Ph.D. in Literacy: Special Education Specialization

Improve outcomes for exceptional students.

All students require support as they develop literacy skills, but educators who know what it takes to support students with identified disabilities have a broad and meaningful impact—in the classroom or through policy-advancing research.

Develop the skills to work with exceptional learners and improve their educational outcomes, or serve as a specialist to support other educators, with St. John's University's online Ph.D. in Literacy Special Education specialization.

All courses are designed to meet the Council for Exceptional Children standards and incorporate evidence-based practices. By learning from actively working, experienced faculty, you benefit from their expertise in classroom teaching, teacher coaching, and curriculum development for special needs learners of all ages.

Career Outlook: Make a Lifelong Impact

Prepare to take on leadership and research roles that improve educational outcomes and systems for all kinds of learners and make a lifelong impact.

In 2019, special education directors earned an average salary of $73,779, while the top 10 percent of special education teachers earned an average salary of $96,100.1,2 Even higher salaries can be found in related fields like family services, grant making, and social advocacy organizations.2

Career Spotlight: Special Education Intervention Specialist

As a special education intervention specialist, you work one-on-one with students who struggle to learn. The students you support might have special needs such as autism, emotional and behavioral disorders, sensory impairments such as deafness or blindness, and a variety of other conditions.

In this position, you create individual education plans, adapt curricula to meet students' needs, teach parents how to support their children, and maintain a stable classroom environment where students feel safe learning.

Potential career titles:

  • Learning specialist
  • Supervisor for parent training/development
  • Supervisor for curriculum and instruction: Special education
  • Director of literacy and special education services
  • Research specialist
  • Professor


Experience a Curriculum Designed for Evidence-Based Impact

Acquire a deeper understanding of the needs of learners with disabilities, as well as behavior management, differentiated instruction, evidence-based instructional strategies, and individualized programming that plays to your students' strengths. Experience rigorous coursework that meets the highest professional standards set by the Council for Exceptional Children.

In addition to 18 credit hours of core literacy courses and 15 credit hours of research required for the Ph.D. in Literacy, the Special Education specialization includes the following three courses:

  • EDU 9707: Curriculum Adaptation and Modification Planning for Exceptional Students
  • EDU 9711: Education and Accommodating Needs of Individuals with Exceptionalities, K–12
  • EDU 9719: Principles of Applied Behavior Analysis and Positive Behavioral Supports, K–12


Specialization Outcomes

  • Incorporate evidence-based teaching practices that support learners with disabilities
  • Assess and meet the needs of learners with high-incidence disabilities
  • Provide effective behavior management, differentiated instruction, and strengths-based individualized programming
  • Perform an in-depth analysis of research and recommended practices for an area or disability of interest

More Specialization Options

Learn More

Apply to St. John's University's online Ph.D. in Literacy program and improve educational outcomes for exceptional students. Contact us at 844-393-1677 or request more information today!


1Payscale. (2019 February). Average Director of Special Education Salary. Retrieved February 21, 2019, from
2U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2017 May). Occupational Employment Statistics: Special Education Teachers. Retrieved on February 15, 2019, from