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Master of Arts

Teaching – Special Education Master's

Leads to Teacher Licensure


Become a Special Education Teacher and Create an Inclusive Classroom


Teachers are vital for the future, and this is especially true for special education. Students in special ed programs need teachers who are well trained and who care about their success. This online special education master's degree program prepares you to become a teacher who can make a difference in the lives of your students. This degree program is perfect for current teachers who already have their license and want to add special education certification, and for those with a bachelor's degree who want to become a licensed teacher. Whatever your current career, this degree program can prepare you to become licensed in special education and get started in the classroom.

In this online master's degree program you will be trained in special education and prepared for teacher licensure in your state. In this cross-categorical program, you’ll be trained to teach students with varying disabilities (from mild to moderate) and learning needs, with ages ranging from grades K–12.

The special education program includes coursework, carefully designed assessments, and completion of clinical experiences. While you’ll study and submit your coursework online, you’ll also complete Student Teaching.

64% of graduates finish within 

22 Months*

WGU lets you move more quickly through material you already know and advance as soon as you're ready. The result: You may finish your teaching degree online faster.

*WGU Internal Data

Tuition per six-month term is


Tuition charged per term—rather than per credit—helps you control the ultimate cost of earning your teaching degree online. Finish faster, pay less!

Average salary increase


School of Education graduates report an average salary increase of $10,916 after completing their WGU degree.

*WGU Internal Data

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Special Education Courses

Curriculum that ensures you’ve mastered the skills you’ll need as a special ed teacher.

Program consists of 24 courses

At WGU, we design our curriculum to be timely, relevant, and practical—all to help you show that you know your stuff.

This online master's degree in special education provides you with the essential skills, knowledge, and field experience needed to become a special education instructor for students with mild to moderate disabilities. This degree program is also AAQEP and CAEP accredited and recognized.

The WGU special education master’s degree program was designed (and is regularly updated) with input from the experts on our Education Program Council. These experts know exactly what it takes for a graduate to qualify for a successful career teaching elementary school students with diverse learning abilities and styles.

The M.A. Teaching–Special Education program at WGU is a mostly online degree program that you will complete by working and studying independently with support and instruction from WGU faculty.

This program comprises the following courses. You will typically complete them one at a time as you make your way through your program, working with your Program Mentor each term to build your personalized Degree Plan. You’ll work through each course as quickly as you can study and learn the material. As soon as you’re ready, you’ll pass the assessment, complete the course, and move on. This means that you can finish as many courses as you're able in a term at no additional cost.

Special Education
Mathematics Content
Elementary Education Methods
Professional Core
Effective Teaching Practices
Pre-Clinical Experiences
Demonstration Teaching

24 Courses

Program consists of 24 courses

At WGU, we design our curriculum to be timely, relevant, and practical—all to help you show that you know your stuff.

Professional Portfolio

Special requirements for this program

Your portfolio will include your résumé and Philosophy of Teaching Statement and serve as a way to showcase the skills you have acquired throughout your degree program and Student Teaching.

Skills For Your Résumé

As part of this program, you will develop a range of valuable skills that employers are looking for. 

  • Lesson Planning: Successfully designed mastery-focused lessons for students with exceptionalities, fostering an inclusive and supportive classroom environment.
  • Special Education: Successfully implemented personalized accommodations for students with exceptionalities, tailored to their individual characteristics and circumstances, leading to an inclusive and supportive learning environment.
  • Classroom Management: Created a safe and caring classroom environment to promote optimal learning experiences.
  • Teaching: Implement diverse learning opportunities for students to demonstrate their comprehension of subject matter.
  • Professionalism: Engage in professional activities while adhering to relevant federal and state special education laws and regulations.
  • Writing: Communicated ideas with clarity and precision through written communication techniques.

“I am SO much more marketable since I am officially licensed and have the degrees to back me up. I already had years of life experience. The official papers have given my more credibility.”

