The discovery that a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education may not be enough for you to become an Early Childhood Special Educator can be heartbreaking. Don’t let it deter you from your desire to help students with special disabilities, however. With an online master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education, you will fulfil your desire. See the cheapest online degrees you can take.
One of the most fulfilling careers you can choose is to become an Early Childhood Special Education Teacher. However, the career path is as rigorous as other careers that make a difference in the world. In addition to getting a license as a teacher, some states will require you to have a master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education.
The easiest way to navigate through this degree is by choosing an online school. Therefore, in this post, we will show you the cheapest online master’s degrees you can gain in Early Childhood Special Education. But to help you get comprehensive knowledge on the subject, we will explain the Early Childhood Special Education discipline. You will learn about the ECSE career and get every other vital information about the field.
Stay with us!
- What is Early Childhood Special Education?
- What do You Need to Become an Early Childhood Special Educator?
- Why is it Important to Get a Master’s in Early Childhood Special Education?
- What Should You Look Out for in Online ECSE Degrees?
- What Careers are Available for Early Childhood Special Education?
- How Much do Early Childhood Special Education Teachers Earn?
- What are the Specializations in Special Education?
- Where Can You get the Cheapest Online ECSE Master’s Degree?
- What Skills Should Early Childhood Special Educators Have?
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What is Early Childhood Special Education?
Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) is the education students with developmental delays and disabilities receive. It is an educational service that the government – in most developed countries – make available to young children either from the age of kindergarten or between the ages of three and five.
The law, in the USA, requires school districts to put in place and make available developmentally appropriate ESCE programs and services. ECSE programs and services provide all children with disabilities with a free and public education (FAPE) that meets their unique needs and help them gain knowledge and skills, improve their social relationships, and learn to take action to meet their needs within the general education program.
Child Care institutions, Public Schools, or even Private Homes require professionals to administer ESCE to their children with special disabilities. These professionals are Early Childhood Special Educators or Teachers. To become one, you must have the right educational qualification, certification, and experience.
What do You Need to Become an Early Childhood Special Educator?
To start your career as an Early Childhood Special Educator, you need to first complete an undergraduate degree in education and special education. If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, you can still begin your career in Early Childhood Special Education. There are some states in the United States that offer an alternative licensing program in special education if you have a bachelor’s degree in a discipline other than teaching.
However, some states and employers are not contented with a bachelor’s degree. You would need a master’s degree in special education to be able to teach students with special disabilities.
Meanwhile, a Special Education Degree will focus on overcoming the challenges of teaching special needs students. Thus, you will complete coursework in instructional strategy, classroom management, social-emotional learning, and assessments. You will also learn how to use assistive technology and specialized software programs.
After your education, you will need to get a license to be able to teach special needs children in either public or private schools.
How can I Gain a License to Teach Early Childhood Special Education?
The License to teach children with special needs is state-specific or specific to school district jurisdiction. Before we explain how you can get this license, you must understand that there are general license and specific disability license. The general license allows you to work with students with different kinds of disabilities, while the other kind allows you to work with students with a specific category of disability.
Moving on, to gain a license to teach children with special needs, you must check the requirements for your state. For some states, the moment you graduate from a bachelor’s program, you are good to start teaching, under the supervision of an experienced teacher. For other states, however, you must have to complete a student-teaching program that can take anywhere from one to two years to complete.
Still, know what your state requires, then follow the requirements.
Why is it Important to Get a Master’s in Early Childhood Special Education?
Like we have stated very briefly in the section explaining what you need to do to become an early childhood educator, a master’s in Early Childhood Special Education is a compulsory requirement to be able to teach students with special needs in some states.
It bears mentioning here for the purpose of clarity that this is true. Not only do some states require this of you but also some employers. So, to become more employable, you will need to add a Master’s in Early Childhood Special Education to your already acquired Bachelor’s degree.
