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Explore our Special Education specialization

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, approximately 7 million U.S. students received special education services from 2017 to 2018. This figure represents a demand for qualified educators to work with students with exceptionalities. The Doctor of Education (EdD) with a specialization in Special Education can position you to advance in this growing field. Educators with advanced degrees in special education are the leaders in school districts, communities, institutions of higher education, and the profession.

Coursework in this program focuses on your professional growth while increasing your comprehensive understanding of the critical trends and issues impacting special education today. You will have the opportunity to engage in real-world case-study scenarios that require collaborative problem solving and the implementation of research-based strategies to master program outcomes. This program culminates in a scholarly capstone project focused on problems of practice related to special education as well as effecting positive social change.

The curriculum is informed by the Council for Exceptional Children Advanced Preparation Standards and focuses on key issues in the field of special education, such as leadership and policy, program development and assessment, collaboration, and ethical practice.

PROGRAM SAVINGS

Receive your first course at no cost if you reside in the U.S. and start this program on November 30, 2020. Contact one of our enrollment specialists to learn more.

Get Started Now

Curriculum

Minimum Degree Requirements

  • 79 quarter credits*
  • 1 face-to-face residency
  • Doctoral Writing Assessment (0 cr.)


To satisfy these completion requirements, you must have access to a school or learning environment that has special education programming.

Walden students have up to 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/doctoral study, 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/doctoral study 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 Specialist at 855-646-5286.

Courses

Course Code Title Credits

FOUNDATION COURSE

Choose one course from the following two courses:

EDDD 8002

Leading the Future of Education

As an advanced graduate student, you are about to embark on one of the most exciting journeys of your life. This practical course provides meaningful skills you will need to select your path, complete your degree, and become a successful leader of educational change in the 21st century. Networking and research skills, scholarly writing, critical thinking, use of Walden resources, and the three advanced graduate paths (e.g., PhD, EdD, EdS)—this course addresses all of these in a manner that provides a solid foundation of skill sets upon which to base your journey. You will find a balance of assignments (e.g., case studies, discussions, application assignments) that will ignite your passion for learning, allow you to collaborate with others, and guide your current and future work. This course is designed to reflect Walden's social change mission and provide you with meaningful tools for success as an advanced graduate student.

(5 cr.)
EDDD 8006

Leading the Future of Education

As an advanced graduate student, you are about to embark on one of the most exciting journeys of your life. This practical course provides meaningful skills you will need to select your path, complete your degree, and become a successful leader of educational change in the 21st century. Networking and research skills, scholarly writing, critical thinking, use of Walden resources, and the three advanced graduate paths (e.g., PhD, EdD, EdS)—this course addresses all of these in a manner that provides a solid foundation of skill sets upon which to base your journey. You will find a balance of assignments (e.g., case studies, discussions, application assignments) that will ignite your passion for learning, allow you to collaborate with others, and guide your current and future work. This course is designed to reflect Walden's social change mission and provide you with meaningful tools for success as an advanced graduate student.

(5 cr.)

CORE COURSES

EDDD 8070

Special Education: Exploring Theory and Practice

Special education is a dynamic field with a growing research base of best practices and changing implementation efforts for students who demonstrate a broad spectrum of adaptive and learning challenges. Special education professionals in this course explore how theoretical research in the field evolved and influenced emerging and prevalent practices in the field. Through the realistic lens of a case study, candidates will explore a range of research topics as well as investigate how research has influenced practice. Through their coursework, educators are supported in the development of skills and dispositions that will assist candidates as they envision and influence the future of special education.

(5 cr.)
EDDD 8071

Leading Change in Special Education: Advocacy, Policy, and Law

Leadership and advocacy go hand-in-hand when seeking to promote policies that support effective practices in education for ALL students. Through analysis and reflection, candidates can examine the evolution of special education legislation and pivotal case law and can analyze the connections among advocacy, leadership, policy, and law as it plays out in realistic scenarios. Special education professionals will also investigate change theory and leadership styles, allowing them to reflect on their own and others' paradigms in order to determine best practices to promote positive educational and social changes. They must apply leadership, advocacy, self-evaluation, and social change skill sets to current practice as they will be called upon to do in future careers. Candidates can also engage in a culminating project through which they construct a professional plan for advocacy and leadership in an area of interest that includes issues of diversity and special needs.

(5 cr.)
RSCH 8110

Research Theory, Design, and Methods

In this research course, students are provided with core knowledge and skills for understanding, analyzing, and designing research at the graduate level. Students explore the philosophy of science, the role of theory, and research processes. Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods research designs and data collection methods are introduced. The alignment of research components is emphasized. Students also explore ethical and social change implications of designing and conducting research. Students demonstrate their knowledge and skills by developing an annotated bibliography. (Prerequisite(s): RESI 8401.)

