Special Education

Doctor of Philosophy in Education

The Special Education specialization will provide you with the knowledge and skills to implement the six pillars of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA). You will investigate specific court and legal cases, federal mandates, case studies and application opportunities, with an emphasis on case law and research that addresses course-based concepts. You will also advance your knowledge and skills in student placement, service delivery requirements, discipline, appropriate educational decisions, family rights and privacy issues, and develop the skills to interact with special education administrators from a local district or university. As a Special Education graduate, you will be prepared to pursue positions as a school district administrator of special education programs or university positions where you will prepare special education students at initial certification or advanced levels.

General Degree Requirements

The PhD Program may be completed in 60 semester credit hours. However, up to an additional 15 credit hours will be allowed as needed to complete the dissertation research. If the program is not completed in 75 credit hours, the student will be dismissed from the program.

Completion Period for Doctoral Degrees

Northcentral University allows 7 years to complete all doctoral programs of 60 credits or less. Normal time to complete varies depending upon course take rate and credits transferred.

Certification and Licensing

The School of Education serves educational leaders by providing online graduate studies in education to reach worldwide populations. The PhD program is designed to reach national and international markets and does not purport to provide licensure or certification in any particular state or country.

PhD Degree Requirements

Admission to the doctorate programs at NCU requires a master's degree from an accredited institution. PhD students are also required to demonstrate competency in specific subject areas prior to enrolling in any of the specialization or elective courses.

Foundational Competencies for PhD Program

  • Graduate Level Statistics Competency - PhD students are required to complete a Statistics in Education Research Course, EDU8003, and also EDU8006, Advanced Educational Statistics.
  • Competency in Research Writing Skills - PhD students are required to show competency in writing skills for research purposes through their Northcentral University graduate coursework before being assigned to any dissertation courses. Students will be required to take EDU8001, Advanced Scholarly Writing, to improve APA formatting skills and to address advanced writing and research skills as necessary.
  • Computer Competency - PhD students are required to use appropriate computer skills that are necessary in writing a dissertation. Students must be able to prepare documents using advanced word processing skills (e.g., creation of tables and figures, headers and footers, page breaks, tables of contents, hanging indents, etc.). In addition, students need to use computer programs for the statistical analysis and presentation of data (e.g., Excel, SPSS). The oral defense normally requires a computer-based presentation by the candidate (e.g., a PowerPoint presentation).

Course Length

All new students enrolling in the PhD in Education program are automatically enrolled in courses that are eight weeks in length. All eight-week courses are indicated by a "-8" (dash eight) at the end of the course code.

The PhD in Education requires six specialization, five research, and two statistical courses for a total of 39 credit hours.

Course Code

Name

Course Description

Specialization Course 1

EDU8002, EDU8002-8

Educational Research Methodology

The purpose of this course is to enable students to gain a holistic understanding of the research process and examine the most common research designs used in educational research. In this course, students are prepared to make thoughtful and wise choices about their dissertation research project or capstone project through the exploration of different research design options.

Specialization Course 2

EDU8003, EDU8003-8

Statistics I

This course provides an introductory exploration of statistics for the graduate Learner. It includes instruction on the calculation, use, and interpretation of descriptive statistics, and introduces inferential statistical analysis. The emphasis of this course is on providing a working knowledge of basic statistical concepts to help the Learner understand statistical methodology used in education, and also more generally, developing a working knowledge of statistical usage in everyday life.

Specialization Course 3

EDU8202, EDU8202-8

Research Design

In this course, the Learner acquires the basic skills necessary for the interpretation and application of quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods research. The Learner will examine the formal research process carefully, with an emphasis on practical applications and skill development. Critical concepts and principles intrinsic to research paradigms, study designs, and methods of inquiry are presented to empower the Learners ability to formulate and respond to research questions. The resources listed below from the Northcentral University Dissertation Center are critical resources throughout the whole research process _ learners are highly encouraged to become deeply familiar with the resources from the Northcentral University Dissertation Center.

EDU8005, EDU8005-8

Qualitative Research Design

This course is an examination of qualitative methods for studying human behavior including grounded theory, narrative analysis, ethnography, and case studies.

Specialization Course 4

EDU8006, EDU8006-8

Statistics II

This course is an intermediate examination of statistical analyses commonly used for research in education. It prepares the doctoral student with the skills required to plan, conduct (using SPSS), report, and interpret quantitative statistical analyses. Topics include: basic statistical knowledge, probability theory, exploratory data analysis, assumptions for statistical tests, parametric and nonparametric tests. Specific analyses include correlation, regression (simple, multiple, and logistic), basic ANOVA and advance ANOVA techniques.

Specialization Course 5

EDU8007, EDU8007-8

Quantitative Methods

This course provides students with the skills essential for designing experimental, quasi-experimental, and survey studies; analyzing the data collected in those studies, and interpreting the results of data analyses. Students will explore designs and statistical techniques to use with their envisioned dissertation research.

