Purdue University

Online Degree in Special Education



Special Education Master’s Degree’s – 100% Online

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. In as little as 20 months, this online master’s degree in special education will give you the skills to:

  • Plan and administer special education curricula.
  • Facilitate a safe and effective classroom environment.
  • Meet the needs of exceptional children who require highly skilled educators

Programs and Specializations

The MSEd in Special Education program focuses on mild intervention, with the option to add a focus in intense intervention. Different tracks are available to meet your career needs.

  • Master’s only: Intended for those seeking knowledge in the area of special education. No practicum is required; an additional elective course is taken in its place.
  • Master’s with initial special education licensure: Intended for those seeking a master’s degree as well as an initial license in special education in mild intervention or mild and intense intervention. This track requires practicum and student teaching field experiences.
  • Master’s with advanced special education licensure: Intended for those who already have initial (teaching) licensure and are looking to add an advanced licensure in mild intervention or mild and intense intervention. This track requires practicum experiences.
  • Master’s with advanced special education licensure – intense intervention only: Intended for those who already have a special education teaching license in mild intervention and looking for advanced licensure in intense intervention. This track requires practicum experiences.

Students who choose to add the intense intervention focus to their studies complete additional hours and coursework.



This advanced special education degree is for passionate educators who value all learners, regardless of skill level or ability, and who want to use the latest instructional, behavioral, and communication strategies to meet the unique needs of students with disabilities. The Master of Education in Special Education combines the latest technology and research with practical experience in one program to advance your expertise and position you as a leader in the field.

The core curriculum of the program focuses on mild intervention, with an emphasis on helping students achieve their academic and behavioral potential. These special education online courses are geared toward assisting students with learning disabilities, mild developmental disabilities, emotional behavioral disorders and high functioning autism.

By the time you complete the MSEd in Special Education requirements, you will be able to:

  • 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.


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 will 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.


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.

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. 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.


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.

Why Choose Purdue University?

  • Access to world renowned faculty and top-quality academics
  • Convenient and flexible online delivery format
  • Experience the same rigorous curriculum and receive the same prestigious degrees as on-campus students
  • Competitive price point for tuition

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