Master’s in Special Education Degree Programs in Florida

Florida, often referred to as the “Sunshine State,” actually averages more precipitation than any other U.S. state. Situated in the southeast portion of the United States, this peninsula has the longest coastline, is home to the largest vacation resort in the world, Walt Disney World and a large selection of public and private colleges and universities.

Public universities in Florida have the third lowest tuition rates in the nation. Graduate students can take advantage of this great value with an expansive offering of accredited Master’s level programs in Education. Master of Arts in Education, Master of Arts in Teaching and Master of Education degrees are available in a variety of specialties.

Note: Those interested in distance learning programs should consult our recommendations for Online Master’s in Special Education.

Purdue University’s online MSEd in Special Education offers separate tracks for initial teacher licensure, and for licensed teachers looking to add advanced endorsements.

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®.

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University of South Florida

College of Education

The College of Education at the University of South Florida is proud of its history in training exceptional educators. In the past decade, the College has been a proven trailblazer by graduating the largest number of educators in Florida. Master’s degree programs are available in various educational concentrations. With a goal of balancing research, theory and practice, the College of Education is committed to providing exceptional learning opportunities to the next generation of teachers.

Master of Arts and Master of Education programs are available in the following concentrations:

-Autism Disorder and Severe Intellectual Disabilities.
-Adult Education.
-Behavior Disorders.
-Counselor Education.
-Early Childhood Education.
-English Education.
-Elementary Education.
-Exceptional Student Education.
-Gifted Education.
-Intellectual Disabilities.
-Secondary Education.
-Specific Learning Disabilities.

Ranked 26th in generating external research funding by U.S. News & World Report and 84th in the United States for best graduate schools, the College of Education at USF continues as a leader in higher education.

Master of Arts in Special Education: Behavior Disorders (M.A.)

The Master of Arts in Special Education with a concentration in Behavior Disorders is offered in a 100% online format. The program is designed for teaching professionals to maintain full-time employment while seeking advanced knowledge in special education. Students are trained to work with children and youth with mild to severe behavioral disorders such as Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Autism, and other emotional or physical disabilities.

A teaching certification is not issued upon completion; however, learning outcomes include:

-Psychological assessment.
-Managing and motivating techniques.
-Collaboration abilities in working with families and professionals.
-Intervention assessment and program creation.
-Practical theory knowledge and research in current behavior disorders.

Field application is at the core of this accredited degree program, so a practicum in special education is required in addition to 36 credit hours of coursework.

Master of Arts in Special Education: Gifted Program (M.A.)

The master’s level Gifted Program in Special Education is primarily presented online with some courses being offered in a traditional classroom setting. The Master of Arts program is designed to identify gifted children and youth (grades K-12) through IQ test scores and twelve additional traits indicative of exceptionalities. These traits include imagination/creativity, sensitivity, memory, humor, problem solving, reasoning, motivation, interest, insight, communicative skills, intensity and inquiry/curiosity.

In addition to the 36-credit hours of online coursework, field-based experiences with a licensed special education teacher are required. Graduate students are schooled in individual assessment, modification techniques for gifted children and youth, and must track progress throughout the practicum rotation. Upon completion of the series, graduates are eligible for the State of Florida Endorsement in Gifted Education.

Master of Arts in Special Education: Learning Disabilities (M.A.)

The Master of Arts in Special Education with a concentration in Learning Disabilities is a digital-based program with all coursework being completed remotely. The program requires a teaching certification and facilitates full-time employment while pursuing the degree online. Each graduate student attains expertise in teaching children and youth with learning disabilities. Anticipated skills include evaluation and understanding of specific learning disabilities such as dyslexia, executive function issues, Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, auditory and comprehension disabilities, and a range of other challenges.

Collaborative skills are honed through advanced practicum experiences to encourage life-long learning. Instructional strategies are implemented with learning disabled children and youth for best practice techniques in special education. An application for a Special Education Endorsement can be submitted upon completion of the program.

Master of Arts in Special Education: Mental Retardation

The M.A. in Special Education: Mental Retardation program is distributed online and prepares the graduate student for a career as a special education teacher for severely disabled children and youth. Complex social and biological disabilities are studied and problem solving techniques are practiced to promote the best practices in special education. In addition, students will be qualified in providing unrestrictive school settings for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other Intellectual Disabilities.

Supervised field work is required in a school environment with mentally retarded, autistic and children and youth with intellectual disabilities. With an increasing number of students being diagnosed as ASD and InD, there are shortages of qualified educators in this field. Now, more than ever, special education teachers must present a sensitive work ethic and the ability to work cooperatively with other professionals, families and children with severe disabilities. Program completion qualifies graduates for a Special Education Endorsement in Mental Retardation.

Master of Arts in Special Education: Varying Exceptionalities

The master’s degree program prepares educators for a Special Education Endorsement with a concentration in Varying Exceptionalities. Training involves advanced psycho-educational assessment of exceptional students with a focus on creating and implementing structured educational programs. Both classroom and field environments emphasize the need for affirmation of cultural and individual differences with disabled students. Inclusion and transition programs are preferred for all exceptional children and youth.

Practical classroom management is stressed and motivational plans established for exceptional and at-risk students. Anticipated learning outcomes include: Behavior analysis, social skills exercises, theory and research skills, and advocacy for exceptional children and youth. This Master of Arts in Special Education is an accredited through the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and follows standards established by the Florida State Department of Education.


National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
Commission on Colleges and Schools of the Southern Association of
Colleges and Schools
Florida State Department of Education

Contact Information

4202 E. Fowler Avenue
Tampa, FL 33620-5650
(813) 974-3400
[email protected]

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