Master of Education
Special Education

Total cost:

$9,500 View Tuition Details

Application due date for April 12, 2021 term: April 9

Estimated time to completion: 17 Months

Take your career further.

This program is for current PreK-12 special education teachers who want to expand their knowledge and earn a master’s degree. It is a 34-hour program designed to provide an in-depth study of research-based methods to support students with exceptionalities in current educational settings.

Nationally for most Master’s of Education graduates.*

What you can expect.

  • Flexible Study on your schedule. Our online format allows you to plan your coursework around your life.
  • Customizable Follow the path that fits you and your goals. Choose a three-course concentration in differentiated instruction, early childhood education or general special education.
  • Applicable Use what you learn. Students will gain valuable instruction in diagnosing learning disabilities, developing individual education plans, teaching and supervising special education students, special education counseling, and applicable laws and policies.
  • Coursework The coursework is designed to provide you with evidence-based methods to develop curriculum, design learning environments, and enhance instructional strategies and guidance techniques to support the diverse learning needs of students. You will also learn how to build and maintain communicative, collaborative partnerships among the school, colleagues, family and community to support students who are exceptional learners.

Choose your focus of study.

Nine of your semester credits will specialize in a focus area of your choice. View the College Catalog for full descriptions.

You also have the option of customizing this program by selecting a General Track and choosing the three courses that best fit your needs.

  • Differentiated Instruction
  • Early Childhood Education
  • General Special Education

A few of the classes you'll take.

  • CI5503 Principles and Practices of Classroom Management 3 semester credits
  • SPED5053 Development Characteristics of Exceptional Learners 3 semester credits
  • CI5203 Differentiated Instruction: Theory to Practice 3 semester credits
Tiffany Hamlett, Ph.D.

Department Chair

Tiffany Hamlett, Ph.D.
Administrative Faculty and Chair,
Department of Teaching and Learning
View All Faculty

A Degree You Can Count On

We are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, an accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. This accreditation guarantees our programs meet certain levels of quality standards.

A Note About Licensure:

While this program provides a comprehensive understanding of the intended program outcomes, it does not lead to licensure, certification, or endorsement. ACE offers several programs that do provide a pathway to licensure, certification, or endorsement and they can be found here.


M.Ed. in Special Education

Total Tuition

34 semester credits
x $235 per credit



$50 Application Fee

$1,360 Technology & Library Fee
($40 per credit)

$100 Program Conferral Fee


Total Program Cost*


On average, see how ACE compares to other online universities.

Let’s find a plan that fits your budget.

Even without federal loans, there are plenty of ways to finance your education at ACE. When you’re ready to invest in yourself, explore our flexible payment and financing options. Our Student Services reps are available to help you create a workable plan whatever your financial circumstances.

View Payment Options Talk to an Enrollment Counselor

*This is an estimated value of the cost for tuition and fees. Amounts may vary depending on number of transfer credits applied to the selected program hours or program pathway credit hours, the pace and satisfactory completion of the selected program or program pathway credit hours, receipt of, or eligibility for, institutional or non-institutional scholarship and/or grant amounts, and adjustments to tuition or fees as described in the Catalog Right to Modify Tuition section.

State of California Student Tuition Recovery Fund (STRF)

It is a state of California requirement that a student who pays his or her tuition is required to pay a state-imposed assessment for the Student Tuition Recovery Fund. For more information and to see if you must pay the state-imposed assessment for Student Tuition Recovery Fund (STRF) click here.

Admission Requirements

M.Ed. in Special Education

ACE General Admission Requirements

  • Complete and submit all application components including the admission application, including the enrollment agreement, and payment agreement.
  • Submit the nonrefundable application fee.*
  • Provide official transcripts from a regionally accredited institution indicating successful completion of the level of education required for entry to the program.**

*The application fee is valid for one year from date of submission.
**Additional evidence may be required to fulfill state requirements, including but not limited to verification of professional experience, test scores, or an interview.

Program Admission Requirements

M.Ed. in Special Education

  • Bachelor's or Highest Post-Baccalaureate degree earned
  • Minimum Grade Point Average 2.75 on a 4.0 Scale for full admission
  • Minimum Cumulative Grade Point Average of 2.50 on a 4.0 Scale for Provisional Admission*
  • Documentation of at least an initial teaching license (in the state the applicant resides), school service personnel license, or a school services certificate 
  • If applicants do not have a teaching certificate, they may document their teaching status by providing evidence of full-time teaching assignment from an individual in a supervisory capacity or from a human resources official of the school at their current employment

*Applicants whose overall GPA, or GPA in the last 60 hours is below 2.50 will not be admitted to the degree program​

International Transcript Requirements

All applicants must submit to the Admissions Office official, sealed college transcripts from each institution attended.

