Online graduate programs & master's in special education at KU

#1 Online Master’s in Special Education1

Over 50 years of special education excellence

KU has been teaching special education professionals for over 50 years and are pioneers in online education

Choose from multiple specializations

Master’s degrees, graduate certificates, and licensure endorsements are available.

Enrich lives. Enhance outcomes.

Thoughtful, modern, and research-based programs.

The online special education programs at the University of Kansas help guide educators, professionals, and family members who support students with disabilities as they work to achieve their full potential. As leaders and advocates, these individuals must understand the unique strengths and needs of persons with disabilities. From assessment tools and inclusive teaching methods to adult transition strategies, the KU SOEHS Department of Special Education helps you build a solid foundation for students to flourish.

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Amplify your impact with programs grounded in real-world application with high incidence disabilities (HI), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), secondary special education and transition, or special education leadership
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Benefit from the mentorship of internationally acclaimed faculty who adeptly balance research, policy, and practice
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Gain a toolkit of resources and techniques to positively impact your students and your school

Whether you’re a teacher who wants to enter into or advance in this field, or an invested third party looking to become more involved, online graduate study at KU will help you make a difference in the lives of students with disabilities.


Slide from Science of Reading webinar on laptop screen

Special education and literacy: Expert insights await

Embark on a transformative journey with KU's literacy education experts, Dr. Irma Brasseur-Hock, Dr. James D. Basham, and Dr. Sean J. Smith. Gain exclusive insights into revolutionary Science of Reading instruction methodologies, the power of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), and innovative tools for diverse classrooms. Your path to mastery starts here.

Access the video

Meet Program Director, Dr. Irma Brasseur-Hock

Dr. Brasseur-Hock, a renowned specialist and teaching professor in special education, brings over two decades of combined research and classroom experience to the field. Her firsthand insights into effective teaching methods for diverse learners and the value of KU’s online master’s in special education programs are a must-watch.

Follow in our alumni's footsteps

say they have used what they learned at KU
recommend the program
report salary increases

*Based on a limited sample of self-reported data from alumni of the University of Kansas School of Education and Human Services online programs in education from graduating cohorts between 2019 and 2022.

Headshot of Alumni Kaylee W
“I tell all of my colleagues that if you ever need a special education program, the University of Kansas is where to go.”
Kaylee W., Alumni, HI Master’s ‘21

What is the difference between a master’s in special education, graduate certificate, or licensure endorsement?

Graduate certificates, licensure endorsements, and master’s degrees are all forms of postgraduate education. There are a few factors to consider when choosing between the three, including your qualifications, desired career outcomes, and how much time and money you’re willing to invest.

Graduate certificate

  • Recognition of specialized training
  • Does not require an undergraduate or master’s degree in teaching or special education
  • Usually takes less than a year to complete

Licensure endorsement

  • For teachers who want to add a special education endorsement to their existing licenses
  • Requires a teaching license and an undergraduate or master’s degree in teaching or special education for admission
  • Usually takes about two years to complete

Master’s degree

  • Advanced graduate degree
  • Requires an undergraduate degree for admission. Some programs also require a teaching license and a degree in education
  • Usually takes about two years to complete

A more meaningful master’s degree

Customize your path

Explore the four concentrations within KU's special education offerings to find what’s right for you. Each category has different degrees, licensures, and certificates within it, tailored to meet the needs and interests of our graduate students.

Autism spectrum disorder

Choose from the following to gain the foundational and advanced knowledge and skills you need to serve students identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

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Online Master’s in ASD

I want a master’s degree to focus my professional career as a specialized ASD educator or service professional.


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Online Graduate Certificate in ASD
I already have a master’s degree or am not ready for a full master’s program, but I want to be better equipped to work with children with ASD in my current career or as an advocate.


Leadership in special and inclusive education

Understand the complexities of special education policy and law to help overcome common barriers.

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Online Graduate Certificate in Leadership in Special and Inclusive Education

I am an educator, administrator, principal, director, concerned family member, advocate, or other school staff who wants a deep understanding of special education policy and law. I’d like to have the skills necessary to identify and remove barriers to inclusive policy, principles, and practice.


High incidence disabilities

Choose from the following to support students with learning disabilities, emotional and/or behavioral disorders, mild cognitive disabilities, and autism spectrum disorder.

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Online Master’s in High Incidence Disabilities Teacher Track
I want a master’s degree. I am a current general education teacher who would like to work as a special education teacher or enhance my skills in meeting the needs of students receiving special education. I want to qualify for a special education teaching endorsement.*


man in blue sitting at a computer

Online Master’s in High Incidence Disabilities Non-Teacher Track
I want a master’s degree. I am a consultant, advocate or other interested party in the field of special education who would like to apply what I learn outside of the classroom. I do not need to meet special education teacher licensing requirements.


teacher in red writing on a chalkboard looking at the camera

Online Licensure Endorsement-Only Track
I already have a master’s degree or am not ready for a full master’s program, but I am a current teacher seeking a high incidence disabilities licensure endorsement to transition to a career in special education.


Secondary special education and transition

Choose from the following to support students as they transition to adulthood and decide whether to continue with their education, search for a job, or forge a meaningful life in some other way in their community.

