As inclusivity guidelines and protections for non-neurotypical learners become more stringent, the need for qualified and motivated special education educators grows even more. If you’ve worked with special needs populations for some time, you’ve likely heard of endorsement programs. Endorsement programs allow for currently licensed teachers to gain greater exposure to a specific subset of teaching skills. These programs often require between 3 and 6 courses for completion, and meet state standards for being “endorsed” to teach in a specialized area. What it takes to become endorsed varies from state to state, though many endorsement programs from outside of your state may be used to meet endorsement guidelines for your state. While you may attend endorsement programs offered anywhere online, it’s best to check your state guidelines regarding endorsement standards against the courses offered at the university you’re looking at. When in doubt, contact someone from your state licensing office.
We’ve looked at all online special education endorsement programs in the nation. And compared them according to the academic quality of their parent institutions and education schools, their affordability, and their flexibility. Check out the 20 best special education endorsement programs of 2019 below, today!
Concordia University Nebraska (CUNE) is a private university offering undergraduate, graduate, and certification programs online and in-person. CUNE is associated with the Lutheran Church and part of the larger Concordia University System. Currently the student body is comprised of around 2,300 students who enjoy small class sizes and diverse academic offerings. The University is comprised of three schools: the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Education, and the College of Graduate Studies. The largest subject offering group within the university include education-related programs, many of which are online. Additionally, face-to-face programs at the graduate level meet in Lincoln, Nebraska.
The fully online Special Education Endorsement offered by Concordia University Nebraska places first in our ranking due to the affordability of the program as well as flexibility-enhancing components in the program. The current tuition per credit hour rate for this endorsement program is $425 per credit hour. This makes the program the 7th most affordable of almost 50 peer programs. Flexibility-enhancing components include accelerated 8-week courses as well as the ability to take this course of study as just an endorsement program, or as part of the larger Master’s in Education in Special Education. The endorsement program is currently quite rigorous and requires 42 credit hours for completion.
The University of Arkansas (UA) is the flagship university of the University of Arkansas System. Located with a main campus in Fayetteville, Arkansas (as well as numerous online offerings), UA is currently comprised of a student body of over 27,000 students. Despite the site, student-to-faculty ratios are relatively low at 18 to 1. UA holds the highest form of accreditation (regional accreditation) from the Higher Learning Commission. The University is accredited to award degrees from the bachelor’s through doctoral levels, as well as professional certificates. Presently, U.S. News ranks UA as the 133rd ranked school in the nation. Additional accolades include beings ranked one of the top 20 schools in the nation for online bachelor’s degrees, the 56th best online graduate education degree provider, as well as a top school for veterans. Over 40 online degrees and certifications are available at this time.
The fully online Special Education Endorsement offered by the University of Arkansas places second in our ranking due to the relative affordability of the program as well as the academic quality of its parent college of education. The current tuition per credit hour rate charged by the program is $420, making the program the 6th most affordable of 50 peer institutions surveyed for this ranking. Additionally, scholarship opportunities are available to Arkansas-based educators. The program prepares those who complete the program for the Arkansas State standards for a K-12 Special Education Endorsement. A number of admissions routes are possible, including one that relies more heavily on undergraduate GPA and another for those already holding certain teaching licenses.
Old Dominion University (ODU) is a four-year, public university with a main campus in Norfolk, Virginia. This regionally accredited institution awards bachelor’s through doctoral degrees as well as professional certifications. Presently over 24,000 students are enrolled at the university across a wide variety of fields. Despite the size, class sizes are often small, and the student-to-faculty ratio is 18:1 according to the most recent count. Some of the most recognized programs at ODU include their online graduate computer information degrees, their online graduate engineering degrees, their online graduate nursing degrees, and their online graduate education degrees. Support services at the University include academic, career, and personal counseling, and credit for life experience. At the present moment, over 60 degrees are offered fully online, further enhancing the ability for current professionals or those with other obligation to obtain an education from ODU.
