Top Schools for Special Education Teaching

This article contains career and training information for students who hope to teach special education courses. See a list of 10 of the top schools offering programs in special education teaching, and read about the programs available at three of these schools.

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School Information

Those interested in teaching may wish to consider the field of special education. Special education teachers work with and instruct children suffering from behavioral disorders or mental, emotional or learning disabilities. These professionals adapt curricula to meet the special needs of these students.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, special education teachers need to complete a minimum of a bachelor's degree and an approved teacher preparation program, as well as obtain a teaching license. Many of the top schools on this list offer special education programs at the bachelor's. master's, specialist and doctoral levels.

Top Special Education Teaching Colleges and Schools

1. Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN

Vanderbilt University was home to U.S. News & World Report's top-ranked special education graduate program in 2014. The school also ranked 17th overall among national universities, and its graduate college of education, the Peabody College of Education and Development, was ranked second among like programs nationwide. Peabody students can choose from special education degree programs at the bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. levels, as well as find an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) training program and an endorsement program in gifted education. Students can also participate in the Student Council for Exceptional Children or Vanderbilt Association for Behavior Analysis.

2. University of Kansas in Lawrence, KS

This university is home to the top-ranked special education program offered by a public school, according to 2014 rankings by U.S. News & World Report. This school offers five master's degree programs in special education, as well as a bachelor's and a Ph.D. program. The master's degree programs are available in autism spectrum disorders, early childhood unified, high-incidence disabilities, low-incidence disabilities and secondary special education transition. Some of the master's programs are available online.

3. University of Florida in Gainesville, FL

The University of Florida offers both online and on-campus programs in special education through its School of Special Education, School Psychology and Early Childhood Studies. The school was ranked #49 on U.S. News & World Report's list of top national universities, and its special education master's degree program was ranked #5. The school offers bachelor's, master's, specialist and doctoral degree programs in special education, including a unique Unified Elementary Proteach dual-certification program. At the end of this 5-year program, students receive a bachelor's degree, certification in special education (ESE K-12), certification in teaching elementary education (K-6) and an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) endorsement.

List of 10 Good Schools with Special Education Teaching Programs

School Name Distinction Location
Johns Hopkins University Home to the U.S. News & World Report's 2014 top-ranked school of education Baltimore, MD
University of Florida Offers one of the first programs in the nation to receive accreditation from the International Dyslexia Association Gainesville, FL
University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign Offers Project TIES program, where Chicago Public Schools teachers can earn a graduate degree in special education while still teaching through distance education and traveling professors Champaign, IL
University of Kansas Ranked 2nd in the nation for published articles about special education Lawrence, KS
University of Maryland - College Park College of Education has a 4:1 ratio of doctoral students to full time faculty College Park, MD
University of Minnesota Special education degrees are available with seven specialization options Minneapolis, MN
University of Oregon Students in special education program can complete hands-on learning experiences in public schools, clinics or one of 17 research and outreach units Eugene, OR
University of Texas Students can participate in research projects through 10 campus centers, including the Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk and Texas Center for Disabilities Studies Austin, TX
University of Wisconsin Offers cross-categorical certification programs that encompass intellectual and developmental disabilities, emotional/behavioral disabilities and learning disabilities Madison, WI
Vanderbilt University Special education program has been ranked in the top-tier of U.S. News & World Report's rankings for more than a decade Nashville, TN
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    • Must complete an application online and submit transcripts for their highest degree earned.
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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Undergraduate applicants must be a high school graduate or have completed GED and completed some college. Master's degree applicants must have a bachelor's or higher.
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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Applicants to master's programs must have already earned a bachelor's degree. Applicants to doctoral programs must have already earned a master's degree.
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    • Doctorate
        • Doctor of Philosophy in Education - Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment
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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Applicants to master's programs at the University of Kansas must have already earned a bachelor's degree.
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    • Must be 18 years of age or older
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Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • Tennessee (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Vanderbilt University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Education
      • Counseling and Guidance
      • Educational Administration and Supervision
      • International and Comparative Education
      • Special Education
      • Teacher Education for Specific Levels and Methods
      • Teacher Education for Specific Subject Areas
  • School locations:
    • Florida (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Florida include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Education
      • Counseling and Guidance
      • Curriculum and Instruction
      • Educational Administration and Supervision
      • Educational Evaluation and Research
      • Philosophical Foundations of Education
      • Special Education
      • Teacher Education for Specific Levels and Methods
      • Teacher Education for Specific Subject Areas
  • School locations:
    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Boston University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Education
      • Counseling and Guidance
      • Curriculum and Instruction
      • Educational Administration and Supervision
      • ESL Teaching
      • International and Comparative Education
      • Special Education
        • Teaching Special Education - Hearing Impairments
      • Teacher Education for Specific Levels and Methods
      • Teacher Education for Specific Subject Areas

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