10 Most Affordable EdD in Special Education Online Programs in 2021

10 Most Affordable EdD in Special Education Online Programs in 2021

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Updated November 30, 2021

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Even on modest salaries, teachers can afford furthering their pedagogical proficiency with online EdD in special education programs. Traditional brick-and-mortar and distance learning institutions are increasingly supporting educators' advancement aspirations with cheap doctorates. Special education doctoral degrees maximize teachers' expertise in adapting curriculum for PreK-16 students diagnosed with learning exceptionalities. Doors are open for Ed.D. special education online graduates to enter disability research, college faculty, and administrative positions.

School districts view doctoral grads favorably since only 8.7 percent of teachers hold Ed.S. or Ed.D. degrees. The American Institutes for Research shows that 47 states are suffering special education shortages as the number of pupils with disabilities passes 6.6 million. Consider special education doctorates online to conveniently take courses focused on leading inclusive, equitable classrooms for all.

Explore these promoted online degree programs.

These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online graduate degree programs. Figuring out where to apply? Consider one of these online Master’s or PhD programs.

Most Affordable EdD in Special Education in 2021

  • Grand Canyon University

    Phoenix, AZ



    Operated by CEO Brian Mueller, the 2014 Silver Stevie Award for Executive of the Year winner, Grand Canyon University has invested $400 million into its for-profit, virtual learning over the last decade to better educate 75,200 Lopes from its corporate base in the "Valley of the Sun." College Factual recognized GCU for America's 121st best location diversity and ninth most popular special education programs. Grand Canyon was also ranked the seventh best small company in Forbes and 570th top college in Washington Monthly. Led by Dr. Kimberly LaPrade, the College of Education offers the Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership with six emphases, including Special Education. The VA-approved, CAEP-accredited curriculum spans 60 credits with fast eight-week courses like fiscal management and stewardship on LoudCloud. Two residencies in Phoenix kickoff hands-on dissertation development.

  • Gwynedd Mercy University

    Gwynedd Valley, PA



    Established on Frances Bond's estate at Willowbrook Farm in 1948, Gwynedd Mercy University is a private, coeducational Catholic institution endowed for $29.3 million to instruct 627 post-grad Griffins in the Greater Philadelphia Metro and online. Niche ranked GMU as America's 286th most liberal college and Pennsylvania's 54th best value. Gwynedd Mercy was also positioned 453rd by Times Higher Education and 30th by The Economist nationally. Known for its Autism Institute, the CAEP-accredited School of Education confers the Online Accelerated Executive EdD with a Leadership in Special Education track. Mandating GRE scores above 155, the 54-credit, three-year curriculum offers experienced cohorts the Keystone State's Superintendent Letter of Eligibility. Chaired by Dr. Ray Bandlow, the doctorate's online seminars like assistive technology, 360+ practica hours, and dissertation work are accompanied by three on-campus residencies.

  • Hampton University

    Hampton, VA



    Linked to 29,262 LinkedIn alumni, including educators Kimberly Oliver and Martha Louise Morrow Foxx, Hampton University is a private, civic-engaged HBCU of the Mid-Eastern Conference that's grown since 1868 to teach on-campus and online from its 314-acre Chesapeake Bay headquarters. Washington Monthly ranked Hampton third nationally for research in the bachelor's to Ph.D. category. Hampton University was also declared America's 144th most liberal school on Niche and third best historically Black college on the U.S. News. Scheduled for CAEP reaccreditation in April 2018, the School of Education & Human Development grants the Special Education Specialization for the Online Ph.D. in Education Management. Directed by Dr. Clair Berube, the 66-credit, post-master's degree involves courses like school governance and instructional improvement on Blackboard. Study culminates with capstone internships in 40+ districts, a comprehensive exam, and dissertation research.

  • Liberty University

    Lynchburg, VA



    Belonging to the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS), Liberty University is the world's largest non-profit, Christ-focused evangelical institution with a $1.1 billion endowment to enroll over 50,000 post-grad Flames within 315 master's and 32 doctoral specializations. Included in the top 10 by the Young America's Foundation, Liberty is crowned the 382nd best research center in Forbes. Liberty University also boasts the 90th best teacher preparation on Niche and 254th best Southern buck in Washington Monthly. The CAEP-accredited School of Education confers the Special Education cognate for its Online Ed.D. in Curriculum & Instruction. Chaired by Dr. Richard J. Ney, the 60-unit, post-master's program upholds Christian values in online, eight-week courses like behavior management and special needs research before the dissertation. Other Ed.D. online cognates include Elementary Education, Middle-Grades Education, and Educational Leadership.

  • Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

    Slippery Rock, PA



    Granted the 2015 PGMS Green Star Award, Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania is a public, state-owned teaching institution that's spread across 611 acres of Butler County to employ 867 administrative staff and train 1,257 post-grad Rocks. According to the U.S. News & World Report, SRU is the 78th best Northern university. Slippery Rock, a "College of Distinction," also stands as America's 252nd best education school on Niche and 12th smartest educational choice in Pittsburgh Magazine. Celebrating its 55th anniversary, the CAEP-accredited Special Education Department launches a cohort for the Doctor of Education in Special Education Online each Spring. Headed by Dr. Richael Barger-Anderson, the 60-credit, post-master's degree squeezes summer residencies in Slippery Rock between courses like instructional leadership, ASD development, and early intervention before the dissertation.

