Special Education Leadership PhD in Education

Doctor of Philosophy in 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
  • 4 Core courses
  • 10 Specialization courses
  • 3 Residencies
  • Comprehensive exam
  • Dissertation
  • 2 Internships

Reduce your tuition by 30%

Enroll in an eligible program and apply for our Front Line Heroes Discount to save 30% on your doctoral degree.

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Classes Start November 9th

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 FALL20).

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.

PhD in Education, Special Education Leadership 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.

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 preparation.

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. 

A more structured learning format with an active peer community and faculty guidance. 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
$745 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.


There are a variety of need-based federal grants available to help pay for tuition and costs.

$20K toward your doctorate

Apply for a $20K Capella Progress Reward, a scholarship to help you fund your doctoral degree.

Accredited & recognized

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

Understanding professional licensure

It is important to understand all educational and individual requirements for licensing. Capella University cannot guarantee licensure, certification, or endorsement. State regulations vary regarding professional licensure. It is your responsibility to understand and comply with requirements for your state.

PhD in Education 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.

Show course with description
The Future of Teaching and Learning: Issues for the Educational Leader

In this course, learners explore and analyze the issues shaping teaching and learning. Learners use futuring methods to examine the ways history, technology, trends, and change affect the future of teaching and learning. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer or prior learning assessment.

4 quarter credits
Higher Education and the Law

In this course, learners evaluate constitutional, statutory, and case law as related to higher education. Learners review federal and state legislation and their implications for both public and private higher education institutions. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer.

4 quarter credits
Advanced Funding and Managing Education Enterprises

In this course, learners explore and analyze the financing and fundraising plans of higher education enterprises. Learners explore current political and finance issues associated with higher education institution funding and management with an emphasis on endowments, public and private funding models, and intellectual property rights. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer.

4 quarter credits
Leadership in Higher Education

Learners in this course examine the leadership philosophies, theories, and decision-making structures associated with higher education administration. Learners explore the nature and function of leadership; leadership roles; and institutional history, vision, culture, politics, and organizational structure. Cannot be fulfilled by prior learning assessment.

4 quarter credits

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. 

Special Education Leadership professional paths

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

Related job titles to explore*

  • Coordinator of special education
  • Executive director of special education
  • Special education consultant
  • Supervisor of guidance or at-risk program
  • Special education administrator
  • Director of special education
  • Full-time faculty of education courses

Employment settings to explore

  • K-12 public or private school
  • K-12 virtual or charter school
  • District office
  • Educational service center (ESC)
  • Government—local, state, federal
  • Non-profit organization
  • Land-based or online college or university
  • Regional educational service Agency (RESA)
  • Special education regional resource center(SERRC)

*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.