If you are already panicking about pausing your work and family responsibilities to go back to the four walls of college to resume study, panic no more! The good news for you is that there exists a large collection of online Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Special Education which you can enroll in.
The beauty of the online master’s ECSE degree is that it offers you flexibility, convenience, and access to quality online resources. While some do not lead to teaching certification, some others give their In-State students Stae Teaching Certification.
What Are the Types of Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Special Education?
Types of ECSE Master’s Degree
Colleges in the United States generally offer two kinds of Master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education. They are the Master of Science (M.S.) in ECSE and the Master of Education (M.Ed.) in ECSE.
The Master of Science ECSE degree program prepares you for research-focused job positions in Early Childhood Special Education.
On the other hand, the Masters of Education ECSE degree program prepares you specifically for classroom teaching job positions in Early Childhood Special Education.
What does a Master’s in ECSE Coursework Look Like?
ECSE Master’s Coursework
Both the M.S. and M.Ed. degrees in Early Childhood Special Education will focus on effective teaching programs, curriculum, teaching methods, and performing accurate assessments.
In all, you will learn what you need to effectively work with students with mild and moderate disabilities.
Most Master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education will comprise of the following coursework:
Most colleges’ coursework is more than and will include electives, as well as specializations. However, these are the basics almost all ECSE Master’s degree program should have.
In What Situations Must You Need a Master’s in ECSE?
Instances that Requires an ECSE Master’s Degree
Whether you would need a master’s in ECSE or not depends on your career goals and/or educational needs.
Here are some goals or education needs that will warrant you to take a master’s in ECSE:
What Should You Look Out for in Online ECSE Degrees?
We’ve been telling you with a little voice that yes, you can get an online master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education. Now, in this section, we are screaming it out loud! There are online Master’s Degrees in Early Childhood Special Education available for you.
However, do don’t just enroll in anyone you see or hear about. You should be on the lookout for the following:
What Careers are Available for Early Childhood Special Education?
The major career path for you taking an Early Childhood Special Education Degree is to become an ECSE Educator or teacher.
However, the ESCE field is not that small. There are also certain other job roles you can play in the field. Some of them are:
How Much do Early Childhood Special Education Teachers Earn?
Basically, Early Childhood Special Education Teachers fall under the broad category of “Teachers.” However, for the fact that they center on children at their developmental stage, they further fall under the category of “Preschool Teachers.” Hence, we will first show you what Preschool teachers earn.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Preschool teachers in the USA earn an annual average of $29,780. However, there were 523,600 jobs available for such teachers in the USA in 2018 and this trend is going to increase by 7% between 2018 and 2028.
Specifically, Special Education Teachers earn an annual average of $61,610, according to BLS. Furthermore, Special Education Teachers teaching at Elementary and Secondary Schools earn $58,670, those in Child Daycare Services earn $72,570, and those in Individual and Family Services earn $61,900.
BLS went further to analyze the states in the USA with the largest number of employment and annual mean wage for Special Education Teachers.
The top five states are:
|State||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
Most specifically, Glassdoor gives the annual salary estimate for Early Childhood Special Education Teachers. Not Preschool Teachers, or Special Education Teachers. According to them, the Early Childhood Special Education Teacher earns $52,727 yearly, with those working with Fairfax County Public Schools, Virginia, earning as much as $90,454 yearly.
What are the Specializations in Special Education?
It bears mentioning here that Special Education is the parent discipline of Early Childhood Special Education. Thus, Early Childhood Special Education is a specialty under Special Education.
Other specializations which you can go into includes;
Now that you have comprehensive knowledge about Early Childhood Special Education, let’s show you the cheapest online master’s degree you can take for any reason.
Where Can You get the Cheapest Online ECSE Master’s Degree?
The following schools offer the cheapest online Early Childhood Education Master’s Degree:
We will proceed to discuss these schools’ online ECSE Master’s degree program in the next section.
