NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Stephen F. Austin State University has been ranked 14th among the 30 best schools for a master's degree in special education online by Best Choice Schools, one of the leading free websites for helping college students and adult learners choose the best education path. The ranking was published on the organization's website in January.

Rankings were determined using the National Center for Education Statistics' College Navigator database. Qualifying schools offered an online master's program in special education. To create the top 30 ranking, criteria included school graduation rate, net cost, student-to-faculty ratio and percentage of applicants admitted.

Dr. Paige Mask, SFA associate professor in the Department of Human Services, co-created the online master's degree in special education program tracks and has served as the adviser and facilitator of the program for the past 10 years.

"This recognition provides evidence of the tremendous commitment and effort that all program faculty members have in helping graduate students further their knowledge and skills, meet their educational goals, and provide a continuous stream of quality special education educators into the public and private school systems," Mask said.

SFA offers a 36-credit hour master's degree in special education with three options. Students can earn an early childhood through 12th grade special education certification, a master's degree in special education or an educational diagnostician certification. Students who already have a teacher's certification can earn their master's degree in special education to help expand their knowledge and professional skills. The educational diagnostician certification option is for students interested in working with the school system to help ensure services are in place and meet state laws for special education students. The program is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and is recognized by the Council for Exceptional Children.