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Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology & Special Education

Be Better Prepared
Who will work harder if it means being prepared for the first day on the job? Spartans Will.

Special Education PhD

Grounded in Research

The Special Education doctoral program helps you attain these goals through an individualized program that is grounded in research across a variety of methodological traditions and theoretical orientations. Students are mentored by nationally and internationally renowned faculty members, each a former special education teacher or service provider, who possess a deep understanding of educational challenges in real-world contexts.

Classroom-based Intervention

Faculty members are widely recognized for their commitment to and expertise in classroom-based interventions that translate state-of-the-art learning and developmental theories into effective instructional practices. They work in partnership with teachers, locally and throughout the state, country, and world, to investigate challenging and important problems in the areas of literacy instruction, special education technology, policy, behavior disorders, and autism spectrum disorders.

Program Flexibility

Students admitted to the Special Education doctoral program may also wish to pursue the graduate specialization in language and literacy as an elective program, which is administered through the Department of Teacher Education. This specialization has additional requirements beyond those listed below for the doctorate in special education, though the total number of credits required beyond the minimum for the PhD in special education is only 6.

More information about this option is available here.

Convinced and want to join the program?

As a participant in our program, you can expect to:

Learn to conduct rigorous and relevant research that impacts policy, practice, and student success.
Develop a strong commitment to excellence in teacher preparation and professional development.
Serve with integrity and leadership the families, institutions, and professional communities concerned about children and youth with special needs.
  • I was well prepared for a tenure-track position by the end of my program. In fact, I made the transition from PhD student to assistant professor with ease. I attribute this to the number of research and teaching opportunities afforded me while at MSU. Special education faculty members have been very successful in obtaining research or personnel preparation grants that support students as research assistants or fellows. I worked alongside faculty members on a number of projects which resulted in national/ international presentations, publications, and even international consulting. The opportunities to engage with faculty were extremely important in my apprenticeship.

    Kimberly A. Wolbers, PhD

  • The benefits of earning a doctoral degree from MSU are huge in terms of preparation, opportunities to engage in research, and being seen as a strong candidate on the job market. I obtained an assistant professor position at a research institution because I was encouraged to start my research agenda early, and to publish and present my work at national conferences starting in the first year.

    Emily Bouck, PhD


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    Department of Teacher Education
    620 Farm Lane, 313 Erickson Hall
    East Lansing, MI 48824-1034
    Phone: (517) 353-5091
    Fax: (517) 432-5092