’re committed to keeping our tuition rates low. In fact, we offer some of the lowest online tuition rates in the nation.
Prior coursework and work experience could also help you save time and money. SNHU’s transfer policy allows you to transfer up to 12 credits from your previous institution. You could also earn college credit for previous work experience.
Founded in 1932, Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution with over 160,000 graduates across the country. SNHU is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), a regional accreditor, which advocates for institutional improvement and public assurance of quality.
Recently, SNHU has been nationally recognized for leading the way toward more innovative, affordable and achievable education:
- “Most Innovative” regional university honors from U.S. News & World Report each year since 2015
- A $1 million grant from Google.org to explore soft skills assessments for high-need youth
- Recognition as a 2017 Digital Learning Innovator by the Online Learning Consortium
At Southern New Hampshire University, you'll have access to a powerful network of more than 300,000 students, alumni and staff that can help support you long after graduation. Our instructors offer relevant, real-world expertise to help you understand and navigate the field. Plus, with our growing, nationwide alumni network, you'll have the potential to tap into a number of internship and career opportunities.
93.6% of online students would recommend SNHU (according to a 2022 survey with 17,000+ respondents). Discover why SNHU may be right for you.
You can apply at any time and get a decision within days of submitting all required materials. Students with an undergraduate GPA below 2.75 are eligible for provisional acceptance.
Other MEd admission requirements include:
- A resume that includes at least 6 months of relevant K-12 instructional or curriculum development experience
- Filling out our MEd Non-Licensure Acknowledgment Form
How to Apply
Acceptance decisions are made on a rolling basis throughout the year, so you can start earning your degree during any of our 5 graduate term starts.
- To apply, simply contact an admission counselor, who can help you explore financial options. Your counselor can also walk you through the application process, which involves completing a graduate application, providing undergraduate transcripts and your resume and filling out the MEd Non-Licensure Acknowledgement Form.
What SNHU Students Are Saying
Patrice Pilgrim-Wright '19
"SNHU provides the support needed at every level and at every stage to ensure student success."
Courses & Curriculum
The online curriculum and instruction master's degree in special education is designed for K-12 educators who are leading in the area of curriculum and instruction. The program includes 12 courses, three of which are focused on special education.
The online MEd in Curriculum and Instruction can help prepare educators to support various student populations in all settings, including elementary and secondary public and private schools, charter schools and home schools.
Courses may include:
- Assessment of Student Performance. Get an overview of practical performance assessments that can be used to measure student progress in the general education setting. Explore a repertoire of authentic assessments and progress monitoring tools including formative and summative assessments, diagnostic tools, performance tasks, criteria checklists, rubrics, student portfolios and the use of multiple sources of data in measuring student performance.
- Expressive Language-Skill and Writing. Focus on strategies to help support expressive language skills for students with dyslexia and other language-based learning disabilities, primarily for writing. Learn how to scaffold the writing process, build appropriate foundational skills and understand the hidden demands of writing for students with language-based learning disabilities. Draw from relevant research on expressive language arts to develop practical teaching strategies for your own learning environments.
- Executive Function & Study Skills. Learn how to aid students with language-based learning disabilities, many of whom struggle with the cognitive and self-regulating tasks associated with executive function. Assist with tasks including organizing time, materials and information, preparing for work, managing frustration, accessing memory and self-monitoring one's progress. Identify research-based strategies that increase and improve executive function through the use of effective study skills. While this course will explore relevant research on language-based learning disabilities and executive function, the emphasis will be placed on the practical teaching skills drawn from Landmark's Six Teaching Principles. These principles, which will be integrated throughout the course, will encourage you to provide structured opportunities for students to achieve success, use multiple instructional modalities, create skill-based micro unit tasks, ensure student skill automatization through practice and review, provide models and include the student in the learning process.