The fully online Special Education Endorsement offered by Old Dominion University places third in our ranking due to affordability, flexibility, and the academic quality of the school of education at the university. The current tuition per credit hour rate of the program is set at $568, making the program the 14th most affordable of 50 surveyed. This course of study is for those seeking to further their focus on special education without obtaining a master’s, or for those who hold a provisional teaching license and are seeking to obtain licensing requirements. This program provides licensing requirements for the following licenses: early childhood special education, special education: general curriculum (mild disabilities), special education: adapted curriculum (severe disabilities), and visual impairment. The course of can require both undergraduate and graduate-level courses depending on the academic background of the applicant. Those with a great deal of special education courses already can accelerate their time until degree by providing evidence of past experience meeting program criteria.
Seattle University (SU) is a private comprehensive university with a main campus in Seattle, Washington, The University is affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. The student body of the university is currently home to close to 7,500 students. And for a medium-sized school, classes are quite small with a student-to-faculty ratio of twelve to one. Seattle University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities to offer bachelor’s through doctoral degrees as well as professional certifications. According to U.S. Rankings, Seattle University is a regionally ranked school, coming in as one of the 10 best regional universities in the west. The largest program clusters at the university include career-centered offerings such as health, business, and education. Five online master’s degrees and a number of endorsement options are available in the field of education.
The fully online Special Education Endorsement program offered by Seattle University places fourth in our ranking largely due to affordability and flexibility scores. While many special education endorsements are quite involved (requiring more credit hours than many other endorsement programs), Seattle University’s program may be completed in one year. Additionally, students may choose between in-person, hybrid, and fully online courses throughout the program. 24 credit hours are required for program completion, which is designed for certified teachers with a bachelor’s or master’s degree. An additional flexibility-enhancing component may be seen in the program’s generous transfer policy. Students may transfer as many as 9 of the 24 credit hours from past educational experiences. Students of the program may also elect to continue on to the Master’s in Special Education program. Those who complete the endorsement program already hold half the credits necessary for a Master’s in Special Education from Seattle University. The current per credit hour tuition rate at the university is $325, making the program the second most affordable of those surveyed.
Northwestern College is a private Christian liberal arts school of just over 1,200 students. Founded in 1882, this rurally-based college enjoys small class sizes and student-to-faculty ratios of just 11 to 1. Despite it’s relatively small size, Northwestern College offers a good range of degree offerings including business administration, education, sports management, and many of the arts and sciences. The College is regionally accredited by the High Learning Commission to offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees in these disciplines. Additionally, students enjoy a vibrant range of clubs, sports, and support services. over 22 clubs, 16 intercollegiate athletic teams, as well as a number of fine and visual arts venues help to keep students busy and well rounded. Additionally, a number of online degrees are offered through the college, including a decent cluster around Master’s in education degrees and endorsements. Most online degrees are designed for adult learners and are flexible, allowing for completion within 2 years or less.
The fully online Special Education Endorsement offered by Northwestern College places 5th in our ranking due to high level of flexibility as well as affordability. As of the writing of this ranking, per credit hour tuition costs for the program are set at $325, making the program the second most affordable of 50 surveyed programs. On the flexibility front, the endorsement program offers four special education-related endorsements. These endorsements include Birth Through Grade Three Inclusive Settings, Instructional Strategist I Mild/Moderate Endorsement (K-8) (5-12)
, Instructional Strategist II Behavior Disorders/Learning Disabilities Endorsement (K-12), and Instructional Strategist II Intellectual Disabilities Endorsement (K-12).. The Instructional Strategist endorsements all require 21 credit hours, and may be completed in just over one year. If you’re looking for the ability to specialize your special education endorsement even further, and for an affordable price, Northwestern College is a great choice for your endoresement needs.
Ball State University (Ball State) is a public research university centered around a main campus in Muncie, Indiana. This doctoral university is classified as a high research activity university with a high proportion of graduate students, researchers, and high levels of grant money. Over 22,000 students comprise the student body, with over 5,500 at the graduate level. The range of academic offerings at Ball State ranges from the bachelor’s through doctoral levels in hundreds of disciplines. Some of the top-ranked programs offered by the university include theater arts, education, business, and architecture. For its size, classes are often small, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 17 to 1. Other measures often correlated with student satisfaction including retention and graduation rates are also top tier.
