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PhD Special Education: Degree Requirements

Student must complete a minimum of 96 semester hours of graduate work beyond the bachelor’s degree or 64 semester hours beyond the master’s degree for a doctoral degree. The plan of study for each student is prepared in consultation with the faculty adviser assigned in the student's area of specialization. The plan of study must be approved by a faculty adviser. All students are required to complete the core curriculum, appropriate work in the areas of specialization, a research project and a doctoral dissertation.

Program Coordinator Heading link

College and Research Methodology Core Curriculum (24 credit hours) Heading link

The core curriculum introduces students to issues in the conduct of educational research and begins the process of building methodological skills. The courses are:

  • ED 504 Urban Contexts and Educational Research
  • ED 505 Introduction to Educational Research: Paradigms and Processes
  • ED 506 Introduction to Educational Research: Designs and Analyses
  • ED 502 Essentials of Qualitative Inquiry in Education
  • ED 503/EPSY 503 Essentials of Quantitative Inquiry in Education (Students may register under the ED or EPSY rubric.)

One additional 4 credit hour course on research methodology that must be approved by the faculty advisor.

Special Education Program Core Heading link

22 semester hours if a student has a master’s degree
54 semester hours without a master’s degree

Required courses in the area of concentration include:

  • SPED 564 Proseminar in Special Education

Three research seminars (i.e., SPED 592, Seminar on Theory and Research in Special Education)

Students may take their remaining courses within the Special Education area, in other areas of the College of Education, or in other departments of the university (e.g., Anthropology, Disability Studies, Psychology, Public Policy, Sociology, and Women’s Studies).

Research Project (6 semester hours)

All students in the doctoral program must work on a research project in collaboration with a faculty member, or a team of faculty members and students. Projects will focus on actual research problems in the student’s area of concentration. Each student will make a formal oral and/or written presentation of the project findings.

Preliminary Examination

The preliminary examination is taken after the required course work is complete. It consists of two parts:

  1. The comprehensive written portion is based on the student’s course work.
  2. The oral portion is based upon the student’s written dissertation proposal and is presented to a faculty committee.

Dissertation (12 semester hours)

A dissertation based on original research is required and must be defended before a faculty committee. The research must employ a theoretical framework and make use of the methods of inquiry appropriate to the problem investigated.

A student’s distribution of semester hour credits required for the doctoral degree will be as follows (these are minimum hours; students typically take more hours than the minimum):

Minimum hours with master’s degree Minimum hours without master’s degree
College Core and Research Methodology Curriculum 24 24
Specialization Requirement 22 54
Research Project 6 6
Dissertation 12 12
TOTAL 64 96