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2021 Best Special Education Schools

849 Colleges
$43,879 Avg Salary
$28,500 Avg Student Debt

Finding the Best Special Education School for You

Special Education is one of the most popular majors in the nation, ranking 5th of all the majors we analyze. In 2018-2019, 30,639 degrees and certificates were awarded to students with this major.

There are lots of options to pick from today when trying to decide which teaching program is right for you. You can choose a traditional brick and mortar school, or with the growth of online education, you can attend a school half-way across the country without even leaving your house. Also there are many trade schools that offer short-term programs that open up more career options.

To assist you in seeing some of the education options that are available to you, Teaching Degree Search has created its Best Special Education Schools ranking. Our analysis looked at 849 schools in the United States to see which programs offered the best educational experiences for teaching students.

View our full ranking methodology.

2021 Best Special Education Schools in the United States

Check out the special ed programs at these schools if you want to get the best education that money can buy.

Top 25 Top Schools in Special Ed

#1

Lebanon Valley College

Annville, PA

Our 2021 rankings named Lebanon Valley College the best school in the United States for special education students. LVC is a small private not-for-profit school located in the small suburb of Annville.

On average, special ed graduates from LVC take out $27,000 in student loans while working on their degree. This translates to an average monthly loan payment of $280, based on a 10-year repayment plan.

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The excellent programs at University of Delaware helped the school earn the #2 place on this year’s ranking of the best special education schools in the United States. U of Delaware is a fairly large public school located in the large suburb of Newark.

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Out of the 641 schools in the United States that were part of this year’s ranking, The College of New Jersey landed the # 3 spot on the list. TCNJ is a moderately-sized public school located in the suburb of Ewing.

On average, special ed graduates from TCNJ take out $23,750 in student loans while working on their degree. The average monthly payment of a loan this size is about $260, assuming that the borrower is on a 10-year repayment plan.

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#4

Brandman University

Irvine, CA

A rank of #4 on this year’s list means Brandman University is a great place for special education students. Brandman is a large private not-for-profit school located in the city of Irvine.

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#5

Hamline University

Saint Paul, MN

You’ll join some of the best and brightest minds around you if you attend Hamline University. The school came in at #5 on this year’s Best Special Education Schools list. Located in the city of Saint Paul, Hamline is a private not-for-profit college with a small student population.

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#6

Towson University

Towson, MD

Towson University ranked #6 on this year’s Best Special Education Schools list. Located in the small city of Towson, Towson is a public school with a fairly large student population.

Special Ed majors at Towson take out an average of $18,527 in student loans while working on their egree. This translates to an average monthly loan payment of $192, based on a 10-year repayment plan.

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#7

Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD

With a ranking of #7, Johns Hopkins University did quite well on this year’s best schools for special education students. Located in the large city of Baltimore, Johns Hopkins is a private not-for-profit college with a very large student population.

The average amount in student loans that special ed majors at Johns Hopkins take out is $36,435. For students who choose a 10-year repayment plan, the average monthly student loan payment is $425.

Full Special Education at Johns Hopkins University Report

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With a ranking of #8, University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign did quite well on this year’s best schools for special education students. UIUC is a fairly large public school located in the city of Champaign.

Special Ed majors at UIUC take out an average of $21,499 in student loans while working on their egree. For students who choose a 10-year repayment plan, the average monthly student loan payment is $223.

Full Special Education at University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign Report

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#9

Elon University

Elon, NC

Elon University landed the #9 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best special education programs. Located in the medium-sized suburb of Elon, Elon is a private not-for-profit college with a medium-sized student population.

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#10

Central Washington University

Ellensburg, WA

Central Washington University landed the #10 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best special education programs. Located in the town of Ellensburg, CWU is a public college with a large student population.

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#11

Lehigh University

Bethlehem, PA

Lehigh University came in at #11 in this year’s edition of the Best Special Education Schools ranking. Lehigh is a moderately-sized private not-for-profit school located in the city of Bethlehem.

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#12

Providence College

Providence, RI

Providence College landed the #12 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best special education programs. Located in the city of Providence, Providence is a private not-for-profit college with a small student population.

On average, special ed graduates from Providence take out $27,000 in student loans while working on their degree. This translates to an average monthly loan payment of $280, based on a 10-year repayment plan.

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University of Southern California came in at #13 in this year’s edition of the Best Special Education Schools ranking. Located in the large city of Los Angeles, USC is a private not-for-profit school with a very large student population.

After completing their degree, special ed graduates from USC carry an average student debtload of $84,878. This translates to an average monthly loan payment of $989, based on a 10-year repayment plan.

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With a ranking of #14, Illinois State University did quite well on this year’s best schools for special education students. Located in the suburb of Normal, Illinois State is a public school with a fairly large student population.

