The best bachelor’s programs in special education

HomeEducationThe best bachelor’s in special education

Education and the development of young people with learning disabilities is a rewarding career path. To gain a teaching role, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in special education, which typically prepares you for certification in your state. Planning lessons, monitoring and assessing progress in an exceptional learning environment are significant parts of the job as a special education teacher.

A moderate growth of 3% is projected for the employment of special education teachers between 2019 and 2029. These roles are usually found in state and private schools. You might also be interested in planning the curricula or continuing your studies to become a specialist in learning disabilities. Each of these roles gives you the opportunity to help, share knowledge, and shape future generations. Most degree programs include fieldwork that provides a broad experience of behavioral disorders, developmental, and learning disabilities.

Requirements for bachelor’s degrees in special education usually involve applying for a general education or cohort program at the university first. Once you’re admitted, you can work to meet the requirements for the special education program. Direct transfers are available to those who have attended college or university already:

  • High school transcripts or General Educational Development (GED) scores or previous college transcripts with a grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher
  • Standard Aptitude Test (SAT) or American College Test (ACT) scores

The best bachelor’s programs will have been designed with state certification requirements in mind, including a minimum number of fieldwork hours. They should also equip you with the skills to act as a beneficial resource and advocate for people with disabilities. We’ll provide you with essential information, such as cost, coursework, and the teaching approach to help you decide which school is best for you. Read on to discover the top programs in special education and what you can learn.

School listings

  • Michigan State University

    Michigan State University East Lansing, Michigan
    Michigan State University

    The College of Education at MSU offers a special education teacher preparation program; those that complete it will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.). A fifth-year internship experience is required for students to earn certification and endorsement. The program combines special education with the standard elementary education program. It’s taught at the MSU campus in East Lansing.

    Students can choose the following teaching majors:

    Integrated science
    Language arts
    Mathematics
    Social studies

    Coursework includes reflections on learning, teaching of science to diverse learners, and models of special education administration and services. In year 5 of the program, students spend one semester completing an internship in an elementary school and the other semester in a special education setting.
     

    Program NameBachelor of arts special education 
    Name of DepartmentCollege of Education
    AccreditationHigher Learning Commission (HLC)
    LocationEast Lansing, Michigan
    CostTuition in-state: $14,524 per 2 semesters
    Tuition out of state: $39,8307 per 2 semesters
    Financial Aid
    Teaching approachOn Campus
    Course length120 credits


     

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  • Vanderbilt University

    Vanderbilt University Nashville, Tennessee
    Vanderbilt University

    Peabody College at Vanderbilt University offers a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in special education. It’s possible to take the program as a dual major with subjects like cognitive studies or child development. Students in the program need to choose a concentration, and if they haven’t opted for a dual major, they can take 2 concentrations from this list:

    Special education severe disabilities (comprehensive)
    Special education high incidence K-8 (interventionist)
    Special education high incidence 6-12 (interventionist)


    The program is taught in person at the Peabody College campus in Nashville. Coursework modules comprise educating gifted students, cultural diversity in American education, family intervention, and language and learning. You’ll also have several field experiences with different ages and disabilities.
     

    Program NameBachelor of science special education 
    Name of DepartmentPeabody College
    AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
    LocationNashville, Tennessee
    CostTuition: $54,840
    Financial Aid
    Teaching approachOn Campus
    Course length120 credits
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  • Boston University

    Boston University Boston, Massachusetts
    Boston University

    The Wheelock College of Education and Human Development at Boston University offers a B.S. in special education. First-time students begin in the general education program and go on to take special education as their major. As part of the program, students will complete fieldwork in schools, including working with students with and without disabilities. It’s designed to prepare students to apply for certification at the end of their studies.

    Program concentrations include:

    Teacher of students with moderate disabilities pre-K-8
    Teacher of students with moderate disabilities 5-12
    Teacher of students with severe disabilities ages 3-21

    Coursework includes educational technology, cognition and learning, assessment in special education, foundations of health education, and disability, education, and public policy. 
     

    Program NameBachelor of science special education 
    Name of DepartmentWheelock College of Education and Human Development
    AccreditationNew England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
    LocationBoston, Massachusetts
    CostTuition: $54,560
    Financial Aid
    Teaching approachOn Campus
    Course length129-135 credits


     

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  • University of Wisconsin

    University of Wisconsin Madison, Wisconsin
    University of Wisconsin

    At the School of Education at UW-Madison, you can earn a B.S. in special education. The program aims to equip students with the necessary skills to apply for the Wisconsin cross-categorical special education license at the middle childhood level through to adolescence level. The program is taught in person at the campus in Madison. Students can choose a dual major of elementary education and special education.

    As part of the program, you’ll experience a practicum in elementary or secondary special education and a student teaching seminar. Coursework includes how people learn, strategies for inclusive schooling, behavior analysis and applications to persons with disabilities, and diagnosis, assessment, and instructional planning in special education.
     

