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Special Education

Have a Hand in Shaping the Future of Special Education

Do more for those who depend on you.

You help special education students exceed their limits every day. Now it’s your turn to do the same. With an Ed.D in Special Education from NSU, bring new knowledge and leadership skills to hands-on student work.

Instruct teachers. Lead a school. Partner with families, teachers, principals and service providers to deliver the right support. This program focuses on helping you understand and address these real-world, practical workplace challenges.

The Ed.D. program is a better match than a Ph.D. for educators who want to focus on hands-on implementation versus research work. Our graduates build rewarding careers as special education teachers, university professors, mental/health/social services providers, and school or district office education administrators.

Who Should Apply
  • Practicing teachers, administrators, human service professionals, mental and healthcare providers, and others working with individuals with disabilities; OR
  • Individuals with master's degrees or above who wish to obtain a doctoral degree and increase their knowledge and skills in special education; OR
  • Individuals considering a Ph.D. in special education or an online Ph.D. in special education who would instead like to explore the benefits of an Ed.D. in special education program

Now, You Can Earn Your Ed.D. With No Dissertation Requirement

At the FCE&SCJ, we understand that not all doctoral students wish to write a traditional research-based dissertation. We now offer an alternate opportunity that allows students to solve problems in a real-world setting. The Strategic Research Project (SRP) is an alternative to the Applied Dissertation. Check out the Curriculum section below to learn more about this option.

We now offer Ed.D. students the option of a Strategic Research Project (SRP) as an alternative to the Applied Dissertation. This project is made up of two 6-credit courses (ESRP 9000 & ESRP 9001) to be completed in 2 semesters after you have completed all of your required courses.

ESRP 9000 Strategic Research Project I (6 credits): This course represents the first phase in the development of the Strategic Research Project (SRP). Students will begin the conceptualization and development of the Strategic Research Project. Students will identify the problem they wish to investigate. The problem can take many forms including but not limited to a problem of practice, challenge, or complex phenomenon in the student’s organization or in an organization they choose to study. Students will investigate this problem and provide multiple forms of evidence that demonstrate a need to focus on the problem in the particular organizational context. Students will (a) examine a problematic process/issue in an organization that could be improved through the implementation of planned intervention, (b) identify the specific evidence that serves to define the problem and the potential impact if it is not addressed, (c) determine a potential action, intervention, or change that could be implemented to bring about improvement, (d) review the literature to learn how other organizations have addressed the issue and which actions or interventions have been shown to be most effective, (e) discuss potential actions/interventions with your colleagues, professors, and other key experts in the field to gather additional ideas and feedback. Prerequisites: all prior courses

ESRP 9001 Strategic Research Project II (6 credits): This course represents the second phase in the development of the Strategic Research Project (SRP). Students continue to develop their project as they incorporate feedback on the proposed intervention, outline a system of evaluation for the recommended design and integrate the content of the entire project into one narrative and final deliverable. While students are not required to implement the intervention, their final strategic research project should provide a detailed plan and evaluation strategy that, backed by extensive research, would result in the expected improvement in the organization or successfully address the organization’s challenges. In addition, the final product will include an insightful reflection piece analyzing what was learned from the development of the SRP, what worked and what didn’t, and what changes or recommendations for improving the initial strategy resulted from the experiences. Prerequisite: ESRP 9000

Strategic Research Project FAQ

An Alternative to Applied Dissertation for Ed.D. Students


Ed.D. in Special Education

The following are specific admission requirements for entry into the Doctor of Education programs. Please refer to the admissions application or catalog for specific program admission requirements and information for international students.

  • Completed online application for admission, including ($50) nonrefundable application fee
  • An official transcript from a regionally accredited institution indicating a conferred master’s degree with a minimum CGPA of 3.0, and official final transcripts from all institutions of higher education (community colleges, bachelor’s programs, post-graduate programs)
  • Professional letters of recommendation from two (2) individuals who can attest to the applicant’s ability to succeed in a doctoral program
  • No entrance exam required
  • Completed Personal Statement of Goals
  • Completed Transfer of Credits form if applicable


Applicants whose native language is not English are required to demonstrate English proficiency by providing proof of a minimum score of 213 on the computer-based or 550 on the paper-based Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam or 6.0 on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam.





Course Number Course Title and Description Credits
SPED 8402 Families, Law, and Exceptionalities (Required Course) 3
SPED 8404 Organization & Administration of Special Education Programs (Required Course) 3
SPED 8405 Collaboration and Consultation (Required Course) 3
Choose 6 additional courses from across the following areas:
SPED 8401 Special Education Law and Policy 3
SPED 8403 Conferencing with Parents and Families of Individuals with Disabilities 3
SPED 8406 Transition, Career Development and Independent Living 3
SPED 8409 Multicultural Issues in Special Education 3
SPED 8410 Assessment and Evaluation of Special Needs: Cognitive and Behavioral Domains  3
SPED 8411 Issues in Special Education Administration 3
SPED 8801 Seminar in the Behavior Communication Connection
for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder
SPED 8802 Seminar in the Nature of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder 3
SPED 8803 Advanced Topics in the Assessment of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder 3
SPED 8804 Advanced Topics in Interventions for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder 3
SPED 8805 Seminar in Professional Issues in Leading Programs for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder 3
SPED 8806 Special Topics Across the Lifespan for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder 3
SPED 9651 Concepts and Principles of Applied Behavior Analysis I 3
SPED 9652 Concepts and Principles of Applied Behavior Analysis II 3
SPED 9656 Assessments in Applied Behavior Analysis 3
SPED 9661 Applications of Applied Behavior Analysis  3
SPED 9666 Supervision and Management in Applied Behavior Analysis 3
SPED 9671 Ethical and Professional Conduct in Applied Behavior Analysis 3
RES 8930 Single Subject Design 3


Note: After completing the ABA track, students will still need to complete the required number of supervised clinical hours before they will be qualified to sit for the National Certification Exam. 

