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Common Questions: Online Master's Degree in Special Education

Common Questions: Online Master's Degree in Special Education

The U.S. Department of Education estimates that 6.9 million children and youth currently qualify for special education services. USDE also notes that 62% are being educated in a general education classroom during the majority of the school day. While federal law and state standards govern the way special education services are provided, education professionals working with these students must also have the right knowledge for their role.

Each student who receives special education services at school should have the support of a team. Teachers, administrators, and other personnel must collaborate to ensure that exceptional learners have the right instruction and environment to succeed, and that they receive the same quality of education as their peers without disabilities. Advocacy and education planning are also essential skills for these professionals.

An online master's in special education can help you achieve competency in this high-growth career area, whether you are already a certified educator or just starting in the field. Graduates go on to work in many different capacities, such as curriculum designers, special education coordinators, classroom teachers, and more. Follow the links below for additional information about this versatile degree.

What Is a Master of Education in Special Education?

Advanced coursework helps students develop the legal and cultural expertise required to provide SPED services, and support exceptional learners in the school environment.

The M.Ed. in Special Education is a graduate degree designed for current teachers and administrators, as well as aspiring educators, parents, those working in disability related fields, and others interested in working with students with disabilities. School counselors or instructional personnel working with the general student population can also earn this degree to broaden their knowledge of disabilities and special ed.

Advanced coursework helps students develop the legal and cultural expertise required to provide SPED services, and support exceptional learners in the school environment. Graduates with this degree may see career benefits ranging from increased opportunity for pay raises and promotion to new eligibility for positions that require a master's degree.

Southeastern Oklahoma State University (SE) offers two online graduate programs in this high-demand K-12 specialization. The M.Ed. in Special Education – Administration online and M.Ed. in Special Education – Challenging Behaviors online provide busy professionals a choice of affordable, fact-track options for earning their master's degree.

Dr. Kathy Boothe, Southeastern Oklahoma Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Special Education
A master's in special education is good for anyone in the school system working with kids with disabilities — which is everyone.

What Will I Learn In a Special Education Master's Program?

Regardless of the program you choose, a master's degree in special education can equip you with a broad scope of knowledge on disability and different aspects of education students with exceptionalities.

Depending on the focus of your program, you might study the following aspects of education for exceptional learners:

Learn about special education law, research, teaching practices
  • Response to intervention
  • Behavior management tools and strategies
  • Special education teaching pedagogy and evidence-based practice
  • Special education law
  • Collaboration and co-teaching strategies
  • Universal design for learning
  • Culturally responsive teaching
  • High leverage teaching practices

What Kinds of Courses Will I Take for a Special Education Master's Degree?

Coursework will cover both theory and practice in special education. Classes also address federal requirements and state polices for implementing these services.

SE's and programs share 21 hours of core courses, designed to build each student's skills in research, program development, evidence-based practice and student assessment. Classes also give master's students a foundation in instructional strategies for exceptional learners and stress the importance of planning and advocacy in special education.

Southeastern Oklahoma's M.Ed. students complete three courses in their area of specialization as well:

Two specialization options with the online master's degree in special education

Challenging Behaviors

  • Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports
  • Teaching Students with Autism
  • Applied Behavior Analysis for Teachers


  • Special Education Law
  • Administration of Special Programs
  • Public School Law

Dr. Kathy Boothe, Southeastern Oklahoma Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Special Education
Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports is a three-tiered system for changing behaviors in a school environment. The PBIS course looks at the schoolwide behavior plan, the classroom, and then we start looking at tier two and tier three, which are small group to individual behaviors.
Randy Mitchell, 2019 online M.Ed. in Special Education – Administration graduate
Each class that I had, I would find things I could implement immediately. That was the most fun of everything throughout the entire program — being able to take what I was learning in a very practical, logical way and implement it the same week that I was learning it. That was amazing to me.
Randy Mitchell, 2019 online M.Ed. in Special Education – Administration graduate

How Is Disability Defined By Law?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines disability as "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity," and outlines specific legal rights and protections for people who have a disability. Special education services are specifically addressed in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which requires that school districts provide a "free and appropriate" education to eligible students with disabilities. Federal law also stipulates that students must be protected from discrimination based on their disability while at school.

