Special education teachers hoping to advance into leadership positions and jump up to a higher pay scale will likely need to complete a graduate degree program, but it is essential that prospective students take a close look at the prerequisites for a master’s in special education first. Although special education teachers already spend the vast majority of their time at school, going back to graduate school is an idea that should be seriously considered. Despite the fact that you can continue teaching in K-12 classrooms without a master’s degree in many states, earning a master’s degree in education offers the professional development to stay connected to new teaching trends, obtain more respect, grow intellectually, and seek additional career possibilities outside the classroom. Below are the requirements you should review before submitting your application materials to graduate education programs.
- Online MSEd in Special Education (Ranked #11 Best Online Master’s in Special Education Program by U.S. News & World Report 2021)
- Online Master of Science in Special Education
- M.Ed. in Elementary Education and Special Education (ITL); M.Ed. in Special Education: Moderate to Severe (ITL); M.Ed. in Special Education: Cross Categorical (Leads to initial teacher licensure)
- BA Special Education (Mild to Moerate) - Leads to single licensure in K - 12 special education; MA Teaching, Special Education (K-12)
Undergraduate Degree Requirements
While the specific requirements for new applicants will vary greatly between universities, it is generally required that all candidates seeking to pursue a master’s in special education already possess a four-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited U.S. higher learning institution. Individuals from other countries will typically be required to have a comparable degree from an international institution as well as provide evidence of English proficiency before acceptance. In most cases, admissions committees will require new candidates to submit an official sealed transcript from every school attended in the recent past, including community colleges. Earning an undergraduate degree in education may be required for programs that do not grant initial teaching licensure, but a wide range of majors will generally be accepted.
Prerequisite Course History
Since graduate students in master’s in special education programs often come from diverse educational backgrounds, most degrees will require a specific number of courses that must be completed before beginning studies. For instance, some of the required classes that are often associated with special education will include human development, education foundations, child psychology, teaching fundamentals, and other undergraduate courses relevant to building knowledge for teaching children with disabilities. Some departments may require that students without a bachelor’s degree in education take all required prerequisite courses on their campus, but others will accept passing credits that are transferred from other schools too.
Academic Performance Criteria
As admissions into graduate school become even more competitive, those who do not meet academic performance requirements will not earn a spot in the program. To have the highest chance of obtaining an acceptance letter, most schools will require that new candidates have earned a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 or higher during the last 60 credits of their undergraduate degree. Due to the fact that admissions committees need to ensure you have the broad-based knowledge and skills needed to succeed in a master’s in special education program, many departments also will mandate that you take the Graduate Records Exam (GRE) and submit test scores with the application.
Overall, if you are committed to pursuing a master’s degree to advance your career in special education, then you must realize that each education department will have its own set of unique requirements necessary for admissions. Since there are no standard prerequisites for a master’s in special education degree, it will be your responsibility to contact the admissions counselors at your prospective graduate schools, research their specific requirements, and make sure you exceed them all to begin pursuing the degree.