The fully online special education endorsement offered by Ball State University’s highly regarded college of education places sixth in our ranking due to flexibility in the program as well as the academic quality of the department. Flexibility-granting components of Ball State’s offerings include the offering of three special education-centered endorsements. These endorsements include the Special Education: Deaf Education (5-12) endorsement, the Special Education: Intense (K-12) endorsement, and the Special Education: Mild (K-12) endorsement. All three endorsement offerings are presented by the Office of Teacher Education Services and Clinical Practice at Ball State, which provides a range of educational services for educators. Services from the office include a clinical practice network, field experience, licensing, student teaching, criminal history, and testing requirements. Compared to all other surveyed programs, Ball State’s programs are also relatively affordable, coming in at $616 per credit hour (the 18th of 50th most affordable).
7.) Georgia Southern University
Georgia Southern University (GSU) is a public, doctoral research university that is a member of the University of Georgia University System. Located with a main campus is Statesboro, Georgia, additional campuses are located in Savannah and Hinesville. Additionally, numerous online offerings are available. The University is known as the largest education center in the southern half of Georgia. Additional accolades include particularly well-regarded academic programs in high school counseling, engineering, and education. Class sizes are small despite the mid-sized student body at the university, 24.8% of courses have less than 20 students.
The fully online Special Education Endorsement offered by Georgia Southern University places highly in our ranking due to its affordability as well as the academic quality of its education department. The current per tuition credit hour rate for the program is $385, making the program the fifth most affordable of the fifty programs surveyed for this ranking. Georgia Southern University’s education department is rated as one of the top 200 in the nation by U.S. News. This course of study is available to educators currently holding a T-4 or higher certificate in teaching in Georgia. The course of study requires 12 credit hours which may be completed in as little as 2 semesters. Of additional note is the fact that this is the only endorsement program in Special Education offered in the state of Georgia.
The University of Colorado at Denver is a public research university that is part of the University of Colorado System. With a main campus located in Denver, as well as additional campuses in downtown Denver as well as neighboring Aurora, the University is one of the main educational providers in Colorado’s Front Range. Of additional interest to educators in the region and throughout the state, the University of Colorado at Denver offers a wide range of online degrees. Currently close to 19,000 students call the university home, with students pursuing degrees from the bachelor’s through doctoral levels of study. A wide range of academic disciplines at the University are well regarded. In particularly faculty in genetics, biomedical research, cancer biology, toxicology, nurse practitioners, and public affairs are highly ranked.
The fully online Special Education Endorsement offered by CU Denver places highly in our ranking due to affordability of the program as well as the academic quality of the education department at the university. The current per credit hour tuition rate for the program is set at $448 making the program the 9th most affordable of 50 programs surveyed. The education department at the university is the 124th ranked program in America according to U.S. News. The program is geared towards educators that already hold a general license in education in the state of Colorado and are looking to enhance their knowledge of serving special education students. Many students who pursue this 26-credit hour endorsement go on to pursue their master’s in special education, which only requires 4 more courses and may be completed online.
The University of Nebraska (UN) is a public high research activity university with a main campus located in Lincoln, Nebraska. Close to 26,000 students are enrolled in UN’s student body. And though this is a large university, many classes remain small with a student-to-faculty ratio of 21 to 1. As one would expect of a large flagship university, UN offers degrees from the bachelor’s through doctoral levels. Additionally, a wide range of online degree options are available. Some of the top ranked programs at the university include their graduate education programs, graduate engineering programs, as well as the ranking of the university as a whole (124th in the nation according to U.S. News). For an affordable top tier university, UN offers a wide range of support services including personal, career, and academic counseling, many career offerings, and many extracurriculars.
The special education endorsement offered entirely online by the University of Nebraska places 9th in our ranking due to the University’s highly regarded education department as well as the affordability of the program. The current per credit hour tuition rate applied to the program is set at $628. This makes the program the 18th most affordable of those surveyed, which included over 50 schools. The University of Nebraska’s education department is currently the 40th ranked in the nation according to U.S. News. This makes for the highest ranked education department to offer an online special education department in the nation. This 30 credit hour program is also flexible, offering endorsements in Elementary (K-6), Early Childhood Education (Pre-3), Inclusive (Unified) Early Childhood Education (Birth to grade 3) or Special Education (K-6) for those who complete the program.