Who Qualifies for Special Education Services?

Some students qualify for special education services with hidden disabilities

The goal of special education services is to ensure that K-12 students with disabilities receive the same quality of education as children and youth without disabilities, and that they have access to the same learning opportunities at school. They may qualify for services whether they study in a special education or general education classroom.

Students with exceptional learning needs (ELN), may experience a range of disability-related challenges at school, both in the classroom and in other learning environments. Accommodations, technology, adjustments to schedules and teaching methods, and other educational interventions can help meet these needs. Students with disabilities who do not need specialized instruction may still require a range of special education services that support learning.

The Department of Education notes that students with hidden disabilities — defined as "intellectual or physical impairments not readily apparent to others"— are sometimes overlooked as candidates for special education services or accommodation under the law. This often happens when the disability in question is improperly diagnosed or documented. National disability coalition Understood points out that students with learning disabilities often fail to receive timely assessment or services for this reason.

Dr. Kathy Boothe, Southeastern Oklahoma Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Special Education
Our students who are teachers and administrators need to have a well-rounded view of special education. I tell my students that they have to be able to defend what they do … they need to be able to back it with some type of research and ensure that they are doing what is best for their students. You can only do that with more knowledge and as a lifelong learner. Their job is to advocate.

Don't All Students in SPED Receive the Same Services?

Each student could receive different types of instruction

Not necessarily. While all services must align with federal law, there are many factors that influence the type of instruction that each child in special education receives. The core guiding principle is that services must be planned and tailored according to the needs of the individual student.

State legislatures also decide how best to meet federal special education standards and give direction to the education agency responsible for providing guidance to local school districts. This is one reason coursework focused on disability regulations and case law is essential for district and campus administrators.

SE's online M.Ed. in Special Education – Administration includes courses that address executive, legislative and judicial action on special education, as well as its impact on public school governance. Classes give principals and program directors the information they need to oversee services for students with exceptionalities. They can also benefit teachers ready to move into an administrative career.

Does a Master's in Special Education Qualify Me for a Teaching Certificate?

This degree doesn't qualify for a teaching certificate

No. Certification is a separate process. If you're new to education and wondering how to become a teacher in special ed, the first step is to check your state regulations. Common requirements are a bachelor's in education from an accredited degree program, a passing score on state certification tests, and a comprehensive background screening. There may also be other standards set by your state education agency.

If you have a different bachelor's degree, you may be eligible to complete an alternative teacher certification program in your state. Oklahoma's unique Non-Traditional Route to Special Education Certification gives new educators the chance to teach on a provisional one-year certificate while also studying for their master's degree. This allows career changers who are passionate about special education to transition to the classroom with more advanced training than a regular alternative certification program might provide. The program also helps children with disabilities and their families by increasing Oklahoma's capacity to provide special education services.

At SE, you can pair this nontraditional certification with the online M.Ed. in Special Education –Challenging Behaviors and get a fast start on your new career. This program can help you meet professional standards more quickly, and have a positive impact in the lives of children with disabilities right away.

Learn more about our M.Ed. in Special Education - Administration online program

Where Can I Find Special Education Licensure Requirements for My State?

To learn more about special education teacher certification and licensure requirements in your area of the country, contact your state teacher credentialing agency. The Department of Education's handy state contacts map is a good place to start.

Special Education Licensure Requirements by State

Will a Special Ed Master's Degree Qualify Me for a License Endorsement or Enhancement?

It depends on your state's licensure framework. Most certified teachers must meet state SPED examination requirements for their subject area, or for working with specific populations of exceptional learners.

