The best degree for a career in special education research is one that prepares the graduate for state licensure while providing specialized training.
Most special education programs train teachers to work in schools with students who have mental or physical disabilities, so the best degree will provide advanced training in both academic research and special education instruction.
- Online MSEd in Special Education (Ranked #11 Best Online Master’s in Special Education Program by U.S. News & World Report 2021)
- Master's and Graduate Certificate Programs in Special Education
- Online Master of Education (M.Ed) In Special Education Intervention
The Standard Degree
A Bachelor of Science in Education with a concentration in special education is the basic degree for anyone who wants an entry-level educational research job. All states require special education teachers to obtain and maintain licensure. A certain amount of states offers substitute special educational licensing programs for teachers with a four-year degree in non-teaching subjects.
Some states and educational organizations require special education researchers to have at least a master’s degree. Universities, private think tanks and government organizations may require a doctoral degree. In most cases, the first step toward a career as a special education researcher is through earning a basic bachelor’s degree related to education. Coursework will include classes that cover behavior support, student assessments, educational psychology and special communication techniques.
The Recommended Degree
An excellent academic choice is a master’s of science in education with a concentration in either research or special education. A master in special education will endow graduates with the analytical, research and organizational skills needed to succeed as educational researchers. Graduates will be ready to perform research on special education students of all ages who need help overcoming their unique social, academic and physical challenges.
Special education graduates may focus on researching students with emotional, developmental and physical disabilities. They may also focus on the special education system and state programs. There are other degree specializations available for researchers who want to focus on preschool, K-12, adolescent or adult students. Sample research specializations include autism, behavior strategies and severe disabilities.
The Best Degree
The best available academic choice for students is an interdisciplinary graduate degree with dual majors in research and special education. The research major will include classes on educational statistics, research techniques and qualitative research methodologies. Additional classes include instrument development, survey research methods and technical communication. Many programs teach students about grant writing and program planning.
The special education major will teach students about current knowledge of individuals with disabilities within the framework of human growth and educational development. This will include legislation efforts, student characteristics, educational strategies and support services for disabled individuals. All special education majors will teach the alternative communication skills needed to collaborative work with students with special needs. This integrated dual degree choice will allow students to understand the fundamental concepts and practices in educational research in special education.
In the end, the best degree for a career in special education research is a graduate-level program that teaches students about academic skills assessments, program implementation tools and qualitative and quantitative research methodologies used in applied settings. The best program will also include an adequate amount of database, statistics and information technology courses.