Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
in Special Education
About the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
in Special Education
- Clare Papay, Ph.D., Coordinator of Graduate Special Education Certification Program
- Christina Le Ager, Ph.D., Director of Division of Teaching and Learning
- Tanya Santangelo, Ph.D., Coordinator of Special Education and Educational Leadership Doctoral Programs
Graduates of the Ed.D. program will be up-to-date on the most recent developments in the field, will learn how to assess and alter their organization’s practices, and will have the capacity to implement best practice programs to benefit students, schools and communities.
The Degree Program
Arcadia’s doctoral program in Special Education offers a Doctor of Education degree earned by engaging in intensive study and completing an approved doctoral dissertation. The program is designed to increase the students’ levels of professional expertise in the field of special education and to develop the skills necessary to implement best practices programs effectively in natural settings. This program focuses on preparing educational leaders for schools in supervisory, curricular, and/or administrative capacities.
The guiding philosophy of the special education doctoral program is composed of several key components integrated into the program through expectations, coursework and mentorship. Students are challenged to work toward integrating the following into their academic performance and professional lives:
- Willingness to consider new ideas
- Embracing community inclusion and diversity
- Critical thinking
- Systemic critique and reform
- Collaboration and teamwork
- Critical self-reflection
- Social action
- Ethical practices and conduct
- Ongoing professional development and life-long learning
- Research-based practices
The Ed.D. program in Special Education facilitates collaboration and teamwork through a modified cohort model. Students enter the program with a group of colleagues with whom they take courses and progress through the program. Cohort models have a number of advantages for students and faculty alike.
- Cohorts provide students with study and support groups that enable them to gain maximum benefits from coursework and research.
- Cohorts enable students to support each other as a group while accomplishing the major milestones of the program, including their qualifying paper and dissertation.
- Because students move through the core program as a group, faculty are aware of what they have been taught and what is yet to be covered; this is especially important in addressing the research/critical thinking portion of the curriculum and building solid research skills.
- Cohorts provide for high levels of ongoing support for individual student work and research development.
The cohort model allows students to move through the critical thinking/research component of the program as a group and, as such, to work supportively and collaboratively on developing, implementing, and writing their qualifying papers and dissertations.
Students’ progress and timelines will vary during the dissertation proposal, implementation, and writing process. Contributing factors include the subject of the dissertation, the meeting of established timelines, issues of participants and implementation, data analysis, and writing skills.
Structure of the Program
A minimum of 60 credit hours post-master’s degree, including 18 credits of research courses are required for the doctoral degree.
Coursework is organized around a series of courses including: essential background courses, research methods, and content area information. Each semester’s courses integrate these three curricular areas so that students have continuous exposure to and practice in critical thinking and research methods as they gain content area knowledge.
The focus of all coursework is to teach students how to think critically and systematically about special education at both the micro-level (i.e., the impact of various programs or interventions on students and classrooms) and the macro-level (i.e., school- or district-wide impact). The program stresses the cultural, social, political ramifications of special education categorization, curriculum, instruction, as well as models and methods of service delivery. From the first day of the program, students utilize real-life cases and analyze relevant materials as they examine special education programs operating in schools, communities and agencies.