For example, teaching certificate enhancements are available to Oklahoma educators who meet special education testing requirements for working with student populations who experience the following disabilities:

 teaching certificate enhancements

An applicant may take one or more of these tests and must score 240 or better to pass each.

Many other states offer their own version of these general license enhancements or a set of specific endorsements covering a similar body of knowledge. In some states, SPED teachers can also test for endorsements in American Sign Language (ASL), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), or other specific disability-related categories.

Do Special Ed Certifications and Endorsements Transfer to Other States?

According to the nonprofit research organization Education Commission of the States, only six states presently offer full license reciprocity, meaning your credentials in one will seamlessly transfer to another. However, all 50 have a process in place for working with qualified teachers who want to continue working in special education. The designated teacher credentialing agency in your new state can provide the most up-to-date information on current standards.

What Are the Admissions Requirements for Special Ed Master's Programs?

Admission requirements for special education degrees will vary by master's program. Some admit only certified teachers or other experienced educators, others seek a broad range of applicants working both inside and outside of education. As you evaluate and compare prospective programs in special education, start by checking the application guidelines for two key requirements:

Admissions requirements for SE's online M.Ed. in Special Education
  • Undergraduate degree. Programs focused on certified educators will usually ask for a bachelor of education from an accredited school or program, as will many SPED master's programs in general. If your bachelor's is in a different academic discipline, programs open to non-educators are probably a better fit.
  • Minimum GPA. Verify whether the program considers your cumulative undergraduate GPA, the last 60 hours of the degree, or a different measure for meeting this requirement. If it looks like your GPA will not make the cut, check your options for conditional admission as well.

Once you've decided where to apply, you'll submit official transcripts from each college or university you've attended, and any other items the program requires. Some common requests include an essay or statement of purpose, district service records, reference letters, or a professional resume.

The admission process for SE's online and online is streamlined for applicants with a bachelor's degree (in any discipline) from a regionally accredited university. Just submit your official transcripts and meet one of the following GPA requirements: 2.75 cumulative or 3.0 in the last 60 hours of coursework. If you don't quite have the GPA or you've attended another graduate program since your bachelor's, view the full admission requirements – located in the links above – at Southeastern Oklahoma to see other application options.

Is the GRE or MAT Required?

It depends on your school. The GRE and MAT are the most common exams required for graduate admissions in education, so if you haven't taken either, you may need to before you can apply to certain special education master's programs. This also applies if you took one of the exams, but your scores are more than five years old. Check with the schools you're interested in for further guidance.

No GRE or MAT scores are required for admission to SE's online M.Ed. in Special Education programs.

Randy Mitchell, 2019 online M.Ed. in Special Education – Administration graduate
I have had the pleasure of attending other schools locally in the North Texas Region and out in West Texas as well, so I'm familiar with a lot of different colleges and what they offer and don't offer. When I went in and started really painstakingly paying attention to what the qualifications were for the schools and what that could offer me, Southeastern, which was not initially even on my radar, proved very quickly to be exactly where I needed to be.

What's the Difference Between Accredited and Unaccredited Master's Programs?

The accreditation process is rigorous and multifaceted

Unaccredited degree programs do not undergo regular review by independent accrediting authorities in higher education, so there is no guarantee the degrees they offer meet the highest quality standards or deliver the right preparation for a career. This is one reason master's students attending unaccredited schools cannot participate in federal or state financial aid programs.

The accreditation process is rigorous and multifaceted, whether it is conducted at the program or university level. Reviewers commonly look at professor qualifications, curriculum and teaching methods, graduation rates, certification test scores, and more. They also assess the program or institution's financial solvency, financial aid structure, and other areas of operations that may impact students earning the degree.

Southeastern Oklahoma's teacher preparation programs are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). The university also holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

 Kim Donnell, 2018 online M.Ed. in Special Education – Challenging Behaviors graduate
I have recommended [Southeastern online] to a lot of people. It is a fantastic program and was a great experience.