(5 cr.)
EDDD 8113

Tools for Doctoral Research Success

Education professionals seeking the Doctor of Education (EdD) degree are required to make an original contribution to the field of education. The purpose of this course is to help educators begin that process by introducing them to the steps for developing the components of the dissertation—its timeline and available resources. Education professionals examine and analyze selected research to identify questions addressing a specific gap in the existing research literature, the framework and methodology, and other key components necessary to create scholarly research. They also explore resources such as the Writing Center and library, as well as specific tools they can use to complete the dissertation.

(3 cr.)
EDDD 8072

Research Methodology for Special Education

In this course, special educators examine research methodologies important and unique to the field of special education. Particular attention is given to single-subject research designs that are used to study behavioral change in individuals or small groups as a result of an intervention. Topics include reliable measurement, repeated measurement, description of conditions, baseline and treatment conditions, and single-variable rules. Candidates will apply the concepts studied in the course to the special education case study. By the end of this course, candidates will begin to delineate various special education research-based methodologies that may apply to an area of interest for their capstone projects.

(5 cr.)
RSCH 8210

Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis

In this research course, students are provided with the opportunity to develop core knowledge and skills for designing and carrying out quantitative research at the doctoral level, including the application of statistical concepts and techniques. Students explore classical common statistical tests, the importance of the logic of inference, and social change implications of conducting quantitative research and producing knowledge. Students approach statistics from a problem-solving perspective with emphasis on selecting appropriate statistical tests for a research design. Students use statistical software to derive statistics from quantitative data and interpret and present results. (Prerequisite(s): RSCH 8110 or RSCH 7110 or RSCH 6110, and RESI 8401.)

(5 cr.)
EDDD 8073

Designing Specialized Instruction for Diverse Learners

Whether practicing in a school, university, or other professional settings, special educators are called upon to implement data-driven assessments in order to plan and implement individualized instructional plans for students with diverse learning and social challenges. In this course, educators review research and practice specific to specialized instruction for students with disabilities in language, reading, writing, math, and content areas. Topics also include effective practices for instruction and evaluation for students with social-emotional and behavioral needs, including applied behavior analysis, positive behavioral interventions, and skill building. Related brain-based research will be examined, as well as assistive technologies and methods of delivery, whether in individual, small group, or inclusive settings. 

(5 cr.)
EDDD 8074

Implementing Effective School-Wide Intervention Models

Special educators must be prepared with valid and reliable assessment data in order to recommend and implement sound, research-based intervention models. In this course, educators examine problem-solving best practices for using data to identify students at risk of academic, social, or emotional difficulties. Candidates can also study methods of disability identification and monitoring student progress, and data-based decision making for instruction, universal instruction, and interventions useful for all students. Professional development for general and special education teachers and the role of caregivers (e.g., parents, families, guardians) will be explored. Functional behavioral assessment is examined as an evaluation tool for understanding behavior, and effective practices for school-wide positive behavioral support (SWPBS) are also explored. 

(5 cr.)
RSCH 8310

Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis

Students in this research course are provided with the opportunity to develop basic knowledge and skills for conducting qualitative research at the doctoral level. Students explore the nature of qualitative inquiry, how theory and theoretical and conceptual frameworks uniquely apply to qualitative research, data collection procedures and analysis strategy, and how the role of the researcher is expressed in the ethical and rigorous conduct of qualitative research. Students practice collecting, organizing, analyzing, and presenting data, and they develop a detailed research topic for conducting a qualitative study. (Prerequisite(s): RSCH 8110 or RSCH 7110 or RSCH 6110, and RESI 8401.)

(5 cr.)
EDDD 8114

Demystifying Doctoral Writing for Research

Education professionals expand their knowledge of the dissertation process by reviewing tools, resources, and sample dissertations as they focus on the alignment among the identified problem, purpose, framework, research question(s), and study design. Education professionals use tools, including the appropriate rubrics and checklists, to narrow the focus of their research topic, plan a comprehensive literature review, and begin to develop their prospectus.

(3 cr.)
EDDD 8075

Sustaining and Supporting Effective Practices in Special Education

Effective special education leaders promote meaningful change for students with diverse learning and social needs, foster the use of effective practices, and sustain long-term program viability throughout diverse settings. Once effective practices are in place, they establish a clear plan for addressing program integrity and sustaining commitment to continuous improvement. Throughout this course, candidates can examine critical components to sustain change, including program evaluation, professionalism, culturally responsive practices, and policy to support continuous improvement. 

