Special Education Doctoral Degree Ed.D.

August 21, 2019
Next Start Date
Per Credit Hour


The Doctor of Education (Ed.D.), offered by the College of Education and Human Services, is designed to prepare leadership personnel to assume roles and responsibilities in personnel preparation at colleges and universities or in professional development in public schools or disability service agencies. Graduates are expected to demonstrate competencies in:

  • Providing instruction and supervision for pre-service and in-service personnel who are or will become special educators and disability services specialists
  • Designing, conducting and disseminating experimental and applied research, engaging in program development and evaluation, and participating in other scholarly activities
  • Providing professional service to colleges and universities, local schools and agencies, regional and state education agencies, and national organizations
  • Interpreting the knowledge base in special education and disability services with respect to policies, practices, issues, and trends
  • Using new technologies to enhance personal productivity and improve pre-service and in-service preparation programs for prospective and practicing professionals.


West Virginia University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


This program meets the professional standards of the Council for Exceptional Children. U.S. News and World Report rated the online graduate education programs in the top 100 programs in the country. WVU’s Professional Education Preparation Unit is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).


Every applicant will be reviewed to determine the extent to which they meet these criteria:

  • Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution with minimum GPA of 3.0 out of 4.0
  • Master’s degree from a regionally accredited institution in Special Education or Gifted Education with a minimum GPA of 3.25 out of 4.0
  • Graduate Record Exam (GRE) TOTAL (verbal plus quantitative) score within a 7-year period of 1000 total (old) or 300 (new) with minimum verbal 450 (old) or 155 (new) and minimum analytical 4.5
  • Documentation of state teaching certification in some area of special education or gifted education
  • Minimum of two full years of documented experience providing instruction as a public school teacher of students with exceptionalities in grades PreK-12
  • Department of Special Education’s Program Application
  • Personal goal statement illustrating a lifelong commitment to excellence in special education and/or gifted education, and articulating specific research interests and clear career goals focused on a leadership position in special education
  • Academic writing sample documenting knowledge of special education/gifted education, skill in organizing and expressing ideas, and appropriate citations of current sources in the professional literature
  • Three letters of reference supporting academic ability and professional commitment from professionals currently working in special education or gifted education


More detail on the admission requirements can be found by visiting the Special Education Website.


Application Requirements

Applicant must:

  • Apply with the online Graduate Application
  • Pay graduate application fee
  • Request official transcripts from all institutions attended (other than WVU) and send to:
    WVU Office of Graduate Admissions
    One Waterfront Place
    PO Box 6510
    Morgantown, WV 26506-6510


    electronically sent to GraduateAdmissions@mail.wvu.edu

Students may enter the program in the fall only. The application deadline is April 1.


Residents Non-Residents
Tuition and Fees

for academic year 2018-2019


Per Credit Hour


Per Credit Hour

Financial aid is available. Students are encouraged to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to determine their eligibility for federal and state funds as well as scholarships. WVU’s FAFSA Code is 003827.


Below are the courses and credit information for students in the Doctoral Program in Special Education’s Option for Personnel Preparation. Course descriptions for all courses can be found under program content, and a tentative schedule of course offerings can be found under program schedule.


View Curriculum



The curriculum consists of the following courses:


Courses in Major Area: Special Education (Personnel Preparation)

SPED 770 Policy Analysis/Development | 3 cr.
SPED 771 Personnel Preparation Strategies | 3 cr.
SPED 772 Professional Writing and Grant Writing | 3 cr.
SPED 773 Professional Development Models | 3 cr.
SPED 774 Analysis/Interpretation of Research | 3 cr.
SPED 779 Current Issues and Trends | 3 cr.
SPED 781 Orientation to Doctoral Study | 1 cr.
SPED 782 Professional Practice in Systems Advocacy | 1 cr.
SPED 783 Professional Practice in College Instruction | 2 cr.
SPED 784 Professional Practice in Clinical Supervision | 1 cr.
SPED 785 Professional Practice in Empirical Research | 3 cr.
SPED 786 Professional Practice in Service Activities | 1 cr.
SPED 769 Leadership Career Development | 1 cr.

Courses in Research Core

Courses in Foundations/Minor Area

EDP 612 Introduction to Research | 3 cr.
EDP 613 Statistical Methods | 3 cr.
SCFD 615 Qualitative Research Methods | 3 cr.
EDP 713 Designing Single Case Research | 3 cr.
EDP 618 Mixing Research Methodologies | 3 cr.
EDP 700 Psychological Foundations of Learning | 3 cr.
EDP 703 The Adult Learner | 3 cr.
SCFD 640 History of Education | 3 cr.

Courses for Program Completion

SPED 767 Comprehensive Exam Preparation | 3 cr.
SPED 768 Prospectus Development (Document and Defense) | 6 cr.
SPED 797 Research (Approval and Implementation) | 12 cr.
SPED 798 Dissertation (Preparation and Defense) | 1 cr.

Students may enroll in additional credits as needed to complete these requirements.


The College of Education and Human Services requires doctoral students to complete a minimum of 42 credits beyond the master’s degree (prior to dissertation); with committee approval, students may also count credits from the master’s degree if needed for specific competencies to achieve the minimum required credits.


In any doctoral program at WVU, all requirements must be completed in no more than five years after admission to candidacy. This occurs when the student has achieved passing scores on the comprehensive examination.


Retention in this program requires maintaining active student status and an overall GPA of 3.25. Students who fail to maintain active student status by enrolling in at least one course every two years become inactive and will have to re-apply and meet any new requirements in effect at the time of readmission. Students who fail to maintain an overall GPA of 3.25 will be dismissed from the program and may be unable to reapply for readmission.

Information Sessions

Career Information

Students who graduate from WVU Online with the Special Education Doctoral Degree Ed.D. degree may be prepared for the following careers. These are only a few examples of some of the many opportunities that will be open to you with this degree. Advanced degrees or certifications may be required for some positions.


Special Education Teacher

Projected Growth: 5-9%

Health Educator

Projected Growth: 15% or higher *Bright Outlook

Education Administrator

Projected Growth: 5-9%

Elementary School Teacher

Projected Growth: 5-9% *Bright Outlook

Secondary School Teacher

Projected Growth: 5-9%

Postsecondary School Teacher

Projected Growth: 10-14% *Bright Outlook

Kindergarten Teacher

Projected Growth: 5-9%
Information about careers on this list comes from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) of the U.S. Department of Labor/Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA).