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Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology & Special Education

Special Education PhD

Program Requirements for the PhD in Special Education

Note: Students who are admitted to the doctoral program in Special Education with little or no background in the discipline may be required to take additional core coursework to adequately prepare them for research and teaching. More detailed information about program requirements and procedures may be found in the Special Education Program Handbook.

  1. Foundations Coursework (at least 6 credits/2 courses designed to help build students' academic skills, introduce them to big questions about education, provide them with a preliminary look at the field's major areas of emphasis, and help them establish a professional learning community)

    CEP 900: Proseminar in Learning, Technology, and Culture
    CEP 949: Critical Issues in Special Education (students are encouraged to take this course in their second or third year in the program because preparing a grant application is the capstone project for this course and this requires working knowledge of research methods)

  2. Special Education Core Coursework (9 credits/3 courses designed to, as a set, provide you with broad knowledge of the history, legislation, policies, trends, research, and issues in the field of special education)

    CEP 941: Academic Issues in Special Education
    CEP 943: Multicultural Issues in Special Education
    CEP 982: Special Topics in Special Education—Applied Research Methods

  3. Research Methodology Coursework (at least 19 credits/7 courses)

    CEP 930: Educational Inquiry
    CEP 932: Quantitative Methods in Educational Research I
    CEP 933: Quantitative Methods in Educational Research II
    CEP 942: Single-Case Experimental Research Methods
    CEP 995: Research Practicum (this course is accompanied by supervised research with a faculty and student Apprenticeship Committee; at least one credit of CEP 995 must be taken during the semester in which the student submits the practicum proposal).

    PLUS At Least One Course in Qualitative Research Methods From Below:

    CEP 931: Qualitative Methods in Educational Research
    TE 939: Special Topics in Advanced Qualitative Methodology

    PLUS At Least One Additional Course in Research Methods

  4. Cognate Area Coursework (at least 9 credits/3 courses that reflect a broad and diverse perspective on education that extends beyond special education and form a cohesive study strand)

    For example, students who wish to pursue a cognate in language and literacy might take:

    CEP 912: Psychological and Cognitive Aspects of Literacy Learning
    TE 959: Acquisition and Development of Language and Literacy
    TE 946: Current Issues in Literacy Research and Instruction

  5. Dissertation Completion (at least 24 credits)

    CEP 999: Dissertation Research

  6. Preliminary Exam

    The preliminary exam is taken at the beginning of the second year of doctoral study after the completion of basic research methods (CEP 930, CEP 932) and the CEPSE department foundations course (CEP 900). The exam involves a written critique of a research article in the field of special education. Further information is presented in the Program Handbook.

  7. Comprehensive Exam

    All students take a comprehensive examination, usually during their third year or beginning of their fourth year in the program, administered according to CEPSE department policy. This exam covers special education policy and law, assessment and intervention principles, current issues facing the field such as overrepresentation of minority students in certain disability categories or modes of delivery of special education services, research methodology and design, and the student's area(s) of specialization. Further information is provided in the Program Handbook.

  8. Residency Requirement

    Students must complete the residency requirement of at least 6 credits each semester (full-time study) for two consecutive semesters (summer semester can be counted) after your first registration for doctoral credit (this will typically be the first year in the program). All program requirements must be completed within five calendar years from the time that a student first enrolls. Credit will not be permitted for courses taken more than eight years prior to the granting of the degree.

  9. Annual Review

    All students are expected to engage in supervised scholarly activities and mentored teaching experiences that will prepare them for leadership positions in higher education or other public or private institutions. In an effort to ensure that students are making adequate progress towards meeting all of the program requirements and milestones, students submit each spring semester, beginning their second year in the program, a packet of materials for review. Eligibility for supplemental funding such as the College's Summer Research Fellowship or Dissertation Completion Fellowship or program travel funds is contingent on completion of the annual review. Further information is provided in the Program Handbook.