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Online Master’s Degree in Special Education


"The program has further developed me as a teacher. It's given me a larger toolkit. I'm able to think on my feet, create lesson plans that are relevant to my classroom and the community of learners that I'm involved with." – Sarah, Student

  • 100% online
  • 36–65 credits
  • Personalize your learning to match your career goals
  • Start your program in the fall, spring, or summer
  • Total estimated cost of $19,080–$34,450 depending on program options (just $530 per credit)

Special education is vital to the success of learners with disabilities, yet 46 states across the country report a shortage of teachers with necessary skills.1 Help meet the needs of learners with a wide range of abilities and advance your teaching career with Saint Mary's online Master's in Special Education.

This program prepares you to work with learners who receive special education services for specific learning disabilities, children on the autism spectrum, and/or those with emotional or behavioral disorders. Learn to create an inclusive learning environment in a mainstream classroom, explore ways to remove barriers for students with special needs, develop Individualized Learning Programs, and help all kinds of learners reach their full potential.

Three Learning Options to Match Your Career Goals

Our online Master's in Special Education can be customized to meet your needs, and the needs of your students. The length of time it takes to complete your degree depends on the program option you choose. Times to completion listed below are based on a recommended course schedule of two online classes per consecutive semester.

Please note: All licensure recommendations are contingent upon successfully completing all Minnesota state licensure requirements.

Option 1: Special Education – M.A. Degree Without Licensure

  • Total credits: 36
  • Time to completion: 2 years

This degree option is intended for individuals seeking a full understanding of special education issues and approaches, but does not include the additional requirements to obtain a Minnesota license in special education.

You'll complete:

  • Special education core courses (18 credits)
  • Elective courses (12 credits)
  • Master's degree completion courses (6 credits)

Option 2: Special Education – M.A. Degree With Additional Licensure

  • Total credits: 42
  • Time to completion: 2.5 years

This degree option is for already licensed classroom teachers in Minnesota who want to add licensure in one or more of the following special education areas: emotional behavioral disorders (EBD), learning disabilities (LD), and/or autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

You'll complete:

  • Special education core courses (18 credits)
  • Specialization courses (15 credits)
  • Practicum courses (3 credits)
  • Master's degree completion courses (6 credits)

You will also take part in practicum experiences in elementary, middle school, and high school settings in Minnesota, and complete a Minnesota state licensing exam.

Option 3: Special Education – M.A. Degree With Initial Licensure

  • Total credits: 65
  • Time to completion: 3.5 years

This degree option is for those without a Minnesota classroom teacher licensure who want to be licensed to teach special education in Minnesota.

You'll complete:

  • Education foundation courses (18 credits)*
  • Special education core courses (18 credits)
  • Specialization courses (15 credits)
  • Student teaching (6 credits)
  • Capstone (2 credits)
  • Master's degree completion courses (6 credits)

*Education foundation courses are delivered in Minneapolis and other select locations in Minnesota, and precede online mobile learning. To obtain licensure, you will complete practicum experiences in elementary, middle school, and high school settings in Minnesota, and complete Minnesota state licensure exams.

Interested in seeking licensure outside of Minnesota? Contact your state's licensing agency to identify the field experience (student teaching and/or practicum) and other unique licensure requirements.

Program Outcomes

  • Master intercultural communication skills and strategies to effectively support the diverse needs of special education students and their families
  • Become an authority on special education strategies and research at your school
  • Create a positive school and classroom culture to effectively teach all students
  • Use the latest mobile technology and methods to give students receiving special education a new voice
  • Design an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that helps provide students with access to their learning environment through multiple means, including assistive technology
  • Develop intercultural competence to relate to students of all backgrounds

Discover additional benefits of our Master's in Special Education degree on the Program Outcomes page.

Sample Coursework

Innovation and up-to-date research are at the heart of our online Master's in Special Education program's coursework, helping you succeed in the ever-changing education field. No matter which option you choose, you'll gain a deep understanding of special education, inclusive learning, and behavioral theories:


COURSE TITLE (3 credits per course)


Foundations of Special Education


Social Emotional Learning and Well-Being


Literacy Development & Interventions


The Individual Education Process




Advanced Instruction and Methods: Learning Disabilities


Strategies and Assessment: Emotional/Behavioral Disorders


Introduction to Behavioral Theories: Autism Spectrum Disorders

Special Education Career Outlook

Enhance your teaching, get your license, or explore other special education careers. For more details, visit our Career Outlook page. Note: Additional education and field experience may be required for Director of Special Education or Special Education Coordinator positions.



Preschool Special Education Teacher


Kindergarten and Elementary School Special Education Teacher


Middle School Special Education Teacher


Secondary School Special Education Teacher


Special Education Director


Educational Consultant


Special Education Coordinator


Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics unless otherwise noted.

Opportunity in Your Hands

Every student enrolled in the online Master's in Special Education program at Saint Mary's receives an iPad® that makes it possible to access your coursework wherever you wish. See how your new iPad can help you learn.

Take the First Step

Request more information or call 877-308-9954 to speak with an enrollment counselor today about pursuing an online Master's in Special Education from Saint Mary's.