—Jessica McFarland
M.A. Teaching, Elementary Ed & M.S. Special Education

WGU vs. Traditional Universities
Compare the Difference

Traditional Universities



Per credit hour

Flat rate per 6-month term


Schedule and wait days or even weeks to meet with one of many counselors

Simply email or call to connect with your designated Program Mentor who supports you from day one


Scheduled time

Whenever you feel ready


Professor led lectures at a certain time and place

Courses available anytime, from anywhere


Approximately 2 years, minimal acceleration options

As quickly as you can master the material, can finish programs in under 2 years

Traditional Universities



Per credit hour


Flat rate per 6-month term


Schedule and wait days or even weeks to meet with one of many counselors


Simply email or call to connect with your designated Program Mentor who supports you from day one


Scheduled time


Whenever you feel ready


Professor led lectures at a certain time and place


Courses available anytime, from anywhere


Approximately 2 years, minimal acceleration options


As quickly as you can master the material, can finish programs in under 2 years

Why WGU?

You Aren't On Your Own

WGU has Program Mentors who work with you from the day you start, all the way through graduation. They help you chart your courses, answer your questions, and ensure you can go through your program. You're not alone when you choose an online degree at WGU.

Flexibility You Need

Students choose WGU for their online degree program because of its flexibility. Whether you already have a full-time job, have responsibilities as a parent, or just have a busy schedule, WGU can work for you.

Strong Alumni Network

When you enroll in an online master's degree program at WGU, you join an impressive network of teachers. Over 13,000 students graduated from the Teachers College in 2021 alone, taking their skills and impacting the educational system all around the United States.

Accredited, Respected,

One important measure of a degree’s value is the reputation of the university where it was earned. When employers, industry leaders, and academic experts hold your alma mater in high esteem, you reap the benefits of that respect. WGU is a pioneer in reinventing higher education for the 21st century, and our quality has been recognized.


When We Say Affordable We Mean It

By charging per six-month term rather than per credit—and empowering students to accelerate through material they know well or learn quickly—WGU helps students control the ultimate cost of their degrees. The faster you complete your program, the less you pay for your degree.

Tuition Calculator
Pay less by completing your program faster

A Master's Degree Within Reach

There is help available to make paying for school possible for you:

The average student loan debt of WGU graduates in 2022 (among those who borrowed) was less than half* the national average.

Most WGU students qualify for financial aid, and WGU is approved for federal financial aid and U.S. veterans benefits. 

Many scholarship opportunities are available. Find out what you might be eligible for.

*WGU undergraduate students have approximately half the debt at graduation compared to the national average, according to the Institute for College Access and Success (2022).


A Different Way to Learn: Degree Programs Designed to Fit Your Life—and All the Demands on Your Time

Professional responsibilities. Family obligations. Personal commitments. At WGU, we understand schedules are tight and often unpredictable for adult students. That’s why we offer a flexible, personalized approach to how education should be. No rigid class schedules. Just a solid, career-focused principal preparation program that meshes with your current lifestyle. You'll be challenged. You'll work hard. But if you commit yourself and put in the hours needed, WGU makes it possible for you to earn a highly respected degree as a busy working adult.

"The BEST online school! The registration process is easy. There are numerous people there to help you. You are never alone and are supported every step of the way. If you are an independent achiever, this is the route to go!”

—Jacie Sambola
M.A. Teaching, Special Education


With a Master’s in Special Education, You’ll Be a Vital Resource for Students with Disabilities

Find a rewarding career teaching students with diverse challenges. You’ll gain expertise in instructional design, IEP development, and behavioral management. Graduates of this program work in a variety of school settings, including inclusionary K–12 classrooms or resource rooms. Grade-level eligibility will depend on your state’s requirements.

The courses in M.A. Teaching–Special Education—based on effective instruction and national and state standards—are designed to help you efficiently teach kids from diverse backgrounds with a variety of learning disabilities. A special education teacher should be patient, engaging, supportive, and bright. If you possess these qualities, the next step is a proper education. You've come to the right place. You're on the fast track to the gratifying job of your dreams. 

Return on Your Investment

On average, WGU graduates see an increase in income post-graduation

Average income increase from all degrees in annual salary vs. pre-enrollment salary. Source: 2023 Harris Poll Survey of 1,655 WGU graduates.

Survey was sent to a representative sample of WGU graduates from all colleges. Respondents received at least one WGU degree since 2017.


Job demand for special education teachers is predicted to increase 4% through the year 2031.