(5 cr.)
EDDD 8910

Completing the Prospectus

Nearly all doctoral-level programs require capstone projects that necessitate knowledge of conducting research, including how to develop an appropriate research plan. In this course, educators utilize knowledge from previous courses to develop their prospectus—a brief document that provides preliminary information about their capstone research to serve as a plan for developing the research proposal. They engage in a logical progression from topic conception to prospectus completion. They learn how to take their individualized topic and identify the research problem, purpose of their study, conceptual framework, and appropriate research design, while also examining the concepts of feasibility and overall alignment of study components. Educators will practice evaluating their work using the same guides and rubrics used by faculty.

(3 cr.)
EDDD 8990

Completing the Doctoral Capstone

Nearly all doctoral-level programs require capstone projects that necessitate independent application of requisite knowledge on conducting research based on close interaction with, guidance from, and supervision by an institution-approved committee. Students in each EdD program specialization are supported in the completion of their doctoral capstone in this course. The EdD doctoral study process is composed of several stages and requires levels of approval—prospectus, proposal, IRB, final study, form and style, and chief academic officer (CAO). Students develop and support a doctoral-level research problem and review related literature to develop a framework for the study. They learn how to move from a research problem to the purpose of the study, the framework, and then an appropriate design while examining the concepts of feasibility and overall alignment of study components. Students consider ethical feasibility issues as related to their capstone development and proceed to data collection and analysis. They finalize the capstone with an oral defense, appropriately presenting results and outcomes of the research, as well as implications for positive social change.Students take this course for a minimum of four quarters and are continuously enrolled until completion of their dissertation with final chief academic officer (CAO) approval.To complete a 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.

(5 cr. per term for a minimum of 4 quarters until completion)
EDDD 8990

Completing the Doctoral Capstone

Nearly all doctoral-level programs require capstone projects that necessitate independent application of requisite knowledge on conducting research based on close interaction with, guidance from, and supervision by an institution-approved committee. Students in each EdD program specialization are supported in the completion of their doctoral capstone in this course. The EdD doctoral study process is composed of several stages and requires levels of approval—prospectus, proposal, IRB, final study, form and style, and chief academic officer (CAO). Students develop and support a doctoral-level research problem and review related literature to develop a framework for the study. They learn how to move from a research problem to the purpose of the study, the framework, and then an appropriate design while examining the concepts of feasibility and overall alignment of study components. Students consider ethical feasibility issues as related to their capstone development and proceed to data collection and analysis. They finalize the capstone with an oral defense, appropriately presenting results and outcomes of the research, as well as implications for positive social change.Students take this course for a minimum of four quarters and are continuously enrolled until completion of their dissertation with final chief academic officer (CAO) approval.To complete a 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.

(5 cr. per term for a minimum of 4 quarters until completion)
EDDD 8990

Completing the Doctoral Capstone

Nearly all doctoral-level programs require capstone projects that necessitate independent application of requisite knowledge on conducting research based on close interaction with, guidance from, and supervision by an institution-approved committee. Students in each EdD program specialization are supported in the completion of their doctoral capstone in this course. The EdD doctoral study process is composed of several stages and requires levels of approval—prospectus, proposal, IRB, final study, form and style, and chief academic officer (CAO). Students develop and support a doctoral-level research problem and review related literature to develop a framework for the study. They learn how to move from a research problem to the purpose of the study, the framework, and then an appropriate design while examining the concepts of feasibility and overall alignment of study components. Students consider ethical feasibility issues as related to their capstone development and proceed to data collection and analysis. They finalize the capstone with an oral defense, appropriately presenting results and outcomes of the research, as well as implications for positive social change.Students take this course for a minimum of four quarters and are continuously enrolled until completion of their dissertation with final chief academic officer (CAO) approval.To complete a 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.

(5 cr. per term for a minimum of 4 quarters until completion)
EDDD 8990

Completing the Doctoral Capstone

Nearly all doctoral-level programs require capstone projects that necessitate independent application of requisite knowledge on conducting research based on close interaction with, guidance from, and supervision by an institution-approved committee. Students in each EdD program specialization are supported in the completion of their doctoral capstone in this course. The EdD doctoral study process is composed of several stages and requires levels of approval—prospectus, proposal, IRB, final study, form and style, and chief academic officer (CAO). Students develop and support a doctoral-level research problem and review related literature to develop a framework for the study. They learn how to move from a research problem to the purpose of the study, the framework, and then an appropriate design while examining the concepts of feasibility and overall alignment of study components. Students consider ethical feasibility issues as related to their capstone development and proceed to data collection and analysis. They finalize the capstone with an oral defense, appropriately presenting results and outcomes of the research, as well as implications for positive social change.Students take this course for a minimum of four quarters and are continuously enrolled until completion of their dissertation with final chief academic officer (CAO) approval.To complete a 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.

