Doctorate in Special Education

The Doctorate in Special Education (Ph.D.) is designed for leaders within the broad field of special education.


The Doctorate in Special Education is designed for educational leadership practitioners, professional educators and researchers with a background and/or interest in special education (SE) leadership. Faculty integrate their expertise to guide students in curriculum and instruction, SE and pupil services leadership, speech and language, and literacy.

This cutting-edge program breaks down the theory-to-practice divide by developing interdisciplinary leaders in and beyond the field of higher education. In addition, students can obtain their Wisconsin Director of Special Education and Pupil Services License (#80).

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Program Format

The program structure provides an easily accessible schedule. Students develop lifelong professional and personal relationships through the cohort model. They benefit from an interdisciplinary approach with specialization options to suit a wide variety of professional interests. The program opens two major doors to its students: it provides them with the guidance to either advance to administrator roles within their district or to pursue transitioning into higher education and lead the next generation of teachers.

  • Interdisciplinary coursework is offered across the Director of Special Education & Pupil Services, Literacy and Special Education programs.
  • The course sequence is three years, followed by dissertation work with a research advisor. The maximum allowed time to complete the program is seven years.
  • The program is delivered in a learning community format utilizing a cohort model with weekend course offerings and study teams.

Courses Are Available

  • Face-to-face
  • Hybrid/Blended

Semesters to Join

  • Fall (September)

Application Requirements

  • Application for admission
  • Official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended, including evidence of master’s degree completion
  • Evidence of grade point average (GPA) of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale in master’s coursework
  • Portfolio consisting of, but not limited to, the criteria listed below
    - Curriculum vitae
    - Three letters of recommendation
    - Formal essay

Applicants educated outside of the U.S. must follow academic admission procedures relating to English ability and credential evaluation.

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The Stritch Alumni Network

Students, families, and employers know Stritch as a university that helps students find their mission, develop new skills, gain relevant career experience, and expand their professional networks. With a network of more than 34,000 graduates, our alumni are successful in their roles at nonprofits, schools, small companies, health care organizations, corporations, and entrepreneurial ventures.