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Top Schools for Special Education Teaching

This article contains career and training information for students who hope to teach special education courses. See a list of 10 of the top schools offering programs in special education teaching, and learn about the programs available at four of these schools. View article »

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    • Master of Education in Special Education, specializing in Applied Behavior Analysis
    • Master of Education in Special Education, specializing in Autism Spectrum Disorder
    • Autism Spectrum Disorder Certificate
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    • MA in Education and Human Development in Secondary Special Education and Transition Services
    • MA in Education and Human Development in Special Education for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners
    • MA in Education and Human Development in Organizational Leadership and Learning
    • Graduate Certificate in Special Education for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners
    • Graduate Certificate in Transition Special Education
    • View all programs
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  • 0:05 Top Special Education Schools
  • 0:23 School Overviews
  • 4:14 Top Special Education…

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Video Transcript

Top Special Education Schools

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, special education teachers need to complete a minimum of a bachelor's degree and an approved teacher preparation program, as well as obtain a teaching license. Many of the top schools on this list offer special education programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Teaching Gifted and Talented Students
  • Teaching Special Education - Autism
  • Teaching Special Education - Developmentally Delayed
  • Teaching Special Education - Emotional Disturbances
  • Teaching Special Education - Hearing Impairments
  • Teaching Special Education - Learning Disabilities
  • Teaching Special Education - Mental Retardation
  • Teaching Special Education - Multiple Disabilities
  • Teaching Special Education - Orthopedic Impairments
  • Teaching Special Education - Speech Impairments
  • Teaching Special Education - Traumatic Brain Injuries
  • Teaching Special Education - Vision Impairments
  • Teaching Special Education, Children and Young Children

School Overviews

Those interested in teaching may wish to consider the field of special education. Special education teachers work with and instruct children suffering from behavioral disorders or mental, emotional or learning disabilities. These professionals adapt curricula to meet the special needs of these students.

Aspiring teachers can find excellent programs at the four schools profiled here, each of which was nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report for 2017.

Vanderbilt University

The special education program at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, has been ranked in the top tier of U.S. News & World Report's rankings for more than a decade. Vanderbilt University was ranked #2 on the U.S. News & World Report list of the best special education graduate schools for 2017. The school also ranked tied for 15th overall among national universities, and its graduate college of education, the Peabody College of Education and Development, was ranked 4th among all graduate education programs.

Peabody students can choose from special education degree programs at the bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. levels, as well as find an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) training program and an endorsement program in gifted education. Students can also participate in the Student Council for Exceptional Children or Vanderbilt Association for Behavior Analysis.

University of Kansas

University of Kansas in Lawrence, KS offers some of the master's programs in an online format. This university is home to the top-ranked special education program in the country, according to 2017 rankings by U.S. News & World Report.

This school offers five master's degree programs in special education as well as a bachelor's and a Ph.D. program. The master's degree programs are available in autism spectrum disorders, early childhood unified, high-incidence disabilities, low-incidence disabilities, and secondary special education transition.

University of Florida

The University of Florida in Gainesville, FL offers one of the first programs in the nation to receive accreditation from the International Dyslexia Association. The University of Florida offers both online and on-campus programs in special education through its School of Special Education, School Psychology, and Early Childhood Studies. The school was ranked tied for 50th on U.S. News & World Report's list of top national universities, and its special education master's degree program was tied for 5th in 2017.

The school offers bachelor's, master's, specialist, and doctoral degree programs in special education, including a unique Unified Elementary Proteach dual-certification program. At the end of this 5-year program, students receive a bachelor's degree, certification in special education (ESE K-12), a certification in teaching elementary education (K-6), and an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) endorsement.

Johns Hopkins University

The graduate education program at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD was tied for #2 on the U.S. News & World Report list for 2017. Johns Hopkins University offers a Master of Science in Special Education. The degree is available in full-time and part-time formats, and it culminates in a graduate project and a comprehensive exam. Johns Hopkins has a partnership with the Montgomery County School System that helps many graduates find jobs in the district after graduation.

In addition to the M.S. degree, Johns Hopkins also offers graduate certificates in Early Intervention/Preschool Special Education Specialist, Education of Students with Autism and other Pervasive Developmental Disorders, Gifted Education, Applied Behavioral Analysis, and Advanced Methods for Differentiated Instruction and Inclusive Education.

Top Special Education Teaching Programs

Here are six more schools with great special education teaching programs:

School Name Distinction Location
University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign Champaign, IL Offers seven different funding opportunities across all levels of studies
University of Maryland - College Park College Park, MD College of Education has a 4.2:1 ratio of doctoral students to full-time faculty
University of Minnesota Minneapolis, MN Special education degrees are available with several specialization options
University of Oregon Eugene, OR Students in special education programs can complete hands-on learning experiences in public schools, clinics, or one of 17 research and outreach units
University of Texas Austin, TX Students can participate in research projects through 10 campus centers, including the Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk and Texas Center for Disabilities Studies
University of Wisconsin Madison, WI Offers cross-categorical certification programs that encompass intellectual and developmental disabilities, emotional/behavioral disabilities, and learning disabilities

Aspiring teachers and experienced educators who want to direct their careers towards special education can find relevant degree and certificate programs at some of the highest-ranked universities in the country.

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Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

    • Master of Education in Special Education, specializing in Applied Behavior Analysis
    • Master of Education in Special Education, specializing in Autism Spectrum Disorder
    • Autism Spectrum Disorder Certificate

    What is your highest level of education?

    • MA in Education and Human Development in Secondary Special Education and Transition Services
    • MA in Education and Human Development in Special Education for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners
    • MA in Education and Human Development in Organizational Leadership and Learning
    • Graduate Certificate in Special Education for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners
    • Graduate Certificate in Transition Special Education

    What is your highest level of education?

    • Master of Science in Education in Special Education

    What is your highest level of education?

  • What is your highest level of education completed?

    • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Special Education
    • Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership - Behavioral Health
    • M.Ed. in Special Education: Cross-Categorical
    • M.Ed. in Master of Education in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education-ITL
    • M.Ed. in Master of Education in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education-NITL
    • M.A. in Autism Spectrum Disorders
    • MA in Curriculum and Instruction
    • MA in Gifted Education
    • BS in Elementary Education / Special Education (Dual Major)
    • Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education
    • BS in Early Childhood
    • B.S. in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education
    • B.S. in Elementary Education with an Emphasis in Christian Education

    What is your highest level of education?

    • Ph.D. in Literacy
    • Ph.D. in Literacy: Educational Leadership
    • Ph.D. in Literacy: Special Education
    • Ph.D. in Literacy: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)

    What is your highest level of education?

  • What is your highest level of education completed?

  • What is your highest level of education?

  • What is your highest level of education completed?

    • Master of Arts in Special Education

    What is your highest level of education completed?

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