Special education Ph.D.
Become a leader in special education research and train future educators
As a Ph.D. student in the special education program, you'll receive the training to find solutions to problems that help individuals with disabilities learn and grow. The program’s rigorous coursework and faculty-guided experiences will prepare you for a leadership role in special education.
Rated #8 in the nation among special education graduate programs by U.S. News & World Report in 2017
Graduates with their doctorate in special education conduct research, teach in universities, and work in other educational settings in special education.
Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.) (69 credits)
Visit the College of Education and Human Development's Finance and Funding page for information on tuition.
Fellowships & awards
Submit your application materials by Dec. 1, and you’ll automatically be considered for Graduate School fellowships and departmental awards based on scholastic achievement. Notification of awards will be sent in March.
National Center for Leadership in Intensive Intervention (NCLii)
The National Center for Leadership in Intensive Intervention (NCLii), a new consortium funded by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), will prepare special education leaders to become experts in research on intensive intervention for students with disabilities who have persistent and severe academic (e.g., reading and math) and behavioral difficulties.
Contact: Frank Symons, associate dean for research and policy, College of Education and Human Development
"After working in schools for five years, I realized I wanted to contribute to research and train future educators. I decided to join the department after speaking with Dr. McMaster and discovering the program was ideal for helping me achieve my goals.”
Interests: Increasing efficiency and effectiveness of academic interventions, passing current research and best practice on to practitioners.
Work: Kyle worked five years as a nationally certified and Minnesota licensed school psychologist in Texas and Minnesota. Currently, he's a graduate research assistant on a grant developing data based instruction for writing and finding effective ways to train teachers to use it. Kyle's personal research focuses on the area of practice schedule manipulation in academic interventions.
Faculty & staff
Choose your area of emphasis in special education based on the faculty member whose research is most interesting to you.
Veronica FleuryAutism Spectrum Disorder licensure & M.Ed. coordinator
- Examine how core characteristics of ASD inhibit or promote students’ ability to participate in classroom activities
- Identify and develop instructional strategies to address early academic and social-communication difficulties for young children with ASD
- Support parents and educators use of evidence-based practices with high fidelity in home and school settings
Deaf/Hard of Hearing licensure & M.Ed. coordinator
- Developing and evaluating the effects of educational media in ASL on young deaf and hearing children's language and literacy skills
- Examining the portrayal of deafness in media and literature from a cultural perspective and it's effects on children's identity development
- Exploring alternative routes to literacy development, that meet the needs of visual learners, particularly deaf children
LeAnne JohnsonEarly childhood special education licensure & M.Ed. coordinator
firstname.lastname@example.org | Lab
- Motivating and engaging adults in the adoption and implementation of interventions that improve the quality and quantity of learning opportunities available to young children with challenging behavior
- Closing the research to practice gap and speeding the adoption of new innovations into practice by improving professional development systems
- Enhancing data driven,precision oriented, problem solving through new tools for monitoring children’s development and response to intervention
- Evaluating the effectiveness of interventions addressing the social and communication needs of young children with Autism and emotional/behavioral disorders
Jennifer McComasAssociate department chair, head emotional behavioral disorders licensure & M.Ed. program
- Functional analysis of problem behavior in educational and residential settings
- Basic behavioral processes maintaining desirable and undesirable behavior, such as schedules of reinforcement, stimulus control, and establishing operations
- Behavioral treatment of problem behavior based on concurrent schedules of reinforcement as well as antecedent stimuli
- Analysis of academic performance of students with behavior problems
- Skills and competencies that enable pre-school aged children to learn and participate in school and other settings
- Design, evaluation, and application of:
- Easy-to-use tools for describing children’s current language, literacy, and other important skills
- Interventions that support development of these skills, particularly in “non specialized” settings
- Design and improvement of programs – from classroom efforts to comprehensive community-wide efforts – that help children of all ages develop fully
Create conditions for successful response to intervention of academically diverse learners by:
- Promoting teachers’ use of data-based decision-making and evidence-based instruction
- Developing individualized interventions for students for whom generally effective instruction is not sufficient
Frank SymonsCEHD Associate Dean for Research and Policy
email@example.com | Lab
- Development, assessment, and treatment of severe problem behavior among children and adults with neurodevelopmental and emotional/behavioral disorders
- Bio-behavior analysis of self-injurious behavior
- Problem of pain among children and adults with significant cognitive impairments and associated developmental disabilities
- Rett syndrome - refining measurement approaches to improve understanding of the behavioral phenotype
Jason WolffAutism Spectrum Disorder certificate coordinator
firstname.lastname@example.org | Lab
- Early brain and behavioral development in children with autism spectrum disorder
- Restricted and repetitive behaviors associated with autism and other developmental disabilities
- Identifying neurodevelopmental moderators of response to early intervention
- Integrating neuroscience with special education research