National Louis University (NLU), located in Chicago, Illinois, is a private university with a student body of around 4,500 students. Despite the medium size of this university, many classes are small with one-on-one attention. In fact, more than 90% of classes contain fewer than 20 students and the student-to-faculty ratio is currently 16 to 1. This focus on attention from educators is grounded in the history of the school, which was originally founded when Elizabeth Harrison opened a training school as well as kindergarten to promote early childhood education. Presently, NLU offers over 60 graduate and undergraduate degrees in a wide range of fields. A large number of degree programs are also available to non-traditional learners and presented online.
The endorsement in special education presented by National Louis University places 10th in our ranking due to its scores in affordability and flexibility. On the front of affordability, NLU offers endorsement credits at the tuition rate of $450 per credit hour. This places NLU as the 11th most affordable endorsement program of 50 surveyed for this ranking. As far as flexibility, NLU offers three endorsement programs related to special education. These endorsement programs include Director of Special Education Endorsement, LBS I Endorsement, and LBS II Endorsements: Curriculum Adaptation Specialist and Transition Specialist. Additionally, a school counselor endorsement is available. All three endorsements lead to licensure in Illinois (and other states if approved by local administrators) and may be completed in two semesters.
University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) is a four year, public institution with a main campus located in Kearney, Nebraska. The student body of slightly over 6,600 students makes for many quality classes with low student-to-faculty ratios. In fact student-faculty ratios are quite low for a state university at 14 to 1. There are a number of noteworthy programs offered through the university including a top public health school and a top education department, among others. A wide range of degrees at the university are offered online, making for a great university for adult and non-traditional students. Currently 23 online degrees are available through UNK.
The special education endorsement offered fully online by the University of Nebraska at Kearney places 11th in our ranking due to affordability and flexibility. Priced at $302 per credit hour, UNK’s special education endorsement is the most affordable of 50 programs surveyed for this ranking. The endorsement requires between 21 and 51 credit hours depending on undergraduate or previous master’s-level coursework that the applicant has completed. Prerequisites to the program include teaching licensure in any subject. While the outcome of the program is primarily directed towards Nebraskan educators, educators from other states can apply. These educators should talk with their local districts to ensure transferability of credentials.
The University of Sioux Falls (USF) is a private liberal arts university with a main campus located in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. USF is a Christian university with close to 1,500 students at the undergraduate and graduate levels in the student body. The university is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commision, as well as accredited for specific programs in social work, nursing, and education. Close to 40 undergraduate programs are available at the university, and a handful of graduate programs. Programs for non-traditional and adult learners are also available online, including a range of education degrees.
The fully online special education endorsement presented by the University of Sioux Falls places highly in our ranking due to affordability and flexibility. The current per credit hour tuition rate for the program is $302, making the program the most affordable of all fifty surveyed. The program may be completed after 15 credit hours. At this point successful applicants for the endorsement will pass a state exam. The route offered online by the University of Sioux Falls is an alternative route established by the State of South Dakota to help battle the lack of qualified special education teachers. Teachers with three years experience and the desire to take their study of special education further may apply for the program. Additionally, the program is open to those not seeking the South Dakota special education endorsement.
Rutgers University — also known as the State University of New Jersey — is a public, very high research activity university with an original main campus located in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Additional campuses may be found in Camden and Newark. Home to close to 70,000 students, Rutgers is the largest university in the state of New Jersey, and one of the largest in the United States. Through it’s long lineage (Rutgers is the 8th oldest university in the United States), many distinguished thinkers and important moments of research have come to fruition. Seen as a top 50 U.S. university, programs that are particularly highly regarded at the university include library science, English, history, social work, mathematics, and agricultural sciences. With that said, Rutgers offers hundreds of degree paths at the bachelor’s through doctoral levels, many of which are taught by world class faculty.
The fully online endorsement in Special Education program presented by Rutgers places in our ranking due to flexibility and the academic quality of Rutger’s education department. Seven courses are required for the course of study, including Introduction to Special Education or Psychology of the Exceptional Child, Materials and Methods in Education or Inclusive Teaching in Education, Literacy Development in the Elementary and Middle School, Literacy for Students with Disabilities, Learning Disabilities, Assessment and Measurement for Special Education, and Classroom Organization for Inclusive and Special Classrooms. The program is meant for teachers currently holding a valid teacher’s license in the state of New Jersey, and who would like to pursue an endorsement in the teaching of children of disabilities in K-12 schools in the state of New Jersey. The current tuition rate per credit hour for the program is set at $1,000.
