How do I get a Master's Degree in Special Education?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2018
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To obtain a master’s degree in special education, you should begin by receiving a bachelor’s degree, or similar four-year degree, in a field related to education. You may want to consider receiving your four-year degree in education, though a related field such as English education, physical education and health, or any other teaching program may also work. While consideration may be given to potential students who have a degree in a non-educational field, it may be harder to gain admittance to a master’s program. You will then need to apply and be accepted by a graduate school, and finish the necessary coursework as well as write your master’s thesis to be awarded your master’s degree in special education.

Having a four-year degree in a field such as education can help you as you are applying to a graduate college. Most schools require a four-year degree, such as a bachelor’s, as part of the admittance requirements. Other requirements often include taking the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), as well as the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) for international applicants to American colleges, with particular score requirements for different programs.


You may also want to consult the required paperwork and application process for any specific school you are interested in attending to obtain a master’s degree in special education. Many schools require three or more letters of recommendation for any applicant, and you should consider professors, co-workers, and other people who could provide you with such letters. You will also want to put together a résumé and a “curriculum vitae” to provide examples of your work and experience as a teacher, or student teacher, as they may be requested as part of an application process.

Once you are admitted to a graduate program, you will then need to attend the necessary classes and complete required coursework to receive your master’s degree in special education. This will usually include classes in general classroom management techniques aimed at directing and organizing students with additional or special needs, psychology classes to better understand the issues you may be dealing with, and other courses along similar lines. You may want to consider specializing in a specific type of special educational need, such as autism, early childhood special education, or learning disabilities. This will likely culminate in you writing an extensive master’s thesis that will serve as your final demonstration of knowledge to receive your master’s degree in special education.



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