It's important to note that earning your MEd in Special Education at SNHU will not result in licensure. For specific rules and regulations regarding teaching licensure in your area, please consult your local state laws.
|View Full Curriculum in the Catalog
|MEd in Curriculum & Instruction - Special Education
|Courses May Include
|MEd Special Education
|The Educator as Leader
|Discover the frameworks and approaches used in the M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction program. Explore what it means to be an educational leader in today's rapidly changing, multi-cultural education environments and investigate the many traditional and non-traditional facets of contemporary educational leadership. Examine competencies, characteristics, and practices that relate directly to student achievement and are grounded in current professional standards.
|Evidence-Based Research for Education
|Learn about the various types and methods of educational research. Examine the value of education focused action research in a variety of learning environments. Develop foundational knowledge and skills to read, interpret, and use data to enable professional growth and improve student learning experience.
|Leadership in Teaching and Learning
|Explore educational leadership concepts by focusing on the characteristics and best practices needed to define and increase success in learning. Employ multiple measures to resolve learning challenges utilizing effective communication and collaboration in ways that empower oneself and others to enhance one's role as an educational leader. Learn about legal, ethical, and professional issues existing in today's educational environments that impact effective leadership.
|Curriculum Design 1: Foundations in Curriculum Design
|Explore the foundations of curriculum design theories and principles used in various learning environments. Apply Understanding by Design (UbD), Differentiated Instruction (DI), and the standards of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), for designing and developing a functional and effective curriculum that matches all students' learning needs.
|Curriculum Design 2: Differentiated Instruction
|Implement Differentiated Instruction (DI) strategies for all students, especially as they apply to unique students. Use multiple data points to design curriculum that can be differentiated and aligned to student, state, and national goals and standards by embedding technology, including assistive technology, in teaching and managing students. Examine DI strategies for English Language Learners, students with disabilities and learning differences, and high performing students as part of a heterogeneous learning environment.
|Curriculum Design 3: Assessment for Student Learning
|Explore assessment theories and practices as integral elements of curriculum and instructional design. Interpret assessment data from multiple sources and use that data to inform curricular choices. Investigate embedding technologies into curriculum to assess and interpret student learning effectiveness as part of the continuous feedback cycle.
|Curriculum Design 4: Emerging Theory and Design
|Investigate emerging theories of design and learning in today's increasingly complex technology-enhanced learning environments. Apply theory-based strategies for providing curriculum and instruction in traditional, alternative, virtual, and augmented learning settings.
|Seminar in Curriculum and Instruction
|Prepare for the Capstone by developing and focusing scholarship and artifacts for the portfolio, including a personalized educational philosophy statement. Drawing from the technology-focused, inclusion-centric themes explored throughout the program, draft an evidence-based curriculum proposal that addresses a self-identified achievement gap.
|Capstone in Curriculum and Instruction
|Integrate previous coursework and demonstrate the mastery of knowledge and skills developed throughout the program. Synthesize prior learning in order to develop a complete curriculum in an area of interest for utilization, along with the portfolio, in illustrating a cohesive educational philosophy and showcasing growth as an educational leader.
|Total Credits: 36
Minimum Hardware Requirements
PC (Windows OS)
Apple (Mac OS)
Currently supported operating system from Microsoft.
Currently supported operating system from Apple.
8GB or higher
8GB or higher
100GB or higher
100GB or higher
Required for campus students. Strongly recommended for online students.
Required for campus students. Strongly recommended for online students.
SNHU Purchase Programs
5 Mbps Download, 1 Mbps Upload and less than 100 ms Latency
5 Mbps Download, 1 Mbps Upload and less than 100 ms Latency
- Laptop or desktop? Whichever you choose depends on your personal preference and work style, though laptops tend to offer more flexibility.
- Note: Chromebooks (Chrome OS) and iPads (iOS) do not meet the minimum requirements for coursework at SNHU. These offer limited functionality and do not work with some course technologies. They are not acceptable as the only device you use for coursework. While these devices are convenient and may be used for some course functions, they cannot be your primary device. SNHU does, however, have an affordable laptop option that it recommends: Dell Latitude 3301 with Windows 10.
- Office 365 Pro Plus is available free of charge to all SNHU students and faculty. The Office suite will remain free while you are a student at SNHU. Upon graduation you may convert to a paid subscription if you wish. Terms subject to change at Microsoft's discretion. Review system requirements for Microsoft 365 plans for business, education and government.
- Antivirus software: Check with your ISP as they may offer antivirus software free of charge to subscribers.
Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) as well as several other accrediting bodies.