  • Transcripts that are international and/or not in English must be evaluated through an NACES-recommended agency.
  • Texas applicants may only submit evaluations from agencies approved by the Texas Education Agency.
  • International applicants must request the course-by-course evaluation. The evaluation report must show that the non-U.S. education is equivalent to the education/accreditation level required for the program.

English as a Second Language Applicants

All applicants whose first language is not English must demonstrate competence in the English language as demonstrated in one of three ways:

  1. Submission of an official transcript showing a degree from a United States secondary school or regionally accredited college/university.

  2. Submission of an official minimum score on the paper or internet-based Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exams.
    • The minimum TOEFL score required for the internet-based version is 80, and the paper-based version requires a minimum TOEFL score of 20 for each of the three skills: Reading, Listening, and, Writing.

    • The minimum IELTS score required is 6.5. Note: IELTS is not acceptable for Texas programs leading to certification.

    • The testing agency must send test scores directly to American College of Education.
  3. Applicants to the Texas Educational Leadership program whose first language is not English must submit a minimum scaled score of 24 for speaking, 22 for listening, 22 for reading, and 21 for writing from the Internet-Based TOEFL (IBT) or evidence of an undergraduate or graduate degree earned at an institution of higher education in a country outside of the United States listed in Figure: 19 TAC §230.11(b)(5)(C).


M.Ed. in Special Education

Explore the classes you'll take to fulfill this program's 34 semester credit requirement. For more information, a complete list of requirements, and course options, see the College Catalog.

Curriculum and Instruction Course

(3 semester credits)

This course prepares educators to implement a Positive Behavioral Support System (PBSS). The evidenced-based PBSS components are designed to guide educators to teach preK-12 learners competencies in social, emotional, and behavioral self-management for consistent application in classrooms and school-wide.

Research Course

(3 semester credits)

In this course students will learn about the science and research methods of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and how applying principles of behavior analysis can affect student behaviors. Students will be introduced to the history of ABA as well as the various strategies that fall under ABA. While ABA is a part of the Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) used in many schools today, there are other applications that are relevant to teachers, such as how to use ABA as a way to maintain skills that have been learned, how to use principles of ABA to observe student behaviors, how to determine which behavior to focus on, how to generalize behaviors to settings outside the classroom, and how to use ABA strategies as a teaching tool for both students with exceptionalities and their typically developing peers. Students will apply action research methods to support the utilization of ABA in the classroom.

Special Education Courses

(19 semester credits)

Students investigate developmental issues experienced by individuals across transitional stages throughout the life span. Characteristics of individuals demonstrating patterns of thought or behavior potentially contributing to the identification of learning disabilities are examined. Neurological impairments, which change the functionality of the brain, are surveyed for factors creating unique risks across cognitive and sensory, social and emotional, and behavioral areas and conditions which impact academic learning.
Student diversity impacts learning, the environment, and classroom behavior. This course examines the legal definitions, characteristics, prevalence, and educational adaptations for each primary category of exceptionality. Emphasis is placed on the accommodation and selective modification of curricula, materials, and procedures to meet the needs of diverse learners.
Data-driven instructional decision-making is critical to improve student outcomes for diverse learners across the continuum of disability in special and general education settings. This course focuses on conducting and analyzing ongoing student assessment and utilization of current research and theory as the foundation for driving instructional decisions and professional practices.
Collaboration between or among instructional personnel, student's home/family and the community is increasing in importance in meeting the diverse learning needs of students. This course addresses strategies and tools to build collaborative relationships between general and special education instructors, families, the community, advocacy, and other outside organizations to positively impact student outcomes.
Basic knowledge of statutory requirements, policy, and values are prerequisite to successful teaching in special education. This course focuses on federal legislation regarding identification, service provision, and current issues. Legal rights of students with exceptionalities and their parents, and the responsibilities of educators in addressing those rights are emphasized. Organizational policies and values associated with serving diverse learners also are emphasized.
In this course students will be presented with an overview of current special education professional standards and guidelines. They will also learn the 12 Special Education Professional Ethical Principles outlined by the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). Students will discuss challenging ethical dilemmas in which they will have to practice professional ethics and sharpen their skills as advocates for students with disabilities and their families.
The Capstone Experience is designed for candidates to demonstrate and document the impact of their knowledge and competencies gained throughout, and as a result of the Master of Education in Special Education.

