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Special Education Degree majors learn to work with disabled students, from those who have a mild learning disability to others who suffer more severe mental and physical disabilities.

Most states require a certificate or license when teaching special ed. These Requirements vary from state to state and from school system to school system. Teachers who wish to work in elementary or secondary schools may complete a Bachelor’s Degree program and earn a special education license or certificate.

More and more states also now require a Special Education Master’s Degree to teach students with disabilities, while students who pursue research or teaching at the college level will earn Doctorate Degrees.

Using the GI Bill and Tuition Assistance for a Special Education Degree

If you’re interested in pursuing a Special Education Degree and need financial help, the GI Bill, a military education benefit for service members in the Air Force, Space Force, Navy, Marine Corps, Army, and Coast Guard and their eligible dependents, covers tuition and fees, provides a monthly housing allowance, and offers additional money for books and supplies.

The GI Bill assists veterans who are transitioning into civilian life by offering them opportunities to further their education, acquire new skills, and find better jobs.

Using Spouse Tuition Assistance (STAP) and MyCAA for a Special Education Degree

Spouse Tuition Assistance

When seeking a Special Education Degree, military spouse tuition assistance programs help military spouses (and sometimes dependent children) pay for their education, whether they are in the U.S. or stationed elsewhere in the world.

All military branches once offered programs following Spouse Tuition Assistance (STAP) guidelines or created something similar. Today, individuals and organizations use the term STAP interchangeably to describe various offerings by military relief organizations, but the programs can differ.

STAP now refers to the education benefits offered by military aid societies, many of which the U.S. military branches and the federal government do not run. Instead, they are private, nonprofit organizations, and what they provide varies.

These organizations include:
  • Army Emergency Relief
  • Air Force Aid Society
  • Navy/Marine Corps Relief Society
  • Coast Guard Foundation


The workforce development program MyCAA, formally known as the My Career Advancement Account Scholarship, provides financial assistance of up to $4,000 ($2,000 over two years) to eligible military spouses pursuing or maintaining a Science Teacher Degree, certification, or license.

As long as an individual meets the requirements, MyCAA will pay for spouses pursuing any occupation or career.

Careers With a Special Education Major

Once students earn a Special Education Degree, they can attain many roles. They can teach in public or private schools or have careers outside of a school setting. According to the University of Minnesota, some of the places Special Education majors can find work outside of education include:
  • Adoption agencies
  • Government agencies
  • Group homes
  • Mental health clinics
  • Nonprofits states that graduates make approximately $63,000 when teaching but can make even more depending on the position, education, certification levels, and years of experience. Some professions may include:
  • Child psychologist
  • Counselor
  • Dean of Students
  • Lawyer
  • Principal
  • Professor
  • School social worker
  • School superintendent

What To Expect From a Military-Friendly Special Education Degree Program

A Special Education Degree program provides students with an equal balance of theoretical knowledge and practical skills. They’ll take courses on child development and learning disabilities, and learn teaching practices designed to meet the needs of students.

Special education programs typically emphasize practical application. Students will participate in classroom observations, supervised teaching experiences, and internships in special education settings. This hands-on approach allows them to refine their teaching skills and gain invaluable experience so they’re ready to succeed in their chosen position.

Select Yellow Ribbon Colleges with Special Education Degree Programs

  • Troy University- Troy University offers Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Collaborative/Special Education.
  • Upper Iowa University: Upper Iowa University offers a Master’s Degree in Education/Teaching of Individuals in Elementary and Secondary Special Education Programs
  • Quinnipiac University: Quinnipiac University offers certificate programs and Master’s Special Education and Teaching
  • Lasell University- Lasell University offers a Master’s Degree in Special Education and Teaching.

Select Military-Friendly Colleges with Special Education Degree Programs

  • Viterbo University: Viterbo University offers certificate programs in Special Education and Teaching.
  • Concordia University Wisconsin: Concordia University Wisconsin offers Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Special Education and Teaching as well as Master’s Degrees in Education/Teaching of Individuals in Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Special Education Programs.
  • University of Dayton–The University of Dayton offers Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degrees in Special Education and Teaching.
  • Xavier University: Xavier University offers Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degrees in Special Education and Teaching.

Special Education Degree Paths Using the GI Bill

There are a variety of options to pursue if you want a Special Education degree, including online, in-person, and PhD programs.

Online Programs

Niagara University is one of many schools offering an online Special Education Degree. Schools offer certificate programs and degrees at all levels. Many of these programs require students to participate in teaching assistantships and internships on campus or at another school. Check with the school of your choice for their online and hybrid offerings.

Certificates in Special Education

A credential in special education may be mandatory to teach special needs students for those enrolled in a program and already-working teachers looking to teach special education.

According to the University of Southern California, its special education certificate program “provides in-service teachers with the competencies to respond to the needs, interests and abilities of special needs students in either regular classrooms or specific school classrooms defined for students with documented learning differences. It widens the range of the students' knowledge about teaching and learning allowing them to compete in the contemporary professional marketplace.”

Associate’s Degree in Special Education

Community college students can earn Special Education Associate's Degrees. Students who complete this degree program can’t yet teach, but they can work toward a Bachelor’s Degree or work in entry-level education positions.

Your Future With an Associate’s Degree in Special Education

Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education

This four-year degree curriculum typically covers special education policies and legalities, child development, educational psychology, and gives skills and knowledge necessary for teaching disabled students.

Your Future with a Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education

Master’s Degree in Special Education

Master's Degree programs in Special Education focus on specific disabilities or special needs. Depending on the speciality and state, they'll earn a Master of Arts (M.A.) or a Master’s of Education (MEd).

Your Future with a Master’s Degree in Special Education

Doctoral Degrees in Special Education

A PhD or EdD program in special education prepares graduate students to teach or work in leadership positions. These include researchers, policymakers, or high-level administrators who drive advancements and innovations in special education.

Your Future with a PhD in Special Education

Related: Online Colleges for Military Members