Tuition & Fees
Tuition rates for SNHU's online degree programs are among the lowest in the nation. We offer a 25% tuition discount for U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty.
|Online Graduate Programs
|Per Credit Hour
|Annual Cost for 15 credits
(U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty)*
Tuition rates are subject to change and are reviewed annually.
*Note: students receiving this rate are not eligible for additional discounts.
Course Materials ($ varies by course). Foundational courses may be required based on your undergraduate course history, which may result in additional cost.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can you do with a master's in special education?
An MEd in Special Education, paired with a teaching license, can help you stand out in instructional or administrative roles that address the needs of special education populations.
It's perhaps no surprise that an MEd in special education can help position you for success as a special education teacher. However, with a heavy focus on inclusive curriculum design, this specialized program can also help you build skills to become a training and development specialist or instructional coordinator.
To understand the full scope of jobs you can pursue with an MEd in special education, it also helps to clearly define the term. According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), special education is "specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability."3
IDEA specifically identifies 13 major categories of special needs, which are:
- Specific learning disability (SLD)
- Language/speech impairment
- Intellectual disability
- Emotional disturbance
- Hearing impairment
- Orthopedic impairment
- Visual impairment
- Traumatic brain injury
- Developmental delay
- Multiple disabilities
- Other health impairment
Ultimately, an MEd in special ed will help prepare you to support countless populations of students with unique needs.
How do I get a master's degree in special education?
Requirements for earning your master's in special education may vary by program and institution.
At SNHU, you can earn your MEd in Special Education in as few as 15 months.
To apply, you must have an bachelor's degree, as well as a minimum 6 months of relevant K-12 instructional or curriculum development experience. No application fee is required.
How much does a master's in special education cost?
The cost of a master's in special education varies depending on school, location, number of credits and several other factors.
At SNHU, we proudly offer some of the lowest online tuition rates in the nation. Our rate per credit hour for the MEd in special education is $637. With 36 credits required to complete the program, that comes to a total tuition cost of $22,932.
We also offer financial aid, scholarships and tuition discounts for eligible students. Military service members and their families, for example, receive up to 30% tuition discounts – making our already low rates even more affordable.
Should I get my master's in special education?
This all depends on your personal and professional goals. If you're passionate about teaching students of varying emotional, physical and cognitive abilities, a master's in special education can help you gain the knowledge you need to better support those populations.
Courses in our MEd in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Special Education include:
- Assessment of Student Performance. Get an overview of practical performance assessments that can be used to measure student progress in the general education setting.
- Expressive Language-Skill and Writing. Focus on strategies to help support expressive language skills for students with dyslexia and other language-based learning disabilities, primarily for writing.
- Executive Function & Study Skills. Learn how to aid students with language-based learning disabilities, many of whom struggle with the cognitive and self-regulating tasks associated with executive function.
Is special education in demand?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 33,500 openings for special education teachers are projected each year through 2032.2
The BLS also notes that federal laws require every state to maintain the same level of financial support for special education each year, thereby reducing the threat of employment layoffs due to state or federal budget constraints.2 However, employment growth may depend on increases in funding.2
Can you get a special education degree online?
Of course. SNHU's MEd in special education, for example, is 100% online. This means you'll have access to coursework 24/7, giving you the ability to manage your schedule in a way that works for you.
There are plenty of other benefits to distance learning. Our online programs are, in many cases, more affordable than traditional in-person degree programs. Added flexibility also means you have the option to earn your MEd in just over a year, giving you a faster pathway to your goals.
Our online degrees offer many of the same benefits campus students have, including access to student clubs, internships, experiential learning opportunities and the support of our instructors, advisors and career services team.
Sources & Citations (1, 2, 3)
1National Education Association, Special Education, on the internet, at https://www.nea.org/student-success/smart-just-policies/special-education (viewed November 3, 2020).
2Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, on the internet, at:
- https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/special-education-teachers.htm#tab-1 (viewed Nov. 3, 2023)
- https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/training-and-development-specialists.htm (viewed Nov. 3, 2023)
- https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/instructional-coordinators.htm (viewed Nov. 3, 2023)
Cited projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth.
3Napa Center, What's so special about special education?, on the internet, at https://napacenter.org/whats-so-special-about-special-education/#:~:text=Don't%20let%20a%20child's,their%20unique%20and%20special%20needs! (viewed Nov. 3, 2020).