By Laura Kilmartin
This article highlights the 20 most affordable master’s in special education in learning disabilities degree programs in the United States.
Special education degrees, such as the master’s degree in special education in learning disabilities, continue to grow in popularity as the special education profession itself becomes a key area of hiring within school districts across the country. Students pursuing this specialized degree will be prepared to meet the increasing demand for well-trained, knowledgeable and committed special education teachers.
Capella University offers a 100% online MS in Special Education Teaching that is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). This program prepares you to instruct children with learning disabilities across diverse populations and apply these skills in real-life situations. Request information about this program today!
Purdue University's online MSEd in Special Education offers separate tracks for initial teacher licensure, and for licensed teachers looking to add advanced endorsements. Request information to learn more.
The online MSEd in Special Education from Saint Joseph's University online MSEd in Special Education from Saint Joseph's University offers concentrations in ASD, Hearing Impairment and the Wilson Reading System®. Request information to learn more.
The Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program at the USC Rossier School of Education is designed for aspiring K-12 teachers looking to gain the skills and knowledge needed to become great teachers and help all students succeed. In addition to earning a master's degree in a core content area, candidates have the opportunity to further specialize in special education with an Education Specialist Credential in Mild/Moderate Disabilities or gifted education with a Certificate in Gifted Education.
Fordham University's online Master of Science in Teaching program prepares aspiring teachers (grades 1–6) for initial teaching certification or dual certification in teaching and special education.
In order to compile our list, we searched College Navigator and found 58 programs. From there, we eliminated the schools with the highest price tags. These 20 programs represent the most affordable graduate programs in special education that have a specific focus on learning disabilities. The total tuition and fees for each school, taken from College Navigator, were compared and ranked according to affordability. Each program was chosen because of its overall affordability for the full program, with in-state tuition rates used for public universities where available. Additional details for the schools were found on the program websites.
The Most Affordable Master’s in Special Education in Learning Disabilities 2015
20. University of Mary
M.Ed. in Special Education Strategist Learning Disabilities
Tuition & Fees: $11,764
The University of Mary is the largest degree-granting institution of higher education in Bismarck, North Dakota. The private institution bears a Catholic affiliation and offers students smaller class sizes and a greater degree of individualized attention and instruction than some of the larger public schools in the state, making it a great fit for students who want a better relationship with their professors and administrators. MU’s M.Ed. program in special education comes with a concentration in learning disabilities that teaches educational professionals the finer points of reaching out to students who may have a harder time learning due to the likes of dyslexia, ADHD, and more severe conditions.
19. Montclair State University
M.Ed. in Learning Disabilities
Tuition & Fees: $11,555
Master of Arts in Teaching Dual Certification in Early Childhood (P-3) and Teacher of Students with Disabilities
New Jersey universities, even the public ones, aren’t known for being very affordable, but Montclair State is a bit different. This highly affordable school, with tuition at just $11,555 for its certifications and graduate programs, can help students expand their knowledge of learning disabilities. The school’s M.A. in teaching comes with a dual professional certification in teaching students with learning disabilities at the pre-school and elementary levels. Courses focus on the foundations of learning disabilities and the unique ways to create an engaging curriculum and classroom for the youngest students who find themselves in this category.
Dual Certification in Elementary Education (K-6) and Teacher of Students with Disabilities
This unique certification prepares graduates to teach a standard elementary classroom full of learners at all levels, but its status as a dual certification also means that graduates will be able to meet New Jersey certification requirements as a teacher of learning disabled students. The program focuses on everything from ADHD to autism and more severe disabilities, and teaches educators how to adapt their curriculum to the unique needs of students, their families, and their disabilities.
Dual Certification in Content Area and Teacher of Students with Disabilities
Designed for teachers who prefer to teach at the secondary level, this dual certification degree within the graduate program will allow educational professionals to concentrate on a single subject area and teaching grades 7-12. The learning disability focus within this program meets the same academic guidelines as the concentration made available for elementary and early childhood dual concentration students.
18. Francis Marion University
Master of Education Learning Disabilities
Tuition & Fees: $9,944
Francis Marion University is a public institution located just a bit east of Florence, South Carolina. The school’s affordable tuition makes it easy for students in the graduate education program to continue their studies of education in a program centered on learning disabilities. The M.Ed. program focuses exclusively on the challenges of creating curriculum for these students, as well as on the psychology of mild and severe learning impairments. Student will learn state and federal law regarding these disabilities and will be prepared to teach a blended classroom after graduation.
Master of Arts in Teaching Learning Disabilities
For students looking to pursue a teaching career for the first time, the MAT program is specifically designed to help its enrollees qualify for state educational certification and employment. To that end, half of the program involves basic educational concepts, educational psychology, and foundations of teaching courses, along with a practicum in a state classroom. The other half of the program teaches students the psychology of learning disabilities, innovative ways to accommodate students with disabilities, and the best practices of creating an engaging experience for those students.