    Program NameBachelor of science special education 
    AccreditationHigher Learning Commission (HLC)
    LocationMadison, Wisconsin
    CostTuition in-state: $10,766 per year
    Tuition Minnesota resident: $14,812 per year
    Tuition out of state: $38,654 per year
    Financial Aid
    Teaching approachOn Campus
    Course length120 credits
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  • Clemson University

    Clemson University Clemson, South Carolina
    Clemson University

    Through the College of Education at Clemson, you can earn a B.A. in special education. The program is designed to meet key competencies outlined by the Council for Exceptional Children and to lead to multi-categorical special education licensure in South Carolina. It’ll prepare you to work with those that have mild to moderate disabilities in pre-K through to grade 12.

    It’s taught in person at the Clemson campus. Coursework includes early intervention strategies for young children with special needs, characteristics and strategies for individuals with emotional/behavioral disorders, and educational assessment of individuals with disabilities. The program includes fieldwork and a teaching internship.
     

    Program NameBachelor of science special education 
    AccreditationCouncil for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)
    LocationClemson, South Carolina
    CostTuition in-state: $15,558 per year
    Tuition out of state: $38,550 per year
    Financial Aid
    Teaching approachOn Campus
    Course length123 credits
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  • University of Minnesota

    University of Minnesota Minneapolis, Minnesota
    University of Minnesota

    The Department of Educational Psychology at the College of Education and Human Development at UMN delivers a B.S. in special education. This program steers to obtaining an Academic and Behavioral Strategist (ABS) teaching license. It’s suitable for those aspiring to teach mild to moderate disabled students from grade K through to 12.

    A core part of the program is the fieldwork, where students gain experience in elementary, middle, and secondary school classrooms. Coursework includes assessment and due process in special education, specialized interventions for students with mild/moderate disabilities in reading and written language, and mathematics for diverse learners. The program is taught in person at the campus in Minneapolis.
     

    Program NameBachelor of science special education 
    Name of DepartmentCollege of Education and Human Development
    AccreditationHigher Learning Commission (HLC)
    LocationMinneapolis, Minnesota
    CostTuition in-state: $13,318 per year
    Tuition out of state: $31,616 per year
    Financial Aid
    Teaching approachOn Campus
    Course length120 credits
    Read more
  • Purdue University

    Purdue University West Lafayette, Indiana
    Purdue University

    The College of Education at Purdue has several programs in special education. You can choose a B.A. in the following majors:

    Special education. It offers dual licensure in elementary education and special education – mild intervention
    Special education: mild and intense intervention P-12
    Special education: mild intervention P-12

    The program provides field experiences in school and non-school settings. This degree is taught in person at the campus in West Lafayette.

    A particular focus of the degree is learning how to develop individualized education programs (IEPs) and using assistive technology in teaching. Coursework covers advanced strategies for teaching individuals with disabilities, use of assessment techniques in special education, and characteristics of individuals with mild disabilities. 
     

    Program NameBachelor of arts in special education 
    AccreditationHigher Learning Commission (HLC)
    LocationWest Lafayette, Indiana
    CostTuition in-state: $9,992 per year
    Tuition out of state: $28,794 per year
    Financial Aid
    Teaching approachOn Campus
    Course length120 credits


     

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  • University of Texas

    University of Texas Austin, Texas
    University of Texas

    The professional development sequence (PDS) at the University of Texas – Austin is offered by the College of Education as an all-level special education major. It can lead to certification in general and special education. Students start with the foundation semester before they complete 4 semesters in the PDS. You’ll gain more than 1500 hours of teaching experience through a culminating internship.

    The program is taught in person at the campus in Austin. Coursework involves foundations and issues in special education, advanced early childhood intervention, and reading assessment & development in diverse populations.
     

    Program NameBachelor of science in applied learning and development
    AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
    LocationAustin, Texas
    CostTuition in-state: $5,624 per semester
    Tuition out of state: $19,917 per semester
    Financial aid
    Teaching approachOn Campus
    Course length120 credits
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  • University of Virginia

    University of Virginia Charlottesville, Virginia
    University of Virginia

    Through the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Virginia, you could earn a bachelor of science in education with a concentration in special education. It’s a clinically-based program, which aims to equip you with the skills to teach grades K through to 12 with students of mild to moderate disabilities.

    The program includes field experiences and an internship at a local school. Coursework covers behavior and classroom management, developmental psychology, and individualized education programs, as well as transition planning. The program is taught in person at the campus in Charlottesville.
     

    Program NameBachelor of science in education – special education
    DepartmentSchool of Education and Human Development
    AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
    LocationCharlottesville, Virginia
    CostTuition in-state: $14,188 per year
    Tuition out of state: $48,036 per year
    Financial aid
    Teaching approachOn Campus
    Course length120 credits

     

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Financial support

Whichever bachelor’s program you choose, you’ll need to consider how you’ll meet the tuition, fees, and other study costs. Your university or college might provide aid and financial assistance. You might also want to look into federal aid or getting a loan. You can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to determine your eligibility.

Another option to consider is funding in the form of scholarships, grants, and awards. One such federal fund is the support-for-service program, TEACH Grant. Alternatively, you could apply for the SPEDxchange special education teacher grant. It awards $1,000 annually to undergraduate and graduate students pursuing a degree in special education.

Careers

A bachelor’s degree in special education is an essential step towards becoming a teacher. The programs are designed to prepare you to apply for certification or licensure in your state. As the degree is often based around the teaching profession, including classroom experience, a teaching role in a state or private school is the most common outcome. There are several potential roles, including: