The Curriculum & Instruction: Special Education graduate program at Florida State prepares educators and related service professionals to identify and apply evidence-based practices. As a student here, you’ll be immersed in special education and related areas while enjoying close mentorship from our faculty. Designed for working professionals, graduates are prepared to put theory into practice.
Currently ranked #16 in the nation among public universities by U.S. News and World Report, our Special Education program aims to train high-quality professionals who need skills and expertise to enhance the quality of life of children, youth, and adults with disabilities. Our faculty regularly produce nationally recognized research to improve outcomes for and understanding of individuals with disabilities.
Within the Special Education program, we offer on-campus master’s, specialist, and doctoral degrees. In the on-campus master’s program, you can specialize in:
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
Teachers already licensed in the state of Florida can earn the Autism Endorsement from the Florida Department of Education. After finishing this program and earning the endorsement, you will enjoy increased marketability and new job opportunities. Demand for autism specialists continues to grow, and this specialization prepares our students for a variety of autism-related jobs.
- Early Childhood Special Education
- Severe Disabilities
In the specialist and doctoral programs, you work with faculty advisors to identify an area of focus and tailor your program of study to support growth in that area.
We regularly have funding available for master's, specialist, and doctoral students.
Please note: these are advanced programs that do not lead to teacher certification. If you wish to become certified to teach special education, please see our Special Education combined BS/MS pathway.
Interested in working with individuals with autism? Check out our online master's in Autism Spectrum Disorder and online graduate certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorder!
In order to meet minimum University admission requirements, applicants must have:
- A bachelor’s degree with at least a 3.0 GPA – An earned bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution, or a comparable degree from an international institution, with a minimum 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) grade point average (GPA) in all coursework attempted while registered as an upper-division undergraduate student working towards a bachelor’s degree.
- GRE test scores*. Official test results are required from the General Test of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). These scores are considered official only when they are sent directly to the Office of Admissions from the testing agency. Examinee copies are not considered official. Graduate Record Exam (GRE): http://www.ets.org/ – FSU Institution Code: 5219. The Educational Testing Service (ETS) do not retain scores longer than five years. If your test scores are older than five years, you may have to retake the test to have official scores sent directly to FSU from the testing agency. If you have the report that was mailed to your home address for older scores, then FSU will accept that report.
- M.S. and Ed.S. applicant target scores: Verbal – 146+, Quantitative – 140+
- Ph.D. applicant target scores: Verbal – 151+, Quantitative – 145+, Writing – 3+
- *NOTE: The GRE requirements for master’s and specialist programs have been waived through Fall 2026.
- Language proficiency test (international students only) – FSU accepts scores from TOEFL (minimum 80), IELTS (minimum 6.5), MELAB (minimum 77), Cambridge C1 Advanced Level (minimum 180), Michigan Language Assessment (minimum 55), and Duolingo (minimum 120)
- Transcripts – Applicants must submit an official transcript from each college and/or university attended. Transcripts should be sent to the Office of Graduate Admissions electronically at email@example.com or via mail in a sealed envelope:
Florida State University
Office of Graduate Admissions
314 Westcott Building
P.O. Box 3061410
Tallahassee, FL 32306-1410
Applicants must upload the following REQUIRED supporting documents to the Admissions Application Portal:
- Statement of purpose – should describe your purpose for pursuing a degree, qualifications and long-term career goals.
- At least one (1) page for M.S. and Ed.S. applicants
- At least two (2) pages for Ph.D. applicants
- Letters of recommendation
- Two (2) for M.S. and Ed.S. applicants
- Three (3) for Ph.D. applicants
- One page resume/curriculum vitae
- Writing Sample – it is acceptable to submit a paper used in another class, or one that was published.
Master’s and Specialist programs:
- Fall: July 1
- Spring: November 1
- Summer: March 1
- Fall: December 1 (priority deadline); June 1 (final deadline)
If you are interested in applying, please contact STE-GradCoord@fsu.edu.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job outlook for special education teachers is expected to grow by 7.4% through 2026. That translates into 15,100 new jobs. The median national annual salary for special education teachers is $60,600 per year.
Teaching is one of the most rewarding careers, and a typical path usually offers ample opportunities for professional development and growth. Special education teachers work with students who have a wide range of learning, mental, emotional, and physical disabilities. With students who have mild or moderate disabilities, they ensure that lessons and teaching strategies are modified to meet the students’ needs. With students who have severe disabilities, they teach the students independent living skills and basic literacy, communication, and math. They generally work school hours when students are present, and use nights and weekends to prepare lessons and grade papers. Some teachers work during the summer months.