After completing their degree, special ed graduates from Illinois State carry an average student debtload of $21,500. For students who choose a 10-year repayment plan, the average monthly student loan payment is $223.

Full Special Education at Illinois State University Report

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#15

SUNY Geneseo

Geneseo, NY

SUNY Geneseo landed the #15 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best special education programs. SUNY Geneseo is a moderately-sized public school located in the distant town of Geneseo.

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#16

Western Washington University

Bellingham, WA

Western Washington University did quite well in this year’s ranking of the best schools for special education students. It came in at #16 on the list. WWU is a large public school located in the city of Bellingham.

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#17

Dakota State University

Madison, SD

Dakota State University ranked #17 on this year’s Best Special Education Schools list. Located in the town of Madison, Dakota State is a public college with a small student population.

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#18

Fairfield University

Fairfield, CT

Fairfield University landed the #18 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best special education programs. Fairfield U is a medium-sized private not-for-profit school located in the large suburb of Fairfield.

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Catholic University of America did quite well in this year’s ranking of the best schools for special education students. It came in at #19 on the list. CUA is a medium-sized private not-for-profit school located in the large city of Washington.

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#20

Rider University

Lawrenceville, NJ

Rider University ranked #20 on this year’s Best Special Education Schools list. Rider is a small private not-for-profit school located in the suburb of Lawrenceville.

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#21

Baylor University

Waco, TX

Baylor University did quite well in this year’s ranking of the best schools for special education students. It came in at #21 on the list. Located in the medium-sized city of Waco, Baylor is a private not-for-profit college with a fairly large student population.

Full Special Education at Baylor University Report

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#22

Hope College

Holland, MI

Hope College ranked #22 on this year’s Best Special Education Schools list. Located in the small city of Holland, Hope is a private not-for-profit college with a small student population.

The average amount in student loans that special ed majors at Hope take out is $27,000. This translates to an average monthly loan payment of $280, based on a 10-year repayment plan.

Full Special Education at Hope College Report

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#23

Endicott College

Beverly, MA

Endicott College did quite well in this year’s ranking of the best schools for special education students. It came in at #23 on the list. Endicott is a small private not-for-profit school located in the large suburb of Beverly.

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York College of Pennsylvania landed the #24 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best special education programs. YCP is a small private not-for-profit school located in the suburb of York.

On average, special ed graduates from YCP take out $28,500 in student loans while working on their degree. The average monthly payment of a loan this size is about $296, assuming that the borrower is on a 10-year repayment plan.

Full Special Education at York College of Pennsylvania Report

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#25

University of Georgia

Athens, GA

University of Georgia ranked #25 on this year’s Best Special Education Schools list. Located in the midsize city of Athens, UGA is a public school with a very large student population.

After completing their degree, special ed graduates from UGA carry an average student debtload of $23,513. The average monthly payment of a loan this size is about $262, assuming that the borrower is on a 10-year repayment plan.

Full Special Education at University of Georgia Report

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Rest of the Top 50 Best Special Education Schools

#26

University of Redlands

Redlands, CA
#27

Elizabethtown College

Elizabethtown, PA
#29

Florida State University

Tallahassee, FL
#30

Gonzaga University

Spokane, WA
#31

National University

La Jolla, CA
#32

Manhattan College

Riverdale, NY
#34

Centenary University

Hackettstown, NJ
#35

Winona State University

Winona, MN
#37

Pace University - New York

New York, NY
#39

Augustana University

Sioux Falls, SD
#42

SUNY Cortland

Cortland, NY
#44

Mount Marty University

Yankton, SD
#45

Drake University

Des Moines, IA
#47

American University

Washington, DC
#49

Vanderbilt University

Nashville, TN

Additional Award Winners

This list shows the rest of the colleges awarded a Best Special Education Schools badge. Showing in this list means the college was ranked in the top 15% of the 849 different United States special education schools we analyzed.

