Career Advice Opinion

Response to Question: Special Ed Certification vs Master’s Degree

By AAEE — April 29, 2010 1 min read
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I graduated from college in spring 2009 as a physical education major, but I realize my love is special education(moderate). I never certified in physical education, but my question is should I go back to school and get another bachelor degree in special education or should I try to get a master degree in special education? From Reader MB2003

If you have a love for special education, you can see if there is a university or state program that offers a certification for special education so you wouldn’t have to go back for another bachelor’s degree. My university offers such a program - it allows people who have a bachelor’s degree to come back and take classes to get certified in their particular area of interest in teaching. You may want to see if you have this option near you instead of paying for another bachelor’s degree. Some states also offer alternative certification programs.

You can pursue a master’s degree if the certification option is not available. Check to make sure that this degree will qualify you for certification and find out how long it will take you to get. Be sure to review the program and the coursework before making this decision. In most states, a master’s degree offers a higher salary, so it may be financially worth it.

I would also do some informational interviewing with principals. Ask them this question and see if they prefer to hire someone with a master’s degree vs a bachelor’s degree with certification add on. They are the ones interviewing and hiring teachers, so get it straight from them. Informational interviewing also builds your network so be sure to follow through with a thank you note.

--Diane Sledden Reed,

Assistant Director, Career Center,

University of North Carolina Wilmington,


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