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2021 Best Colleges for Special Education

Approximately 27,527 special education degrees were granted to students last year in the United States. With so many options it can be difficult finding the best fit for you. This year's Best Colleges for Special Education ranking analyzed 123 colleges and universities that offer a bachelor's degree in special education. We look at over 20 factors to determine the top 15% of colleges for Special Education students.

Choosing a Great Special Education School

Best Colleges for Special Education Your choice of special education school matters. Important measures of a quality special ed program can vary widely even among the top schools. To make it into this list a school must excel in the following areas.

Overall Quality is a Must

The overall quality of a school is important to ensure a good education, not just how well they do in a particular major. To take this into account we include a college's overall Best Colleges ranking which itself looks at a combination of various factors like degree completion, educational resources, student body caliber and post-graduation earnings for the school as a whole.

Over 80% of the schools in this list are in the top 25% of our overall quality ranking.

Overall Best Colleges Rank  ( 377 to 50 )
Lowest Ranked Overall
Top Ranked Overall

Better Early and Mid Career Salaries

A special education degree from schools on this list usually results in higher than average income after graduation. While the average special education bachelors degree from U.S. schools results in an average starting salary of $36,194, graduates of colleges on this list average $40,211.

Starting Salary  ( 37659 to 45240 )
$0
$45,900

Other Factors We Consider

In addition to the above, you should consider some of the following factors:

  • Major Focus - How much a school focuses on Special Education students vs. other majors.
  • Major Popularity - How many other special education students choose this school.
  • Accreditation - Whether a school is regionally accredited and/or a recognized special education related accrediting body.

Our full ranking methodology documents in more detail how we consider these factors to identify the best schools for Special Education students.

Best Schools to Study Special Education in the United States

Below you'll see a list of the best colleges and universities to study special education. Only those schools that rank in the top 15% of all the schools we analyze get awarded with a place on this list.

Top 18 Best Special Ed Colleges

Illinois State University is a good option for students interested in a Special Education degree. Illinois State is a fairly large public school located in the suburb of Normal. This school ranks 331st out of 1,715 colleges for overall quality in the state of Illinois.

There are roughly 182 special education undergraduates studying this program at Illinois State. Special Education graduates from Illinois State University earn a boost of approximately $2,716 above the average earnings of special education graduates.

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#2

Providence College

Providence, RI

It is hard to beat Providence College if you wish to study special education. Located in the midsize city Providence, Providence is a private not-for-profit school with a small student population. A Best Colleges rank of 145 out of 1,715 colleges nationwide means Providence is a great college overall.

In addition to its bachelor's programs, Providence offers a Master's Degree in special education. Graduates of the special ed program state that they receive average early career income of $39,700.

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It is hard to beat University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign if you wish to pursue special education as a major. Located in the city Champaign, UIUC is a public college with a fairly large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 92 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means UIUC is a great school overall.

For those interested in something more advanced, UIUC also offers 2 different higher degree levels in special education, the most popular of which is a Master's Degree. University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign special education students make $2,216 more than the typical special ed student.

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#4

Lebanon Valley College

Annville, PA

Lebanon Valley College is one of the finest schools in the United States for special education. Located in the suburb Annville, LVC is a private not-for-profit school with a small student population. This school ranks 246th out of 1,715 schools for overall quality in the state of Pennsylvania.

Lebanon Valley College is one of the most popular school to study special ed in United States exceeding 28 graduates last year. Students who graduate from the special ed program make around $41,500 in their early career salary.

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Located in the suburb West Chester, WCUPA is a public school with a large student population. This school ranks 371st out of 1,715 schools for overall quality in the state of Pennsylvania.

There are about 190 special education undergrads studying this degree at WCUPA. Special Education graduates from West Chester University of Pennsylvania get a earnings boost of approximately $2,216 above the average income of special education majors.

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#6

University of Georgia

Athens, GA

Located in the city Athens, UGA is a public college with a very large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 143 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means UGA is a great college overall.

For those interested in something more advanced, UGA also offers 2 different higher degree levels in special education, the most popular of which is a Master's Degree. Students who graduate from this program report average early career income of $38,100.

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Located in the small city Bloomington, IU Bloomington is a public college with a fairly large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 141 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means IU Bloomington is a great college overall.

For those interested in something more advanced, IU Bloomington also offers 2 different higher degree levels in special education, the most popular of which is a Master's Degree. Students who graduate from the special ed program make an average of $41,400 in their early career salary.

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#8

Gonzaga University

Spokane, WA

Gonzaga is a moderately-sized private not-for-profit school located in the midsize city of Spokane. A Best Colleges rank of 139 out of 1,715 colleges nationwide means Gonzaga is a great college overall.

A popular major for special education undergraduates, there are roughly 26 individuals studying this program at Gonzaga. Gonzaga University special education majors earn $3,216 more than the typical special ed grad.

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#9

Towson University

Towson, MD

Located in the small city Towson, Towson is a public school with a very large student population. This school ranks 490th out of 1,715 colleges for overall quality in the state of Maryland.

In addition to its bachelor's programs, Towson offers a Master's Degree in special education. Special Education majors from Towson University receive an earnings boost of around $6,016 above the average earnings of special education graduates.

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Located in the town Slippery Rock, SRU is a public college with a moderately-sized student population. This school ranks 493rd out of 1,715 colleges for overall quality in the state of Pennsylvania.

For those interested in something more advanced, SRU also offers 2 different higher degree levels in special education, the most popular of which is a Master's Degree. Students who graduate from the special ed program make about $32,800 in their early career salary.

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#11

SUNY Cortland

Cortland, NY

Located in the town Cortland, SUNY Cortland is a public school with a moderately-sized student population. This school ranks 446th out of 1,715 colleges for overall quality in the state of New York.

SUNY Cortland is a fairly popular school to study special ed in United States with more than 61 graduations last year. Students who graduate from the special ed program earn an average of $41,800 in their early career salary.

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#12

Hope College

Holland, MI

Located in the small city Holland, Hope is a private not-for-profit school with a small student population. A Best Colleges rank of 182 out of 1,715 colleges nationwide means Hope is a great school overall.

A favorite choice for special education undergraduates, there are about 16 individuals studying this degree at Hope. Soon after getting their bachelor's degree, special ed students generally make about $39,100 in their early careers.

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#13

Florida State University

Tallahassee, FL

Located in the medium-sized city Tallahassee, Florida State is a public college with a very large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 160 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means Florida State is a great school overall.

Florida State University is a fairly popular college to study special ed in United States with more than 41 graduates last year. Graduates from the special education degree program at Florida State University get $2,216 more than the standard college graduate in this field when they enter the workforce.

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#14

University of Dayton

Dayton, OH

Located in the midsize city Dayton, U of Dayton is a private not-for-profit college with a large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 161 out of 1,715 colleges nationwide means U of Dayton is a great college overall.

With 45 undergraduates, University of Dayton is one of most popular schools to study special ed in United States. Graduates of the special ed program report average early career income of $38,100.

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#15

Western Washington University

Bellingham, WA

Located in the small city Bellingham, WWU is a public school with a fairly large student population. This school ranks 368th out of 1,715 colleges for overall quality in the state of Washington.

There are approximately 81 special education undergrads enrolled in this program at WWU. Special Education graduates from Western Washington University receive an earnings boost of approximately $3,716 above the average income of special education majors.

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St. Joseph's College-Long Island is a small private not-for-profit school located in the suburb of Patchogue. This college ranks 639th out of 1,715 colleges for overall quality in the state of New York.

With 263 undergraduates, St. Joseph's College-Long Island is one of most popular schools to study special ed in United States. Students who complete this program report average early career wages of $30,100.

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Wisconsin is a fairly large public school located in the large city of Madison. A Best Colleges rank of 76 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means Wisconsin is a great college overall.

For those interested in pursuing a higher degree, Wisconsin also offers a Master's Degree in special education. Students who graduate from the special ed program make an average of $40,900 in their early career salary.

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Located in the large city Lincoln, UNL is a public school with a fairly large student population. This college ranks 248th out of 1,715 schools for overall quality in the state of Nebraska.

In addition to its bachelor's programs, UNL offers a Master's Degree in special education. Soon after getting their bachelor's degree, special ed students typically earn about $38,800 in the first five years of their career.

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Honorable Mentions

These are some additional schools worth mentioning that are also great but just didn't quite make the cut to earn our top Best Colleges for Special Education award.

Rank College Location
19 Ball State University Muncie, IN
20 Auburn University Auburn, AL
21 Arizona State University - West Glendale, AZ
22 Salve Regina University Newport, RI
23 University of Hawaii at Manoa Honolulu, HI
24 Arizona State University - Tempe Tempe, AZ
25 Bradley University Peoria, IL

Special Education by Region

View the Best Colleges for Special Education 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 Education area of study, Special Education has other similar majors worth exploring.

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

View All Special Ed Related Majors >

Notes and References

  • The bars on the spread charts above show the distribution of the schools on this list +/- one standard deviation from the mean.
  • 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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