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Special Education Online - Online Degree Programs in Special Education

defining special education degreed programs selecting a program

Many people are getting advanced degrees online. It is a way for busy people to obtain higher education degrees without disrupting their day jobs. Degrees are earned at a pace conducive to busy lifestyles and family obligations. Studying for a degree online is a way to advance careers.

One growing field in which a degree can be obtained online is in special education. There are many components of learning that fall under the rubric of special education, from the developmentally disabled to the highly intellectual individual. Special education teachers and educators are in great demand, and on average earn approximately $43,000 per year.

Defining Special Education

Special education is defined as instruction that meets the needs of a child with a disability. The disability can include attention deficit disorder, autism, Asperger’s syndrome, learning disabled, mentally disabled, emotional and behavioral disorders, physical disabilities, and speech and hearing disabilities. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires that school districts offer special education to individuals with disabilities at no cost to parents.

Degreed Programs

Colleges and universities offer special education classes online for people who need to maintain their day jobs. Classes are taken at a student’s pace to obtain the skills and degree needed to fill the many positions in special education including:
•Disabilities learning specialists
•Special education classroom teacher, from kindergarten through high school
•Teaching students visually or hearing impaired
•Provider of rehabilitative services

There are several types of degrees that can be obtained in special education online studies:

•Bachelor of Arts in Special Education – professional specialist in the field of special education for teaching in a classroom
•Certificate in Graduate Studies – advanced studies for the Bachelor of Arts student, focusing on use of assistive technologies, methods of student inclusion, legal ramifications of special education in the classroom, and assessment tools for special education students
•Master of Education in Special Education – theory and practice in special education including working with exceptional students, understanding characteristics of special needs students, designs and curriculum for gifted and exceptional students, transitional programs for special need children
•Master of Arts in Education – for supervisory roles in special education, including human resources management, supervisory techniques, and community outreach

Coursework in online special education degree programs will include studies in areas and disciplines that lead to competencies in special needs in individuals from infant to adult. Online coursework in a degree program should include:

•Anatomy and physiology
•Behavioral management
•Autism spectrum disorder
•Medical terminology
•Special Education: Foundation, Purpose, Challenges
•Special Education: Curriculum, Instruction, Evaluation

Selecting a Program

Once an individual has determined that their career goals include study in the field of special education, a specific path, or focus, should be defined. There are options other than just teaching in a classroom. There are learning resource programs, testing and assessment studies, and curriculum development programs. Special education classes are highly regulated by law, and the study of the legal requirements and ramifications surrounding special education learning and inclusion is a field unto itself.

While there is a Bachelor of Arts degree in Special Education, many practitioners have undergraduate degrees in other studies and pursue an online Master degree in special education with a discipline in administration, curriculum, or counseling.

Determining which school to attend depends on the mode of study required. Students can either select online special education studies that focus on reading required information online and listening to lectures on a schedule that fits into their day, or programs that have classes that are “attended” and provide interaction with other students and instructors. Regardless of the desired method, it is important to ensure that the school is accredited through a nationally recognized accrediting organization. Taking online special education degrees for nationally recognized colleges and universities assures that the degree is legitimate and respected.

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