Is an Online Ph.D. in Special Education Worth it?

is-an-online-ph-d-in-special-education-worth-itDepending on one’s career aspirations, an Online Ph.D. in Special Education can be well worth the required time and financial investment.

Teachers who are trained in special education strive to ensure that disabled students receive the same quality educational experiences as their non-disabled peers.

According to education advocates, there is currently a shortage of qualified special education teachers , and the deficit is expected to continue well into the future. These advocates cite statistics about retiring special education teachers and the increasing number of students who rely on special education services as the main reasons for the shortfall.

The field of special education requires customized training, licenses and endorsements that ensure that practitioners meet the requirements for special education that are stipulated in the states in which they teach. Subsequently, current teachers who want to transition into this high demand career field must often go back to school, and this creates a demand for knowledgeable special education professionals in academia.

Current special education teachers, who want to keep contributing to their field instead of retiring, often choose to earn their doctorates in the subject so that they can obtain university level positions as instructors and researchers. Here are some important considerations for those who plan to pursue online doctorates in special education.

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Typical Admission Requirements

While all schools have some distinctive admission requirements, there are some common prerequisites that online special education doctoral candidates must meet prior to admission. For example, most candidates must already have advanced degrees in education from schools that are accredited by U.S. Department of Education endorsed agencies. The candidates’ transcripts must indicate that they received grade point averages of 3.0 on 4.0 scales. Teacher experience and special education license verification forms must also accompany doctoral candidates’ admission packages.

Common Course Work and Curricula

Exceptional online Ph.D. in Special Education degree programs allow candidates to choose from among concentration areas like curriculum development, education for high incidence disabilities students and education for visually impaired students. These specializations help to shape the types of courses taken during online special education degree programs. However, core courses usually cover topics like applied educational research, special education administration, qualitative research methods and advanced instructional strategies in special education.

Residency Requirements for Online Special Education Doctoral Candidates

Nearly all online special education doctoral degree programs have residency requirements. While traditional schools usually have students to register for courses and attend classes on campus to meet residency requirements, many online schools arrange extended weekend residency sessions that allow students to meet with faculty in person for intensive training and guidance. These sessions are often incorporated throughout the academic programs and are scheduled so that there are minimal impacts on the candidates’ weekly work schedules. The sessions can take place around the country depending on school size.

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Special education teachers have many career advancement opportunities available to them in and outside of traditional classrooms. The course work, residency sessions, dissertations and comprehensive exams that are required for special education doctoral candidates to receive their degrees take about four years on average to complete. Achieving their professional goals often requires that educators attend school while still employed, and online Ph.D. in Special Education degree programs can offer them the best options for their skill levels and unique schedules.