Special education

University of Missouri-Columbia
Master of education
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Master of education

You care deeply about ensuring every student receives the quality education they deserve. That’s why you are drawn to this 100% online master of education in special education from the University of Missouri. As one of several top-ranked online graduate programs from Mizzou’s College of Education & Human Development, this program allows you to earn a degree that advances your career and increases your earning potential, even while working full time.

This program is ideal for working educators with teacher certification. The knowledge you develop in this program can have an immediate impact on your classroom. You’ll learn essential skills and strategies for differentiating instruction for at-risk learners, students with disabilities, those with exceptional language development and literacy skill and for cross-category students.

The program also provides a unique opportunity to build expertise in a specific area. Fifteen of your 30 required credit hours are dedicated to electives, so you can focus on the areas that interest you most. When you complete this program, you will have the degree you need to further a career in secondary education, work as a paraeducator or as an administrator. Mizzou’s graduate education will take you and your students beyond.

Top-ranked programs in two categories

Mizzou’s online master’s in education programs ranked among the nation’s finest in two U.S. News & World Report 2023 categories.

Best Online Programs U.S. News and World Report Grad Education 2023 Badge.
Best Online Programs U.S. News and World Report Veterans Grad Education 2023 Badge.

Quick facts

Official name

Master of education in special education


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

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.

Teacher one-on-one with student

Career prospects

Job titles include:

  • Interventionists
  • Paraeducators
  • School administrators
  • School psychologists
  • Special education specialists
  • Teachers

Program structure

Delivery of this program is 100% online: no campus visits are required.

Courses are cohort-based. Most students study part time, taking one to two classes per semester, and complete the course work in just two to three.

Course work includes

  • Advanced behavior management
  • Transition in special education
  • Collaboration and consultation 
  • Assessment and evaluation 
  • Evaluation and data-based decision-making
  • Electives in differentiating instruction, autism, cross-categorical special education and more


100% online

Calendar system


Typical program length

2-3 years

Typical course load

1-2 classes per semester


University of Missouri is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States.

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.

Faculty spotlight

Jena Randolph, assistant professor special education

Jena Randolph is an assistant professor at the University of Missouri in the Department of Special Education and the director of online graduate programs. Before this, she served as the director of training and education at the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopment. She has over 25 years of experience working with individuals with autism throughout the lifespan across home, clinical and school settings. Her experience focuses on neurodiversity, collaborative and coordinated care, emergent communication development and supporting the implementation of evidence-based practices in schools.

Jena Randolph, PhD
Assistant Professor and Director of Online Graduate Programs, Department of Special Education
Chad Rose, special education

Chad Rose directs the Mizzou Ed Bully Prevention Lab. His research focuses on bullying prevention among school-aged youth, with a particular emphasis on supporting youth with disabilities. Recently, he has begun exploring how youth interact in online spaces, and how these interactions may cultivate lasting and meaningful social relationships. Over the past 13 years, Rose has published several peer reviewed manuscripts and book chapters, and he has developed several online bullying prevention modules and supporting curricular materials for various educational stakeholders.

Chad Rose, PhD
Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Special Education
Matthew Burns, professor special education

Matthew Burns directs the Center for Collaborative Solutions for Kids, Practice, and Policy and serves as co-director of the Missouri Partnership for Educational Renewal. Dr. Burns has published over 200 articles and book chapters in national publications, and has co-authored or co-edited 15 books. He is a Past Editor of School Psychology Review and Assessment for Effective Intervention. Dr. Burns is one of the leading researchers regarding the use of assessment data to determine individual or small-group interventions, and has published extensively on response to intervention, academic interventions, and facilitating problem-solving teams. In addition, Dr. Burns was also a practicing school psychologist and special education administrator before becoming an academic, and served on the faculty of the University of Minnesota for 10 years and Central Michigan University for 5 years. He received the 2020 Senior Scientist Award from Division 16 (School Psychology) of the American Psychological Association.

Matthew Burns, PhD
Professor, Department of Special Education, Herbert H. Schooling Professor, College of Education & Human Development

Learn more about this program

This program is administered by the Department of Special Education