Master’s in Special Education

Meet Your Career Goals Through Licensure and Non-Licensure Pathways

Exceptional children require highly skilled educators that can plan and administer special education curricula while facilitating a safe and effective classroom. Whether you are a licensed teacher, looking to become a teacher or licensed in Special Education we have a pathway for you.

Expand your expertise and position yourself as a leader in the field. This advanced special education degree is for passionate educators who value all students and want to help them achieve their academic and behavioral potential.

You’ll learn to use the latest instructional, behavioral, and communication strategies with the latest technology and research to meet the unique needs of students with learning disabilities, mild developmental disabilities, emotional behavioral disorders and high functioning autism. Find more information on the licensure-only programs here.

Learning Pathways and Interventions

Whether you’re a special education paraprofessional or want to add special education to an existing license, we have several options to meet your needs. Purdue’s online special education program includes both a licensure only and master’s degree option with tracks in initial licensure or additional licensure with mild and intense focus. This nationally recognized program has many benefits:

  • Convenient online classes
  • Interact with peers across the state and beyond in engaging online courses that are aligned to CEC 2020 Standards
  • Add a Blended and Online Teaching License without additional courses
  • Alignment with edTPA measures
  • 1-on-1 support through a dedicated licensure office
  • Assistance with field placement for student teaching and/or practicum

Program at a Glance

  • Delivery: Online
  • Credits: Track dependent
  • Course Length: 8 weeks
  • Time to Complete: 20 months
  • In-State Rate: $490/credit
  • Out-of-State Rate: $740/credit
  • Start Dates: Fall (August), Spring (January), Summer (May)

Are you an Administrator or Superintendent? Check out our versatile licensure option for Indiana teachers.

#13 Best Online Master’s Program in Special Education

U.S. News & World Report, 2024

View a Virtual Information Session

Hear directly from our directors of admissions, program directors and faculty to learn more about the program’s objectives, what it’s like to learn online, the resources we have to assist you throughout your education, and career paths after graduation.

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A female teacher works with a special education student.

Learning Concentration Program Roadmaps

The programs listed below are for candidates seeking a Master’s degree in special education with licensure and non-licensure options. Candidates looking for licensure only can learn more about the Special Education Licensure Only Program.

Master’s Only:

Initial Licensure (for teachers not currently licensed):

Additional Licensure (for teachers already licensed looking to add special education licensure):

Licensure Only:

See the courses page for details.

Unsure of which path to choose? Access our pathway resource to determine which program and/or licensure is best for you.

A black female teacher stands at the back of the classroom. A group of students are behind her.

Complete Your edTPA

Purdue’s online special education programs incorporate the Education Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA) measures. You’ll complete your program ready for this multi-measure assessment that requires new teachers to demonstrate the knowledge and skills needed to teach according to state and national standards – including:

  • Common Core State Standards
  • Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC)

As a graduate of Purdue’s online special education program, you will be empowered to teach students effectively.

View Career Outlook.

A black female student works on a computer

Earn Additional Credentials as You Work Towards Your Degree

Purdue’s Online Special Education Program offers candidates the opportunity to earn additional credentials while completing their advanced degree or licensure. Learn more about our Blended and Online Teaching State Licensure, Google and Apple Certification, and the Orton Gilligham Credential below.

When you complete a non-intense intervention special education program online with Purdue, you’ll graduate with the requirements to earn an Indiana licensure in Blended and Online Teaching. While not a stand-alone content area or exclusive to a specific age group, the online Blended and Online Teaching licensure prepares teachers for online and blended classrooms.

Purdue’s non-intensive intervention online programs utilize Blended and Online Teaching standards along with International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards to develop specific competencies that students will master upon completing their programs. With this approach, additional courses or field experiences are not required beyond those in their current plan of study. Instead, these experiences will be modified to emphasize diverse learning environments.

The Apple Teacher certification and the Google Workspace for Education Certification material is integrated into the coursework of the program. Candidates are required to obtain the necessary technology to complete the material. In EDPS 57701, candidates will develop a portfolio that will showcase their certificates and competencies they collect throughout the program.

Learn more about Apple Teacher

Learn more about the Google Workspace for Education – Basic

The Orton Gillingham Online Academy is partnering with Purdue University to bring the OG Approach to pre-service teachers as a Master’s degree requirement. The course (EDPS 52400 – Effective Instruction For Students with Significant Reading Difficulties) will explore significant reading difficulties, such a dyslexia, and essential components of effective reading instruction. This course will investigate scientifically-based reading research (SBRR), evidence-based and developmentally appropriate reading instruction and interventions to support students with exceptionalities.

Candidates completing this course will obtain an Orton Gillingham Certificate of Completion. This certificate may result in a candidate’s ability to secure an additional reading credential within his/her state. Please contact your state’s Dept of Education or speak with your school district officials to see how this additional certificate will be viewed within their district/state.

