Teaching Special Education Degree Programs in North Carolina

North Carolina has more than 30 colleges that offer teaching programs focusing on special education. Learn about the degree programs, tuition info and program options for the 10 largest schools to make an informed education decision.

Essential Information

In North Carolina, special education teacher programs are offered at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree levels; undergraduate and graduate certificate programs are also available. Some master's degree programs are designed for existing special education teachers seeking advanced training or other teachers who want to obtain a special education license. Other programs are intended for individuals who are new to the field and need to obtain an initial teaching license.

Students in a bachelor's degree program can often pursue a concentration in general or adapted curriculum. Other areas of emphasis, commonly offered at the master's degree level, include behavioral and emotional disabilities, gifted education, intellectual disabilities or learning disabilities. Degree-seeking students typically participate in an internship and may be required to complete a professional portfolio.

Career Requirements

In order to teach in the state of North Carolina, an aspiring teacher must first complete an approved education program, then successfully take the Praxis North Carolina subject-level examinations and apply to the North Carolina State Board of Education for licensure. Read on to learn about 10 of the largest colleges and universities in the state offering programs that could prepare students for state licensure, and research their requirements.


Appalachian State University

Boone-based Appalachian State University offers two degree programs related to teaching special education. At the undergraduate level, the Reich College of Education offers a Bachelor of Science in Special Education with two concentrations, general curriculum and adapted curriculum; at the graduate level, the school offers a Master of Arts in Special Education, in the traditional format or as a distance learning program.

The general curriculum program prepares students to teach those with special needs who could be expected to complete career or college tech prep programs or a college tech diploma. Required courses examine classroom management, special education legislation and advocacy, characteristics of students with learning disabilities, and methods and strategies to teach those with disabilities. The adapted curriculum is meant for individuals who will teach students who may not be expected to complete career or college tech preparatory programs or earn a college diploma; the required courses are the same but focus on students with a greater degree of need. In either concentration, students must complete a portfolio showcasing how they meet state standards and complete multiple student teaching experiences.

In the Master of Arts in Special Education program, students take courses in inclusion, special education law, collaboration, and individualized planning at the secondary level. Students also choose a specific concentration: emotional and behavioral disorders, intellectual disabilities, or learning disabilities. MA students must complete an internship, a professional portfolio, and a research project.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Science in Special Education,
    Master of Arts in Special Education
  • Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $6,059 (in state); $18,107 (out-of-state) (undergraduate)*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, public; distant town

East Carolina University

Greenville's East Carolina University offers a Bachelor of Science in Special Education with two tracks as well as a Master of Arts in Education with an emphasis in special education. In the bachelor's degree program, students can choose from the general curriculum or an adapted curriculum. The general curriculum emphasizes the skills required for teaching children who have disabilities at the high school level. The adapted curriculum includes courses in adapted physical education and occupational therapy, techniques for rehabilitation service, and communication skills. At the graduate level, students enrolled in the master's degree program in special education complete core classes and additional coursework in one of four categories, which include training in mental retardation, learning disabilities, low-incidence disabilities, and behavioral and emotional disabilities. All of the Master of Arts in Education in Special Education classes are available online.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Science in Special Education,
    Master of Arts in Education with Special Education concentration
  • Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $5,869 (in state); $19,683 (out-of-state) (undergraduate)*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, public; small city

Forsyth Technical Community College

In the Winston-Salem area, Forsyth Technical Community College offers a Certificate in Special Education, which prepares aspiring teachers to work with special education students in the elementary grades. Aspiring teachers take courses in child development and classroom management. They also choose from a course in specific learning disabilities, physical and sensory disabilities, or developmental delays to finish up the 18-credit-hour program. In addition to completing course work, students will interact with children and spend time in school settings under the supervision of qualified teachers.

  • Program Offered: Certificate in Special Education
  • Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,728 (in state); $6,336 (out-of-state) (undergraduate)*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; midsize city

North Carolina Central University

Durham's North Carolina Central University offers a Master of Arts in Teaching or Master of Education in Special Education as well as a Licensure-Only program in general curriculum. The Master of Arts in Teaching offers three specialization choices: behavioral-emotional disabilities, learning disabilities, and visual impairment. The Master of Education offers four specialization choices: behavioral-emotional disabilities, learning disabilities, mental disabilities, and visual impairment. Both of these programs are undergoing revision as of 2013, though they're still accepting students. The Licensure-Only program is through the Alternative Licensure program and is meant for individuals who have licensure in education but not special education specifically.