Focus of Study

Customize this degree by choosing a three - course Focus of Study to fulfill the remaining nine semester credits.

Differentiated Instruction

This course examines the major tenets of differentiated instruction in relation to the diverse needs of 21st century learners, establishing and authenticating the philosophy driving learning centered teaching while exploring how neurological changes influence thinking. A range of instructional and assessment options are prospected to amplify the learning experience exemplified by national and state standards.
Exploring the impact of 21st century skills on traditional literacies, this course disseminates characteristics of the new literacies including visual, digital, critical, economic, and scientific as they influence sustainable learning in content areas while instruction shifts to accommodate these differences. By building connections and layering curriculum, this course probes effective frameworks to deliver a range of instructional options to brand the cognitive and affective domains.
Blending principles of thought with action, this course maximizes learning through integrated and inquiry-based experiences, enhanced creative expressions, and elements found in habits of the mind; applying brain-based research to augment instruction. Moving principles to form action, concepts of DI are infused into lesson plans by contrasting frameworks to deliver content, process and products, while influencing affective thought within the learning environment.

Early Childhood Education

Language forms the foundation for the acquisition of reading skills. In this course, atypical language development is contrasted with normal progression of linguistic skills to identify the type and cause of potential problems, addressing the difficulties associated with instruction and promoting practical methods for enhancing the required language skills needed for effective communication. Assessment, diagnostic, and development techniques for intervention and remediation are examined, including the exploration of augmentative language and the use of alternative and assistive technologies to support individuals with exceptional needs.
Focused on early childhood developmental issues, this course includes formal and informal approaches to assessing young children while diagnosing potential concerns which lead to informed instructional and intervention choices. Choices in curriculum are aligned to needs to enhance student achievement.
This methods course takes an action research approach, providing a systematic framework for early childhood professionals to apply data-based decision making for the improvement of their practice. The course differentiates quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods action research with a focus on application of results in the workplace. Emphasis is placed on development of a literature review featuring evidence-based strategies as a part of a research proposal.

Illinois Endorsement

Courses sequence in the Early Childhood Special Education focus of study are recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education as meeting the coursework requirements for an endorsement in Early Childhood Special Education.

  • Courses recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education as meeting the coursework requirements for an endorsement in an Early Childhood Special Education can be found in Early Childhood Special Education Endorsement

General Special Education (Select three courses)

This course prepares educators to assist challenging students through the use of evidence-based behavioral interventions. Response to Instruction and Intervention (RTI2) is a major focus of the course with major emphasis on strategic Tier 2. Tier 3 interventions for intensive student need and crisis management situations are also addressed.
This course examines formal and informal methods of diagnosing academic and socio-behavioral issues related to those potentially identified with special needs. Designed to model appropriate planning and program delivery, students explore methods and materials utilized in the diagnostic-prescriptive process to monitor progress, measure benchmarks and gather data for application, i.e. Individualized Education Plans. This includes evaluating procedures used in schools to determine eligibility for special education services guided by testing measures. Attention is given to selecting and adapting tests for a variety of disorders and aligning appropriate instructional methods to measure student success.
This course emphasizes the role of social skills instruction in effective classroom and school management. The Stop & Think program serves as a model in the course to assist educators in implementing a cognitive-behavioral approach to the teaching of social skills. Prevention of and response to student teasing, taunting, bullying, harassment, and physical aggression are a major course focus.
Exploring developmental and learning needs of children with exceptional learning abilities, the content will address the diverse needs of the gifted, students with exceptional needs, and children with learning disabilities. Strategies will be established to support a variety of learning needs while working with families to foster a consistent learning environment.
This course examines assessment approaches for diagnosing reading needs and methods for identifying, prescribing, and evaluating intervention plans based upon specific data. An embedded field experience targets developmental and age-appropriate instructional strategies to support struggling readers across diverse populations.

Illinois Endorsement

Some courses in the General Special Education Focus of Study option are recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education as meeting coursework requirements for a Learning Behavior Specialist I (LBSI) endorsement.

• Courses recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education as meeting the coursework requirements for an endorsement in Learning Behavior Specialist I (LBSI) can be found in  Learning Behavior Specialist I (LBSI) Endorsement. Illinois students must choose ED5403 and SPED5063. 

General Track

(9 semester credits)

Any three of courses from the courses above.