Best Online Bachelor's Degree in Special Education

Updated November 22, 2022

Find the best, most affordable online bachelor programs for a special education degree. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Individuals who choose to pursue Special Education as a career path deserve our utmost respect. These professionals put in a copious amount of time and attention, all while maintaining an incredible amount of patience, to care for children with disabilities. Becoming a successful special educator requires a specific academic background and rigorous training as part of an undergraduate degree.

To become a teacher in special education, you'll need to get a B.S. or B.A. degree in Education with some type of unique certification or endorsement in Special Education. You might also choose a degree with a focus on a particular age range, such as K-6 or high school or purse a Master's degree in special education. Although you can always choose a traditional brick-and-mortar institution for your education, you can also earn your degree entirely online.

Featured Online Programs

Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.

Top 20 Best Online Special Education

  1. Pacific Oaks College

    Pasadena, CA



    If you've already completed some college-level coursework, you'll want to give Pacific Oaks College a look. This Pasadena school offers an accredited online special education bachelor's degree completion program that will give you a pathway to finish your B.A. in just two and a half years (or up to five years if you enroll part-time). Pacific Oaks is a particularly good option for California residents since the program will qualify you to teach both K-12 general and special education in the state. As such, the curriculum incorporates an extensive fieldwork component consisting of a 600-hour supervised practicum and observation in an early childhood education setting.

  2. University of Georgia

    Athens, GA



    The University of Georgia's online B.S. in Special Education consists of a degree-completion and certification program all rolled into one. Although anyone can benefit from UGA's tightly-structured curriculum, Georgia residents stand to gain the most by earning this cheap special education degree online. That's because the degree leads to teacher certification in Georgia, and the school designed the curriculum in part to meet the critical shortage of special educators in the state. The program also requires you to visit the Athens campus for orientation, where you'll meet other like-minded students in your cohort. Note that classes begin in the fall semester only, and you'll need to register for full-time study.

  3. Old Dominion University

    Norfolk, VA



    Old Dominion University has a top bachelor's in special education online for affordable in-state tuition and a highly rated distance learning experience. Its courses also stand out for the opportunities they provide to translate your skills into specialized professions. For example, you'll take a class and complete a practicum in instructional design, developing expertise in this field along the way. Along with some other hands-on experiences, ODU's program will grant you eligibility for teacher licensure by the time you graduate. The only drawback: Only residents of Virginia and Washington are permitted to enroll.

  4. Ball State University

    Muncie, IN



    Ball State was founded in 1918 as a teacher training college, so it's no surprise that it earns a spot on this online special education bachelor's degree ranking. The program's unique format combines an early childhood degree with a minor in early childhood special education baked right into the curriculum. Keep in mind, however, that it is a completion program and therefore requires an associate's degree to apply. And although the program doesn't lead to licensure, it will prepare you for work in Head Start programs and other pre-K environments. It will also give you access to professors who are experts in the field, both as professionals and as active educators and researchers.

  5. Liberty University

    Lynchburg, VA



    Liberty University offers one of the top special education degrees online for Christian students - especially those who plan to homeschool their children. That's because Liberty's B.S. doesn't lead to licensure, but instead prepares you for work as a paraprofessional, tutor, or homeschool instructor. Professors teach all courses from a Christian perspective, including a three-class sequence in "Christian Life and Thought." Aside from this religious focus, the curriculum also incorporates coursework in autism, behavioral problems, and other topical issues. Lastly, a "Survey of Trends in Special Education" class will help you stay up-to-date on the latest research in the field.

  6. University of South Carolina-Aiken

    Aiken, SC



    The broad curriculum at USC - Aiken ensures you'll graduate with a strong basis in both the pedagogy of special education and the practical skills you need to reach diverse student groups. To that latter point, this affordable online special education degree program isn't just for teachers: You can also apply what you learn in other settings, such as social service agencies. As for the coursework, you'll learn about all sorts of challenges facing children today, from traumatic brain injuries to autism to emotional and behavioral disorders. And for hands-on learning, you'll complete practica to gain experience working with specific special ed populations, take a senior seminar, and wrap up your studies with a final internship.

  7. East Carolina University

    Greenville, NC



    North Carolina residents might have the most to gain from ECU's cheap online special education degree program thanks to its extremely competitive in-state rate (under $7,000!). As a completion degree, the program also only admits students who have earned their associate's from a North Carolina community college. Broader benefits include a curriculum that will prepare you for work with K-12 students, comes with a K-12 reading licensure, and is available 100% online. Finally, the degree culminates in a public school internship that will place you in a real classroom to observe experienced educators in action.

  8. University of Alaska Southeast

    Juneau, AK



    Considering the vast nature of Alaska's geography, it makes sense that the University of Alaska - Southeast offers its B.A. in Special Education through distance learning. However, due to the unique educational needs of the state, UAS also limits admission to Alaska residents. But for those who live in the 49th state, this degree provides a specialized education that you can apply in urban and - more commonly - rural environments. As you pursue this affordable bachelor's in special education online, you'll learn how to teach both Native and non-Native students in a culturally sensitive manner. And when all is said and done, you'll graduate with your Alaska teaching certificate and an endorsement in K-12 Special Education.

  9. Touro University Worldwide

    Los Alamitos, CA



    The accredited online special education degree program at Touro University Worldwide is a little different from most others on this list. That is, it's technically a B.A. in Psychology with a concentration in Special Education. Predictably, this means you'll focus more heavily on the psychological principles needed to become a strong special educator, but you'll also learn how to apply those theories and models to the real world. If this approach interests you, then you'll also appreciate Touro's affordable tuition, flexible scheduling (including six start dates per year), and generous credit transfer policy.

  10. University of Wisconsin-Stout

    Menomonie, WI



    By the time you graduate from the University of Wisconsin - Stout, you'll be ready to help students with myriad disabilities, from learning and cognitive to behavioral and developmental. In addition to its comprehensive curriculum, Stout also shines on this special education degree online ranking for its comprehensive worldview. In fact, the required coursework includes classes in racial and ethnic studies and in cultivating a global perspective. On the practical side, the degree incorporates ample-hands on experience (and prepares you for licensure in Wisconsin) through both student and intern teaching opportunities.

Methodology: Here's How We Rank Schools

At Best Value Schools, we help students of all ages get the best possible value for their education. When choosing the best schools and programs, we prioritize tuition rates, student debt, financial aid opportunities, graduation rates, and the availability of online programs. We source unbiased data from government and educational databases like the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 6,374 schools across the U.S. We organize that data into five weighted categories to compile our school rankings.
Metric Data Used Percentage
Academic Quality Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates 25%
Affordability Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid 35%
Reputation Admission and enrollment rates 15%
Program Offerings Number of program options 10%
Online Enrollment Score Portion of learners taking at least one online course 15%
You can read more about our comprehensive evaluation process on our methodology page.

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Selection Criteria

For this ranking, we focused on public and private (non-profit) colleges and universities that offer special education degrees online. Because the focus of this list is on affordability, we only considered programs with average* tuition rates of $25,000/year or less.

*For public schools, we calculated the average value of their in-state and out-of-state rates.

Ranking Factors

Unfortunately, there are a limited number of online special education degree programs available. Therefore, we could not compile a pool of options large enough to justify a complex ranking system in which we'd filter out schools based on specific factors.

So instead, we ranked the programs solely according to their affordability. See below for the best cheap bachelor's in special education online degrees, ranked from most to least expensive.

Thanks for reading our ranking of the 20 top cheap special education degrees online!

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See also:
The 15 Most Affordable Online Bachelor's Degrees in Child Development Degree Programs
Special Education Scholarships.

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