Special education is the field that addresses the learning environment of disabled and special needs children. Special education instructors must be able to accommodate children with a wide variety of learning and behavioral disabilities, a task that is both challenging and rewarding. Doctoral programs in special education are mainly comprised of research, meant to expand on current studies regarding special education development.

Why a Doctoral Degree?

A student should apply for a doctoral program in special education if they have a particular interest in cultivating new research studies in the field. Their articles and findings can contribute to the constantly expanding body of pedagogical research, policy, and school reforms surrounding special education. A PhD in special education degree also allows them to teach at any level, including postsecondary. The doctoral program offers the most opportunity for leadership development in the field.

Getting Into a Doctoral Degree Program

Colleges and universities have varied admissions requirements for their degree programs. However, most doctoral programs in special education will call for the following prerequisites:

  • A master’s degree in a related subject area
  • The desired undergraduate GPA
  • A current rÇsumÇ noting any field experience
  • Sufficient GRE scores
  • A statement of intent
  • Letters of recommendation

Inside a Special Education Doctoral Degree Program

A full-time student should be able to complete a doctoral program in special education in 4-5 years. The program is research-laden, leading up to a dissertation. Most programs also include an internship. Seminars are evenly split between those highlighting basic fundamentals of education and lectures directly pertaining to special education and learning disabilities. Samples of the topics covered in the seminars include autism spectrum disorders, ethical issues in special education, literacy acquisition, and braille reading and writing.

Students enrolled in a phd in special education online will be required to use a web-based platform such as Blackboard to access their work, communicate with professors and peers, and complete assessments. Their lectures may be prerecorded as podcasts or YouTube videos. Synchronous courses require the student to log in at a specific time to receive credit, while asynchronous courses enable the student to access and complete their work on their own time table.

What’s Next for Special Education Doctoral Degree Holders?

A doctoral degree in special education paves the way toward a number of potential career outcomes. Graduates may work in special education administration within a public school, postsecondary school system, government agency, or other organization. They may partake in independent research, publishing their work in journals and contributing to notable studies that could play a role in special education policy and implementation. They may teach special education or train others in special education instruction. They may also work with nonprofits for causes related to special education and the disabled.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that special education teachers made an annual median pay of $53,220 in 2010. Degree holders who go into special education administration on the postsecondary level can expect to make around $83,710 per year. Researchers and policy-makers may apply for grants to fund their studies.