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.
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.
Follow in our alumni's footsteps
*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.
“I tell all of my colleagues that if you ever need a special education program, the University of Kansas is where to go.”
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.
- 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
- 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
- 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 graduate program
Customize your path
Explore the four concentrations within our 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).
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.
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.
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.*
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.
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.
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.
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. Our professors are lifelong learners and leaders, many with over 20 years of experience. In addition to teaching and student development, several of our 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.
Irma Brasseur-Hock, PhD
Program Director, Academic Program Associate for the Online High Incidence Disabilities Teacher Education Program with over 20 years of 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.
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.
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.
What to expect from an online master’s in special education program
*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 our Admissions page.
Once the program starts, you’ll be able to complete your coursework whenever and wherever you prefer through our 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 our programs, tell us more about you in this short form.
Connect your classroom and ours
Our 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.
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, we offer 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.
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 who have master's degrees.3
From our Students
"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
"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
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
- Retrieved on February 10, 2023, from usnews.com/education/online-education/university-of-kansas-155317
- Retrieved on April 26, 2022, from bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/special-education-teachers.htm#:~:text=in%20May%202021.-,Job%20Outlook,on%20average%2C%20over%20the%20decade
- Retrieved on April 26, 2022, from nctq.org/blog/How-do-school-districts-compensate-teachers-for-advanced-degrees#:~:text=How%20much%20money%20is%20a,point%20of%20the%20pay%20scale