Do Most Jobs in Special Education Require an Accredited Degree?

Almost all jobs in special education that require a degree feature the same stipulation: it must come from an accredited school or program. This is the universal standard for public schools systems and government agencies, as well as most nonprofits hiring master's graduates in special education. Other employers may have different policies, but with an unaccredited degree your job options are simply more limited.

Learn more about our M.Ed. in Special Education - Challenging Behaviors online program

Are There Other Reasons to Choose an Accredited School?

Yes, and one of the best is to protect your investment in an education. Accreditation is more than just a stamp of approval for schools and their degree programs. It's also intended to be a safeguard against fraud. The Federal Trade Commission argues that accreditation is one of the most important things students should look for in an online degree, to avoid unaccredited diploma mills and other colleges that can't deliver on their promises to students.

What Is the Career Outlook for Special Education Master's Graduates?

steady rise in public teaching jobs

There are many rewarding careers paths in special education. The outlook is especially bright for instructors, administrators, and others with an advanced degree in this K-12 specialty area. In addition to a steady rise in public teaching jobs, general recruitment for graduates with this M.Ed. will grow faster than the total labor market through 2028, according to recent analysis by Burning Glass Technologies (December 2019).

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also predicts higher than average demand in the following disability-related occupation categories for educators over the same time period:

  • Private elementary and secondary school teachers
  • Educational support services (state, public, private, and local)
  • Social assistance services for people with disabilities

If I Change Careers to Teach Special Education, Will I Find a Job?

Every job search is dependent to some degree on local demand, applicant qualifications, and other factors. However, the special education teacher shortage in many parts of the country does create excellent opportunity for career changers entering the profession through the alternative teacher certification process.

According to the National Coalition on Personnel Shortages in Special Education and Related Services, 98% of American school districts report a need for additional SPED teachers and instructional support. While funding challenges play a role in this problem, Education Week reports the demand for teachers qualified to fill available special ed positions has grown by 17% in the last decade.

If you are passionate about working with students with disabilities, a master's in special education can position you for success in the classroom and give you a competitive edge in the job market. Burning Glass Technologies job data from December 2018 to November 2019 shows that 54% of postings targeting special education master's graduates required less than two years of job experience in the field.


Of job postings targeting special master's graduates required less than two years of job experience in the field.

– Burning Glass Technologies

Is Demand High for Special Education Master's Graduates?

According to May 2018 BLS figures, many areas of the country have a high concentration of jobs in special education, indicative of a robust job market for master's graduates in this specialty. BLS ranks states such as Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Texas in the top 10 nationally for K-12 special education teacher employment and demand, along with the following cities:

With the high number of jobs available, many school districts and other employers experience great difficulty filling open positions for both teachers and directors of special education. This is often due to a shortage of qualified applicants. In Texas, for instance, it's 40% more difficult to hire a special education director than in the rest of the nation. In the northern non-metro areas of Northeast Ohio, it's 110% more difficult to fill special education teaching jobs than in other parts of the U.S.

Labor market statistics from Burning Glass Technologies for December 2018 – November 2019 also point to good opportunity for qualified master's graduates in other cities with higher-than-average demand for both directors and teachers in special ed. They include Muncie, Indiana (150% above average), Killeen-Temple, Texas (80%) and Cleveland, Ohio (40%).

High demand areas for special ed: Muncie, Indiana, Killeen-Temple, Texas and Cleveland, Ohio

Can Certified Teachers and Administrators Earn More with a Master's Degree?

Texas Special Ed Directors with a master's degree make more

Yes, many teachers and administrators do see a salary bump after completing their master's degree. Having an M.Ed. with the administrative or behavioral SPED specialization could make you eligible for a higher pay grade, more teaching credit, or a stipend paid out over a period of time. Be sure to check with your employer, however, because state and district compensation policies can vary.