Specialization Course 6

EDU8207, EDU8207-8

Planning Dissertation Research in Education

Students in this course will begin the process of writing a dissertation for a research or professional doctorate. The course will address the University dissertation procedures and aids students in the process of successfully completing a dissertation, including attending to self-care and time management.

Required Basic Foundation Courses – 6 credit hours

Course Code

Name

Course Description

EDU8000, EDU8000-8

Foundations for Doctoral Study in Education (This course will be taken as the first course)

This course is an orientation to Northcentral University and to the essential skills needed to pursue a doctoral degree in Education. Doctoral level skills, such as academic integrity, time management, effective use of the Northcentral Library, comprehending complex scholarly texts and research articles, and APA form and style in professional communication are also introduced. Students will complete the course with a better understanding of personal goals, strengths, and challenges, and a roadmap to navigate their way to completion of their educational aspirations.

EDU8001, EDU8001-8

Advanced Scholarly Writing

The purpose of this course is to build advanced skills identifying and obtaining high quality sources through online library searches. In addition, the course addresses advanced writing and APA formatting skills, and it prepares students to be critically reflective consumers of research reports.

Specialization Courses - 18 credit hours, Select 6 courses from the following:

Course Code

Name

Course Description

SE7000-8

Introduction to the Exceptional Student

In this course, students will gain an overview of research and current perspectives related to special education and associated administrative duties or higher education responsibilities. Topics include: the history of special education, identification of students with special needs, provisions of the IDEA/IDEIA, legal issues, inclusion, transitions, classroom modifications, instructional strategies, assessment procedures, service delivery models, and educational programming.

SE7001-8

Assessment in Special Education

In this course, students will be introduced to practical, applied approaches to the procedures of the assessment process, testing procedures, assessment results, and the faculty involved in these processes. Students will learn to strengthen the connection between gathering assessment information and the analysis and synthesis of data to develop report summaries.

SE7002-8

Learning Disabled Student

This course will focus on issues related to students with mild disabilities. Common characteristics, instructions for assisting teachers to work with students who have specific disabilities, best practices for identification of learning disabilities, and working with at-risk students will be covered. Major emphasis will be placed on assisting classroom and special education teachers with identifying and adapting instructional materials in the content areas for individuals with mild disabilities. Preparing to teach students with mild disabilities in collaborative or resource room settings will also be addressed as well as how to select from a variety of strategies appropriate to the varied learning modalities for students with mild disabilities. Ways to support teachers in inclusive settings will also be discussed.

SE7003-8

Emotionally Disabled Student

In this course, students will address common characteristics, best practices for identification, and instructional practices pertaining to students with emotional or behavioral disorders. Major emphasis will be placed on prevention procedures and intervention strategies to address behavioral issues. Preparing to teach individuals with emotional and behavior disorders in collaborative settings will also be addressed as well as how to select a variety of appropriate instructional strategies. Ways to support teachers in inclusive settings will also be discussed.

SE7004-8

Developing Curriculum for the Mentally Disabled

In this course, students will explore various educational programs and teaching strategies that have been used successfully to assist students with disabilities. Students will develop an understanding of how to monitor individualized education programs by assessing individual student needs; modifying or designing instruction to improve student performance; and analyzing, selecting, and adapting curriculum for students with special needs. Positive methods of managing individual student behavior for students with special educational needs are also addressed.

SE7005-8

Law in Special Education

In this course, students will focus on various legal issues facing special educators and administrators. Components will include investigations of specific court cases, federal mandates, case studies, and application opportunities. Student identification, service delivery options, appropriate educational services, and family rights and privacy issues are explored. How to research court case rulings that pertain to specific states and how to locate current information on legal issues is included to assist administrators of special education programs. Preparing for due process hearings and following procedural due process are also covered.

SE7006-8

Teaching Strategies in Special Education

In this course, students will examine teaching strategies that may be used to assist students with mild disabilities. The latest information on Response to Intervention (RTI) is covered, with information on practical applications to promote success in the classroom. Participants will develop an understanding of how to monitor individualized education programs and modify or design instructional strategies to improve student performance. Providing leadership in regard to analyzing, selecting, and adapting strategies for students with special needs will be addressed.

SE7007-8

Managing the Exceptional Student

This course will cover behaviorism, applied behavior analysis, behavior goals and objectives, data collection and recording techniques, and appropriate methods of behavior modification related to effective instruction in special education programs. Topics include: legal and ethical issues, social adjustment, and research-based best practices, and intervention plans.

SE7008-8

Language Disabilities

In this course, students will focus on communication disorders, as it relates to enhancing literacy skills. Topics include: a basic understanding of the nature of speech and language, developmental progression in language acquisition, techniques for evaluating language, remediation procedures for language and communication disorders, and communication impairments associated with autism and emotional disabilities.

