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Online Master of Science in Education in Special Education

Purdue University West Lafayette (Main Campus)

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Master of Science in Education in Special Education?
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Meet the Needs of Exceptional Children

Exceptional children require highly skilled educators that can plan and administer special education curricula while facilitating a safe and effective classroom. Gain these essential skills when you graduate from Purdue's online MS in Education in Special Education.

The degree offers several concentrations to meet your career needs.

Top 50


Best Education Schools in the U.S. — U.S. News & World Report

Proven Program


Accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)

Advance Your Training in the Field of Special Education

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.

Multiple Learning Concentrations Available

The online Master of Education in Special Education has a core curriculum that focuses on mild intervention, with an emphasis on helping students achieve their academic and behavioral potential. It offers six learning concentrations to meet your career needs, including a focus on intense intervention.

6 Concentrations:

  • MSEd in Special Education — Non-Licensure (Master's Only)
  • MSEd in Special Education — Initial Mild Only Licensure
  • MSEd in Special Education — Initial Mild & Intense Licensure
  • MSEd in Special Education — Additional Mild Only Licensure
  • MSEd in Special Education — Additional Mild & Intense Licensure
  • MSEd in Special Education — Additional Intense Only Licensure

See the courses page for details.

Complete Your edTPA

The curriculum of the online MSEd in Special Education is aligned with edTPA, formerly the Teacher Performance Assessment. EdTPA is a performance-based, subject-specific assessment and support system that is designed to meet state and national standards – including Common Core State Standards and the Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC) – to ensure new teachers are empowered to teach each student effectively.

Three Tasks

The edTPA process involves three tasks: planning, instruction and assessment. As part of the edTPA requirements for this advanced special education degree, you will create four professional portfolios, three of which you will complete under faculty supervision and one of which you will complete on your own.

Video Recordings

You will also submit unedited video recordings of yourself teaching in your classroom. These will demonstrate your ability to:

  • Design plans and teach in ways that support your students’ strengths and needs
  • Engage students in learning
  • Analyze levels of learning and comprehension
  • Adjust instructional plans and techniques to be more effective
Gain Career-Advancing Skills

Purdue University’s online MSEd in Special Education program combines a unique view of the entire education landscape with practical experience addressing the latest breakthroughs in assessment, instructional strategies, and evidence-based practices for teaching students with disabilities.

By the time you complete the MSEd in Special Education requirements, you can:

  • Understand the various characteristics and categories of disability identified by law
  • Be able to apply methods of assessment including the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data to make instructional decisions
  • Empirically validate instructional methods to provide age-appropriate curriculum adapted to individual students' needs and educational plans
  • Ensure students have access to the general education curriculum using evidence-based practices
  • Use current and emerging technologies to promote increased mobility, communication, self-determination, and cognitive functioning
  • Provide behavioral support for students with challenging behavior that promote and teach appropriate functional behavior and social skills
  • Create safe and positive learning environments where diversity across culture, race, ethnicity, and gender are valued
  • Understand and apply ethics and standards for professional practice in special education
Intense Intervention Focus

You have the option to add a focus on intense intervention to complement your studies in mild intervention. This add-on to the online special education degree consists of three courses plus a practicum in addition to the mild intervention curriculum.

In this focus area, you learn to help students who require more significant interventions to help them learn and function. These are children and adolescents with severe intellectual and/or physical disabilities that require intense intervention techniques, usually in a dedicated classroom. You will learn strategies for developing self-determination, self-advocacy and independence to help your students succeed in school and beyond.

Courses examine:

  • Characteristics of severe disabilities
  • The medical and physical management of individuals with multiple disabilities
  • Methods for teaching students with severe challenges

Licensing Info

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.

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
  • An updated resume
  • (3) letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with your abilities
  • A 500-word (minimum) personal statement
  • Official transcripts from all universities attended, including transfer credits
  • An application fee of $60 ($75 for international students)

* Note: Additional and/or alternate testing may be required depending on program track, please contact an admissions counselor to discuss your specific admissions requirements. Testing options for Basic Skills Assessment can be found here.

International Students

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

How to Apply

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 any questions about filling out the application, contact us online or call us at 877-497-5851 to speak with an admissions advisor.

What’s It Like to Learn Online?

  • Will my diploma look different from the on-campus programs?

    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.

  • How do online classes work?

    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.

  • How much time should I allow for doing homework and completing assignments?

    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.

  • What if I have a question about homework or need help with a technical issue?

    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.

Tuition and Fees* for MS in Education in Special Education

Program Costs Master's Only
Tuition Rate — In State (per credit hour) $379.05
Tuition Rate — Out of State (per credit hour)
$700.00

Technology Fee (per credit hour)

$7.55
Repair & Rehabilitation Fee (per credit hour) $11.25
Digital Education Fee (per credit hour) $50.00
Total Cost Per Credit Hour — In State $447.85
Total Cost Per Credit Hour — Out of State $768.80
Total Credit Hours 31
Practicum Fee I N/A
Practicum Fee II N/A
Student Teaching Fee N/A
edTPA Fee N/A
Total Program Cost — In State $13,883.35
Total Program Cost — Out of State $23,892.80

Tuition and Fees* (Additional Licensure)

Additional Licensure — Mild Additional Licensure — Mild and Intense Additional Licensure — Intense Initial Licensure — Mild Initial Licensure — Mild and Intense
Tuition Rate — In State (per credit hour) $379.05 $379.05 $379.05 $379.05 $379.05
Tuition Rate — Out of State (per credit hour)
$700.00 $700.00 $700.00 $700.00 $700.00
Technology Fee (per credit hour) $7.55 $7.55 $7.55 $7.55 $7.55
Repair & Rehabilitation Fee (per credit hour) $11.25 $11.25 $11.25 $11.25 $11.25
Digital Education Fee (per credit hour) $50.00 $50.00 $50.00 $50.00 $50.00
Total Cost Per Credit Hour — In State $447.85 $447.85 $447.85 $447.85 $447.85
Total Cost Per Credit Hour — Out of State $768.80 $768.80 $768.80 $768.80 $768.80
Total Credit Hours 32 41 35 36 45
Practicum Fee I $1,050.00 $1,050.00 $1,050.00 $1,050.00 $1,050.00
Practicum Fee II N/A $1,050.00 N/A N/A $1,050.00
Student Teaching Fee N/A N/A N/A $1,250.00 $1,250.00
edTPA Fee N/A N/A N/A $300.00 $300.00
Total Program Cost — In State $15,381.20 $20,461.85 $16,724.75 $18,722.60 $23,803.25
Total Program Cost — Out of State $25,651.60 $33,620.80 $27,958.00 $30,276.80 $38,246.00


*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. The rate and fees above are effective for the 2019–2020 school year. Although Purdue faculty and staff fee remissions may be available to the online MSEd in Special Education program, special rates are available for Purdue West faculty, staff and alumni. Please discuss your options with an admissions advisor.

Advance Today

If you would like to advance your teaching career and gain the skills necessary to become an effective special educator, discover the possibilities of distance learning through Purdue University online.

To learn more about the program, request more information or call 877-497-5851 to speak to an admissions advisor.