—U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

WGU Has Alumni Teaching Across the Country

Graduates of WGU's online Teachers College have found meaningful, rewarding teaching careers in classrooms at:

  • Inclusionary K–12 classrooms
  • Middle/junior high schools
  • High schools
  • Private and charter schools

Impressive Class of Graduates

Graduates of the WGU Teachers College include recipients of many professional honors, including:

  • Gates Millennium Scholars
  • Intel Grant for Mathematics and Technology
  • Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction Award
  • Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award
  • Association of Public Charter Schools Educator of the Year Award


Master of Teaching, Special Education Admission Requirements

To be considered eligible for enrollment into this M.A. in Teaching, Special Education (K-12) degree program, you must provide official transcripts that demonstrate you have earned a bachelor’s degree from a recognized, institutionally accredited (also known as regionally accredited) university and earned a GPA of at least 2.5 (or higher, depending upon your state), or the competency-based equivalent, in that program. Applicants with a GPA lower than a 2.5 but a 2.0 or above may seek admission by submitting passing scores from the WGU program required basic skills test (e.g. Praxis CORE). 

Students who are seeking initial teacher licensure in a bachelor’s, post-baccalaureate, or master’s program must also pass a state-specific basic skills test for the state in which they live as a prerequisite to Student Teaching. (Registering and paying for the test is the student’s responsibility.) This requirement can be met either prior to admission or before beginning the Foundations of Teaching subject area once you are in your WGU program.

WGU’s teacher licensure programs also include Student Teaching. You must be at least 18 years of age before you may begin the application process or participate in Preclinical Experiences and Student Teaching. You must also submit to a criminal background check prior to entering the classroom for this component of your program.

Get Your Enrollment Checklist

Download your step-by-step guide to enrollment.

Get Your Questions Answered

Talk to an WGU Enrollment Counselor.

Transfer Credits


Becoming a Licensed Teacher


State-specific licensure requirements: Each state in the U.S. has specific testing requirements that must be met or completed in addition to completing your teaching degree program at WGU. Teacher licensure requirements vary depending on state laws and may include a number of factors, such as:

  • Completion of a bachelor’s degree program
  • Submission of transcripts
  • Completion and clearance of a background check
  • Passing of required entrance exams and basic skills tests

Preclinical Experiences    

As part of this program, you'll participate in a wide range of in-classroom teaching experiences through at least 75 hours of in-classroom observation.

Student Teaching

To help you prepare to work in classrooms, this program includes a student teaching component. Student Teaching is a full-time, supervised, in-classroom experience of a minimum of 12–20 weeks during which you will be hosted by an experienced teacher and observed by a Clinical Supervisor. Your host teacher will evaluate your performance based on accepted professional standards. Learn more about teacher licensure.

More About the M.A. in Teaching, Special Education

It depends on your state and which Teachers College program you complete, so it is best to ask your Enrollment Counselor. Typically, teachers with an elementary education license can teach anywhere from kindergarten through 8th grade, and secondary teachers in math, English, or science can teach anywhere from 5th to 12th grades. K–12 special education licenses typically enable teachers to work with students from kindergarten through 12th grade.

It depends on your state and your program, but for most Teachers College programs, Student Teaching is typically about the length of one full traditional school semester. Student teaching is a minimum of 12–16 weeks, but it can be longer in other programs.

WGU has a team that works with you to connect you with schools in your area, and with host teachers that will support you through your Student Teaching.

Your Enrollment Counselor can provide more details about your specific situation. While you can provide recommendations of a school you want to be placed in, generally, our Field Placement Office will be selecting and setting up the placement in the end.

Your Enrollment Counselor has access to an up-to-date database that tracks requirements and eligibility for all WGU programs and all US states and territories, so a conversation with your Enrollment Counselor can quickly verify this for you based on where you live and your desired program.

WGU is approved to offer federal student aid. You will need to apply using the FAFSA, which is used to determine your eligibility for aid. WGU’s FAFSA school code is 033394.

Scholarships are available for new WGU students and returning graduates. This video shows more about scholarship opportunities and how they can help you pay for school. Get information on:

  • How to apply
  • Eligibility requirements
  • Examples of scholarships
  • What happens after you apply
  • FAQs
  • Other financial aid options

WGU's tuition is a flat rate that is charged every six months. You can take as many courses as you are able in that six-month term—with no extra cost. You simply pay for the term and do as much work as you can or want to during that time. This means that finishing faster helps you save money—a major benefit you won't find at most other schools. 

Ready to Start Your WGU Journey?