Mckendree University (MU) is a private liberal arts university with a main campus located in the greater St. Louis area in Lebanon, Illinois. With a student body of around 3,000 students, many class sizes as well as student-to-faculty ratio are small. The institution is affiliated with the United Methodist Church, and confers undergraduate, four areas of master’s degrees, and doctor of education degrees. A number of degree programs are also available online and particularly suitable for adult and non-traditional students. The university is considered a top tier regional university in the midwest region.
The fully online special education endorsement program offered by Mckendree University places in our ranking due to affordability and flexibility in the program. The curriculum of the endorsement program requires four courses at the graduate level as well as a practicum. Topics covered in the four courses include Instruction of Diverse Learners, Characteristics of Students with Disabilities, Assessment and Progress Monitoring in Special Education, and Methods of Teaching Students with Disabilities. Courses are offered in both 8-week and 16-week increments, allowing for greater flexibility in achieving program outcomes. To quality for the program, applicants must have a valid educator license (can be from multiple states), have passed the Learning Behavior Specialist Test, and have obtained a number of prerequisite courses. The current tuition per credit hour rate for the program is $433, making the program the 8th most affordable of 50 surveyed programs.
Kansas State University is a public research and space-grant and land-grant designated university with a main campus in Manhattan, Kansas. This flagship university has a student body of close to 23,000 students in a diverse range of disciplines at the bachelor’s through doctoral levels. The university is one of only 115 that hold the very highest research designation, meaning a great deal of research is supported and achieved at the university. Despite it’s size and research focus, classes are often small and the student-to-faculty ratio is relatively low at the university (18 to 1). Student outcome measures including retention and graduation rates are also high quality at KSU.
The fully online special education endorsement program offered by Kansas State University places highly in our ranking due to the academic quality of KSU’s education department as well as the flexibility in the program. Cost per credit hour for the program is currently set at $946, making the program the 25th most affordable of 50 surveyed. Students in the program may elect to pursue the high incidence (adaptive) track or the low incidence (functional) special education endorsement paths in the program. As there is a great deal of overlap between the endorsement program and the Master’s in Special Education offered by KSU, many students elect to pursue their endorsement as a portion of the greater master’s level degree. KSU’s education department is currently ranked the 89th best education department in the nation according to U.S. News, making it one of the higher ranked endorsement providers surveyed for our ranking.
DePaul University is a private research university with a main campus located in Chicago, Illinois. DePaul is known as the largest Catholic University by enrollment in the United States as well as the 18th largest private university in the United States. The student body currently stands at over 22,000 students. Degree programs are offered from the bachelor’s through doctoral levels in a wide variety of disciplines. Despite the size, many classes are small and offer one-on-one attention. The student-to-faculty ratio is currently 16 to 1. Additionally, other student outcome measures are quite strong including retention, graduation, and loan default rates. While DePaul is a Catholic University, students come an extremely diverse range of religious backgrounds, political backgrounds, and locations.
The fully online special education endorsement offered by DePaul University places in our ranking due to the academic quality of DePaul’s education department as well as flexibility. At $630 per credit hour for the program, it is currently the 20th most affordable program surveyed (out of 50). One flexibility-enhancing feature of the program is the quick time until completion. Currently the program may be completed in as little as 9 months, making it one of the most quickest we’ve seen related to special education. For students needing more time to complete their studies, a part-time option is also available. 10 hours of field work are required for completion of the program. These field hours may be completed in the program participants own classroom. Successful applicants will hold a bachelor’s degree and valid Illinois teacher’s license. Those that complete the program will gain a Learning Behavior Specialist 1 endorsement in the state of Illinois (and potentially in any other state one works in, pending acceptance of local education departments).