  • Programs Offered: Master of Arts in Teaching,
    Master of Education in Special Education,
    Licensure-Only Certificate
  • Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $5,954 (in state); $17,603 (out-of-state) (graduate)*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, public; midsize city

North Carolina State University at Raleigh

The Raleigh campus of North Carolina State University offers three master's degree programs in special education: the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in Special Education, the Master of Education (M.Ed) in Special Education, and the Master of Science (M.S.) in Special Education. The Master of Arts in Teaching leads to initial teaching licensure in teaching special education with the general curriculum, while the M.Ed is intended for those who already have an initial teaching license and wish to pursue advanced licensure. The MAT in Special Education program requires completion of 33 credit hours, including classes in education methods and materials for those with learning disabilities, a seminar in special education literacy, and a course in teaching life skills.

The M.Ed in Special Education requires that teachers complete an internship and courses in methods and materials, as well as a course in applied behavior analysis for teachers. The M.S. in Special Education requires completion of 39 credit hours and a thesis; required course topics include teaching exceptional children, teaching in the special education resource room, and an internship. The university also offers a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in special education.

  • Programs Offered: Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in Special Education,
    Master of Education (M.Ed) in Special Education,
    Master of Science (M.S.) in Special Education
  • Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $8,934 (in state); $20,982 (out-of-state) (graduate)*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, public; large city

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

At the Charlotte campus of the University of North Carolina, an aspiring special education teacher has many options, which include the Bachelor of Arts in Special Education, Master of Arts in Teaching with a special education emphasis, a Master of Education in Special Education, or a graduate certificate in special education. In the B.A. program, two licensure options are available for enrolled students. The general curriculum license prepares program graduates for employment in entry-level positions as teachers for K-12 grade children with mild disabilities. The special education adapted licensure curriculum prepares students to work with K-12 children with severe disabilities. Courses emphasize teaching mathematics, reading, and writing to learners with special needs, in addition to life skills instruction and modifications for teaching students with diverse needs. Both licensure areas meet the requirements for a Standard Professional License I.

The Master of Arts in Teaching degree program is available for students with a bachelor's degree in a subject other than special education or those who have completed the graduate certificate licensure program at UNC. To enroll in the Master of Education in Special Education program, one must have both a bachelor's degree with an emphasis in special education and a Standard Professional I teaching license in special education from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction or an equivalent license from another state.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Arts in Special Education,
    Master of Arts in Teaching,
    Master of Education in Special Education,
    Graduate Certificate in Special Education
  • Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $5,873 (in state); $18,402 (out-of-state) (undergraduate)*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, public; large city

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

The Greensboro campus of the University of North Carolina offers two bachelor's degrees in special education, a Master of Education, and a Ph.D. The first Bachelor of Science in Special Education includes focus areas in advocacy and services for the deaf, American Sign Language Teacher Licensure, Auditory/Oral Birth-Kindergarten Teacher Licensure, Interpreter Preparation, or Birth-12 Deaf and Hard of Hearing Teacher Licensure. Each specialization has its own requirements, but aspiring teachers can expect to take courses in American Sign Language, children's development and communication, and exploration of careers in special education. Students can also complete a dual major in special education and elementary education. This option requires that students complete courses in learning and behavior differences, field experiences, assessment for exceptional students, student teaching, and positive behavior support methods, among other courses.

The Master of Education program focuses on teaching special education students who could be expected to complete high school courses and college prep or technical courses with assistance. There are options for students who have licensure in special education or who have a license in another area of education. Required courses include educational research, reading, writing, and math instruction for students with mild disabilities, and assessment of special needs students.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Science in Special Education,
    Master of Education in Special Education,
    Ph.D. in Special Education
  • Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $6,136 (in state); $19,934 (out-of-state) (undergraduate)*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, public; large city

University of North Carolina at Pembroke

Pembroke's University of North Carolina campus offers a Bachelor of Science in Special Education. In this program, aspiring teachers learn about special education law, adapted curricula, and class management and discipline, to name a few of the required course topics. In an aspiring teacher's senior year, he or she must complete an internship in an approved location and complete a seminar course. Students are encouraged to take the Praxis exam in the fall semester of their sophomore year, if it is necessary, and apply to the teacher education program during the spring semester of their sophomore year.

