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Scholarship Opportunities

Preparing Leaders in Education, Disability, and Juvenile Justice (PLEDJJ) Scholarship Heading link

Due March 1, 2022

Preparing Leaders in Education, Disability, and Juvenile Justice (PLEDJJ) is a cross-university doctoral training program to prepare special education faculty members with dual expertise in special education and the juvenile justice system. Program graduates will be prepared to address the current, national shortage of special education faculty with an emphasis on research and teacher preparation.

PLEDJJI scholarships cover tuition, university fees, and provide a stipend of $32,000 per year. In addition, PLEDJJ scholars will participate in a cross-university collaboration that will allow them to draw on the expertise of leading researchers in juvenile justice special education. These activities will also assist scholars in developing national contacts that are essential for fostering successful careers in higher education. During the four year program, project scholars will complete comprehensive coursework, residencies in research, and participate in collaborative network activities designed to prepare them to be successful special education scholars.

The program draws on the outstanding resources at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Arizona State University, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, longstanding partnerships with Chicago Public Schools, and federal resources such as funded National Centers.

Learn more about this scholarship opportunity and the PhD program on the program webpage. Scholarship application is due by March 1, 2022.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Have a Master’s Degree in special education or related field
  • Experience teaching students with disabilities within the juvenile justice system or students at-risk for involvement with law enforcement
  • US Citizen or Permanent Resident

Application Process

Applicants must complete the PLEDJJ application by March 1, 2022. The application includes a series of essays focused on your professional experiences related to working with students with disabilities currently within juvenile justice settings or at-risk for involvement with law enforcement. In addition, the essays prompt applicants to describe their future goals and why UIC represents the best match for doctoral studies. Complete applications include:

  • Completed PLEDJJ Scholarship application
  • Goal Statements
  • Professional Resume

In addition, applicants will interview with UIC faculty. For the interview, prospective scholars should bring their unofficial transcripts showing undergraduate and graduate degrees.

PLEDJJ Scholarship Information Sessions

Information sessions will be held on the following dates via zoom at 5pm. Please complete the form at the link below to register. Registrants will receive a link with meeting information prior to the session.

  • Tuesday, December 14, 2021
  • Thursday, January 13, 2022
  • Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Apply for PLEDJJ

Project SURGE Heading link

Applications for Project SURGE are currently closed.

Project SURGE (Special education Urban Research for Greater Equity) builds on an existing doctoral program at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) to prepare six doctoral students from underrepresented groups to develop culturally responsive research to serve children and youth with disabilities with intensive support needs in urban environments. This interdisciplinary program will be guided by the following four competency areas: (a) special education policy processes and analysis, (b) special education pedagogy and program design, and teacher research in urban settings, (c) research methodologies to conduct sustainable interventions to underrepresented populations in under-resourced schools, and (d) collaboration with stakeholders (e.g. families, community entities, policy makers and other researchers). UIC is a Minority Serving Institution and a Research 1 university, making it a unique context for such preparation. Proven approaches will be used to recruit and retain students from underrepresented groups such as a cohort model that allows for doctoral scholars to move together through coursework.


  • Master’s Degree
  • Minimum GPA of 3.5
  • Undergraduate or graduate degree must include a major in special education
  • Priorty will be given to applicants who have a minimum of two years of special education teaching experience.
  • Accepted students must agree to a service obligation, a federal mandate that requires scholarship recipients to remain in the field for two years for every year of support.