Overview of Online Special Education Law Certificate Programs
There is at least one special education law and process certificate program available completely online. The program is designed for special education teachers, administrators, advocates, and parents of students with special needs. Offered at the graduate level, applicants to this program are required to have a bachelor's degree and meet a minimum GPA requirement. The certificate can be completed in two years and provides an overview of educational law and techniques at the school, home, and community levels for meeting the learning needs of students with disabilities.
While online certificate programs specifically in special education law are rare, there are other closely related certificate programs available online, including a general education law certificate and a certificate in leadership in special and inclusive education. Both of these related programs are also graduate certificate programs that require 12 credits and may be completed in eight months or less.
Requirements for Special Education Law Certificates
One goal for the online certificate programs in the field of special education law is to equip parents, teachers, and/or other community members with the necessary skills to help successfully implement educational mandates at various levels that are in favor of students with special needs. These programs may also help develop leaders in the field of special education.
Information and Requirements
Online certificate programs in special education law and closely related areas generally require 12 credits or a total of four core courses. All of these courses can be completed fully online, and programs may follow a quarter system that consists of 10-week sessions. Students in some certificate programs may be able to apply course credits to a related master's degree program, such as a Master of Science (MS) in Special Education. Usually, these certificate programs are taught by a range of expert faculty with unique experiences in special education or education and may focus on the collaboration of teachers, parents, administrators, and advocates in the field.
Program requirements for these certificates often include courses in school law that examine educational polices and legislation. These courses may exclusively focus on or contain a portion dedicated specifically to special education law. Students in the program may discuss the various rights of students and families with special needs, due process, historical and current legislation, and school practices in special education.
Students can also take special education skills or leadership courses that help train them in the necessary communication skills for resolving conflicts and implementing special education practices in schools. A discussion of special education advocacy might be included as well. Students are able to explore the different advocacy practices that are crucial to special education, as well as the different collaborators involved in the process.
Career Outcomes with a Certificate in Special Education Law
Although a graduate certificate in special education law does not necessarily qualify a student for a particular career, this certificate program can be beneficial to a wide range of professionals who work closely with students with special needs. One such career example would be that of a special education teacher. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these educators need at least a bachelor's degree and a state license or certification to work in public schools. As of 2019, they had a median annual salary of $61,030. A job growth of 3% was projected for these teachers from 2018 to 2028, which is slower than average. Special education teachers work with students at different grade levels and with various disabilities to help prepare them for their next educational steps.
Other careers that could benefit from a certificate in special education law would be school administrators, including principals and instructional coordinators. Both principals and instructional coordinators play a role in developing and implementing school curricula and/or policies and should be aware of special education laws. According to the BLS, elementary, middle, and high school principals and instructional coordinators need at least a master's degree and some work experience. In 2019, the BLS reported that principals had a median salary of $96,400, while instructional coordinators had a median salary of $66,290. The job outlook for principals from 2018 to 2028 was a 4% growth (as fast as average), while the outlook for instructional coordinators was a 6% growth (as fast as average).
Online certificate programs specifically in special education law are rare, but at least one is available. This and other related certificate programs are available at the graduate level and aim to help students further understand the policies in place to benefit children with special needs.