What Can I Do with a Doctorate Degree in Special Education?

Graduates with doctorate degrees in special education can hold a variety of positions in educational settings. The article that follows describes some career options for those with doctorate degrees in special education. Schools offering Emotional & Behavioral Disorders degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Special Education Doctorate Degrees

Earning a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Special Education prepares graduates for leadership positions in education and administration. Most programs require that applicants have a master's degree in special education or a related field, produce references and earn an acceptable score on a graduate school admissions test.

The program of study varies depending upon the student's career goal, but most include research and a dissertation in addition to practica in research and in the field, as well as college teaching experience. Some doctorate programs in special education require that students choose an area of specialization, such as education for severely disabled students, early childhood education or special education administration. The list below contains some common career options for people with doctorate degrees in special education:

  • Special education teacher
  • Professor
  • School administrator

Important Facts About These Occupations

Special Education Teacher Professor School Administrator
Median Salary (2014) $55,980 $59,720 (for Postsecondary Education Teachers) $61,550 (for Instructional Coordinators)
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 6% increase 13% increase (for Postsecondary Education Teachers) 7% increase (for Instructional Coordinators)
On-the-Job Training Internship or residency None None
Work Environment Often in public schools with 10-month schedule College or university setting; flexible schedule Public and private schools; year-round schedule

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Special Education Teacher

Special education teachers usually work with students from a variety of levels, from kindergarten to high school. Some special education teachers assist children who are too young for school. They either help mildly disabled students in standard classes blended with non-disabled students or work with severely disabled students in self-contained classrooms. They must be able to use a variety of teaching techniques and adaptive tools to help their students learn.

Professor of Special Education

Some people with doctorates in special education elect to teach special education theory at the university level. Special education professors prepare students for careers as teachers or administrators in the field. Many people interested in becoming professors decide to work as assistant professors or teaching assistants to build their credentials to aid in their pursuit of a full-time professor position.

Special Education Administrator

A doctorate degree program in special education teaches students about the myriad issues affecting special education at all school levels. Graduates can apply this knowledge as special education administrators in schools. Special education administrators work with other education professionals to make sure a school's special education program provides the proper level of service to disabled students. They work with teachers, parents and principals to design independent education plans (IEPs) for disabled students that contain unique educational goals.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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