2018–2019 Walden University Catalog (September 2018) 
    Jan 28, 2021  
2018–2019 Walden University Catalog (September 2018) [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Early Childhood Special Education - PhD in Education

Return to: PhD in Education–School of Education and Professional Licensure  

The curriculum in this specialization is informed by the Council for Exceptional Children’s Advanced Professional Early Childhood Preparation Standards to allow educators to explore key research issues in the field of early childhood special education, such as leadership and policy, program development and assessment, collaboration, evidence-based practices in early intervention, and ethical practice.

The focus of the coursework is on identifying and addressing gaps in research to increase the effectiveness of early childhood special educators. Students gain a comprehensive understanding of the critical trends and issues impacting early childhood special education today. They also engage with real-world case-study scenarios that require collaborative problem solving and the investigation and implementation of research-based strategies to master program outcomes.

Learning Outcomes

As a graduate of this program, students will be prepared to:

  1. Evaluate ethical and legal elements of policies and programs in early childhood special education to ensure high quality education delivery to families who have children with diverse educational, behavioral, emotional, and cultural learning needs.
  2. Engage in effective leadership practices, including collaboration and advocacy, to promote positive outcomes for young children with exceptionalities and their families.
  3. Implement valid research-based assessment measures to facilitate learning and behavioral interventions for children (birth to 8) with diverse educational, behavioral, emotional, and cultural learning needs.
  4. Apply research-based strategies to improve data driven decision-making surrounding supports and services for children with exceptionalities (birth to 8) with diverse educational, behavioral, emotional, and cultural learning needs.
  5. Facilitate the continuous improvement of early childhood special education programs/supports/services for children with exceptionalities (birth to 8) and their families.
  6. Effectively collaborate with stakeholders to improve outcomes for children with exceptionalities (birth to 8) and their families.
  7. Synthesize a variety of perspectives that promote professional growth and positive social change in the early childhood special education field.
  8. Conduct research that positively contributes to the profession and social change in relation to an identified early childhood special education problem.


Core Research Sequence (15 cr.)

Courses composing the core research sequence are conducted online and require weekly readings, participation in discussions, and assignment completion. Course instructors guide discussions and evaluate discussion and application assignments. RSCH 8100 or 8110 must be completed prior to Residency 2 of the academic residencies. RSCH 8200 or 8210 and RSCH 8300 or 8310 must be completed prior to beginning the dissertation or attending Residency 3.

Advanced Research Course (5 cr.)

Those enrolled in this specialization are required to complete an advanced research course. The university offers three advanced research courses: quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods. When the prospectus is approved, students will take the advanced research course selected as the methodology approved for the dissertation.
Students are required to complete one of the following courses:

Completion of the Doctoral Capstone

Course Sequence

Quarter Course Credits
1   OR   (6 weeks) 5 cr.
   5 cr.
2    5 cr.
  OR    5 cr.
3    5 cr.
   5 cr.
4    3 cr.
  OR    5 cr.
5    5 cr.
   3 cr.
6   OR    5 cr.
   5 cr.
7    5 cr.
  OR   OR    5 cr.
8–11+    5 cr. per term for a minimum of four terms; taken continuously until completion

Note: Students will be registered for two courses every 11 weeks, following the completion of your foundation course. Students who wish to reduce their course load during one or more terms should contact their academic advisor.

*Students take this course for a minimum of 4 quarters and are continuously enrolled until completion of their Dissertation with final Chief Academic Officer (CAO) approval.

To complete a doctoral dissertation, students must obtain the academic approval of several independent evaluators including their committee, the University Research Reviewer, and the Institutional Review Board; pass the Form and Style Review; gain approval at the oral defense stage; and gain final approval by the Chief Academic Officer. Students must also publish their dissertation on ProQuest before their degree is conferred. Learn more about the dissertation process in the Dissertation Guidebook.

Note on Certification

This program is not intended to lead to teacher certification. Teachers are advised to contact their individual school districts as to whether this program may qualify for salary advancement.

Prospective Alabama students: State Authorization to provide a program related to the preparation of teachers or other P–12 school/system personnel does not indicate eligibility for an Alabama professional educator or professional leadership certificate. Applicants who complete an educator preparation program at a non-Alabama institution must apply for an Alabama professional educator or professional leadership certificate through the Alabama Certificate Reciprocity Approach. Current requirements may be found at www.alsde.edu.