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Online Master’s in Secondary Special Education and Transition
I want a master’s degree to enhance my ability to lead the transition process for individuals in my classroom, school, or other professional setting.


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Online Graduate Certificate in Secondary Special Education and Transition
I already have a master’s degree or am not ready for a full master’s program, but I would like to learn relevant transition strategies and best practices.


Special education requires special educators

At KU, that means faculty who are as dedicated to students and as immersed in the field as you are. KU professors are lifelong learners and leaders, many with over 20 years of experience. In addition to teaching and student development, several of the faculty conduct research, lead conferences, and spearhead organizations that enhance their work as much as your own.

However, special education is just as much about relationships as it is about research. Here, you’ll learn the latest best practices while receiving meaningful mentorship and career support. With our faculty’s guidance and support, you’ll be prepared to overcome challenges and achieve your goals.

Headshot of faculty member Irma Brasseur-Hock, PhD

Irma Brasseur-Hock, PhD

Program director, academic program associate for the Online High Incidence Disabilities Teacher Education Program with over 20 years experience as a special educator, and an assistant research professor in the Center for Research on Learning. Published work in Learning Disability Quarterly, the Journal of Learning Disabilities, and the Journal of Learning and Individual Difference.

Headshot of faculty member Stacie L Dojonovic Schutzman

Stacie L. Dojonovic Schutzman

Coordinator for the online transition program with over 20 years of experience as a transition specialist. Former president, marketing chair, transition assessment/vocational evaluation representative, and newsletter editor for the Council for Exceptional Children’s Division on Career Development and Transition.

Student Profile

Kevin F., Student, Battalion Operations Officer, KS Army National Guard

“It’s hard not to talk about how distinguished the program is, and that isn’t just an empty statement. You read it in the syllabus, you experience how strong the coursework is, and it’s very rewarding. No regrets at all!”

Kevin is a married father of four children, one of whom has ASD. In addition to working full-time for the Kansas Army National Guard, Kevin completed his autism certificate in 2022 and is currently working toward an autism MSE.

KU's recognition as the #13 Best Online Masters in Education Programs for Veterans by U.S. News & World Report underscores its quality and support for military personnel like Kevin who are pursuing advanced education while serving their country.1

Headshot of student Keven F

What to expect from an online master’s in special education program

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Online and asynchronous classes*
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Graduate within 2 years
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Interactive case studies based on student personas

*Some courses or programs may require students to participate in occasional synchronous meetings/activities

A master’s in special education online degree is a great way to expand your knowledge, learn new strategies, and evolve your training to serve students with disabilities. When you apply, you’ll be asked to submit a collection of materials including a completed application, transcript, and two fieldwork practicums to make sure you’re a good fit for the program.

You can find an application requirements checklist on the Admissions page.

Once the program starts, you’ll be able to complete your coursework whenever and wherever you prefer through KU's innovative online learning system. Every student is different, but you should expect to spend 8-15 hours per week on master’s work. Courses typically include a mix of observation, group discussions, projects, assessments, and persona-based case studies, with each course lasting eight weeks. The number of credits you’ll take, as well as the cost and length of the program, will depend on the online master’s degree that you choose, but most students graduate within two years.

For specific information about KU programs, tell us more about you in this short form.

Connect your classroom and ours

KU graduate students often are able to address immediate, real world teaching challenges through applied assignments and mentoring. With this structure, your students and classroom will start benefiting immediately as you put your new knowledge and skills to work.

woman helping a boy with an art project

Filling the gap in special education

The need for special education teachers and professionals is growing: almost 40,000 openings for special education teachers are projected each year, on average, over the decade.2 To fill this need, KU offers several online graduate programs on different topics for those who want to deepen their expertise in special education, or those who want to move into this concentration.

Nearly 40k job openings in special education each year

Master’s in special education salaries

Since there are so many different positions in multiple industries (education, government, etc.) that you can obtain with a master’s in special education online, the average salary can vary greatly. However, 88% of large districts (including the 100 largest districts in the country and the largest in each state) offer additional pay to teachers with master's degrees.3


Earn up to $8,000 more per year, on average compared to a bachelor's degree

From our Students

Sydney C., Alumni

"It not only has given me a solid foundation for future career aspects, but it's helping me in my day-to-day life as a first-grade teacher."

Sydney C., Alumni, HI Master's and ASD Certificate '20

Catherine Hanson, Alumni

"Even though I live 20 minutes away from campus, it was great having the flexibility of doing the program online and being there to support my students while knowing that I had the support of the faculty behind me.”

Catherine H., Alumni, MSE SPED

Career outcomes

With a master’s in special education online or similar graduate credential, you could thrive as an:

  • Primary or secondary special education teacher
  • Director or administrator of special education/Exceptional Student Education (ESE) programs
  • Autism or behavioral specialist
  • Educational advocate/consultant
  • Special education resource specialist
  • Transition specialist/coordinator
  • Disability services professional

Admission requirements

Review the necessary admissions requirements for an online master’s in special education or graduate program from the Department of Special Education.

Financial aid options

Learn more about your options for financing your graduate education.

Online experience

Discover how students collaborate and develop their professional potential through our online classroom.


Application Deadline
August 12
Fall 2024 Term
Next Start
August 26
Fall 2024 Term