What’s The Best Special Education Graduate Program?

Are you ready to enjoy a new career but aren’t sure about the best special education graduate program to help you meet your long-term career goals? PennWest California offers many different master’s of education (M.Ed.) degrees in special education, most of which are delivered online and designed to accommodate the working teacher. Whether you’re looking for a higher salary, a promotion, a complete change of scenery or a better way to reach your students, there are many reasons to earn a master’s degree in special education online from PennWest California.

But what is the best special education master’s degree program for you? Below you’ll find a list of PennWest California’s many M.Ed. programs in special education, with brief descriptions and links so you can further explore the areas that most interest you.

Special Education (Grades Pre-K–8 certification), M.Ed.

This fully online master’s in special education is designed with an emphasis on elementary education and the unique challenges faced by special education teachers working with children from pre-kindergarten through the eighth grade. While many PennWest California grads use their graduate degrees to build rewarding careers outside of a school setting, this program was created with special education teachers in mind. PennWest California’s online M.Ed. provides comprehensive training designed to give you the experience and knowledge base you need in order to teach children with disabilities.


Please note that this M.Ed. program is intended for graduate students who already hold a Pennsylvania teaching certification. Details are available on the program’s webpage.

Special Education (Grades 7–12 certification), M.Ed.

As the name suggests, this online master’s degree in special education is geared toward individuals who want to teach special education at the secondary level. This PennWest California M.Ed. program focuses on teaching adolescent learners who have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

This online graduate program teaches strategies that can be applied in real-world settings, including your current classroom. Assignments are directly applied to your worksite whenever possible, meaning your work life benefits from your schoolwork. Please note that this program is intended for graduate students who already hold a Pennsylvania teaching certification in a secondary content area. Details are available on the program’s webpage.

Special Education: Autism Spectrum Disorders, M.Ed.

This online master’s degree in special education offers a focus on autism spectrum disorders(ASD) and the unique challenges encountered when working with students on the autism spectrum. Autism spectrum disorder has become an important element of special education, with a 2014 report by the Centers for Disease Control suggesting that as many as 1 in 59 children are on the autism spectrum — a dramatic increase over the autism rates reported in the 1980s and ‘90s.

PennWest California’s online M.Ed. program focuses on the recent literature surrounding autism spectrum disorders, including best practices and strategies for communication, technological assistance, and teaching students with ASD. Our professors are highly regarded professionals in the field of autism education — a valuable professional resource while you earn your master’s degree in special education online.   

Special Education: Applied Behavior Analysis (General track), M.Ed.

This online master’s in special education focuses on applied behavior analysis.It’s designed for graduate students who have a special interest in learning to meet the instructional and behavioral needs of individuals in a variety of settings. This M.Ed. concentration is perfect for anyone who wants to discover how to incorporate positive reinforcement and other behavioral approaches into IEPs, care plans, or the special education classroom as a whole in order to encourage desirable behaviors.

This online master’s degree program prepares you to take a test and become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Behavior analysts often design individualized behavior plans and address behavior issues at schools or on jobsites, making them very desirable candidates for roles at nonprofit organizations that provide training for individuals with disabilities. Behavior analysis has proven to be a very useful tool when working with people on the autism spectrum, making behavior analysts highly sought-after, since they address a growing need. Becoming a board-certified behavior analyst is just one of the many fulfilling careers available when you earn a master’s in special education online.


Special Education: Applied Behavior Analysis (Autism track), M.Ed.

This 100% online master’s in special education specifically addresses applied behavior analysis focused on individuals on the autism spectrum. This has become a popular feature of the PennWest California graduate program, perhaps because of the growing number of children and adults who have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Applied behavior analysis has been a useful tool in helping individuals with ASD, both in and out of the classroom.


Like the applied behavior analysis general track, this program prepares individuals to pass the certification test in order to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) with a certificate in autism. This online master’s in education degree offers many of the same career benefits and opportunities as the general track, but it is geared toward helping the special education professional better understand the challenges posed by the nature of autism spectrum disorders.


Special Education: Dual Certification (Grades Pre-K to 4/Pre-K to 8 certification), M.Ed.

While most of PennWest California’s master’s degree programs in special education are offered 100% online, this is a comprehensive on-campus dual certification M.Edprogram for students who are working to become certified teachers for the first time. This 63-credit graduate degree combines in-depth training, internships and field experience with the latest in teaching theory. Students who complete this program earn an M.Ed. degree andare eligible for dual Pennsylvania teaching certification in special education for grades pre-K to 4 and pre-K to 8.


This is the best special education track for degree-holders in other fields who are interested in becoming certified as special education teachers. People without a degree can take advantage of PennWest California’s undergraduate program, which offers a bachelor’s degree in special education. PennWest California’s undergraduate program offers many benefits and is another top destination for individuals who are dedicated to educating special populations.


Gain a fulfilling career with an on online master’s in education. Apply now!


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