A master's degree may also lead to a promotion or better-paying job opportunities across the balance of your career. In Texas, Burning Glass salary data indicates that special education directors can make 23% more with a master's degree, averaging $93,600 per year.

Randy Mitchell, 2019 online M.Ed. in Special Education – Administration graduate
I started off as a special education teacher. When [my supervisors] caught wind that I was pursuing my master's, I moved up to an ARD facilitator. And then when I completed my degree … I was allowed into the diagnostician program.

How Much Do Special Education Teachers Make?

Since special education is considered a high-need discipline in most districts, certified teachers often stand to make more when they move into this area of education. Dedicated SPED stipends or salary schedules, campus-based incentives, special duty pay, or other financial perks may be available. Your location and your state's policies can also affect what you might earn, both in base salary and other compensation.

Here are some of the most competitive pay rates in Texas and Oklahoma for special education teachers with a master's degree. Figures are based on published district salary schedules effective during the 2019-2020 school year.

¹ Includes IEP stipend.

² If district policy allows, additional years of teaching credit may be awarded for a master's degree in special education and other high-demand specialties.

What Do Administrative Jobs in Special Education Pay?

Administrative careers in special education range in salary, but positions at the coordinator, director and supervisor levels tend to pay the best. Here are some sample compensation rates for SPED administrators in Texas and Oklahoma school districts.

Source: School district salary schedules, 2019-2020

Expertise in special education can also qualify teachers for additional pay when they take on administrative duties. In Georgia's Habersham County School District, for instance, educators who serve as an IDEA Compliance Specialist can earn an additional $3,000 stipend each school year.

Do Districts Offer Signing Bonuses for Special Ed Certification?

Roughly two-thirds of school districts offer some form of financial incentive for qualified special ed teachers

According to the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), roughly two-thirds of school districts surveyed in 2018 provided some form of financial incentive to attract qualified special ed teachers, on top of the base salary offered. The Education Commission for the States also reports that more states are working to address teacher shortages through legislative action, creating targeted incentives for teachers in special education and other areas of significant need.

Are There Jobs In Special Ed Other Than Classroom Teaching or School Administration?

Job options outside of the classroom

Yes. The knowledge you'll gain in a special education M.Ed. program can apply to many different jobs in this growing field. Government agencies and nonprofits recruit M.Ed. graduates for a variety of roles, for example. You could run programs benefiting students and their families, write grants to raise money for local education programs, or concentrate on the big picture when it comes to SPED policy and advocacy.

There are also plenty of opportunities on school campuses and at the district level. You might coordinate services and support for students with disabilities, oversee accessibility in school facilities, or administer behavior or transition planning programs for special ed students.

Spotlight: Special Education Planning

Spotlight: Special Education Planning

Proactive education planning can help children and youth with disabilities succeed in any instructional environment. This essential process is a collaboration between students and their school, and also involves parents or caregivers. Jobs with responsibility for special education planning may include teachers, ARD or IEP coordinators, behavioral or instructional specialists, assistive technology specialists, educational diagnosticians, and others involved in helping each student achieve their goals.

Education plans are tailored to each student's needs, so they may focus on anything from curriculum and teaching methods to removing physical or instructional barriers to learning. A well-designed and executed plan can help students get the most out of their school experience, and even aid them in making the transition to college, a career, or independent living after graduation.

A master's degree in special education can give you the skills and insight needed to create effective Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and 504 plans. Here's a quick snapshot that highlights the difference:

Source: Understood, 2019

Comprehensive education planning helps ensure that each student receives the same educational opportunities as their classmates who do not have a disability, regardless of how they study.

How Much Should I Spend for a Master's in Special Education?

Special education graduate programs can vary in price, from less than $10,000 to more than $30,000 for a master's degree at a public college or university. Some private schools and for-profit colleges can be even more expensive.

