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Explore our PhD in Education Early Childhood Special Education specialization

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.

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

  • 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 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, 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 Specialist at 855-646-5286.

Courses

Course Code Title Credits
EDPD 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, that will allow you to collaborate with others, and that will 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.)
EDPD 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.)
EDPD 8080

Child Development in the Critical Early Years

Effective early childhood professionals know that respectful relationships with families provide the foundation for supporting young children's healthy development. Candidates examine key developmental stages, from prenatal experiences to the early school years. Education professionals explore child development theory, current research in neuroscience, and social-emotional development across the early childhood years, with a special emphasis on the significant role families play in fostering healthy development. Current thinking from the fields of psychology, science, and education are integrated with global perspectives on child development. Candidates apply their knowledge to promote positive developmental outcomes for young children and their families.

(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.)
EDPD 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.)
EDPD 8072

Assessment and Evaluation to Facilitate Healthy Development and Learning For All Children, Birth Through 8

To lead assessment and evaluation practices effectively for all children, birth through age 8, education professionals must be able to analyze and implement current research and practices to evaluate the effectiveness of early intervention assessment and evaluation models. Education professionals explore various types of assessment practices (i.e., formative, summative, formal, and informal assessment) as well as evaluate how they use data from these assessments to promote development, guide teaching, and monitor progress. Through an in-depth analysis of Part C regulations (birth to 3 years) and Part B requirements (3–21 years), a particular focus will be placed on assessing and evaluating children who come from cultural and linguistic diverse backgrounds as well as other external factors that need to be considered when working with children. As leaders in the field, education professionals reflect upon research and practice to foster collaborative partnerships with families and other professionals to positively influence the development of every child. 

(5 cr.)
EDPD 8113

Tools for Doctoral Research Success

Education professionals seeking the PhD in Education 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.)
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.)
EDPD 8073

Research Methodology: Evaluating Evidence-Based Practices in Early Childhood Special Education

Effective special education leaders must be able to reflect upon and transform research to implement effective evidence-based practices in early childhood special education. The focus is placed on practices that involve emotional, social, and behavioral strategies as well as literacy instruction. Special emphasis is given to the use of technology practices to facilitate assessment, evaluation, instruction, and professional development. Education professionals reflect on research involving culturally responsive teaching, inclusion, and family involvement. 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.

(5 cr.)
EDPD 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.)
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.)
EDPD 8074

Evaluating and Sustaining Effective Practices in Early Childhood Special Education

Effective early childhood special education leaders promote meaningful change for children with exceptionalities, foster the use of effective evidence-based 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. Leaders need to facilitate the process of evaluating, modifying, and sustaining these effective practices. Throughout this course, education professionals examine critical components to sustain change including program evaluation, professionalism, culturally responsive practices, effective ways to work with families, and collaboration to support continuous improvement in early childhood settings.

(5 cr.)
EDPD 8910

Writing a Quality Prospectus

Educators in nearly all doctoral-level programs are required to complete dissertation projects that necessitate requisite knowledge of conducting research, including the development of an appropriate research plan. In this course, education professionals utilize knowledge from previous courses to develop their prospectus—a brief document that provides preliminary information about their dissertation research to serve as a plan for developing the research proposal. They engage in a logical progression from topic conception to prospectus completion. They take their individualized topic and identify the research problem, purpose of their study, theoretical or conceptual framework, and appropriate research design, while also examining the concepts of feasibility and overall alignment of study components.

(5 cr.)

ADVANCED RESEARCH COURSE- choose 1

RSCH 8260

Advanced Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis

Students in this research course build upon knowledge and skills acquired in the prerequisite quantitative reasoning course and are presented with opportunities to apply them. They are provided with more specialized knowledge and skills for conducting quantitative research at the doctoral level, including understanding multivariate data analysis and applying more advanced statistical concepts, such as factorial ANOVA, mediation, moderation, logistic regression, ANCOVA, and MANOVA. Students explore existing datasets and apply suitable statistical tests to answer research questions with social change implications. In this course, they approach statistics from a problem-solving perspective with emphasis on selecting the appropriate statistical tests for more complex research questions and social problems. Students use statistical software to perform analyses and interpret and present results. They will apply and synthesize their knowledge and skills by carrying out a quantitative research project. (Prerequisite(s): RSCH 8110 and RESI 8402.)