The tuition fees we have listed are accurate and verified from the program page of the different programs. However, most of the fees needed additional calculations as the tuition we sampled are for the total cost of the program, whereas some schools were displaying tuition cost per credit hours. Thus, where the credit hour requirement is within a range (e.g 33-45), we took the average of the range of figures and multiplied by the tuition per credit hour to arrive at the total tuition for the duration of the program.
#1. Northwestern State University of Louisiana
Accreditation: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCTE)
The Northwestern State University of Louisiana (NSU) offers the cheapest online Master of Education in Special Education. NSU’s M.Ed. program in special education provides you with the knowledge and skills to facilitate student achievement in the field. It takes a total of 36 semester hours to complete this certification and earn an M.Ed. if you’re a certified teacher.
Furthermore, the curriculum for NSU’s master’s in Special Education comprises of 12-hours of educational foundation. The other 24 hours coursework concentrates in application areas such as Gifted Education, Early Intervention, Elementary (grades 1-5) Mild/Moderate Special Education, or Middle School (grades 4-8) and Secondary (grades 6-12) Mild/Moderate Special Education.
Although the program grants certification in Special Education, if you complete the online degree outside of Louisiana, you will not get a Louisiana Teaching Certificate.
#2. University of Nebraska Online
Accreditation: The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (a merger of TEAC and NCATE).
Tuition: In-State Students – $12,834; Out-of-State – $23,472
The second cheapest online Master’s Degree in Special Education you will find in the USA is the University of Nebraska Online program. The University of Nebraska – Lincoln’s (UNL) Special Education online Master’s degree specializes in Early Childhood Education.
The beauty of this 36-semester credit online program is that you can choose between an MA and an M Ed. By this, you can choose to complete your ECSE program with or without the pursuit of ECSE teaching endorsement.
Also, this program increases your ability to provide services for young children with delays/disabilities as well as their families. The services you’ll be able to provide after this program will be unique because they would be family-centered, comprehensive, interdisciplinary, community-based, equitable, and developmentally appropriate.
Finally, the completion of NLU’s online ECSE program will lead you towards an initial teaching certification in Nebraska.
#3. The University of Northern Colorado
Accreditation: Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)
The University of Northern Colorado (UNC), Denver’s online Master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education is the next cheapest on our list. This Denver College’s online program is a Master of Art program in Early Childhood and Early Childhood Special Education (EC/ECSE). It prepares you to be unique in your approach to meeting the educational needs of special needs children from birth to age 8.
Meanwhile, like the other Colleges which we have discussed, the University of Northern Colorado’s program takes a maximum of 36-semester (33-36) credit or two years to complete. Also, you can take UNC’s Masters in EC/ECE’s online and at the Denver Center at Lowry.
Furthermore, at the completion of the EC/ECE program, you will earn either a Master’s degree or an Early Childhood Special Education Endorsement.
#4. The University of Colorado – Denver
Accreditation: The Colorado Department of Education and the Council for Exceptional Children
Tuition: In-State Students – $13,572; Out-of-State – $16,272
Just like UNC, the University of Colorado – Denver (CU Denver) also offers a Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education (ECE). The ECE program also comes with an Early Childhood Special Education licensure or endorsement. While this program is one of the most affordable online ECE programs out there it takes a longer time to complete. The total credit hours for CU Denver’s online ECE is between 30 and 42.
Furthermore, CU Denver prides its online ECE program as one of the best as it also teaches you administration and leadership, diversity and inclusion, pedagogy, teaching and learning, and leadership possibilities within this field. Also, the program is a 100% online program with scholarships of up to 100k available for students specializing in Early Childhood Education.
#5. University of Missouri (Mizzou Online)
Accreditation: Teacher Education Accreditation Council
The University of Missouri (MU) is another college in the USA that offers an online Master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education that is qualitative and affordable. Mizzou Online’s ECSE Master’s program is an M Ed program that you can take 100% online.
Just like CU Denver, the University of Missouri also provides funding opportunities for your online Master’s program. The Behavior, Language and Literacy (BeLL)–Online grant is available for you for this program. However, MU’s online ECSE Master’s program is a 30-credit hour program.