Before applying, it's important to do your research. Even if the per-credit tuition rate seems low, student fees and other mandatory charges may also contribute to the final cost. Check your prospective college or university's residency policy as well, because your location could also determine what you'll pay.  

The table below compares five popular M.Ed. programs by their estimated cost for part-time students seeking a master's in special education.

Source: Published cost figures from school websites as of December 2019. Tuition and fee estimates are based on six hours enrollment per term.

 Kim Donnell, 2018 online M.Ed. in Special Education – Challenging Behaviors graduate
The price was really good. The coordinator for the special education department, , is amazing. After that first course, I knew I could do it and that [SE] was going to be the place for me.

Can I Get Financial Aid for an Online Master's Degree?

Whether you earn your degree online or on campus, if your school is accredited you should be able to apply for federal and state financial aid. Your eligibility for grants, scholarships and loans from those sources will be assessed based on the information you submit in your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Schools consider income, family size, the cost of your degree program (including housing and textbooks), and other factors to determine the amount of aid you may receive.

Can I Use My Military Education Benefits for an Online Master's Degree?

Use military education benefits for an online master's degree

Yes, as long as your degree program or school is accredited. You must follow Department of Defense guidelines and your branch of the service must certify your benefits as well, but most schools have a veterans service office that can help with that process. The registrar's office at SE provides a variety of services for active-duty military members and veterans and routinely works with the Department of Veterans Affairs to certify GI Bill benefits and other types of education funding.

Can I Get Help Transferring Military Education Benefits to My Spouse or Kids?

If you'd like to transfer Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits to someone in your family, your school's veterans affairs office can help. Services at SE include support for beneficiaries of the VA's survivors and dependents assistance program as well. Contact [email protected] to learn more.

How Long Does It Take to Complete a Master's in Special Education Online?

Earn a master's degree online in one year from Southeastern Oklahoma

On average, a master's in special ed takes two or three years to complete. However, there are many variables that can affect your time to degree. The number of hours and courses required are the most important factors, since programs can differ significantly in that department. Whether you attend full or part time, or take classes year round, can also impact your progress.

Online master's programs in special education are often designed to help students meet degree requirements faster, and some can be completed in less than two years. Most feature accelerated classes lasting five to eight weeks, and more course start dates than traditional semester-based programs on campus.

Southeastern Oklahoma's online M.Ed. programs in Special Education – Challenging Behaviors and Special Education – Administration each require 30 hours of coursework and can be completed in as few as 12 months by taking two courses at a time during each seven-week term.

How Do Teachers Make Time for a Master's Degree?

Working teachers can earn a master's degree online

Some teachers devote nights or weekends to studying in an on-campus master's program, but for many the time commitment required for that option is unrealistic, or it feels overwhelming. Online M.Ed. programs in special education have become a popular pathway for those who need to earn their degree without disrupting their routine or losing significant time with family and friends.

Online course modules are structured with busy professionals in mind, with weekly deadlines and assignments that often focus on research or project-based work. This helps teachers plan their study time around other responsibilities and offers the flexibility they may need to fit a graduate degree into their schedule.

These and other conveniences of online study make a master's in special education possible for many teachers and may help you find the right balance to earn your degree.

 Kim Donnell, 2018 online M.Ed. in Special Education – Challenging Behaviors graduate
I kept a checklist right beside my desk because I was doing multiple classes at a time to complete the program in one year. As long as I kept it organized and checked it off as I went along, I was good. It was a great master's degree program.

How Much Study Time Is Required for Master's Courses?

 expect to devote 12-15 hours per week to study time

For special education master's courses, the amount of study time you need may depend on your prior knowledge or experience. For instance, certified teachers and administrators who are already familiar with public school law or general education teaching pedagogy may find certain subjects easier than grad students who are completely new to the field.

In general, expect to devote 12-15 hours per week to study time whenever you start a new course. Then adjust as you go based on the content and assignments. However, Dr. Boothe at Southeastern Oklahoma recommends closer to 20-25 hours per week.

