Online Associate Degrees in Special Education

An online associate degree in special education may provide the fundamentals of teaching children with special needs while preparing for entry into a baccalaureate program. In this two-year program, students may learn how to assist with the physical needs of special needs students, reinforce daily lessons, and provide specialized assistance to students with learning disabilities. Program coursework may include a handful of general education requirements alongside core courses including sociology of the family, introduction to education, and young children with special needs.

Upon graduation, students may either seek entry-level employment or transfer to a special education baccalaureate degree program. Associate-level graduates may gain employment in various education settings, including public, private, and charter school districts.

Program Overview

  • Prerequisite: High School Diploma or GED
  • Program Length: Two years to complete
  • Post-Grad Options: Entry-Level Employment or Bachelor’s Program
  • Projected Employment Growth: 15% (2010-2020)*

Program Coursework

The curriculum for associate-level special education degree programs may consist of general education classes along with major-specific courses. These courses may teach students how to assist with the preparation of Individualized Education Programs, assess student’s learning skill level, and conduct small groups to facilitate learning. Core special education classes may include the following:

  • Introduction to Education
  • Child Development
  • Young Children with Special Needs
  • Understanding How Children Learn
  • Introduction to Early Childhood Education
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Sociology of the Family

Career Options

Associate-level graduates may pursue employment opportunities in public and private schools, charter schools, private tutoring programs, and government education programs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, teaching assistant employment opportunities are projected to increase by 15% from 2010-2020.*

Possible careers include:

  • Special Needs Teaching Assistant
  • Special Education Paraprofessional
  • Childcare Center Worker
  • Preschool Teacher
  • Teacher’s Aide

Continuing Education

Students who successfully complete an associate-level degree in special education may have the opportunity to continue their studies by transferring to a baccalaureate degree program. A bachelor’s degree in special education may allow students to pursue teacher certification, leading them to teach special education classes.

*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook

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