A female teacher works with a student with down syndrome.

We Build A Resourceful Community of Teachers

The online MSED in Special Education Faculty and Staff are committed to providing essential support to each candidate as they complete the program and move into a full-time role as a special education instructor. With a variety of resources and events offered through this program, candidates will be able to step confidently into a special education teacher role and provide an impactful learning experience to students with exceptional needs.

Purdue’s Mentor and Induction Program provides a series of seminars to help you connect content from course to course, integrate technology tools and provide networking opportunities beyond the classroom with alumni, guest speakers from the field, faculty members and course instructors and university supervisors.

Collaborate one-on-one with the Clinical Practice Coordinator to help you and your administration design a clinical practice experience(s) that works for your licensure area.

Students walk under the "Purdue University" arch

Admissions Requirements

Admissions decisions are based on individual experience and the applicant’s fit with the program.

To be considered for admission, students must complete a phone interview with an admissions advisor and submit a completed application as well as the following items:

  • A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA
  • An updated resume
  • (3) letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with your abilities
  • Two Statements
  • Official transcripts from all universities attended, including transfer credits*
  • Transcript Evaluation & Credential Review (TECR) – For All Licensure Track Applicants
  • An application fee of $60 ($75 for international students)

*Coursework used to satisfy the requirements of a conferred master’s degree from an institution other than Purdue may not be used as transfer credit.

Currently on an Alternative Special Education Licensure? As of July 1, 2022, many states, including the State of Indiana, are requiring permit holders to enter a professional license preparation program. Come see what Purdue can offer you!

Purdue’s special education online degree program is designed to give you the skills and training needed for licensure in the state of Indiana. The State of Indiana has a compact agreement with most states, meaning a student with a valid Indiana teaching license can obtain a license in another state. Specific coursework, testing, or grade point averages may be required.

For current information regarding out-of-state licensing, please visit the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) website.

To learn more about each state’s requirements for licensing, please contact the Department of Education in your desired state or visit the United States Department of Education website for license requirements and application procedures.

View additional information regarding licensing.

View additional information regarding accreditation, standards, and program recognition.

In addition to the admission requirements noted on the first tab, international students must also provide the following information.

  • Official transcripts from all universities attended in the original language as well as English translation for transcripts and diplomas not in English.
  • Non-native English speakers must also submit the following.
    • TOEFL test scores that are less than two years old and meet the following requirements:
      • Minimum Overall: 80
      • Writing: 18
      • Speaking: 18
      • Listening: 14
      • Reading: 19
    • IELTS test scores that are less than two years old and meet the following requirements:
      • Minimum Overall: 6.5
      • Writing: 6.5
      • Speaking: 6.0
      • Listening: 6.0
      • Reading: 5.5
    • Duolingo test scores that are less than two years old and meet the following requirements:
      • Total score of 115 and 115 on each subscore

Prior to starting your online application, you must first complete a phone interview with an admissions advisor. To schedule your phone interview, call 877-497-5851.

Once you have completed your phone interview, you are ready to complete the online application.

If you have questions on eligibility or the documents required for your application, please call 877-497-5851 to speak with an admissions advisor.

Send All Other Application Materials To:

Purdue University Online Programs Admissions Processing Center
851 Trafalgar Court, Suite 420
West Maitland, FL 32751


Program Costs – Master’s ONLYIn-StateOut-of-State
Tuition Rate$421.20$671.20
PO Infrastructure Fee (per credit hour)$18.80$18.80
Digital Education Fee (per credit hour)$50.00$50.00
Total Cost Per Credit Hour$490.00$740.00
Total Credit Hours3131
Practicum Fee IN/AN/A
Practicum Fee IIN/AN/A
Student Teaching FeeN/AN/A
EDPS 52400 Course Fee$495.00$495.00
Total Program Cost$15,190.00$22,940.00
Additional Licensure – MildAdditional Licensure – Mild & IntenseAdditional Licensure – IntenseInitial Licensure – MildInitial Licensure – Mild & Intense
Tuition rate – In-State (per credit hour)$421.20$421.20$421.20$421.20$421.20
Tuition Rate – Out-of-State (per credit hour)$671.20$671.20$671.20$671.20$671.20
PO Infrastructure Fee (per credit hour)$18.80$18.80$18.80$18.80$18.80
Digital Education Fee (per credit hour)$50.00$50.00$50.00$50.00$50.00
Total Cost Per Credit Hour – In-State$490.00$490.00$490.00$490.00$490.00
Total Cost Per Credit Hour – Out-of-State$740.00$740.00$740.00$740.00$740.00
Total Credit Hours3244383648
Subtotal Cost without course fees – In-State$15,680.00$21,560.00$18,620.00$17,640.00$23,520.00
Subtotal Cost without course fees – Out-of-State$23,680.00$32,650.00$28,120.00$26,640.00$35,520.00
Practicum Fee I$1,140.00$1,140.00$1,140.00$1,140.00$1,140.00
Practicum Fee IIN/A$1,140.00N/AN/A$1,140.00
Student Teaching FeeN/AN/AN/A$1,300.00$1,300.00
edTPA FeeN/AN/AN/A$300.00$300.00
EDPS 52400 Course Fee$495.00$495.00$495.00$495.00$495.00
Total Program Cost – In-State$17,315.00$24,335.00$20,255.00$20,875.00$27,895.00
Total Program Cost – Out-of-State$25,315.00$35,335.00$29,755.00$29,875.00$39,895.00