17. Aquinas College
Master of Arts in Teaching Learning Disabilities
Tuition & Fees: $9,914
Michigan’s Aquinas College is consistently ranked as one of the best regional universities in the Upper Midwest by U.S. News and World Report, with top rankings for value and affordability as well. The school’s MAT in learning disabilities is designed for graduate students who do not already have an undergraduate degree in education, with a structure that blends the teaching of learning disabilities with core classes in curriculum, instruction, classroom management, and educational psychology. Thanks to this combination of courses, as well as a student teaching experience, graduates of the program will be eligible for Michigan state certification in special education.
16. CUNY Hunter College
Master’s Degree in Special Education Early Childhood, Special Education Learning Disabilities
Tuition & Fees: $9,906
The CUNY system is among the best and most affordable public university systems in the United States, serving students of New York as well as out-of-city and out-of-state residents who value low tuition and high academic standards. Hunter College’s graduate degree in early childhood education offers a special education focus for educators who wish to broaden their understanding of this key group of students. Equally focused on early childhood educational concepts and the unique ways that learning disabled students can be accommodated, the program ends in a practicum experience in a city facility for early childhood education that hammers home the program’s key concepts.
15. Furman University
Master of Arts in Learning Disabilities
Tuition & Fees: $9,480
South Carolina’s Furman University is one of the state’s most respected private institutions across many fields, most notably in education. Top-ranked both nationally and regionally for value and academic prestige, students at Furman will receive a laser-focused Master of Arts degree that teaches learning disabilities and related concepts exclusively. The program’s narrow focus means that students will learn advanced concepts related to curriculum planning, disability origin and accommodation, and other key concepts that will make it easy to work with these students and ensure that they are mastering concepts just as easily as others.
14. Southwestern College
Master of Special Education (Functional) Low Incidence Disabilities
Tuition & Fees: $9,360
Kansas’ Southwestern College is a private institution with a Methodist religious affiliation. The school is consistently ranked as a great value and as one of the most academically rigorous universities in the state. Students who have an interest in learning disabilities will enjoy the Master of Special Education program, with its concentration in low incidence disabilities. This program is focused on the likes of Down Syndrome, autism, and similar disorders, as well as how to accommodate these students’ unique needs and make them feel integrated into a typical classroom. Educators will learn the challenges of these more severe disorders as well, and will graduate with the ability to certify as a learning disabilities instructor in the state of Kansas.
13. Drake University
Master of Science in Special Education Instructional Strategist II
Tuition & Fees: $9,350
Drake University has just under 6,000 students at its Iowa campus, making it a great choice for graduate students who want to be more than just a number. The program isn’t focused on creating classroom leaders. Instead, it’s focused on creating instructional designers, planners, and strategists, who set district-wide policy for accommodating those students with learning disabilities. This is a unique, more administrative focus and one that’s certainly compelling for teachers who want to advance into administrative or leadership roles.
12. Rivier University
Master of Education (M.Ed.) Learning Disabilities
Tuition & Fees: $9,219
New Hampshire’s Rivier University, a long-time fixture in the city of Nashua, offers tuition below $10,000 as well as a strong, singular focus on learning disabilities at the graduate level. Students in this program will start off with some introductory courses that teach the fundamentals of the disabilities themselves. From there, the program focuses on curriculum planning and classroom management for students with disabilities, as well as the use of IEPs and other tools to plan instruction for learning disabled students.
11. Muskingum University
Master of Arts in Education, Intervention Specialist: Mild to Moderate Ages 5-21
Tuition & Fees: $8,460
With just 1,300 graduate students total, MU is one of the smallest programs for learning disability studies in the country. The school’s M.A. program in education focuses on “intervention” in the classroom, which involves first identifying a student with a learning disability and planning their academic path thereafter. The program offers students a practicum opportunity and concludes with a capstone course and comprehensive examination.
10. University of North Dakota
Master of Science or Master of Education in Special Education in Learning Disabilities
Tuition & Fees: $8,225
UND, the flagship public institution of North Dakota, has two unique programs for educators interested in learning disabilities. Students can opt for either a Master of Science or a Master of Education in the field, with the primary difference focusing on initial teacher licensure. An M.Ed. degree will allow first-time educators to pursue a license, while the M.S. program will instead be a better match for existing teachers. Both degree paths focus on the origin and nature of major learning disabilities, with a slight focus on more severe disabilities like Down Syndrome and autism.
9. Converse College
Master of Arts in Teaching in Learning Disabilities
Tuition & Fees: $8,210
Converse College, located in the upstate South Carolina city of Spartanburg, offers small classroom sizes as small as well as a manageable tuition, making it a great fit for budget-minded students. The school’s MAT program has an available concentration in learning disabilities, ranging from mild disabilities to more severe types. Classes in curriculum planning and classroom management help educators manage and teach to these disabilities, while a practicum gives aspiring educators actual experience handling these unique situations.