Certification Disclosure for the Applied Behavior Analysis Track:

The Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) has verified the courses above toward the coursework requirements for eligibility to take the 5th edition Board Certified Behavior Analyst® or Board-Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst® examination. Applicants will need to meet additional requirements before they can be deemed eligible to take the examination. For additional information, please go to: Association for Behavior Analysis International website:

Students interested in obtaining the doctoral designation (BCBA-D) must complete an applied dissertation that is behavior analytic in nature.

For those interested in learning and understanding the BCBA certification requirements, please visit the Behavior Analyst Certification Board's website: Click HERE for more information about the BCBA examination pass rate. 

Professional Licensure Disclosure

In accordance with state and federal regulations, Nova Southeastern University (NSU) is required to inform prospective and enrolled students whether programs leading to professional licensure or certification satisfy states’ educational requirements for such licensure or certification. While completion of your NSU program of study may assist in preparing you for your future professional endeavors, at present we have not made a determination as to whether the program leads to professional licensure in certain states, the District of Columbia, or U.S. protectorates, as defined in 34 CFR §600.2. We encourage you to contact your applicable state licensing authority to familiarize yourself with the specific professional licensure requirements of your state. For program-specific disclosures and licensing board contact information, please visit the Professional Licensure Disclosure webpage for the Ed.D. in Special Education at:

U.S. Licensure of Behavior Analysts State Contacts:


Course Number Course Title and Description Credits
EDD 8200 Leadership, Communication and Technology 3



Required Courses

Course Number Course Title and Description Credits
RES 8100 Nature of Knowing: Epistemology and Inquiry-Based Learning (Required Course) 3
RES 9300 Methods of Inquiry (Required Course) 3

Please select ONE of the following research tracks based on your dissertation (please consult your RES 9300 professor and your dissertation chair prior to registering):

Quantitative Research Track

Course Number Course Title and Description Credits
RES 8911 Quantitative Research Design 3
RES 8921

Quantitative Data Analysis


Qualitative Research Track

Course Number Course Title and Description Credits
RES 8916 Qualitative Research Design 3
RES 8926

Qualitative Data Analysis



The Applied Dissertation is a detailed, accurate, and cohesive account of a scholarly investigation designed to answer one or more research questions. It is required of all FCE doctoral students and its purpose is to improve practice in education and human services. The dissertation process consists of a total of 12 credits encompassing four major benchmarks.

Course Number Course Title and Description Credits
DISR 8966 Applied Dissertation 1: Prospectus 3
DISR 8967 Applied Dissertation 2: Proposal Development 3
DISR 8968 Applied Dissertation 3: Proposal 3
DISR 8969 Applied Dissertation 4: Applied Dissertation 3

Students interested in obtaining the BCBA doctoral designation (BCBA-D) must complete a behavior analytic applied dissertation.


Course Number Course Title and Description Credits
ESRP 9000 Strategic Research Project I 6
ESRP 9001

Strategic Research Project II




Summer Institute is an opportunity for students to meet with Fischler College classmates, professors, and staff on-campus in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Students will be able to schedule individual sessions with their applied dissertation committee chairs to discuss dissertation work and with representatives from various service areas, including distance library services, student financial assistance, and program advising. The conference will also offer applied dissertation workshops enabling students to learn valuable information about the dissertation process, as well as roundtable sessions affording students the opportunity to present their dissertation work to a group of peers and receive immediate feedback.

Course Number Course Title and Description Credits
FSC 8000

Summer Institute (Residency Requirement)        



Beginning the 37th month of the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) program, students will enroll in ADS 8091, Applied Dissertation Services, in order to receive dissertation services and support from Dissertation Committee Chairs and/or other NSU faculty and staff. In cases where students are not enrolled in any classes prior to the 37th month and where Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) students require support from Dissertation Chairs and/or other NSU faculty and staff, ADS 8090 may be used to satisfy Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements for continuous matriculation.

Course Number Course Title and Description Credits
ADS 8091 Applied Dissertation Services 1

*Note: Students must be registered for ADS 8091 to be eligible for continuing services.

Coursework for the Doctor of Education is available online, which allows international students and those who don't live near our South Florida campus to receive and submit coursework, and interact with classmates and professors, via the Internet. This distance education option allows busy professionals like you to earn your degree without work disruption or long commutes.

In addition to coursework, all doctoral students are required to participate in Summer Institute in Florida.

The Summer Institute is an intensive conference designed to give doctoral students the tools and support they need to complete their doctoral program. Students must attend one Summer Institute. 


Facebook Live Chat: Special Education Programs

Did you miss our chat with NSU's Fischler College special education expert Dr. Dana Fredebaugh?

Click on the image above to learn about our most popular programs in special education, the history of their inception, and professional opportunities open to those who complete our programs.  

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