*Additional program costs related to licensure, testing, course materials and books may apply depending on program track. Estimated additional costs over the course of the whole program ranges from $500–$2200 depending on the track and preference of book format, paper (higher end) or electronic (lower end). Tuition and fees are charged on a per credit hour basis and are subject to annual increases. Annual increases may change the total program cost. Purdue faculty and staff fee remissions may not be available to the online MSEd in Special Education program.

Learn From the Experts

Explore how Purdue’s faculty for the online MS in Education in Special Education can prepare you for leadership and advancement in your teaching career.

Kharon Grimmet, SPED., Program Coordinator Clinical Associate Professor

Megan Elam, Course Instructor

Melissa Grabner-Hagen, Course Instructor

Brian Sappenfield, Course Instructor

Ann Sweet, Course Instructor

Rita Carlisle, University Supervisor

Emily Grasso, University Supervisor

Kelly Jackson, University Supervisor

Peg Rideout, University Supervisor/Guest Lecturer

Brian Sappenfield, University Supervisor


Diversity brings together students from all walks of life. At Purdue, our students are ethnically, culturally and spiritually diverse – allowing for a wide variety of ideas, thoughts and opinions to add depth and interest to the fabric of society. We encourage every individual to contribute his or her unique perspective on the world to create a rich postsecondary experience.

Read stories from the graduates of Purdue’s Online Master’s in Special Education and learn how our online program set them each on a course to conquer the future.

Naomi Tokuyama

“I was laid off from my teaching position at the start of the pandemic and decided it was time to take the next step in my teaching career and applied to grad school. I chose Purdue because they were extremely helpful in the admissions process and because the program had what I was looking for. I loved the seven week class format and the all online format (minus practicum). I am so glad that I chose Purdue because I have achieved my goal of being a special education teacher. I am in a district that I have dreamed of teaching in for a few years now. I can’t wait for what is next. Boiler up!”

Teri Baxter

“The Purdue College of Education gave me a head and shoulders advantage in establishing myself as a special education professional. Even as a new special education teacher, I felt extremely prepared in understanding my role in educating students with exceptionalities across K-12 environments. I also appreciated the personal connections I made and the accessibility of the professors when I needed anything. I’m so glad I chose the Purdue online program to help me pursue my second career while still raising my family!”

Taylor Patterson

“I’m so grateful for the education I received from Purdue! I am extremely confident in the knowledge I gained throughout my time at Purdue. I have recommended the Master’s in Special Education program to many of my coworkers already!”

Sarah Gaulke

“I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be a teacher without Purdue. I began my undergraduate students as an education major but changed. It wasn’t until several years after graduating that I realized special education was my calling. The Purdue program was the only master’s program I could find that was set up to prepare me for initial licensure while working full-time (a must for a late-to-the-game teaching student), fully online for this rural Oregonian, and with a reputation of a high-quality program.”

Bristol Ryff

“The classes and accessibility of the program was helpful. It allowed me as a working professional to complete the program while working.”

Amy Catteneo

“Purdue helped me achieve my goal of becoming a teacher. I had the heart and the skillset but needed the education and know how which I received at Purdue. They basically escort you through the entire process – both the professors and the administrative staff. You never feel alone or not supported.”

Alexandra Richmond

“I am thankful for the flexibility and convenience of this program. I learned so much during the short course periods and the entire program went by so fast!”

Frequently Asked Questions

Please find answers to the most popular questions for the online Special Education program asked by many of our new online students.

Purdue’s Online Special Education Program focuses on mild intervention, high incidence disabilities such as learning disabilities, mild intellectual disability, emotional/behavior disability, and high functioning autism. Candidates do have the option to add a focus on intense intervention (moderate to significant intellectual disabilities, medical and physical impairments as well as chronic illness) to complement your studies in mild intervention.

This program is designed to prepare candidates for Indiana licensure. As such, candidates completing the Initial or Additional Licensure Program will earn an Indiana Licensure and a Masters Degree. Given Indiana’s reciprocity with 42 additional states, it is possible that your state will accept your Indiana Teaching License based on the qualifications and required clinical experience(s). Please note, reciprocity is subject to change at anytime.

