Organizational Leadership Doctorate in Special Education Emphasis

Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership: Special Education (Qualitative Research)

Offered By: College of Doctoral Studies

Earn Your Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership for Special Education Online

All children are entitled to receive a fair and appropriate education. However, many students struggle with learning differences and disabilities that can affect their progress in a typical classroom. As a practicing special education professional, you can enhance your knowledge and skills in this area by earning your online doctorate in special education.

The online Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in Special Education at Grand Canyon University empowers learners to become leaders in K-12 special education. After completing this EdD special education emphasis program, you will emerge with a renewed sense of purpose with skills that are immediately applicable for the betterment of special education programs and the benefit of the students they serve.

A qualitative doctorate in special education is geared toward the study of thoughts, concepts or experiences of the students and how policies and curriculum can be changed to improve their education. The quantitative EdD special education program focuses on the same end result of improving education but uses mathematical and statistical research methods to draw its conclusions.

Gain Advanced Skills and Knowledge in the EdD in Special Education Emphasis at GCU

In courses such as Supervision and Administration of Special Education, Fiscal Management in Special Education and Special Education Law, you will acquire the following core competencies:

  • Understand special education laws and regulations, and use them as a foundation for best practices
  • Adopt ethical leadership practices necessary to build appropriate frameworks for K-12 educators and students
  • Manage budgeting, fiscal planning and grant writing in the special education setting appropriately
  • Understand the history and theories of special education, including human development, educational standards and instructional tools

With the leadership doctorate in special education emphasis from GCU, you will have the opportunity for face-to-face networking with your peers during the two five-day residencies. You will present your scholarly work and thoughtfully critique the work of your peers, while benefiting from the intensive mentorship of faculty.

Earning a qualitative doctoral degree can prepare you for high-level positions within educational institutions. Accelerate your learning with a research-based approach to student interventions and acquire a framework of foundational knowledge in the history and theories of special education. As you near completion of this online doctorate in special education degree emphasis, you will have developed a dissertation that draws on collected research to advance the body of knowledge in the field.

GCU strives to graduate students who are confident communicators and innovators in their fields. The Christian worldview is integrated into the curriculum, empowering you to explore the elements of servant leadership and ethical practices. The doctorate in special education online classes offer flexibility and enable working professionals to meet their current obligations. All courses are taught by fully qualified instructors who facilitate intellectually stimulating discussions.

Get More Information!

Loading Form

Total Credits: 60
Online: 8 weeks
[More Info]
Up to 9 doctoral credits
Online: $725 per credit [More Info]


Career Opportunities for Graduates With a Doctorate in Special Education

Online doctoral programs in special education effectively prepare you to assume leadership roles in schools and institutions. There is a broad range of opportunities within this field. You can help educate and prepare future special education teachers. If you prefer a non-teaching role, you may want to consider developing special education programs and schools or creating policies that foster a more inclusive learning environment for students with various disabilities.

Some of the career options that may be related to the online doctorate in special education emphasis may include the following:

  • School administrator
  • Special education consultant
  • Curriculum developer
  • Lead special education teacher
  • Learning advocate

In addition to schools and districts, other potential workplaces may include autism therapy centers, social service agencies and government organizations, depending on certifications earned in your bachelor’s and master’s programs.

Alumni Doctoral Degree Scholarship
Now Available

GCU alumni enrolling in a doctoral program for the first time may be eligible for a $2,000 scholarship.§


Leadership EdD in Special Education Degree Emphasis FAQs

By earning an EdD with a special education emphasis online from an accredited school, you receive a curriculum that meets the high standards of national accreditation. Paired with the leadership of expert faculty within the education field, graduates will be prepared to enter a leadership or administrative role in the special education field. If you have a passion for serving students with disabilities and improving programs and policies to bolster their success, then a doctorate in special education may be worth it.

