Prepare and expand your knowledge and skills in special education leadership and advocacy.

Application Deadlines

Apr, 29

Domestic Students

Summer 2024 Application Due | Classes Start May 6, 2024

Mar, 13

International Students

Summer 2024 Completed File Due | Classes Start May 6, 2024

The Concordia University Chicago Special Education Leadership and Advocacy (SELA) PhD program takes innovative approaches to providing educators and leaders with current, relevant, and quality graduate education.

  • Deepen and enrich multiple facets of your talents as an educator, leader, and administrator to positively impact schools.
  • Explore understandings of disability—legal, medical, educational, and social / cultural definitions and models of disability to lead and help others learn to embrace every student’s value.
  • Become a better leader in advocacy, learning with and from others who share your passion to create positive change for individuals, schools, and communities through gaining knowledge and experience in issues affecting learners with disabilities.
  • Build capacity and lead specialized supports, programming, and accessibility.

The doctoral program in Special Education Leadership and Advocacy (SELA) is designed for candidates who desire to continue their education as educators, administrators, and scholars prepared for leadership and administration roles in the area of special education in PreK-22 schools, public or private institutions, and/or educator preparation higher education programs. This program develops special education experts who can design, implement, evaluate, supervise, manage, and lead programs in a variety of public and private settings, with an emphasis on advocacy—helping others understand their rights and responsibilities.

The goals of doctoral study in this program are to:

  • Develop the abilities for research and critical thinking in the field of special education, leadership, special education administration, and advocacy from a domestic and international lens;
  • Exhibit high standards of professional competence and ethical practice;
  • Critically analyze and apply theoretical and practical knowledge across settings;
  • Develop competency in special education leadership, administration, specialized instruction, curricular access, accessible technology,  program development, and program evaluation;
  • Improve understanding of the needs of families as it relates to special services;
  • In the work of serving those with disabilities and their families, understand the role of collaboration and advocacy in supporting key stakeholders specific to main social issues regarding disability;
  • Expand existing special education and related service provider’s or current special education administrator’s, knowledge, skills, and application of leadership and advocacy relevant to special education, disability, and learning differences in PreK-22 settings and higher education applications;
  • Teach future special education administrators/directors to establish, supervise, and oversee equitable and effective special education systems and increase current special education leader’s expertise, and
  • Analyze, synthesize, support, and lead change efforts related to teacher development in special education; and
  • Remain current as a scholar:
    • understand, conduct, disseminate, and critically evaluate original research
    • promote the learning of others through strong written and oral communication
    • critically analyze and understand content in one’s chosen field
    • prepare program development and research proposals

Note: Some courses in this program may be applied to the Director of Special Education (DOSE) Endorsement requirements. CUC has an ISBE-approved DOSE program for special education administration for those who are eligible, provided that the appropriate state testing standard has been met. Students must enroll in and successfully complete CUC's DOSE Post-Master’s Endorsement Program for direct entitlement. 

Interested in Dual Enrollment in the Director of Special Education Endorsement program? Check out our DOSE Pathways 

Leadership, Foundations, and Administration Core          

  • SPED-6250       Special Education Law and Policy *
    or EDL-6250     Special Education Law and Policy
  • SPED-6225       Special Education Finance*
  • SPED-6375       Supervision of Programs and Facilitation of LRE for Children with Disabilities*
  • SPED-7900       Special Education Leadership and Administration Internship*
  • FPR-7011         Philosophical and Theoretical Foundations of Leadership
  • EDL-6310         School, Families and Community Partnerships       

Special Education Specialization   

  • SPED-7030       Seminar in Low Incidence Disabilities*
  • SPED-7040       Seminar in High Incidence Disabilities*
  • SPED-7010       Assistive Technology for Students with Disabilities
  • SPED-7020       Principles of Applied Behavior Analysis, Assessment, and Single-case Design
  • SPED-7060       Current Issues and Trends in Special Education
  • SPED-7100        Disability Studies and International Perspectives on Special  Education
  • RLL-7010           Instructional Approaches to Reading, Writing and Language [e.g., Science of Reading]

Elective (select one course)                

  • EDU-7500          Instructional Coaching for Effective Teaching
  • EDU-7030          The Impact of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) on the Educational Landscape
  • EDU-7420          Multicultural Education: Pedagogy in Practice
  • EDU-7600          Global Perspectives in Curriculum and Instruction
  • EDU-7700          Research-Based Instructional Practices
  • EDT-7030           Design of Learning Environments
  • ECE-7010           Child Development and the Educational Process
  • ECE-7030           Trends, Issues and Research in Early Childhood Education
  • ECE-7040          Cultural and Socioeconomic Influences Affecting Diverse Learners
  • RLL-7040           Cultural and Socioeconomic Perspectives of Literature and Literacy
  • EDL-7260           School/District Improvement Using Data Analysis
  • EDL-7301           Ethics for Educational Leaders for the Illinois Superintendent Endorsement

Other option: elective recommended for dually-enrolled DOSE Pathway C

  • EDU-6212 Studies in Literacy and Multiliteracy (or equivalent - Illinois Requirement 1: Reading Methods)
  • EDU-6230 Content Reading: Middle and Secondary Schools (or equivalent - Illinois Requirement 2: Reading in the Content Area)

*Embedded in program (or equivalent - Illinois Requirement 3: Exceptional Child Instructional Methods)

  • ESL 6630 Methods and Materials for Teaching Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students OR ESL 6300: Foundations for Bilingual and Bicultural Education (or equivalent - Illinois Requirement 4: ESL/Bilingual)

    Or other elective (only with pre-approval from division chair)

Research and Statistics        

  • RES-7605          Quantitative Analysis
  • RES-7700          Qualitative Research
  • RES-7800          Mixed Methods Research Advanced topics
  • RES-7620          Advanced Topics in Statistics
    or RES-7710      Advanced Qualitative Analysis

Pre-Dissertation Research Design, Comprehensive Exam, and Dissertation 

  • RES-7900          Research Design
  • COMP-7000       Comprehensive Examination
  • DISS-7010         Dissertation I
  • DISS-7020         Dissertation II
  • DISS-7030         Dissertation III

Total Hours       67


*If dually enrolled in the DOSE endorsement program, these courses are also required for DOSE Pathways A, B or C.

CUC will adhere to ISBE regulations and requirements, which are subject to change.

Only credit earned beyond a student's first master's degree can be considered for transfer credit for this or any doctoral program at CUC.

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