The PhD in Special Education builds on the theoretical and practical knowledge of candidates. The program is designed to prepare you with skills to attain positions in research and leadership in institutes of higher education.

Program Overview

You will develop a program of study and conduct research in your area of interest related to special education. During the course of study, you are encouraged and supported to publish research and present their work at local and national conferences. Through these opportunities and working closely with faculty, you will develop a strong portfolio and network that lead to faculty and research positions upon graduation.

Your program advisor will help guide you through the requirements for degree completion. For a complete list of requirements and courses, please visit the General Catalog.

Program Requirements



Teaching and research assistantships are available each year. Assistantships tend to be hourly, quarter-time (10 hours), or half-time (20 hours) appointments. During assistantships, students assist in preparation, delivery, and grading of a course (teaching assistantship) or assist in aspects of innovative research with faculty (research assistantship).

Appointments are renewable each year. For consideration, please contact the program coordinator or your advisor.

Project THRIVE

Project THRIVE (Training Special Education Leaders in Mental Health and Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Practices) will provide a cohort of five scholars with a comprehensive training curriculum encompassing (a) culturally and linguistically responsive instruction and (b) intensive preparation in evidence-based school mental health services (i.e., social, emotional, behavioral supports) for students with disabilities, including those with mental health needs. Scholars will earn a PhD in Special Education.

Admissions and Application

Application Deadlines:

  • Fall Semester—July 15 (April 15 for international students)
  • Spring Semester—December 1 (October 1 for international students)
  • Summer Session—April 15 (March 1 for international students)

Applications will be considered after these dates until seats are filled.

  • A bachelor’s degree from a Regionally Accredited American College or University, or an equivalent degree from another country as determined by the Office of Admissions
  • Cumulative grade-point average (GPA) of 3.50 or better on a four-point scale is preferred
  • Submission of Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is required.
  • Applicants whose first language is not English must score at least 100 (Internet-based) on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
  • Experience and/or teaching licensure/certification
  • For students without an M.A. thesis, an equivalent project must be completed
  • An interview may be requested

Final admission decisions are made by the Special Education Graduate Admissions Committee and are based on a composite analysis of the candidate's likelihood for success in the program.

  • Official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions
  • Optional: Official GRE scores from Educational Testing Service (the University’s institutional code is 6681)
  • Official TOEFL scores may be required for some non-native speakers of English
  • Evidence of experience and/or teacher licensure/certification
  • A statement of purpose
  • Three letters of recommendation*

* You will be asked to give the contact information of your recommenders, including their email, on your Admissions Profile. The recommender will then get an email with instructions on how to upload the recommendation letter and/or form.

Apply Now

Please review the required supplemental documents above before starting the general graduate application. To begin the application process, set up an account with an existing email address and password


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