Rank College Location
51 Texas Christian University Fort Worth, TX
52 Purdue University - Main Campus West Lafayette, IN
53 Quinnipiac University Hamden, CT
54 Kean University Union, NJ
55 Washington State University Pullman, WA
56 University of Dayton Dayton, OH
57 University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point Stevens Point, WI
58 Eastern Illinois University Charleston, IL
59 Martin Luther College New Ulm, MN
60 Molloy College Rockville Centre, NY
61 Seton Hall University South Orange, NJ
62 California State University - Long Beach Long Beach, CA
63 St John’s University - New York Queens, NY
64 George Mason University Fairfax, VA
65 George Washington University Washington, DC
66 University of Virginia - Main Campus Charlottesville, VA
67 Loyola Marymount University Los Angeles, CA
68 Bradley University Peoria, IL
69 Saint Mary’s College of California Moraga, CA
70 Chadron State College Chadron, NE
71 Minnesota State University - Mankato Mankato, MN
72 Saint Louis University Saint Louis, MO
73 Manhattanville College Purchase, NY
74 CUNY Hunter College New York, NY
75 Olivet Nazarene University Bourbonnais, IL
76 Hood College Frederick, MD
77 CUNY Lehman College Bronx, NY
78 Saint Joseph’s University Philadelphia, PA
79 CUNY Brooklyn College Brooklyn, NY
80 Fordham University Bronx, NY
81 Minot State University Minot, ND
82 Salve Regina University Newport, RI
83 Fitchburg State University Fitchburg, MA
84 University of Iowa Iowa City, IA
85 University of Scranton Scranton, PA
86 University of Saint Joseph West Hartford, CT
87 California Lutheran University Thousand Oaks, CA
88 Point Loma Nazarene University San Diego, CA
89 University of Minnesota - Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN
90 University of Northern Iowa Cedar Falls, IA
91 Hofstra University Hempstead, NY
92 University of Wisconsin - Stout Menomonie, WI
93 Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton, FL
94 Rutgers University - New Brunswick New Brunswick, NJ
95 McDaniel College Westminster, MD
96 Seattle Pacific University Seattle, WA

Honorable Mentions

Here are some additional great schools for Special Education students that almost earned our Best Special Education Schools award.

Rank College Location
97 University of Washington - Seattle Campus Seattle, WA
98 William Paterson University of New Jersey Wayne, NJ
99 Syracuse University Syracuse, NY
100 University of Maryland - College Park College Park, MD
101 Concordia University - Wisconsin Mequon, WI
102 University of Hawaii at Manoa Honolulu, HI
103 New York University New York, NY
104 Assumption University Worcester, MA
105 University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND
106 University of Illinois at Chicago Chicago, IL
107 Bank Street College of Education New York, NY
108 Drexel University Philadelphia, PA
109 James Madison University Harrisonburg, VA
110 Whitworth University Spokane, WA
111 The University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX
112 University of Rochester Rochester, NY
113 Boston University Boston, MA
114 Concordia University - Irvine Irvine, CA
115 Michigan State University East Lansing, MI
116 Lewis University Romeoville, IL
117 Spalding University Louisville, KY
118 Wayne State College Wayne, NE
119 Seattle University Seattle, WA
120 Holy Family University Philadelphia, PA
121 Kansas State University Manhattan, KS
122 Touro College New York, NY
123 Buena Vista University Storm Lake, IA
124 Bethel University Minnesota Saint Paul, MN
125 Monmouth University West Long Branch, NJ
126 Notre Dame de Namur University Belmont, CA
127 Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania Slippery Rock, PA
128 Kutztown University of Pennsylvania Kutztown, PA

Special Education by Region

View the Best Special Education Schools for a specific region near you.

Region
Southeast
New England
Rocky Mountains
Plains States
Middle Atlantic
Far Western US
Southwest
Great Lakes

One of 14 majors within the teaching area of study, special education has other similar majors worth exploring.

Special Ed Focus Areas

Major Annual Graduates
General Special Education 20,414
Other Special Education & Teaching 2,242
Education/Teaching of Individuals in Early Childhood Special Education Programs 2,193
Elementary Special Education 1,313
Education/Teaching of Individuals with Autism 924
Education/Teaching of Individuals with Multiple Disabilities 532
Education/Teaching of Individuals in Secondary Special Education Programs 500
Education/Teaching of Individuals with Specific Learning Disabilities 476
Education/Teaching of the Gifted & Talented 458
Education/Teaching of Individuals with Speech or Language Impairments 434
Education of the Deaf 358
Education/Teaching of Individuals Who are Developmentally Delayed 240
Education/Teaching of Individuals with Vision Impairments Including Blindness 160
Education/Teaching of Individuals with Mental Retardation 152
Education/Teaching of Individuals with Emotional Disturbances 115
Education/Teaching of Individuals with Orthopedic & Other Physical Health Impairments 63
Education/Teaching of Individuals in Junior High/Middle School Special Education Programs 56
Education/Teaching of Individuals with Traumatic Brain Injuries 9

Related Major Annual Graduates
Teacher Education Grade Specific 100,925
Educational Administration 44,381
Teacher Education Subject Specific 43,516
General Education 31,066
Curriculum & Instruction 18,767

Notes and References

*These averages are for the top 25 schools only.

  • Read more about our ranking methodology.
  • The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a branch of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) serves as the core of the rest of our data about colleges.
  • Some other college data, including much of the graduate earnings data, comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s (College Scorecard).
  • Credit for the banner image above goes to woodleywonderworks.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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