SE7009-8

Transitioning the Exceptional Student

In this course, students will learn the process of transition planning for individuals with disabilities. Topics include: interagency collaboration, vocational assessment, and life-skills competencies, development of appropriate pathways to success, development of interagency agreements for service delivery to students with disabilities, exiting the school setting, career planning, and preparation for job placement.

Dissertation Courses - 12 credit hours

Course Code

Name

Course Description

CMP9500E

Doctoral Comprehensive Examination

In pursuit of a research doctoral degree (PhD) at Northcentral University, students gain expertise in their academic discipline and in one or more specializations that complement their academic discipline. The Doctoral Comprehensive Examination is intended to assure that students have mastered knowledge of their discipline before candidacy status is achieved and their dissertation work is initiated. The Doctoral Comprehensive Examination is taken following the completion of all foundation, specialization, and methods courses. This course is graded using Satisfactory (S) and Unsatisfactory (U) grading criteria. The Doctoral Comprehensive Examination must be successfully completed with an "S" grade prior to beginning any work in Dissertation courses. This course may only be retaken once.

DIS9501E

PhD Doctoral Dissertation

In this course sequence, students work progressively on completing each doctoral dissertation milestone toward the completion of the PhD degree. These milestones include Committee and University approval of a dissertation concept paper, a dissertation proposal paper, an approved IRB application by the Northcentral University Institutional Review Board, the collection and analysis of research data, the preparation and approval of the final dissertation manuscript, and the successful completion of the oral defense. Courses are taken continually and sequentially until all dissertation milestones have been completed. Throughout these courses, students often work independently but are required to be in communication with the Chair of their Dissertation Committee at least every 28 calendar days. These courses are graded utilizing Satisfactory (S) and Unsatisfactory (U) as the grading criteria.

DIS9502E

PhD Doctoral Dissertation

In this course sequence, students work progressively on completing each doctoral dissertation milestone toward the completion of the PhD degree. These milestones include Committee and University approval of a dissertation concept paper, a dissertation proposal paper, an approved IRB application by the Northcentral University Institutional Review Board, the collection and analysis of research data, the preparation and approval of the final dissertation manuscript, and the successful completion of the oral defense. Courses are taken continually and sequentially until all dissertation milestones have been completed. Throughout these courses, students often work independently but are required to be in communication with the Chair of their Dissertation Committee at least every 28 calendar days. These courses are graded utilizing Satisfactory (S) and Unsatisfactory (U) as the grading criteria.

DIS9503E

PhD Doctoral Dissertation

In this course sequence, students work progressively on completing each doctoral dissertation milestone toward the completion of the PhD degree. These milestones include Committee and University approval of a dissertation concept paper, a dissertation proposal paper, an approved IRB application by the Northcentral University Institutional Review Board, the collection and analysis of research data, the preparation and approval of the final dissertation manuscript, and the successful completion of the oral defense. Courses are taken continually and sequentially until all dissertation milestones have been completed. Throughout these courses, students often work independently but are required to be in communication with the Chair of their Dissertation Committee at least every 28 calendar days. These courses are graded utilizing Satisfactory (S) and Unsatisfactory (U) as the grading criteria.

DIS9504E

PhD Doctoral Dissertation

In this course sequence, students work progressively on completing each doctoral dissertation milestone toward the completion of the PhD degree. These milestones include Committee and University approval of a dissertation concept paper, a dissertation proposal paper, an approved IRB application by the Northcentral University Institutional Review Board, the collection and analysis of research data, the preparation and approval of the final dissertation manuscript, and the successful completion of the oral defense. Courses are taken continually and sequentially until all dissertation milestones have been completed. Throughout these courses, students often work independently but are required to be in communication with the Chair of their Dissertation Committee at least every 28 calendar days. These courses are graded utilizing Satisfactory (S) and Unsatisfactory (U) as the grading criteria.

At Northcentral University, we pride ourselves in being completely transparent when it comes to tuition and fees. If a cost is not included in our Cost Per Course Tuition Rate, we let you know up front. Currently, the only additional cost above your program rate* is books. Learn more about the NCU’s PhD in Education costs below:

  • Per credit cost: $986
  • Per 3 credit course cost: $2,958
  • Program cost: $59,160
  • Average book cost per course: $110
  • Application Fee: $0
  • Technology Fee: $0
  • Registration Fee: $0

Click here to learn more about payment and financing options.

*Program rates are subject to change and generally increase at the start of each calendar year.

Total program costs reflected are calculated based on standard degree program credits exclusive of the program’s potential evaluation track. The actual cost of a program is determined based upon the program and track the student enters, transfer credits if any, and other unique student factors. For more information: please contact Admissions or refer to the catalog.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned about our students, it’s that they are motivated and ambitious—but they are also busy! At Northcentral University, we’ve designed our education experience to work with you, not against you, so you can achieve your academic goals without sacrificing the quality, flexibility and support you need to be successful.

To learn more, request information or call 1-866-776-0331 to speak with an enrollment advisor today. We offer new courses every Monday of the year so you can get started when it’s best for you.