Once you have the appropriate teaching license for your state, you will be able to teach at any level. Some graduates with a Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership choose to continue teaching in the K-12 classroom where they feel they have the most impact working directly with the students. Others may choose to use their advanced skills to train the next generation of teachers at the college level. If your career goals involve teaching, then earning your EdD in special education allows you to pursue a variety of opportunities where you can make a difference in the world of special education.

A Doctor of Education (EdD) and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Education are equivalent in level; however, they each serve a different purpose. An EdD degree is designed for experienced education professionals who want to pursue leadership roles that effect change within their schools or organizations. Alternatively, a PhD in education is a preferred degree for those who want to pursue research. Both degrees can lead to teaching roles at the college level.

Special education careers are innately rewarding as they help students with various disabilities learn and overcome their unique challenges. For those who hold a doctorate in special education, you also have opportunities to create new and improved programs that help special education students succeed as individuals and members of society. Additionally, postsecondary education administrators have a median annual wage of $97,500 as of May 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.1

1The earnings referenced were reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”), Postsecondary Education Administrators as of May 2020. Due to COVID-19, data from 2020 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may also impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the BLS. BLS calculates the median using salaries of workers from across the country with varying levels of education and experience and does not reflect the earnings of GCU graduates as Postsecondary Education Administrators. It does not reflect earnings of workers in one city or region of the country. It also does not reflect a typical entry-level salary. Median income is the statistical midpoint for the range of salaries in a specific occupation. It represents what you would earn if you were paid more money than half the workers in an occupation, and less than half the workers in an occupation. It may give you a basis to estimate what you might earn at some point if you enter this career. You may also wish to compare median salaries if you are considering more than one career path.

§ MOU-Alumni 2000 Doctoral-Oct2023: The Alumni Scholarship for Doctoral Programs is only valid for those applicants who submit a complete application and begin a Doctoral program in October 2023. This scholarship cannot be used in conjunction with any other GCU scholarship or awards and only applies to online and evening programs. Please speak to a university counselor for complete details.

If seeking licensure or certification, applicants to the program are responsible for contacting their state department of education for licensure requirements and program approval. In addition, fingerprint/background clearance is required.

Time to Completion and Dissertation Process

To learn more about time to completion and the dissertation process at GCU, visit our doctoral page.

Course List

60 credits
Total Degree Requirements:
60 credits

Core Courses

Course Description

This course introduces doctoral learners to the principle elements of research, scholarly writing, and effective argumentation. Learners are made aware of the dispositions and expectations of doctoral researchers as well as the University’s overarching values and beliefs regarding research and the responsibility of scholars to contribute new knowledge to their respective fields of study. Learners begin the process of identifying a researchable dissertation topic and are acquainted with appropriate scholarly resources that support the development of the dissertation.

Course Description

In this course, learners are introduced to the critical reading of scholarly qualitative and quantitative literature at the doctoral level. Learners also explore the concept of synthesizing the scholarly literature to identify problems and problem spaces that emerge to form a researchable topic of study. The application of scholarly argumentation from the extant literature to defend the need for a research study is discussed.

Course Description

This course examines multiple ethical frameworks, principles, and theories as they apply to the study and practice of leadership. Corporate social responsibility will be addressed from the perspective of ethical decision making. Prerequisite: RES-815.

Course Description

This course provides an overview of the impact of leadership and the effects of behaviors on the formulation and execution of strategy within an organization. Topics include the increasing importance of resilience and change in today’s global and turbulent economy.

Course Description

In this course, learners are introduced to key components of qualitative and quantitative research designs and the means to critically appraise the application of research designs as observed in the scholarly literature. The University's core research designs are presented. Consideration is given to the initial selection and defense of a research design to address a problem that emerged from the extant literature.

Course Description

This course provides an introduction to the sampling, data collection, and data analysis methods employed in qualitative and quantitative research designs. Learners explore the alignment of sampling, data collection, and data analysis methods to the research topic, research questions, and research design. The course positions learners to select qualitative or quantitative designs for their dissertation studies. Prerequisite: RES-831.

