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Special Education students with teacher

Master of Education in
Special Education

Program Summary

Learn to support students with special needs. This online degree program focuses on current issues and topics in the field of special education and gives you the opportunity to choose an emphasis in academic and behavioral supports, applied behavior analysis, or autism.

How To Apply
Apply by June 15 to start August 23

How To Apply 

Costs and Financial Aid

33 Credits $924 per credit

Costs and Financial Aid 

Nationally Recognized
Grad Education 2021
Our graduate education programs are highly ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

Gain Knowledge and Skills to Support Students with Special Needs

Teachers and educational professionals enrolled in the online Master of Education in Special Education program from Penn State World Campus can learn about evidence-based practices to support individuals with special needs or those who are at risk. This program focuses on current issues and topics in the field of special education and gives you the opportunity to choose an emphasis in Academic and Behavioral Supports, Applied Behavior Analysis, or Autism.

Emphasis in Academic and Behavioral Supports

This emphasis is designed for educational professionals who want to learn skills to effectively support students with disabilities. Topics include, but are not limited to, effectively managing behaviors, designing and delivering instruction, and developing and administering educational assessments.

Emphasis in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)


This emphasis is for professionals who want to gain in-depth knowledge of the principles and procedures of ABA, with or without the goal of becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst® (BCBA). Educational professionals certified as BCBAs develop, implement, and monitor programs to promote positive behavior change in individuals with special needs.

This emphasis includes a 21-credit, 315-hour, seven-course sequence based on the BACB’s 5th Edition Task List and course work requirements, which go into effect in January 2022, and is intended to prepare you to sit for the 5th Edition BCBA certification examination. The Association for Behavior Analysis International has verified the seven courses specific to the ABA emphasis toward the coursework requirements for eligibility to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst® examination. Applicants will need to meet additional requirements, such as a completed graduate degree and supervised fieldwork experience, before they can be deemed eligible to take the examination.

Emphasis in Autism

The emphasis in autism is designed to help you acquire comprehensive, evidence-based knowledge to assist in developing effective educational programming for all students with autism spectrum disorders. It includes course work on assessing individuals with autism spectrum disorders; developing strategies to foster social, behavioral, communicative, and academic gains; using applied behavior analysis when working with children with autism; and enhancing collaboration among individuals with ASD, their families, and educators.

How Long Is the Program?

The master’s program consists of 11 courses (33 credits) and while the length of your program depends on the number of courses you take each semester, most students complete the program in one and a half to two years.  Your advisor will help you create a personalized program plan that matches your ideal timeline with the curriculum sequence.

Who Should Apply?

If you have a background in education or human services and are interested in learning more about working with children and youth with disabilities, this program is ideal for you. Behavior specialists, social workers, mobile therapists, educational consultants, speech pathologists, mental health counselors and psychologists can also benefit from this program.

Please note that this master's degree program is not designed to lead to initial teacher certification in any state; however, it may help you renew or maintain your existing certification if you are already a certified teacher. Please check with your state's Department of Education for initial licensure requirements and renewal and maintenance requirements.

Penn State World Campus Student

Ready to Learn More?

Get the resources you need to make informed decisions about your education. Request information on this program and other programs of interest by completing this form.

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