Your browser does not support JavaScript! or JavaScript is currently disabled.

Special Education Leadership Specialization Doctor of Philosophy in Education

School of Education

Lead as a Student Advocate

Augment your ability to oversee and advocate for the growing number of students who need special education services, while contributing to the field through your own doctoral research. Capella's online PhD in Education, Special Education Leadership degree provides a strong foundation in K-12 special education leadership skills. Curriculum includes knowledge of laws and regulations, curriculum and instruction, financial resources, and community and family collaboration.

At a Glance

  • Online & In Person
  • 5 Core Courses
  • 10 Specialization Courses
  • 3 Residencies
  • Comprehensive Exam
  • Dissertation
  • Internship

Classes Start January 7th

Ready to get started? We’re ready for you. Chat with an enrollment counselor or apply now to take the first step on the journey toward your future.

$50 Application Fee (waived w/promo WINTER)

What You’ll Learn

Effect Change

Develop a shared vision of teaching that meets the needs of special-education students.

Expand Acceptance of Diversity

Lead the development of a culture of learning to promote success for all students.

Collaborate Effectively

Communicate with multiple stakeholders to create and manage effective learning in special-education environments.

Influence the Education Field

Lead in an ethical manner to cultivate high-quality behavior in your organization and broader community.

Apply Self-Management Skills

Gain proficiency in communicating and completing required paperwork, activities, clinical hours, and assignments in a timely manner.

Our Unique Doctoral Structure

Our PhD in Education, Special Education Leadership program is designed to remove roadblocks for you and demystify the dissertation process. This unique approach centers on supporting you in three ways: through program structure, a dedicated faculty and support team, and online resources. To help generate momentum toward graduation, you’ll begin your dissertation early in the program. Our faculty, support team, and online resources will help guide you every step of the way.

Program Features

Our program offers additional benefits you might be interested in.

Become a Scholar-Practitioner

Gain advanced skills in critical thinking, problem-solving, and research.

Professionally Aligned

Our curriculum is designed around leading standards, including those of the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC). 




Nationally Recognized

This online specialization is nationally recognized by the Council of Exceptional Children (CEC).

CAEP Accredited

Capella University's Educator Preparation Provider (EPP) is accredited based on the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) Standards through 2024. CAEP is the only recognized national accreditor for educator preperation.

Cost & Learning Format

Online education isn’t one-size-fits-all. We know you’re busy—you need a learning experience tailored to your life, not the other way around. Capella has learning and tuition formats to suit you, however you learn. 

Our original learning format offers extra structure for those who want it. We'll set the schedule, you meet the deadlines. 

  • Based on the quarter system; 1-3 courses per 10-week quarter
  • 1 semester credit = 1.5 quarter credits
  • Weekly assignments and courseroom discussions
  • Pay for what you take, price varies by courseload or term
$730 per credit, 92 total quarter credits, 8 max transfer credits

Get the Details

Speak with an enrollment counselor to get a personalized cost estimate for what you can expect to pay.

Ways to Save

At Capella, we believe your education is an investment in your future. It’s also an investment within your grasp. Your goals are achievable—there are more ways to save than you might think. 

Transfer Credits

We can accept many transfer credits from regionally accredited schools. 


Grants are federal education funds that never need to be paid back. 

Federal Work Study

This program provides part-time jobs to reduce your loan debt amounts. Talk to an enrollment counselor to learn more.

Accredited & Respected

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Accreditation and recognitions provide the assurance we meet standards for quality of faculty, curriculum, learner services, and fiscal stability. See all of our accreditations and recognitions

Sample Courses

Expand your foundation in general K-12 educational administration with our PhD in Education, Special Education Leadership degree. Our coursework places a high priority on special education administration, instructional strategies, law, and finance. The program includes dissertation research seminars which allow you to get an early start on your dissertation.

Some of the courses you will take:

Course Number Course Title
ED7818 The Future of Teaching and Learning: Issues for the Educational Leader
ED7834 Higher Education and the Law
ED8447 Advanced Funding and Managing Education Enterprises
ED7540 Leadership in Higher Education

Prepare for Licensure

Our program features a rigorous combination of online coursework and face-to-face experiences that help you expand on what you’re learning in the courseroom, so you can hit the ground running in the real world.

Dedicated Support

Our licensure team supports you through the license application process, and is here for you even beyond graduation. 

Move Forward in Your Career

Here are just some of the career options you could explore with our special education leadership doctoral degree.

Related Job Titles to Explore*

  • Adjunct or part-time faculty
  • College instructor
  • Coordinator of special education
  • Director of special education
  • Director of special program
  • Director of therapeutic recreation
  • Disabilities and mental health services manager
  • Executive director of special education
  • Full-time faculty
  • Professor of special education
  • Special education administrator
  • Special education consultant

Related Employment Settings to Explore

  • Alternative school
  • District office
  • Educational service center
  • Government—local, state, federal
  • Land-based or online college or university
  • Nonprofit organization
  • K-12 public or private school
  • Regional educational service agency
  • Special education regional resource center

*These are examples intended to serve as a general guide. Some positions may prefer or even require previous experience, licensure, certifications, and/or other designations along with a degree. Because many factors determine what position an individual may attain, Capella cannot guarantee that a graduate will secure any specific job title, a promotion, salary increase, or other career outcome. We encourage you to research requirements for your job target and career goals.

Other Programs to Explore

Is this program close to what you need, but maybe not a perfect fit? The programs below might be interesting. Check them out to find one that suits your academic and professional goals. 

Ready for the Next Step?

Learning online doesn't mean going it alone. Help is here. From faculty, coaches, advisors, and more. Plus a supportive community of students who are as passionate about their careers as you are about yours.