(5 cr. per term for a minimum of 4 quarters until completion)

DOCTORAL WRITING ASSESSMENT

DRWA 8880

Doctoral Writing Assessment

This course is part of Walden's commitment to help prepare students to meet the university's expectations for writing in courses at the doctoral level. In this course, students write a short academic essay that will be scored by a team of writing assessors. Based on the essay score, students will complete or be exempted from additional required writing support needed to meet writing proficiency standards. This required assessment course is free. Students will be enrolled automatically in it at the beginning of their doctoral program.

(0 cr.)
VIEW ALL COURSES Less Courses

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.

Tuition and Fees

CurriculuM Requirements Cost Total *
Tuition-Coursework - Flat Rate Courses:  3 courses $1,210 each $3,630^
Tuition-Course Work - Per Credit Courses:  50 quarter credits $605 per credit coursework and dissertation/doctoral study credits $30,250^
Tuition - Dissertation/Doctoral Study:  20–125 quarter credits  $605 per quarter hour for dissertation/doctoral study credits $12,100–$75,625*
Technology Fee $160 per quarter $1,750–$5,120*
Residency Fee One Residency $1,175 each (virtual)
$1,275 each (in-person: travel, lodging and other expenses are additional)
$1,175–$1,275
Estimated Range:     2.75-Year 8-Year
 
$48,905
$115,900*+
(assuming completion in a 2.75-year time frame) (assuming completion in an 8-year time frame)

These are ranges of what a student can expect in terms of time and tuition cost to complete a degree. It does not include other fees, nor is it adjusted for tuition increases over time. Walden faculty has concluded that generally students who do not complete their program in eight years are unlikely to complete and only allow students to exceed that time frame when a student petitions for an extension and provides good reason for the delay and assurances that obstacles to completion can be overcome. Time is calculated using the time allowed for each semester or unit that the student completes. Students are encouraged to work continuously during the program so as not to extend the time needed to complete the degree as work can become stale and students lose focus. Students who earn two grades of “Unsatisfactory,” who repeatedly drop a course before a semester or unit has been completed, or are unable to complete in the eight year time frame, should expect that they may be dismissed from the program. Walden believes that it is in the best interest of a student who is unable to complete the degree in the stated ranges to strongly consider withdrawal or obtaining a lesser degree.

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 and/or the student’s transfer credits accepted by Walden; program or specialization changes; unsuccessful course completion; credit load per term; writing, research and editing skills; use of external data for their doctoral study/dissertation; and/or individual progress in the program. Other factors may include personal issues such as the student’s employment obligations; care giving responsibilities or health issues; part-time vs. full-time enrollment; leaves of absence; and/or other personal circumstances.

Tuition and fees are subject to change. Books and materials are not included. Students may incur additional costs for remedial writing assistance, if necessary.

† Based on a 2.75-year minimum completion requirement and an 8-year maximum timeframe as outlined in Walden academic policy.

^This assumes students successfully complete their coursework on the first attempt.

*Tuition and fees will be higher if students petition to extend the 8-year maximum timeframe or choose to take more expensive elective courses.

+Tuition and time to complete may be reduced if transfer credits are accepted, or if you receive grants, scholarships or other tuition discounts. For a personalized estimate of the number of your transfer credits that Walden would accept, call an Enrollment Specialist at 855-979-6580.

FINANCIAL AID

Many Walden degree-seeking students—67%—receive some form of financial aid.* Create a customized plan that makes sense for you.

*Source: Walden University’s Office of Financial Aid. Data reports as of 2018.

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PROGRAM SAVINGS

Receive your first course at no cost if you reside in the U.S. and start this program on November 30, 2020. Contact one of our enrollment specialists to learn more.

Get Started Now

Admission Requirements

To be considered for this doctoral program, you must have a master’s degree from an accredited college or university and meet the general admissions requirements. All applicants must submit a completed online application and transcripts. Depending on program specialization, additional requirements may apply. More information for international applicants.

Learning Outcomes

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

  • Evaluate policies surrounding ethical and legal practices that support high-quality education for individuals with diverse educational, behavioral, emotional, and cultural learning needs.
  • Implement valid research-based assessment measures to facilitate learning and behavioral interventions for individuals with diverse educational, behavioral, emotional, and cultural learning needs.
  • Evaluate special education programs, including the integration of related services (e.g., assistive technology, behavioral intervention, transition, inclusion), for individuals with exceptionalities based upon an understanding of individual differences.
  • Apply research-based strategies to improve data decision making, supports, and services for individuals with diverse educational, behavioral, emotional, and cultural learning needs.
  • Facilitate the continuous improvement of education programs, supports, and services for individuals with exceptionalities.
  • Effectively collaborate with stakeholders to improve outcomes for individuals with exceptionalities and their families.
  • Design research to address a special education problem and contribute to the profession.

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