Early Childhood Special Education

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)

As more children require early intervention and special education services, there is an increasing demand for college faculty who can prepare the next wave of educators in the early childhood special education field. This specialization positions educators to advance in this growing field and to conduct continued research on best practices for early intervention.

Informed by the Council for Exceptional Children’s advanced professional early childhood preparation standards, this specialization’s curriculum enables you to explore key research issues, such as leadership and policy, program development and assessment, collaboration, evidence-based practices in early intervention, and ethical practice.

Coursework focuses on identifying and addressing gaps in research to increase the effectiveness of early childhood special educators. Gain a comprehensive understanding of the trends and issues impacting early childhood special education today. Using real-world case-study scenarios, you engage in collaborative problem solving and investigate and implement research-based strategies to master program outcomes. At the conclusion of this program, you will complete a dissertation focused on effecting positive social change in early childhood special education.

Learning Outcomes

As a graduate of this program, you will be prepared to:

  • Evaluate ethical and legal elements of policies and programs in early childhood special education to ensure high quality education delivery to families who have children with diverse educational, behavioral, emotional, and cultural learning needs.
  • Engage in effective leadership practices, including collaboration and advocacy, to promote positive outcomes for young children with exceptionalities and their families.
  • Implement valid research-based assessment measures to facilitate learning and behavioral interventions for children (birth to 8) with diverse educational, behavioral, emotional, and cultural learning needs.
  • Apply research-based strategies to improve data-driven decision making surrounding supports and services for children with exceptionalities (birth to 8) with diverse educational, behavioral, emotional, and cultural learning needs
  • Facilitate the continuous improvement of early childhood special education programs/supports/services for children with exceptionalities (birth to 8) and their families.
  • Effectively collaborate with stakeholders to improve outcomes for children with exceptionalities (birth to 8) and their families.
  • Synthesize a variety of perspectives that promote professional growth and positive social change in the early childhood special education field. Effectively collaborate with stakeholders to improve outcomes for children with exceptionalities (birth to 8) and their families.
  • Conduct research that positively contributes to the profession and social change in relation to an identified early childhood special education problem.

Minimum Completion Requirements

  • 86 quarter credits
    • Foundations courses (5 cr.)
    • Specialized courses (30 cr.)
    • Doctoral support courses (11 cr.)
    • Research courses (20 cr.)
    • Doctoral capstone (minimum 20 cr.)
    • Doctoral Writing Assessment (0 cr.)
  • Four PhD residencies to equal a minimum of 16 units

Walden students have 8 years to complete their doctoral program unless they petition for an extension.

In general, students are continuously registered in the dissertation/doctoral study course until they complete their capstone project and it is approved. This usually takes longer than the minimum required terms in the dissertation/doctoral study course shell.

To complete a doctoral dissertation, students must obtain the academic approval of several independent evaluators including their committee, the University Research Reviewer, and the Institutional Review Board; pass the Form and Style Review; gain approval at the oral defense stage; and gain final approval by the Chief Academic Officer. Students must also publish their dissertation on ProQuest before their degree is conferred. Learn more about the dissertation process in the Dissertation Guidebook.

This sequence represents the minimum time to completion. For a personalized estimate of the number of your transfer credits that Walden would accept, call an enrollment advisor at 855-646-5286.

Course Sequence

Course Code Course Credits
Course Code EDPD 8002 Course Leading the Future of Education Credits (5 cr.)
Course Code EDPD 8070 Course Special Education: Exploring Theory and Practice Credits (5 cr.)
Course Code EDPD 8080 Course Child Development in the Critical Early Years Credits (5 cr.)
Course Code RSCH 8110 Course Research Theory, Design, and Methods Credits (5 cr.)
Course Code EDPD 8071 Course Leading Change in Special Education: Advocacy, Policy, and Law Credits (5 cr.)
Course Code EDPD 8072 Course Assessment and Evaluation to Facilitate Healthy Development and Learning For All Children, Birth Through 8 Credits (5 cr.)
Course Code EDPD 8113 Course Tools for Doctoral Research Success Credits (3 cr.)
Course Code RSCH 8210 Course Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis Credits (5 cr.)
Course Code EDPD 8073 Course Research Methodology: Evaluating Evidence-Based Practices in Early Childhood Special Education Credits (5 cr.)
Course Code EDPD 8114 Course Demystifying Doctoral Writing for Research Credits (3 cr.)
Course Code RSCH 8310 Course Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis Credits (5 cr.)
Course Code EDPD 8074 Course Evaluating and Sustaining Effective Practices in Early Childhood Special Education Credits (5 cr.)
Course Code EDPD 8910 Course Completing the Prospectus Credits (5 cr.)

Advanced Research Course

Choose one

Course Code Course Credits
Course Code RSCH 8260 Course Advanced Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis Credits (5 cr.)
Course Code RSCH 8360 Course Advanced Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis Credits (5 cr.)
Course Code RSCH 8460 Course Advanced Mixed-Methods Reasoning and Analysis Credits (5 cr.)

Doctoral Writing Assessment

Course Code Course Credits
Course Code DRWA 8000 Course Doctoral Writing Assessment Credits (0 cr.)

Dissertation

Course Code Course Credits
Course Code EDPD 8990 Course Completing the Dissertation Credits (5 cr. per term for a minimum of 4 quarters until completion)

You will be registered for two courses every 11 weeks, following the completion of your foundation course. Students who wish to reduce their course load during one or more terms should contact their academic advisor.

Note: Time to completion and cost are not estimates of individual experience and will vary based on individual factors applicable to the student. Factors may be programmatic or academic, such as tuition and fee increases; transfer credits accepted by Walden; program or specialization changes; unsuccessful course completion; credit load per term; part-time vs. full-time enrollment; writing, research, and editing skills; use of external data for the doctoral study/dissertation; and individual progress in the program. Other factors may include personal issues such as the student’s employment obligations, caregiving responsibilities, or health issues; leaves of absence; or other personal circumstances.
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