(5 cr.)
RSCH 8360

Advanced Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis

Students build upon the knowledge and skills acquired in RSCH 8310 - Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis. and have experience applying them. Students develop a more sophisticated understanding of the theoretical antecedents and practical applications of eight contemporary qualitative approaches. Students gain experience developing qualitative interview guides, collecting data, and managing the process from transcription through analysis. The unique challenges of confidentiality and ethical issues are explored as well as implications for social change. Students will apply and synthesize their knowledge and skills by developing a qualitative research plan using a topic relevant to their capstone. (Prerequisite(s): RESI 8402.)

(5 cr.)
RSCH 8460

Advanced Mixed-Methods Reasoning and Analysis

Students build upon knowledge and skills acquired in RSCH 8210 - Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis and RSCH 8310 - Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis for more specialized knowledge and skills to design mixed-methods research at the doctoral level. Students are provided with more specialized knowledge and skills for designing mixed-methods research at the doctoral level. They gain an understanding of the types of mixed-methods designs and how to select the most appropriate approach for the research question(s). The emphases of this course are on integrating quantitative and qualitative elements into true mixed-methods studies, practice in data analysis, and integration of qualitative and quantitative data within a research write-up. Students will apply and synthesize their knowledge and skills by developing a mixed-methods research plan that incorporates qualitative and quantitative elements appropriately. (Prerequisite(s): RSCH 8110 or RSCH 7110 or RSCH 6110, and RSCH 8210 or RSCH 7210 or RSCH 6210, and RSCH 8310 or RSCH 7310 or RSCH 6310, and RESI 8402.)

(5 cr.)

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.)

DISSERTATION

EDPD 8990

Completing the Dissertation

Education professionals in nearly all doctoral-level programs are required to complete dissertation projects that necessitate independent application of requisite knowledge by conducting research based on close interaction with, guidance from, and supervision by an institution-approved dissertation committee. Students in each PhD program specialization are supported in the completion of their doctoral dissertation in this course. The PhD dissertation process is composed of several stages and requires levels of approval: prospectus, proposal, Institutional Review Board (IRB), Form and Style, abstract by Chief Academic Officer (CAO), and the final study. Education professionals develop and support a doctoral-level research problem and review related literature to develop a framework for their study. They 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. Education professionals consider ethical feasibility issues as related to their dissertation development and proceed to data collection and analysis. They conduct an oral defense, appropriately presenting results and outcomes of the research, as well as implications for positive social change, a Walden hallmark.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)
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 66 quarter credits  $675 per quarter hour for coursework credits $44,500^
Tuition-Doctoral Study/Project  20-120† quarter credits $675 per quarter hour for dissertation credits $13,500-$81,000*
Technology Fee $160 per quarter $1,920-$4,800*
4-Day Residency Fee Four Residencies (residency two and residency four may be virtual; additional residencies may be required $1,375 (travel, lodging and other expenses are additional)           
$1,475 (virtual)
$5,700
Estimated Range:     3-Year Minimum 8-Year Maximum
 
$65,620
$136,000*+
(assuming completion in a 3-year timeframe) (assuming completion in a 8-year timeframe)

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.

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

† Based on a 3-year minimum completion requirement and an 8-year maximum timeframe as outlined in Walden academic policy.

*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 844-642-0198.

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.

Find Ways to Save

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

Program Admission Considerations: A master's degree or higher.

General Admission Requirements: Completed online application and transcripts. Please note that the materials you are required to submit may vary depending on the academic program to which you apply. More information for international applicants.


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.

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