Can I Attend Part Time or Take a Break If I Need To?

It depends on your program's policies, but in most cases, you can do both. According to the latest figures released by the National Center for Education Statistics, roughly 43% of graduate students study part time, and that figure is projected to rise during the next decade. Many special education master's programs accept part-time students and understand that their ability to take classes can sometime depend on district calendars, testing schedules, and other variables. Financial aid recipients must attend at least half time during any semester they'll be using those funds however, including federal and state loans, grants, or scholarships.


Of graduate students study part time, and that figure is projected to rise over the next several years.

–National Center for Education Statistics

If you find you need to pause your master's studies altogether due to work, health, or family considerations, it can sometimes be easier to do so in an online program than one based on campus. Flexibility is one of the core benefits of online learning after all, so it's more common for students to move at their own pace. At SE, it's easy to pick up where you left off. Courses in the online M.Ed. in Special Education – Administration and online M.Ed. in Special Education – Challenging Behaviors programs start six times a year, so you'll never have to wait long to get back to your degree.

How Can I Tell If Online Courses Are Right for Me?

If you thrive in a process- and results-oriented atmosphere where you can work independently, online courses may be a great fit. Self-discipline is required to stay on track, and students do take on more responsibility for checking in with professors and motivating themselves to meet deadlines. But in exchange, you have the freedom to focus exclusively on what you're learning, rather than on making the work-to-campus commute. You'll also get to meet and work with educators from other districts, and even other states, without ever leaving home.

How Do Online Graduate Courses Work? Will I Have to Log In Every Day?

Complete coursework online

They work in much the same way courses do on campus. When you first log in, you'll find the syllabus there, detailing the schedule, assignments, and the professor's policies. You'll also do some reading, take tests, and turn in your completed papers and projects online. A key difference is that your work will be organized around weekly deadlines instead of class meetings. You'll interact with classmates online as well, but you can still have a digital face-to-face conversation via webchat if you like.

It's a good idea to log into your course regularly, but the amount of time you spend there is ultimately up to you. Just remember that it's important to stay on top of deadlines, as well as updates from your professor. Once you get a feel for the course requirements, and start working in it online, you'll have a better idea of how to manage your time there.

How Will I Work With My Professors?

In addition to viewing lectures on video and asking questions in email, you can interact with professors through discussion boards and meet via Skype or other chat apps. Some instructors also work with online students by phone or chat with them by text.

Students in Southeastern Oklahoma's online special education master's programs can also join in group discussions with their professors that happen in real time. While attendance isn't required, many students enjoy having a virtual gathering spot where they can hear guest lecturers, talk about assignments or share their experiences. These webchat sessions are also recorded so that participants can view them later, as can students who don't attend.

Dr. Kathy Boothe, Southeastern Oklahoma Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Special Education
We hold virtual meetings every week, and most of the students enjoy those because they get that personal attention, that personal touch from their instructors.
 Kim Donnell, 2018 online M.Ed. in Special Education – Challenging Behaviors graduate
I had such a great experience with all of the professors. Any time I emailed them, I always got a response back immediately. I also got an opportunity to write with Dr. Boothe. We got a couple of papers published.
 Kim Donnell, 2018 online M.Ed. in Special Education – Challenging Behaviors graduate

Do Online Master's Students Ever Study or Work Together?

Online students work together across state lines

Yes. Collaboration is essential to providing effective SPED services, especially for doing education planning, addressing behavior challenges, and coordinating student supports. Special ed master's programs encourage students to hone their teamwork and cooperation skills by completing projects with classmates or forming study groups, and this is also the case in online master's courses.

The online format may actually make working together easier, because there's no need to meet in person to get things accomplished. Study sessions can happen wherever you are, even if you live in Tulsa and your collaborators are in Chicago, Atlanta, St. Louis, and San Antonio. Simply pick your virtual meeting platform, share any pertinent documents or slides with each other, and you're ready to go.