Course Description

This residency allows learners to continue developing their skills as academic researchers. Learners will have hands-on experience applying quantitative and qualitative design principals to develop the foundational elements for their potential dissertation studies. Prerequisite: RES-850, RES-825, RES-831, or RCS-831.

Course Description

This course examines special education law and regulations as a framework for the provision of appropriate educational opportunities for all students. Law as a foundation of best practice is discussed.

Course Description

The course emphasizes analysis of the leadership practices necessary to guide construction of appropriate internal and external frameworks for K-12 educators and students. Within these boundaries, the course addresses student assessment, internal collaboration, and professional development.

Course Description

This course examines budgeting, fiscal planning, and grant writing and management in the special education setting. Leadership skills for fiscal management and fiscal integrity are addressed.

Course Description

In this course, learners explore the basic components of GCU qualitative core research designs including descriptive, case study, and phenomenology. The nature of epistemological foundations and the structure of problem statements, purpose statements, research questions, data sources, collection and analysis approaches are discussed in the context of each design.

Course Description

In this course, learners differentiate the epistemological foundations and explore the data trustworthiness, research ethics, and potential for bias in descriptive, case study, and phenomenology research designs. The process of building a rationale for design choice and aligning the research questions, interview questions, problem statement, and purpose statement is addressed. Sources of qualitative data are introduced for each design, and ethical aspects of research are discussed. Prerequisite: RES-841.

Course Description

This course explores the opportunities and challenges facing leaders in the global environment. The course topics focus on aspects of leading global and diverse workforces, and on theories of leadership and leadership development in diverse and global cultures.

Course Description

In this residency, learners orally present and defend an expanded design of their preliminary dissertation research from RSD-851. Emphasis is placed on developing the qualitative dissertation. Prerequisite: RES-843.

Course Description

This course examines the current and emerging trends and issues in special education within the K-12 setting. Topics are placed in the context of legal compliance and the provision of appropriate educational opportunities for all students. Learners connect these ideas to their research interests to continue developing components of their research prospectus.

Course Description

In this course, learners apply the skills of the practitioner-scholar. They are self-motivated and committed to reflective practice. They actively seek input from other scholars while continuing to design independent research under the guidance of the dissertation committee. Prerequisite: RES-871, RES-885, RSD-883, or RSD-884.

Course Description

In this course, learners explore qualitative data collection techniques and sources of qualitative data in the context of answering the research questions posed by a study. Consideration is given to the recognition of data saturation and the management of data. Learners continue to work with their respective dissertation chairs to prepare a written statement of data collection, and management activities. Prerequisite: RES-843.

Course Description

In this course, learners apply the skills of the practitioner-scholar. They are self-motivated and committed to reflective practice. They actively seek input from other scholars while continuing to design and/or conduct independent research under the guidance of the dissertation committee. Prerequisite: DIS-955.

Course Description

In this course, learners focus on the interpretation of qualitative data to produce written research findings, results, and implications. Learners continue to work with their respective dissertation chairs and apply information from this course to move ahead in the dissertation process. Prerequisite: RES-873.

Course Description

In this course, learners apply the skills of the practitioner-scholar. They are self-motivated and committed to reflective practice. They actively seek input from other scholars while continuing to design and/or conduct independent research under the guidance of the dissertation committee. Prerequisite: DIS-960.

GCU Online Student

Pursue a next-generation education with an online degree from Grand Canyon University. Earn your degree with convenience and flexibility with online courses that let you study anytime, anywhere.

GCU Evening Student

Grand Canyon University’s evening programs cater to the demands of working professionals who prefer an in-person learning environment. Our night classes meet just once per week and offer the interaction and discussion of a typical college classroom.

* Please note that this list may contain programs and courses not presently offered, as availability may vary depending on class size, enrollment and other contributing factors. If you are interested in a program or course listed herein please first contact your University Counselor for the most current information regarding availability.

* Please refer to the Academic Catalog for more information. Programs or courses subject to change.

Scroll back to top