Online Teaching Special Education Diploma Program Information

Find out about online special education courses and in which programs they're most commonly offered. Get course descriptions, program info and online requirements to make an informed decision.

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Essential Information

Students who are interested in becoming special education teachers can earn a bachelor's degree, master's degree or certificate in the field. Most of the coursework for distance learning special education programs can be completed online, through the school's website or a course content management system like Blackboard. However, programs usually have student teaching requirements in addition to the coursework. Some schools offer distance learning courses via teleconferencing at the school's campuses, while others require students to visit the brick-and-mortar campus for seminars and to fulfill practicum requirements. In order to enroll in a master's degree or graduate certificate program, prospective students need to have previous teaching experience.

Bachelor's Degree

Special education online bachelor's degree programs are geared toward prospective teachers who wish to earn licensure and dedicate their professional lives to educating students with exceptional needs. Topics covered in undergraduate special education programs include behavioral and emotional disorders, diagnosis of problems in special education students, psychology of education and interaction with parents over student concerns. Student teaching is a requirement for all online bachelor's degree programs in special education.

Master's Degree

Master's degree programs in special education taken via distance learning cover advanced topics, such as transitioning students into the working world, special education across different cultures, special educational needs of autistic students and legal issues in modern special education. Online special education graduate degrees are intended for students who are already teaching and would like to develop a working knowledge of special education or want to specialize in special education. Students may have to write a thesis to receive their master's degree in special education, but this requirement varies from school to school.


Special education certificate programs are ideal for licensed teachers who are looking for a quick way to become knowledgeable about special education. Most programs do not prepare students for certification, but they can help teachers cater to the needs of disabled students and become more well-rounded educators. Many types of special education certificate programs are available online; these specialties include early childhood special education, mild intervention special education and severe disability special education.

To summarize, online bachelor's degree programs are ideal for aspiring teachers who want to focus on special education, as they offer a basic introduction to psychological issues and the special needs of students within classroom settings. Master's degree programs build on this foundation with more advanced coursework, while graduate certificate programs are typically designed for teachers with experience in other areas who want to gain knowledge in the field of special education.

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