Meanwhile, MU’s online ECSE master’s degree prepares you to work with young children with disabilities as well as those who are at risk for school failure, and their families. It holds potential benefits for Child-Care Center Workers, Early Childhood Practitioners, Head Start Teachers, School Counselors, etc.
#6. Indiana University Online
Accreditation: The National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
Tuition: In-State Students – $15,609.6; Out-of-State – $18,731.52
Indiana University (IU) Online offers another of the cheapest 100% online Masters in Early Childhood Special Education. However, IU online’s master’s program is a Master of Science in Education (MSEd). The program prepares you for the challenges of special education in the diverse and changing landscapes of today’s classroom in just 36 credit hours.
Meanwhile, IU Online’s Special Education Master’s is based on special education professional standards established by the Council for Exceptional Children and the State of Indiana. This is why after completing the program, you will be able to take on careers as an Early childhood special educator, Emotional Disabilities Teacher, Hearing-Impaired Itinerant Teacher, etc.
To this effect, you will take courses based on your area of interest such as autism, behavior specialists, early childhood, instructional strategies, or intense interventions.
#7. West Chester University
Accreditation: The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)
Tuition: In-State Students – $25,542; Out-of-State – $16,272
West Chester University (WCU) is another college in the USA that offers an affordable online master’s degree in Special Education. Through its Special Education Department, West Chester has been offering one of the most recognized Master’s in Education in Special Education. WCU’s M.Ed. in Special Education focuses on Universal Design for Learning and Assistive Technologies, Specialization in Autism Spectrum Disorders, or optional dual enrollment for Special Education Certification.
Although the program is more general than specific, the program will also prepare you to better serve children with special disabilities. This is so as WCU’s program is an interdisciplinary program that includes Special Education, Secondary and Professional Education, and Communicative Disorders.
Meanwhile, WCU’s M.Ed in Special Education online curriculum is 33 credit hours which you will complete in two years.
#8. Northern Arizona University
Accreditation: The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)
Northern Arizona University (NAU) is another college in the USA that offers an online master’s program in Special Education. NAU’s master’s degree in Special Education is a Master of Education (M.Ed.) program which you can take online or at NAU’s Flagstaff campus.
The program allows you to emphasize in Positive Behavior Support, Cross-Categorical/High Incidence, Disability Studies, or Early Childhood. Hence, you will teach children with special needs if you emphasize in Early Childhood.
However, NAU ‘s online M.Ed in Special Education is a non-certified program. It prepares you to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities in human serving agencies in 30 credit hours. However, the program may not lead to licensure.
#9. Ohio University
Accreditation: The National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
Ohio University is another place in the USA where you can get an online ECSE Master’s Degree that is pocket-friendly and will suit your needs. Ohio’s Online Master’s Program is a blended Master’s in Education (ME) in Early Childhood and Special Education. It may not be as cheap as NSU’s program but blending ECE with ECSE with the price Ohio is offering? It is really affordable.
Meanwhile, Ohio’s blended online master’s degree program utilizes the most current adult learning principles to increase the quantity and quality of early childhood teachers and intervention specialists. By doing this, they improve the services and outcomes for children ages birth to 10 and their families.
Also, Ohio’s blended online ECE and ECSE Master’s Degree has a coursework requirement ranging from 31 to 34 credit hours, The delivery of the program is completely online and students gain licensure in the end.
#10. Capella University
Accreditation: The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) & the National Association for the Education of Young Children
Capella University’s Master of Science in Education in Early Childhood Education Studies Specialization is one of the most popular ECSE degrees out there. The program helps you grow your knowledge of developmentally appropriate practices (DAP) with a focus on play-based learning that respects each child’s uniqueness.
Also, Capella’s MS in Education, Early Childhood Education Studies helps you develop the skills and knowledge to design, implement, and evaluate developmentally appropriate learning experiences for young children.
