Ph.D. In 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).


Courses Are Available

Face to Face
Main Campus

Program Details

●  Coursework Credits: 52
●  View Tuition and Fees
1. Critique and apply neurocognitive, linguistic, cognitive, and sociocultural models of special education as solutions to contemporary issues and policy trends in special education and special education teacher education.

2. Demonstrates knowledge of key issues in the delivery of services to young children, school-aged children, and youth transitioning into postsecondary environments.

3. Summarize, compare and evaluate theoretical and instructional perspectives in relation to current special education issues.

4. Articulate, critique, evaluate, and apply program content to classroom, district, and community contexts (within coursework and practicum).
5. Construct literature reviews on selected special education topics.

6. Evaluate and implement multiple ways of designing and collecting data at a classroom, district, community and national level.

7. Summarize, analyze and design descriptive/qualitative, single-subject and/or experimental/quantitative research formats.

8. Design, implement, and evaluate research that advances the field of special education’s knowledge base.

View Upcoming Visit Opportunities

Application Process and Requirements

Academic and Professional Requirements

Prior Education
  • A master's degree from an accredited college or university.
  • A grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale in master’s coursework is required, but a lower GPA can be considered on an individual basis. 

Admissions Application and Transcripts

Complete the Admissions Application
  • Submit the admissions application which is free to complete online. Applications for this program are reviewed on a rolling basis so allow sufficient time before the start of your program to be considered for admission.

Request Transcripts
  • Have official transcripts from each college or university you attended delivered directly to the Office of Admissions. Cardinal Stritch University alumni and current students should inquire with the admission counselor about locating transcripts already on file.
  • Transcripts from institutions outside of the United States require a course-by-course evaluation with GPA. Request the official report from ECE or WES to be sent directly to the Office of Admissions. Allow time for the evaluation to be completed since it could take up to 4-6 weeks to be created.

Information for International Students
  • If your prior education was not conducted in English, you must demonstrate proficiency with acceptable scores from the TOEFL, IELTS, or an ESL program. Review the language and academic requirements to know if you are prepared for studying at Stritch. We can also help you obtain an F-1 student visa.

Three Letters of Recommendation with Reference Forms

Three letters of recommendation and reference forms are required. Two letters should be submitted from professionals in your field, and one from a representative of a college or university. References should include their letters of recommendation with the reference forms.

Curriculum Vitae

Applicants should send a current Curriculum Vitae which includes:

  • Information on your formal education, major schools attended, degrees obtained, and dates.
  • All professional positions held.
  • Any relevant programs or additional informal education.
  • Any published professional articles (in journals, school/agency publications, organizational newspaper, etc.); include title, date, journal, page number, etc., and attach a copy.
  • Any presentations made to organizations, associations, etc.
  • Honors/awards received.
  • Membership in professional and other organizations: offices held, dates of membership.
  • Significant/relevant experiences.
  • Community Service. 

Formal Essay

The formal essay is an essential aspect of the admission process. Follow the guidelines carefully, addressing all items. The essay will be evaluated based on the following criteria:
  • Content relevance to topic proposed
  • Clarity of presentation
  • Maturity of style
  • Maximum of six double-spaced pages

Formal Essay: Section 1 – Special Education
  • Describe the purpose of Special Education what you believe are the overall goals.
  • Describe your experiences in facilitating the education of others, especially students with special needs.

Formal Essay: Section 2 –Special Education
  • Describe personal experiences in your educational development.
  • Describe the work of one individual in the field of Special Education who has particularly influenced your professional practice.

Formal Essay: Section 3 – Organizational Transformation
  • What are the current primary needs within the field of Special Education?
  • Describe how you have participated in or fostered change in the field Special Education.
  • Describe inhibitors and facilitators of change as you perceived them.

Formal Essay: Section 4 – Goals for Doctorate in Special Education
  • Identify your goals and expectations for pursuing this doctorate.
  • Describe how the attainment of this degree will enhance your ability to transform practice.

Send Application Materials to Admissions

Submit the application online and have additional materials sent to:

Cardinal Stritch University
Graduate Admissions
6801 N. Yates Road, #516
Milwaukee, WI  53217-3985

Funding Your Education

Counselors in our Financial Aid Office know how to help doctoral students identify all options available for funding their education.


Alumni Network

More than 38,000 Stritch alumni are recognized worldwide for their leadership roles in businesses, health care organizations, corporations, educational institutions, entrepreneurial ventures and non-profit organizations. Responsive to the needs of their communities, Stritch graduates are critical thinkers, ethical decision-makers and lifelong learners.

Tweets by ‎@stritchu - Cardinal Stritch University's Twitter feed

Featured Events