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What Can You Do With a Master’s in Special Education?

Written by: Wilson College   •  Apr 19, 2024
A Special Education Professional Working With a Student Using a Microscope.

What Can You Do With a Master’s in Special Education?

Special education aims to meet the academic, social, and emotional needs of students with a wide range of disabilities. During the 2021-2022 school year, more than 7.3 million students between the ages of 3 and 21 received special education services, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Understanding what you can do with a master’s in special education can help you choose a satisfying career that makes a positive impact on countless lives. 

Through a tailored, inclusive learning environment, special education professionals promote educational inclusivity for all children. A Master of Special Education (MSE) degree program can provide aspiring professionals with the foundational knowledge and skills required to serve as compassionate educators and advocates for students of all ages. 

Benefits of Earning a Master of Special Education

A bachelor’s degree in special education can qualify you to obtain a state teaching license and work as a special education teacher. Although it takes an additional two years to earn an MSE, on average, this degree offers opportunities that aren’t available with an undergraduate degree. 

An MSE opens the door to several other career options, including administration, consultancy, or analysis. MSE programs build upon the knowledge gained at the undergraduate level with courses focused on research, leadership, and advanced skill development.

If you’re curious about what you can do with a master’s in special education, consider the following:

Advance Your Teaching Skills

Special education professionals, including teachers, administrators, and others, support students’ social and academic development. A master’s degree in special education can help you better understand specific disabilities and how those disabilities impact students and their families. When you can see these things in context, you can better understand students’ strengths and abilities, and it becomes possible to develop educational strategies that best support their development. 

A master’s degree program dives deeper into pedagogy and its various theories than a bachelor’s program; this can help you better understand the links between human development and the education process. These programs also emphasize the value and importance of collaboration in special education

Pursue New Career Opportunities

Earning a master’s degree in special education opens the door to both teaching and nonteaching roles. In-demand special education career options include the following:

  • Instructional Coordinator: Instructional coordinators are responsible for planning curricula and teaching techniques for students in groups and individually.
  • Educational Administrator: Educational administrators manage schools or school systems. This high-paying leadership role involves developing and/or selecting curricula; assessing teachers and students; managing resources; and creating a compassionate, positive, empathetic environment.
  • Behavior Analyst: Behavior analysts look at the various ways in which students’ environments affect their behavior, develop interventions as needed, and make important academic and social decisions that support students.
  • Educational Consultant: Educational consultants are special education experts who can provide staffing recommendations, recommend educational tools or methods, and work with students and parents to help them find the right special education classrooms for their needs.
  • Educational Diagnostician: Educational diagnosticians have expert knowledge on how teaching and testing methods impact individual students with specific disabilities. They assess and observe students; recommend specialists when needed; and work with teachers, parents, and administrators to develop individualized education programs (IEPs).

Choose an Area of Specialization

While attending a master’s in special education program, you may discover a particular specialization that you’re passionate about. An MSE program can prepare you to specialize in working with students who have visual and/or hearing impairments, students on the autism spectrum, or students with learning disabilities. You might also choose to specialize in occupational or speech-language therapy. 

Earn a Higher Salary

The average annual salary of special education professionals with a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Special Education degree was roughly $58,000 as of January 2024, according to data provided by Payscale. Professionals with an MSE degree earned a significantly higher average of $66,000. Salaries may fluctuate based on the career path, years of experience, and job location.

For example, the BLS reported that special education teachers earned a median annual salary of about $62,950 as of May 2022. However, kindergarten through secondary education administrators earned a median annual salary of $106,690. The additional responsibility associated with leadership and administration roles often commands a higher salary. 

What Will You Learn in a Master of Special Education Program?

An MSE program builds on the knowledge and skills you gained during your bachelor’s program. It focuses on pedagogical theory, teaches you how to integrate cutting-edge technologies into lessons, and facilitates more supportive and inclusive classrooms for all students. Furthermore, an MSE degree program can prepare you to earn various certifications that increase your employability and your salary. 

Examining typical courses in an MSE program can help you better understand what you can do with a master’s in special education. Courses may focus on the following topics: 

  • Classroom culture
  • Early intervention strategies
  • Parent conferencing and collaboration
  • Instructional methods for various grade levels
  • Positive behavioral supports
  • Classroom assessment
  • Transition planning
  • Educational research

Pursue New Opportunities in Special Education With a Graduate Degree

You need highly specialized skills and knowledge, as well as compassion, dedication, and empathy, to make a lasting impact on students’ lives as a special education professional. The MSEdegree program from Wilson College Online will help you better understand and apply special education theories in ways that help children of all ages thrive. 

Learn more about how you can pursue your MSE in a personalized learning environment with flexible courses and attentive faculty at Wilson College Online. 

Recommended Readings

4 Special Education Careers

How to Get a Special Education Certification

Special Education Teacher Salary and Career Overview


Indeed, Special Education Degree: Advantages and Specializations

Indeed, “Special Education Majors: Benefits and Career Options”

National Association of Special Education Teachers, Understanding and Achieving Collaboration in Special Education

National Center for Education Statistics, Students With Disabilities

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Education Administrators, Kindergarten Through Secondary

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Special Education Teachers

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