Will My Computer Work for Online Courses?

Most online master's programs provide technology guidelines for students, which you can compare with your current system to assess the situation. If you have a fairly current browser and operating system, your computer may work fine. You might just need a few software upgrades or the latest version of apps you will use regularly. You can also add a tablet or another new device to the mix to help bridge any technology gaps.

The goal is that your courses run smoothly when you access them, whatever configuration you have. Many education deals and discounts are available to students who want to invest in a new computer or tablet too, if you feel that a fresh start will be the best option.

The Center for Instructional Development and Technology at SE provides a number of student resources that can help you determine whether your current setup will work for online courses at the university. In addition to system requirements for computers, you'll also find Android and iOS guidelines for mobile devices.

Do Online Master's Programs Hold Graduation Ceremonies?

Randy Mitchell, 2019 online M.Ed. in Special Education – Administration graduate at hooding ceremony

Yes, many do. If participating in graduation is important to you, just be sure to check with prospective programs to make sure they offer that option. Southeastern Oklahoma State University regularly welcomes new graduates of its online M.Ed. in Special Education programs to campus for this important ceremony to receive their diploma in person.

"[At graduation] I was able to shake hands with these people I had only met online. These professors and students who were in the class — these were real people! They were the same in person as they were in my online classes. The program is very honest and very real." – , 2019 online M.Ed. in Special Education – Administration graduate

Learn more about our online M.Ed. programs!


Arlington Independent School District: 2020-2021 Salary Schedule

Barbers Hill Independent School District: Teacher Salary Hiring Schedule 2021-2022

Broken Arrow Public School District: 2019-2020 Non-administrative Salary Schedule Position Index

Burning Glass Technologies, 2019

Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)

Certification Examinations for Oklahoma Educators (CEOE):
Deaf/Hard of Hearing (030)
Blind/Visual Impairment (128)
Mild-Moderate Disabilities (129)
Severe-Profound/Multiple Disabilities (131)

Crowley Independent School District: CISD Compensation Plan 2020-2021

Deer Park Independent School District: 2019-2020 Position Salary Schedule, Instructional/Professional

Durant Independent School District: Negotiated Agreement 2019-2020

Education Commission for the States:
Policy Snapshot, Targeted Teacher Recruitment
Teacher License Reciprocity

Federal Trade Commission: College Degree Scams

Garland Independent School District: 2019-2020 Salary Schedules and Compensation Information

Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

Highland Park Independent School District: 2019-2020 Compensation Plan Manual

Hurst-Euless-Bedford Independent School District: 2019-2020 Amended Salary Schedules

Mansfield Independent School District: 2019-2020 Administrative Professional Pay Plan

National Center for Education Statistics: Postbaccalaureate Enrollment

National Council on Teacher Quality: How Are Districts and States Using Pay to Staff High-Need Schools and Subjects?

Ponca City Schools Administrative Salary Schedule 2020-2021

State of Oklahoma: Non-Traditional Route to Special Education Teacher Certification

Stillwater Public Schools: 2019-2020 Districtwide Administrator Salary Schedule

Tahoma Public Schools:
Certificated Salary Schedule 2019-2020
Salary & Benefits 2019/2020

Special Education: Federal Law vs. State Law
The 13 Disability Categories Under IDEA
The Difference Between IEPs and 504 Plans

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Special Education Teachers

U.S. Department of Defense: DANTES

U.S. Department of Education:
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: About IDEA
The Civil Rights of Students with Hidden Disabilities Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
Rehabilitation Act of 1973
IDEA Section 300.8 Child with a Disability
State Contacts
FAFSA: Apply for Aid

U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division: Introduction to the ADA

U.S. Department of Labor: Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Education and Training:
Education Programs
Transfer Post-911 GI Bill to Spouse and Dependents
Survivors and Dependents Assistance