Special education, general

University of Missouri-Columbia
Master of arts in special education
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Master of arts

Dedicate yourself to guiding and uplifting all learners with an online master of arts in special education. The University of Missouri’s (Mizzou) research-intensive program trains you to become a teacher-leader and advocate for children, youth and adults with disabilities and special needs. 

A multidisciplinary curriculum instructs you in classroom management, behavioral and assessment strategies and research techniques for the special education field. These tools equip you to engage and support diverse learners in your own classroom, as an administrator or through research, curriculum development or consulting.

Top-ranked programs

Mizzou's online master's in education programs ranked among the nation's finest in U.S. News & World Report 2024.

Quick facts

Official name

Master of arts in special education with emphasis in special education, general


University of Missouri-Columbia

Program type

Master's degree

Academic home

College of Education & Human Development | Department of Special Education

Delivery mode

100% online


Higher Learning Commission, Teacher Education Accreditation Council

Credit hours


Estimated cost


*This cost is for illustrative purposes only. Your hours and costs will differ, depending on your transfer hours, your course choices and your academic progress. See more about tuition and financial aid.

About the online master’s in special education

As an educator, you strive to accommodate all students in your classroom or school, no matter their background or abilities. You aim to spark an interest in a subject matter, encourage a lifelong love of learning and impart knowledge that shapes their academic and personal journeys.

Mizzou’s Department of Special Education operates with a similar mission: through research-based programs and projects, our faculty and students seeks to improve developmental outcomes for children, youth and adults with disabilities. As the first program of its type in Missouri, the online master’s in special education:

  • Prepares you to shape the future of special education through a curriculum emphasizing research, collaboration and supporting the needs of all students with disabilities and special needs
  • Equips you to teach science and mathematics, among other subjects, to students with disabilities
  • Emphasizes the importance of positive behavior intervention supports and evidence-based instructional, classroom management and behavioral methods
  • Aims to help you empower each student through multi-tiered support systems
  • Explores the unique learning, social and behavioral needs of students with disabilities at elementary school through adult levels
  • Instructs you in developing and conducting behavior interventions rooted in research
  • Is taught by faculty-scholars recognized nationally and internationally for their instruction and research
Foam puzzle mat.

Career prospects

Advance in the field of special education to make a broader impact. Prepare to conduct original research and assist schools with transforming their curricula and classrooms. More closely meet the needs of your current students through research-informed instructional and behavior management techniques. Our graduates secure positions in Missouri and are sought after across the country by school districts, education consulting groups and research organizations.

With the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting consistent demand for special education professionals between 2021 and 2031, potential next-level roles for your career include:

  • Interventionist
  • Paraeducator
  • School administrator
  • School psychologist
  • Special education consultant
  • Special education specialist
  • Teacher
Burning Glass Technologies. 2021. Salary numbers and employment growth numbers are based on models that consider advertised job posting salary, Bureau of Labor Statistics data and other proprietary and public sources of information for multiple occupations.
employment growth
Burning Glass Technologies. 2021. Salary numbers and employment growth numbers are based on models that consider advertised job posting salary, Bureau of Labor Statistics data and other proprietary and public sources of information for multiple occupations.
median salary

Program structure

The online master’s in special education is a 33-credit-hour program: 27 credit hours are devoted to required courses and six credit hours toward electives. 

Courses are 100% online and use a semester structure. No campus visits are required. The typical student takes one or two classes each semester to finish the program in two to three years.

Required courses

The program’s required sequence covers such topics as:

  • Classroom management and using applied behavior analysis strategies
  • Methods and procedures for assessing students with disabilities
  • Communication and collaboration strategies for assisting students with disabilities and their families
  • Research-based instructional and behavioral management methods for students with cross-categorical disabilities
  • Current and historical research and applied statistics in special education

Review all requirements for the online master’s in special education.


100% online

Calendar system


Typical program length

2 or 3 years

Typical course load

1 or 2 classes each semester


The University of Missouri is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States. The College of Education and Human Development is a member of the Teacher Education Accreditation Council.

Map of Missouri with MPER school district locations

MPER Early Career Scholars Program

If you are a first-, second- or third-year teacher, and teach in an MPER partner school district, you might qualify for a 50 percent tuition sponsorship from the College of Education and Human Development.

See how you can apply today.

Learn more about this program

This program is administered by the Department of Special Education