  • University of Colorado Denver

    Denver, CO



    Attracting $385 million in research funding in 2016, the University of Colorado Denver is the Centennial State's biggest public, coeducational doctoral institution located on 352 combined acres in "Mile High City" to instruct 9,287 Lynx through the Canvas platform. Named 10th on the Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index, UC Denver is ranked 47th for online graduate teaching degrees by the U.S. News. The University of Colorado Denver is also listed among the best places to work in The Scientist and placed 121st nationally by Plexuss. Reaccredited in May 2014, the School of Education & Human Development provides the Leadership for Educational Equity EdD Online with four concentrations like Early Childhood Special Education. Headed by Dr. Elizabeth Steed, the 54-credit, post-master's curriculum ends with thematic dissertation research after online courses and summer intensives. Admission mandates 5+ teaching years, 3.2 GPAs, and three recommendations.

  • University of Idaho

    Moscow, ID



    Chartered by Governor Edward Stevenson in 1889 by Council Bill 20, the University of Idaho is the Gem State's oldest public, space-grant research hub endowed for $237.5 million to affordably teach 1,850 post-grad Vandals on its 1,585-acre Moscow campus or online. According to the U.S. News & World Report, Idaho is America's 171st best university with the 185th top online graduate education. The University of Idaho also stands out for the 182nd best education on the CWUR and 367th best student life on Niche. Within the CAEP-accredited College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences, the Center on Disabilities grants the Online Special Education – Autism Spectrum Disorders & Related Disabilities Ph.D. for $6,460 yearly in-state. Led by Dr. Julia Fodor, the 84-credit, structured curriculum blends online courses with URLEND leadership training and dissertation research to address neurodevelopmental disorders.

  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln

    Lincoln, NE



    Enrolling 5,078 post-grad Cornhuskers from 110+ countries, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is a top-tier public, land-grant BTAA member governed by the Board of Regents to deliver 275 programs of study via Online Worldwide and from its 2,815-acre campus in Forbes' 111th best city for job growth. Niche applauded UNL for America's 52nd top public education and 67th best teacher preparation. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is honored within the globe's top 200 colleges by the ARWU Shanghai rankings too. Chaired by Dr. Karen Hux in Seaton Hall, the CAEP-accredited College of Education and Human Sciences grants the Specialization in Special Education for the Online PhD in Educational Studies. Open for admission until January 15th yearly, the 48-credit, post-master's curriculum injects one six-credit on-campus residency into online courses like literacy development and independent dissertations.

  • University of Northern Colorado

    Greeley, CO



    Housing 1.5 million volumes in James A. Michener Library, the University of Northern Colorado extends beyond its 260-acre Weld County campus online to enlighten 2,589 post-grad Bears as a public, coeducational teacher education provider of the Big Sky Conference. Forbes named UNCO the 219th best research university and 556th top college overall. With a PayScale 20-year ROI of $210,000, Northern Colorado is ranked America's 261st best graduate institution by Washington Monthly. The College of Education & Behavioral Sciences holds the Online Special Education PhD Program with optional Applied Behavior Analysis BCBA-D certification. Coordinated by Dr. Silvia Correa-Torres, the 77-83 credit online curriculum takes three to five years with self-regulated training for instruction, supervision, and research. Aiming for school reform careers is possible with the Online EdD in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies too.

  • West Virginia University

    Morgantown, WV



    Affiliated with 36 Goldwater Scholars, West Virginia University is a public, land-grant technical institution given RU/VH status and a $574 million endowment to serve 6,612 post-grad Mountaineers either online via Blackboard or atop its 913-acre campus in Monongalia County. The Center for World University Rankings placed WVU 139th for alumni success and 240th for quality of faculty. West Virginia was also honored as America's 302nd best education college on Niche and 99th top public school by the U.S. News. Teachers with two years of full-time experience and 3.25 GPAs could pursue the Special Education Ed.D. Degree Online. Starting each August, the 42-credit, post-master's track includes virtual courses like systems advocacy from the CAEP-accredited College of Education & Human Services. Directed by Dr. Nancy Taylor, the affordable program includes a dissertation for better understanding of PK-12 special and gifted education issues.

Our Methodology, Explained

Grad School Hub compiles rankings based on public data released from educational, commercial, and government databases. Sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics play a significant role in how we source our educational data. After collecting insight for each institution, we organize information into five weighted categories.
Metric Data Used Percentage
Academic Quality Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates 30%
Affordability Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid 10%
Reputation Admission and enrollment rates 30%
Program Offerings Number of program options 20%
Online Enrollment Score Portion of learners taking at least one online course 10%
A more comprehensive evaluation of how each category is determined and scored is accessible on our Ranking Methodology page.