17.) Greenville University
Greenville University is a religiously affiliated liberal arts university with a main campus located in Greenville, Illinois. The university is affiliated with the Free Methodist Church though students come from a diverse range of religious backgrounds. The student body is currently comprised of around 1,000 students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Students of the school must agree to a “lifestyle statement” in line with the University’s Christ-centered ideals. As one might expect from a university of the size, classes are small and offer ample “one-on-one” attention. The student-to-faculty ratio currently sits at 11 to 1. Other academic support indicators including retention and graduation rates are also strong.
The fully online special education endorsement for the state of Illinois offered by Greenville University places in our ranking due to affordability and flexibility. The current per-credit-hour tuition rate is set at $449, making the program the 10 most affordable of those surveyed (50 programs). Successful completions of the program will allow participants to become Learning Behavior Specialist (LBS1) in the state of Illinois. The current program requires three courses as well as a practicum. Current courses include Diagnostic Assessment for Special Education, Characteristics of Students with Disabilities, and Special Education Methods and Materials. Students of the program who graduated from the undergraduate programs at Greenville University receive an additional discount on tuition.
The University of Wyoming is a public, land-grant designated, research university with a main campus in Laramie, Wyoming. The university was founded in 1886, making it one of the oldest institutions of higher education in the Mountain West. In fact, the university was founded 4 years before the territory was admitted as a state. As such, the location of the university is actually prescribed in the state’s constitution. The university hosts additional offerings across the state and nationally through their outreach education centers and online. Currently the University of Wyoming’s Outreach School offers 41 degrees and endorsement programs fully online.
The fully online special education endorsement offered by the University of Wyoming places in our ranking due to the academic quality of UW’s school of education as well as affordability. The current tuition-per-credit hour rate for the program is $856, making the program the 23rd most affordable of those surveyed. Admission requirements for the program are a 3.25 or higher undergraduate GPA as well as a valid Wyoming teacher’s license. The program requires 30 credit hours for completion and be completed in less than 2 years. Coursework is comprehensive and a large portion of what Master’s in Special Education degrees generally cover. Courses include mild, moderate, and severe disabilities, technology for special education, behavior management, and two practicum semesters.
19.) Aurora University
Aurora University is a private, liberal arts university with a main campus located in Aurora, Illinois. Additional campuses online, in Wisconsin, and elsewhere in Illinois expand the offerings of the university. Presently, over 5,500 students attend Aurora University at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Besides regional accreditation for the entire institution, a number of Aurora’s programs are programmatically accredited, including their education programs, athletic training programs, social work programs, and nursing programs. Despite the medium size of the university, many courses enrollments are small, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 18 to 1. Other student outcome-related measures including retention and graduation rates are also high quality.
The fully online endorsement program for special education presented by Aurora University places highly in our ranking due to affordability and flexibility. The current per-credit-hour tuition rate for the program is set at $470, making the program the 12th most affordable of programs surveyed (50). The program is meant for students who already have a teaching license and requires students take courses constituting half of the licensure curriculum. The endorsement program constitutes a large portion of a master’s in special education program (also available from Aurora), which many students obtain the endorsement through. Additional admissions requirements include having taught in an Illinois school for 1-2 years in a preK-12 setting.
Central Michigan University is a public research university with a main campus located in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. The student body is currently comprised of over 23,000 students at the bachelor’s through doctoral levels of study. Over 200 degree programs are offered including a wide range that are available online. Particularly highly regarded programs include those in journalism, music, teacher education, nurse practionership, psychology, entrepreneurship, and audiology. Though the university is large, many courses enjoy small class sizes with plenty of “one-on-one” attention. Additional academic quality measures including retention, graduation rates, and student loan default rates are all quality at Central Michigan University.
The endorsement in special education offered by Central Michigan University entirely online places in our ranking due to the flexibility and affordability of the program. The current per-credit-hour tuition rate for the program is $850, making the program the 22nd most affordable of the 50 surveyed programs. Flexibility-enhancing components include two related special education endorsements which may be taken online: the endorsement for specific learning disabilities, and the autism spectrum disorder endorsement. An additional four special education endorsement programs are available on campus. For those looking to further their knowledge of special education beyond the endorsement, a master’s in special education program is available. Entry into both online special education endorsement programs requires a bachelor’s degree as well as a valid Michigan teacher’s license.
Related Resource: The 10 Best Online Master’s in Autism Spectrum Disorder Education