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Making the Most of Your Master's Degree in Special Education

Interested in pursuing a master's degree in special education, but want to keep you options open? The good news is that if you want to transition into a special education teaching position or leadership role, the jobs should be plentiful. According to the U.S. Department of Education (DOE), many states in the U.S. have a in special education.

For instance, the DOE reports that Wisconsin has a teacher shortage in the following areas of special education:

  • Cognitive disabilities.
  • Cross-categorical.
  • Deaf and hard of hearing.
  • Early childhood -- special education.
  • Emotional and behavioral disorders.
  • Learning disabilities.
  • School speech and language disabilities.
  • Visual disabilities.

What if you earn your master's degree and your first choice has no positions open? Fortunately, a Master of Science in Education -- Special Education gives you knowledge and skills that transfer to many special education roles as well as general education roles.

Benefits of Earning an MSE -- Special Education

Pursuing a master's degree in special education does more than prepare you for a new role in the field. A typical graduate program usually offers a couple of general courses that enable you to pick up valuable skills applicable outside of special education.

Working toward an MSE can expose you to the latest in research and experts in the field. This can be helpful, especially if you decide to pursue a Ph.D. Some universities offer seminars on education topics to update and enhance your knowledge.

Enrolling in graduate school will expand your network. In completing the program, you will meet professors and students who work for other organizations. All of these people are valuable contacts who may be able to introduce you to future employers or new opportunities. You could, for example, meet a classmate who might be involved in programming for a conference and invite you to speak as an expert or attend as a guest.

Applying Knowledge to Other Roles

The University of Wisconsin-Superior offers an online MSE -- Special Education program. One of the required courses is "Collaboration and Transition: From School to Community." Its purpose is to teach prospective educational leaders how to partner with their school's community. In National Standards for Family-School Partnerships, the National Parent Teacher Association states that engaging the community provides these benefits:

  • Increases teacher morale.
  • Boosts student success
  • Improves parent involvement.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, becoming a school principal usually requires a master's degree. The specialty does not always matter; the degree requirement, if there is one, depends on the state and school district. However, for those who already know they want to become a principal, UW-Superior also offers an MSE – Educational Administration program online.

The special education program at UW-Superior requires completion of a research course. The skills gained from this course will help students learn effective research methodology – methods that can be applied in the classroom or school.

Every degree has value no matter what career you pursue. Earning a master's degree tells prospective employers that you choose to learn and can handle the challenges that come with completing graduate-level coursework. This can help you stand out from other candidates.

Learn more about the University of Wisconsin-Superior online Master of Science in Education -- Special Education program.


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook - Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals

National PTA: National Standards for Family-School Partnerships

U.S. Department of Education: Teacher Shortage Areas

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