Individuals seeking licensure outside of the State of Indiana will need to work with their individual state to check for reciprocity and if they may have additional licensing requirements. Individuals desiring a Masters Only will NOT be eligible for a license in special education in the State of Indiana.

No. Practicum and Student Teaching requirements can be completed outside of Indiana and are supervised electronically. It is strongly encouraged candidates are employed or seek employment as a special educator (on an alternative/provisional/emergency licensure) or para-professional in effort to expedite the placement(s) opportunities as well as provide candidates with much needed experiences while completing the program.

Yes. Purdue’s Office of Teacher Education and Licensure (OTEL) has expert advisors to assist you regarding Indiana licensure.

Individuals seeking licensure outside of the State of Indiana will need to work with their State Department of Education to determine if Indiana licensure fulfills the licensure requirements within that State. Yes, Purdue offers licensing advisors who can assist you with specific licensure questions for Indiana licensure.

Office of Professional Preparation & Licensure
Purdue University College of Education
Main Office: 765-494-2345
Fax: 765-494-0587

Individuals who seek licensure in other states will need to work with their state department of education to determine and fulfill its specific licensing requirements.

Individuals not seeking licensure can choose the Non-Licensure Track (Master’s Only) Program. The MS Only program does not require Clinical Practice Experiences and will NOT lead to licensure.

Clinical Practice I (Practicum) can range from 8 to 16 weeks and is only offered during the Fall and Spring semesters. Practicum cannot be offered in the Summer.

Clinical Practice II (Student Teaching) is a 16 week experience and is only offered during the Fall and Spring semesters. Student Teaching cannot be offered in the Summer.

All students in the Online Special Education Program are required to complete a CBC on an ANNUAL basis while enrolled in the program. Purdue uses Castlebranch to conduct all CBCs.

All students must complete a Professionalism Agreement and present a valid criminal background check. Candidates seeking licensure will eventually obtain CPR-Heimlich Maneuver-AED Certification, complete a suicide prevention training (available through Purdue at no charge while enrolled. If this is not completed while enrolled, there will be a fee), state content and pedagogy tests. Please Note: Licensure requirements are subject to change. Please check with the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) or Purdue’s Office of Teacher Education and Licensure (OTEL) if you have any questions.

Candidates who are not US citizens can complete the Master’s Only. If you believe you have a special case, you can contact the Program Coordinator.

Yes. Licensure requirements are subject to change. Please check with the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) or Purdue’s Office of Teacher Education and Licensure (OTEL) if you have any questions.

The Online Special Education Program requires candidates to have a computer (laptop or desktop) that meets the minimum processor/software requirements in order to access and participate in the online program. In addition, candidates are required to have an iPad that meets the programs minimum series/IOS. The iPad in conjunction with your computer will be used to develop the knowledge and skills need to integrate technologies into the classroom, home, hospital, or other environment where individuals with disabilities can receive educational services according to the IEP. Given the iPad requirement, many of the require texts/readings will be available free to candidates. A list of required textbooks (not available for free) will be provided prior to beginning the program and is subject to change.

It depends on when the credits were taken and the content covered within the course. Professional Standards and Practices change over time and were updated in 2020. Courses not aligned with CEC 2020 Standards may not be accepts. Please submit transfer request prior to beginning the program, as transfer credit will NOT be considered after the student has begun his/her program.

Masters Only – does NOT require any clinical practice experience as it does NOT lead to licensure in the State of Indiana.

Additional Licensure in Special Education – DOES require practicum experiences at both the elementary and secondary level. The Program Coordinator will meet with you to develop these individual experiences.

Initial Licensure in Special Education – DOES require both practicum and student teaching experiences. The Program Coordinator will meet with you to develop these individual experiences.

No. Both on-campus and online programs earn the same diploma. Online students are also invited to participate in the graduation ceremony on campus upon program completion.

Most coursework is asynchronous, meaning that there are not specific times that you need to be online. When you start the program, you will be given access to a virtual classroom interface. Your instructor will post coursework, syllabi, assignments, and messages every week. You will also use discussion boards, e-mail, and chat to communicate with your classmates and your instructor. You can log on and do your coursework at any time that is convenient for you, but you must turn in your assignments by the deadlines your instructor sets.

As in an on-campus program, you should plan on devoting about 15 to 20 hours a week to coursework, depending on your study habits.

The faculty and staff at Purdue are dedicated to your success at the University and in the future. Your instructor will set weekly times for one-on-one electronic consultations and will answer emails in a timely fashion. Technical support is available to help you handle hardware and software issues, and we have dedicated staff available to talk to you about financial aid, scheduling, or any other administrative issues.

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