Welcome to PhDinSpecialEducation.com – your complete guide to online PhD in special education programs. We offer information about how to earn your degree online, what schools offer the program you seek, and what to expect once enrolled. To help you find answers to commonly asked questions, we’ve created a helpful introduction below.

  1. What should I look for in a special education graduate program?
  2. What specializations are available in this field?
  3. How do I become certified in special education?
  4. What are the benefits of getting a PhD in special education?
  5. What other special education resources are there online?

What should I look for in a special education graduate program?

A graduate program in special education is designed to prepare students for leadership and administrative positions. Many schools offer a PhD in special education, but each school is unique in its approach to teaching and learning. In order to earn your degree online, it’s important to consider the following when choosing a program:

  • Is the program accredited by a recognized regional accrediting agency?
  • Will the program prepare you for licensure and the required examinations to work in the field?
  • Does the program offer opportunity to explore and potentially obtain further specialization in your area of interest?

The following schools and programs are some of those which meet these requirements:

SchoolPrograms
Northcentral University
Accreditation
  • HLC
  • NCA
Walden University
Accreditation
  • HLC
  • NCA
Capella University
Accreditation
  • HLC
Liberty University
Accreditation
  • SACSCOC

See all schools that offer Special Education degrees...

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What specializations are available in this field?

Different schools offer varying areas of specialization, so researching what programs are available at each school is important before enrolling. With the vast number of special needs, these specialty areas allow for more research and study into a particular area. Some specialties that may be offered include:

SPECIALIZATION: OVERVIEW:
Curriculum and Instruction Prepares graduates to manage and lead processes related to curriculum, instruction, and assessment in special education.
Special Education Leadership Provides a strong foundation in educational administration, along with focused course work in special education administration, instructional strategies, curriculum development, law, and finance.
Gifted Education Designed to equip teachers and administrators with an understanding of the unique needs of gifted students and how to develop appropriate curriculum and assessment activities.
Exceptional Student Prepares teachers to work in programs serving Pre-K-12 students with disabilities that cover a wide range of issues from autism spectrum disorders, developmental, and/or cognitive delay.
Visual Impairments Prepares teachers to acquire the necessary assessment, instructional, and consultation skills for working with students with visual impairments as well as with their families.
High-Incidence Disabilities (M.S.E.) Provides training in working with students with emotional and/or behavioral disorders, learning disabilities, and mild intellectual disabilities.
Autism Spectrum Disorders Trains educators on the characteristics and etiology of autism, assessment and instructional programming for communication, social skills, family, and community collaboration.
General Special Education Prepares graduates to work with students with a variety of disabilities ranging from mild to severe as well as how to instruct and support children with special needs.

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How do I become certified in special education?

In order to work in special education, you must be licensed through the state in which you work. These requirements for certification vary by state, and many require teachers to complete annual courses in order to keep their license current. If you are interested in working with multiple disabilities, many states offer a special education license that allows this. The chart below illustrates the different paths one can take to become certified in special education:

CREDENTIAL: CERTIFICATION AWARDED:
Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education State-issued certification or license in special education
Master’s Degree in Special Education State-issued certification or license in special education (if student entered program without a bachelor’s degree in special education and/or a non-education field)
Master’s Degree in Special Education with Endorsement State-issued certification or license in special education (if student entered program without a bachelor’s degree in special education and/or a non-education field) with endorsement in area of specialty
MA/Education – Special Education (non-licensure) A generic master of education degree for special education teachers, which does not lead to licensure in any area
MEd in Special Education (No IR, No Cert) Not Eligible for Institutional Recommendation/Non-Credential is designed for those interested in special education, but who must postpone student teaching, or who does not choose to seek a teaching certificate.
PhD in Special Education Certification or license can be obtained at the PhD level, depending on the program and its requirements

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What are the benefits of getting a PhD in special education?

A PhD in special education prepares students to hold leadership positions in research-based settings or work as an educator in schools, colleges, or universities. Some may even fill positions within local, state, or national agencies. In additional to the career perks, other benefits of earning your PhD include:

  1. You’ll become an expert in your field with advanced training and specialized experience to help individuals with a variety of disabilities and needs.
  2. You may qualify for research positions at a college or university that can lead to a tenured position.
  3. You’re more likely to find a career developing new techniques and new ideas for curricula that cover a wide range of topics related to special education and early intervention.
  4. You can become a consultant that focuses on helping other educators and agencies improve their instruction and ultimately, the achievement and motivation of their students.
  5. You can start your own practice that helps individuals with special needs and their families navigate the emotionally and sometimes physically demanding process of a disability.

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What other special education resources are there online?

If you’re interested in learning more about special education degree programs as well as developments in the field, we’ve listed a few helpful resources that cover a wide variety of topics. In the meantime, follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates and news.

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