Other Online Ed.D. in Special Education Degree Offerings

Regent University

Online Ph.D. in Education: Special Education Concentration

Graduate Tuition: $12,726 per year

Walden University

PhD in Early Childhood Special Education Online

Graduate Tuition: $12,844

University of Toledo

Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction – Special Education Online

Graduate Tuition: $13,166 per year

Concordia University Chicago

Online EdD/PhD in Leadership with Special Education Specialization

Graduate Tuition: $14,328 per year

St. John's University-New York Online Ph.D. in Literacy with Special Education Specialization

Graduate Tuition: $15,888 per year

Northcentral University

Education PhD Specialized in Special Education Online

Graduate Tuition: $16,821 per year

Nova Southeastern University

Online Doctor of Education with Special Education Concentration

Graduate Tuition: $18,373 per year

University of Pittsburgh

Hybrid Special Education Doctor of Education (EdD) Online

Graduate Tuition: $21,748 per year

Drexel University

Online Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Management: Special Education Leadership

Graduate Tuition: $32,184 per year

Why Should I Pursue an EdD in Special Education Online?

Many post-grads wonder if the challenge of a special education doctorate online is worth it, especially since The Guardian reports a Ph.D. failure rate of 40 percent! Special education doctoral degrees should only be attempted by serious, ambitious educators who see themselves pushing the frontiers of teaching. The most valuable doctoral benefits are intellectual growth, leadership development, research expertise, and self-confidence. Achieving the academic equivalent of a black belt is always intensive, but online learning can make the 3+ years more manageable. Grad schools with Ed.D. special education online offerings will allow you to keep teaching full-time, access course materials anytime, network with advisors via web conference, save commuting costs, and finish dissertations at one's pace.

Which Careers Benefit from Online Special Education Doctorates?

Job possibilities are virtually limitless for doctorate holders to uphold IDEA laws for teaching youth with wide-ranging disabilities, such as traumatic brain injury, autism, blindness, dyslexia, and cerebral palsy. Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) programs tend to emphasize instructional practice for application in teaching, IEP development, and administration. Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees favor research for utilizing scientific methods to improve knowledge and treatment of childhood impairments. The following are five lucrative, gratifying careers where PhD and EdD special education online degrees would be prized:

Director of Special Education- America's 13,506 school districts need veteran certified teachers to assume strategic leadership responsibility of cross-building special education services. Special education directors have cabinet-level duties like establishing district IEP policies, submitting budget proposals, hiring intervention staff, ensuring regulation compliance, directing Medicaid billing, and observing teacher performance.

Applied Behavior Analyst- The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) has a doctoral designation for special educators well-versed in positive reinforcement strategies used to address autism and neurodevelopmental disorders. Applied behavior analysts perform behavioral tests, consult with teachers on behavior management, serve on IEP teams, develop intervention plans, establish service referrals, and lead social skills training.

Special Education Professor- Online special education EdD programs might persuade you to leave PreK-12 teaching behind and join collegiate faculty training tomorrow's teachers. Professors in special education departments create and deliver courses, modify curriculum for learning needs, counsel students about career choices, write recommendations, conduct research labs, edit professional journals, present at scholarly conferences, and more.

Nonprofit Executive Director- Outside school walls, PhD-level educators could obtain leadership jobs in not-for-profit organizations like Easter Seals, Special Olympics, The Arc, and Friendship Circle. Nonprofit executive directors will set operational policies, manage fundraising, balance budgets, recruit staff/volunteers, ensure service standards, schedule community outreach, handle public relations problems, and implement public-private partnerships.

Educational Diagnostician- Getting an EdD special education online would likely fulfill state licensing requirements for identifying learning difficulties in PreK-12 classrooms. Educational diagnosticians are upper-level consultants who conduct psycho-academic tests, collaborate with specialists like speech therapists, determine special education eligibility, present to IEP committees, mentor teachers on best practices, and monitor children's progress.

How Much Do Online Special Education Ed.D. Graduates Earn?

Cheap online special education EdD programs can bolster your income potential by marketing you for promotions. Doctoral pay can rise considerably higher than the mean special education salary of $60,090 for elementary and $64,020 for secondary teachers on the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Higher education professors receive median income of $75,430 full-time. Jobs in special education administration garner a mean wage of $95,390 per year. Advancing into collegiate leadership would unlock the average salary of $105,770. PayScale shows educational diagnosticians, board certified board analysts, and education researchers making top pay of $67,854, $74,522, and $121,628 respectively.

What is the Job Outlook After Ed.D. Special Education Online Programs?

The National Coalition on Personnel Shortages in Special Education and Related Services (NCPSSERS) has reported that 51 percent of school districts struggle with attracting qualified special educators. EdD online special education programs position graduates perfectly for a growing occupation poised for 8 percent growth by 2026 for 33,300 new jobs across grade levels. New York, California, New Jersey, and Texas have the highest hiring levels of special education Ed.D. online graduates. The BLS is forecasting 10-year increases of 8 percent for school administrators, 10 percent for college deans, 15 percent for faculty, and 16 percent for social service directors. Picking the online EdD in special education degrees above will give you the biggest career advantages for your buck in today's in-demand teaching field.

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This concludes our list of the 10 most affordable online EdD in special education degree programs.

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