Meanwhile, Capella’s online M. Ed. in Early Childhood Special Education has a total course requirement of 46 quarter credits which you will complete 100% online.
What Skills Should Early Childhood Special Educators Have?
Not everyone can become an Early Childhood Special Education teacher. It takes a lot to be able to deal with children with special needs such that if you don’t have what it takes, you will be frustrated on the job.
Therefore, while you are intrinsically driven to assist in the development of children with special disabilities you must work out to be:
Also, you will be spending most of your time working one-on-one with students in specially designed classrooms, This will require you to be emotionally attached to the children you’re teaching. Are you willing to be emotionally attached to special needs children in your life?
Furthermore, communication skill is very important for ECSE teachers. You will need it to communicate effectively with special needs students, other faculty members, parents, and social workers.
Lastly, you must have empathy as teaching special needs students requires a deep understanding of each student’s needs and learning styles.
What can I do with a masters in early childhood education?
A master’s in Early Childhood education qualifies you to become an Early Childhood Special Education teacher, especially when you take one that has a specialization in Early Childhood Special Education. A master’s in Early Childhood Education also prepares you for careers as an Applied Behavior Analysis Therapist, Board-Certified Behavior Analyst, Director of Student Support, Vocational Counselor, etc.
What classes do I need to take for a degree in early childhood education?
Typically, the classes you’lll take for a degree in Early Childhood Education will include:
Introduction to Early Childhood Education;
Language Development in Early Childhood;
Assessment and Evaluation in Early Childhood Education; etc.
But a Master’s in Early Childhood Special Education would require coursework in:
Current Issues in Special Education;
Theory and Instructional Practice;
Families, Schools, and Communities;
Diagnostic Assessment and Progress Monitoring; and
Inclusive Classroom Practice.
How long does it take to get a masters degree in early childhood education?
The amount of time it takes to complete a master’s in early childhood education depends on the total credit hours of the coursework requirement which ranges from 30 – 60. Nonetheless, a typical master’s in early childhood education takes two years to complete.
Is early childhood education a good career?
Yes, early childhood education is a career that makes a difference as it impacts on lives. Also, asides becoming a teacher, which is the ideal career path, there are several other careers in the field which you can take advantage of. Additionally, BLS predicts a job growth of 7% for preschool teachers, which goes to show that there is no shortage of jobs for graduates with an early childhood education degree.
What can you do with an early childhood education degree besides teach?
Besides teaching you can choose to become any of the following with a degree in Childhood Education:
Childcare Center Director
Home-Based Service Provider
Family Support Specialist
Sales representative, etc.
What grades can I teach with an early childhood degree?
Typically, Early Childhood Teachers are Preschool teachers, hence, with an early childhood degree, you’ll be teaching grade levels from preschool to about third grade. This should capture students within the ages of 3 – 5 years.
How much do early childhood teachers make an hour?
According to BLS, Preschool teachers make $14.32 per hour and $29,780 per year.
Is early childhood education an easy major?
Early Childhood could be an easy major for you when you are driven by a passion to teach children. The intense classes with lots of projects and readings would not become a burden for you. It would actually be fun discovering new ways and technologies to better help children develop.
What is the Cheapest Online Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Special Education?
Northwestern State University of Louisiana at Natchitoches, Louisiana offers the cheapest online ECSE Master’s degree. It cahrges as tuition $475 per credit hour up to 9 hours, then $100 per credit hour thereafter, totalling the cost of the 36-semester hours program to $6,975.
A master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education is in most cases a necessary requirement. You would need it to be able to teach students with special needs in most states in the USA. Many employers will also require this of you. Therefore, to speed up the process of acquiring an ECSE master’s degree, you can easily enroll for an online program. It not only offers you the flexibility of Study but also a cheap alternative to quality education. However, you have to check to ensure that your cheap online master’s program in ECSE has relevant accreditation and meets your education needs.
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