  • Program Offered: Bachelor of Science in Special Education
  • Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $4,857 (in state); $14,064 (out-of state) (undergraduate)*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, public; distant town

University of North Carolina at Wilmington

The Wilmington campus of the University of North Carolina offers a Bachelor of Arts in Special Education (K-12) through the Watson College of Education. Aspiring teachers must choose from teaching for general curriculum or teaching adapted curriculum. According to UNC Wilmington, this program is offered with late afternoon or evening classes and is offered during summer sessions.

  • Program Offered: Bachelor of Arts in Special Education
  • Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $6,199 (in state); $18,302 (out-of-state) (undergraduate)*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, public; midsize city

Western Carolina University

Cullowhee-based Western Carolina University offers a Bachelor of Science in Education (B.S.Ed) in Inclusive Education, a Master of Arts in Education, or a Master of Arts in Teaching in Inclusive Education. The B.S.Ed program requires completion of a year-long internship and community-based service learning, in addition to classes covering behavioral issues, exceptional learners placed in the general curriculum, literacy learning for individuals with mild to moderate disabilities, and a special education seminar.

In the Master of Arts in Education program, students choose from one of three emphases: gifted education, mild to moderate disabilities, or severe/profound disabilities. In this program, students must create an exit portfolio and complete 36 credit hours of study in education, special education, and a specialty like behavioral disorders, gifted education, learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, or severe/profound disabilities. The Master of Arts in Teaching in Inclusive Education is meant for individuals who do not have an A-level license in special education. The degree program requires completion of 39-45 credit hours, creation of an exit portfolio and the state licensure examination.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Science in Education in Inclusive Education,
    Master of Arts in Education in Inclusive Education,
    Master of Arts in Teaching in Inclusive Education
  • Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $5,925 (in-state); $15,522 (out-of-state) (undergraduate)*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, public; distant rural

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type and Setting Special Education Degree and Certificate Programs Offered Tuition and Fees (2012-2013)
Appalachian State University 4-year, public; distant town Bachelor of Science in Special Education,
Master of Arts in Special Education
$6,059 (in state); $18,107 (out-of-state) (undergraduate)*
East Carolina University 4-year, public; small city Bachelor of Science in Special Education,
Master of Arts in Education with Special Education concentration
$5,869 (in state); $19,683 (out-of-state) (undergraduate)*
Forsyth Technical Community College 2-year, public; midsize city Certificate in Special Education $1,728 (in state); $6,336 (out-of-state) (undergraduate)*
North Carolina Central University 4-year, public; midsize city Master of Arts in Teaching,
Master of Education in Special Education,
Licensure-Only Certificate
$5,954 (in state); $17,603 (out-of-state) (graduate)*
North Carolina State University at Raleigh 4-year, public; large city Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in Special Education,
Master of Education (M.Ed) in Special Education,
Master of Science (M.S.) in Special Education
$8,934 (in state); $20,982 (out-of-state) (graduate)*
University of North Carolina at Charlotte 4-year, public; large city Bachelor of Arts in Special Education,
Master of Arts in Teaching,
Master of Education in Special Education,
Graduate Certificate in Special Education
$5,873 (in state); $18,402 (out-of-state) (undergraduate)*
University of North Carolina at Greensboro 4-year, public; large city Bachelor of Science in Special Education,
Master of Education in Special Education,
Ph.D. in Special Education
$6,136 (in state); $19,934 (out-of-state) (undergraduate)*
University of North Carolina at Pembroke 4-year, public; distant town Bachelor of Science in Special Education $4,857 (in state); $14,064 (out-of state) (undergraduate)*
University of North Carolina at Wilmington 4-year, public; midsize city Bachelor of Arts in Special Education $6,199 (in state); $18,302 (out-of-state) (undergraduate)*
Western Carolina University 4-year, public; distant rural Bachelor of Science in Education in Inclusive Education,
Master of Arts in Education in Inclusive Education,
Master of Arts in Teaching in Inclusive Education
$5,925 (in-state); $15,522 (out-of-state) (undergraduate)*

Source: *NCES College Navigator.


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