Doctoral Degrees

Disability & Psychoeducational Studies

Special Education Ph.D.

The Special Education Ph.D. program is designed to develop the expertise needed to develop, examine, and disseminate sustainable practices that result in high achievement and successful independent living for children and adolescents with special needs.

Students in the program will develop knowledge and skills in four major areas:

  1. Foundations of evidence-based practice in special education. Students will recognize, evaluate, and sustain practices that are unique to different types of disability and those that are applicable to all types of exceptionality.
  2. Research. Students will design and implement ecologically valid research, develop a research agenda, work with practitioners to introduce and sustain evidence-based practices in schools, and disseminate new research among scholars and practitioners.
  3. Teacher preparation and personnel development in evidence-based practices. Students engage in effective teaching within teacher preparation and personnel development programs at institutions of higher education and in schools. They engage in teacher preparation that includes knowledge of national and state education standards evidence-based practices pertaining to basic academic and functional skills, assistive and adaptive technology, accommodations, learning strategies, positive behavioral support, and knowledge of how to teach in a variety of service delivery models.
  4. Higher education. Students will have concrete and critical opportunities for research, teaching, and service during their program, allowing them to immediately translate knowledge into practice.
Study and evaluate existing research in special education literature in various topics, including assessment, instruction, service delivery, and technology
Learn to design research and use evidence-based practices to address the needs of all students in special education, including those who are culturally, linguistically, and economically diverse
Graduate prepared to be a leader in the field of special education within institutions of higher education

Sample Courses

SERP 595D*: Recent Advances in Special Education (3 credits)
SERP 502: Behavioral Principals and Disabilities: Assessment and Intervention (3 credits)
SERP 504: Cultural and Linguistic Diversity in Exceptional Learners (3 credits)
SERP 529A: Advanced Positive Behavior Support (3 credits)

See Coursework for more details.


Graduates of the program are national leaders who conduct and design research in higher education and school settings. They also serve as directors of special education and administrators in public or private facilities.

Contact Us

For more information about the program, contact Graduate Program Coordinator Cecilia Carlon.