The number of special education teachers is increasing every year because education is becoming more individualized to the needs of every student. Special education teachers play a vital role in providing individualized assistance to students with a range of disabilities. They are constantly adapting lesson plans, assessing the progress of students, and collaborating with other school professionals. These broad responsibilities require a certain level of training that can be obtained through an education or special education degree.
Deciding on a Special Education Program
Special education teacher's educational requirements differ slightly from other school-based professionals. These teachers are only required to obtain a bachelor's degree and a state teaching license specifically for special education. However, many teachers chose to continue their education through some form of a graduate program. Your bachelor's degree can be in education, math, science, or another school-related field, and does not have to specifically be in special education, however, many chose to study special education or early intervention. These same principles apply for graduate programs and there is no accrediting body for special education in schools.
Once you decided which areas of study and what type of program you would like to pursue, you have to narrow it down further by selecting a specific school. There are several things to take into consideration, one major concern for many is cost. Deciding to attend an in-state university will save you money, versus out-of-state or a private school. Many people also look at the acceptance rate and the size of each classroom.
Top Special Education Programs
Whatever factors you take into consideration when deciding which program, it is always important to know where schools rank against one another. The higher a school ranks, in theory, the better education you will receive, which will turn into more job opportunities when you graduate. The U.S. News and World Report conducted a survey that sought to find the top special education programs in the country. At the top of the list is Vanderbilt University in Nashville, followed by the University of Kansas and the University of Oregon. If you were interested in receiving a degree in education and not special education; Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, and Stanford have the top three graduate education programs.
These well-known private schools can be rather expensive, so look to attend public schools in your state to save some money. Nine of the top ten colleges for special education majors are large state schools such as the University of Texas, Florida, and Wisconsin.
Remember, if you choose to follow a special education career path, you have many different options. You are not limited to only schools with special education majors but those that also have a general education degree, which is most.