8. Saint Cloud State University
Master of Science in Special Education in Learning Disabilities
Tuition & Fees: $7,880
SCSU is a large, public university in Minnesota that has one of the state’s best education programs. The school’s M.S. in special education can be paired with a specialization in learning disabilities, introducing students the fundamentals of teaching learning disabled students and accommodating their needs through unique instruction methods. The program also introduces its students to the psychology of learning disabilities from the student’s, parent’s, and teacher’s point of view, and can be used to pursue a state license in the field after graduation.
7. William Carey University
Master of Education in Mild and Moderate Disabilities
Tuition & Fees: $7,860
With just over 4,000 students, Mississippi’s William Carey University is a great fit for students who are looking for a focus on mild and moderate learning disabilities. The program focuses primarily on disabilities that allow students to be “functional” in a standard classroom, alongside non-disabled peers. Disabilities like dyslexia are therefore central to this program. Students in this program learn about concepts like inclusion and classroom management, master new testing methods, and understand how to accommodate mild disabilities in the everyday classroom.
6. Northern Michigan University
Master of Arts in Education in Learning Disabilities
Tuition & Fees: $7,716
Respected for its commitment to value and hands-on experiences, NMU is a great fit for in-state Michigan students with a strong interest in learning disabilities. The M.A.Ed. program, designed for existing educators, seeks to take a standard elementary or secondary educational background and supplement it with a basic understanding of inclusion, IEP design, curriculum strategy and design for learning disabilities, and psychological foundations in both having and teaching to these disorders. It’s an excellent fit for educators across the board in Michigan.
5. Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
Master of Arts in Special Education in Learning Disabilities
Tuition & Fees: $7,668
St. Mary’s University, a private school in Minnesota, offers a general M.A.Ed. in learning disabilities that best fits existing educators or recent graduates from teaching programs. The Master of Arts program begins with the basic psychology of learning disabilities, primarily mild disabilities, and then moves into new instructional methods and ways of planning curriculum to meet these students’ basic needs. The program concludes with a comprehensive examination; all graduates are eligible for special education certification if they wish to expand their professional options.
4. Minnesota State University Mankato
Master of Science in Special Education in Learning Disabilities
Tuition & Fees: $7,265
A branch campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato features a generalized M.S. in special education for educators with a strong professional or personal interest in this area. The specialization on learning disabilities is primarily designed for existing teachers, and picks up where an undergraduate program in education would have left off. Advanced classroom management, curriculum, and instructional concepts are taught. Students will also learn the basics of many common learning disabilities, ranging from mild to more severe.
3. University of Southern Mississippi
Master’s of Education in Mild/Moderate Disabilities
Tuition & Fees: $6,980
USM is a leading, regional institution for students in Mississippi. The school’s history in education makes it a top choice for teachers throughout the state and the region. USM gives aspiring educators the tools and the degree they need to qualify for state certification and licensure, thanks to its broad focus on both the basic concepts of teaching and the more advanced concepts associated with accommodating learning disabilities at all levels of education. A comprehensive exam, key to state licensure, is required of graduates.
Master of Arts in Teaching in Mild/Moderate Disabilities
The MAT program at USM is program designed for new educators, but its focus is more narrow in terms of the type of disabilities that aspiring educators will learn about. With a focus on mild and moderate disabilities, this graduate program teaches students how to teach students with dyslexia, ADHD, mild autism and Asperger’s, and similar conditions.
2. East Carolina University
Master of Arts in Education in Learning Disabilities
Tuition & Fees: $6,407
East Carolina’s highly affordable program is also top-ranked nationwide for individual attention, value, and academic rigor. The M.A.Ed. program is generally only an option for existing educators, who likely graduated from an undergraduate education program in North Carolina or elsewhere. It therefore focuses on advanced educational concepts and learning disabilities, featuring unique curriculum design, classroom management, and instructional concepts that accommodate students with mild-to-moderate disabilities.
1. North Carolina Central University
Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.), Learning Disabilities
Tuition & Fees: $6,329
A historically black university, NC Central’s MAT program is primarily offered to graduate students who aren’t yet certified to teach. The program does teach students about the basic psychology of learning disabilities and how to accommodate them, but its much larger focus is on creating qualified educators. As a result, most of its curriculum centers on the foundations of teaching, learning, managing the classroom, planning curriculum, and designing lessons.
Special education is a growing field that is becoming more highly technical at a rapid pace. The best way to stay up-to-date with developments in this field is for today’s educators to take advantage of a highly affordable graduate degree in special education and learning disabilities. The 20 affordable master’s degrees in special education in learning disabilities programs in this list will make it easy to gain knowledge without incurring debt, helping educators get ahead in this exciting professional niche.
- What is the Difference Between a Master’s in Special Education and a Master’s in Teaching in Learning Disabilities?
- 5 Most Common Learning Disabilities
- What is Dyslexia?
- What is Aspberger’s Syndrome?
- 5 Must-Read Books for Teachers of Students With Learning Disabilities