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Program Structure

stu_blkPinkStudents can complete the Ed.D. in Special Education program in five years or less depending upon how many courses are taken a semester.

The following is a typical program of study over five years.

Year One | Portfolio Review

All students are conditionally admitted until they pass the portfolio review

In Year One of the program, all doctoral students in the L&I department (including students in the special education doctoral program) enroll in four foundational courses. These courses address fundamental competencies in psychological and cognitive theories, data analysis, and research methods and provide a foundation for more advanced coursework throughout the program.

  • Applied Educational Statistics
  • Research Methods in Education
  • Psychological Foundations
  • Cognitive Psychology

There are specified requirements for each course which are included in the students' qualifying portfolio. All students are conditionally admitted until they pass the portfolio review process. Once they pass the portfolio review, students are fully admitted into the L&I special education doctoral program.

See more on the Curriculum here >>

Years Two-Four | Special Education Core Courses and Practicum Experiences

Core Courses: In Years Two through Four of the program, students enroll in six special education core courses. These courses are designed to prepare higher education faculty with the competencies essential to conduct research and train K-12 special education teachers. This includes:

  1. understanding key special education federal mandates,
  2. current research and issues in the field,
  3. cultural, linguistic, and socioeconomic considerations,
  4. atypical learning theories and research,
  5. data-based decision making processes, and
  6. evidence-based practices in curriculum development.

Practicum Experiences: Students also complete three practicum experiences during this time. Each practicum will be conducted over one semester. The practicum experiences provide students with opportunities to enhance and apply pedagogical, research, and school consultation and collaboration competencies to prepare K-12 teachers for students with disabilities. In each practicum, the students will be matched with a mentor and follow an apprenticeship model.

The six special education courses, plus the three special education practicum experiences, comprise the major of the Ed.D. in Special Education.

Years Two-Five | Research Methodology and Elective Courses

Research Methodology: In Years Two through Five of the program, students will enroll in a minimum of three advanced research methodology courses (in addition to the two research courses in year one). These courses are designed to prepare students with the advanced research competencies needed to analyze and conduct research using a variety of measures and data analysis techniques. This methodological background is essential to the functioning of higher education faculty.

stu_smilesThe third advanced methods course will be selected in collaboration with the student’s faculty advisor and/or dissertation chairperson and will be relevant to his or her dissertation study. During this time, students will also have the opportunity to enroll in two L&I elective courses.

Elective Courses: The elective courses allow students the opportunity to enhance their program and deepen their knowledge of the social, emotional, cognitive, and research processes involved in teaching and learning.

Years Three-Five | Dissertation Courses

busk_stuIn Years Three through Five, students will complete four dissertation courses that culminate in a dissertation study that is original, independent, and has an applied focus on special education teacher education and/or learning outcomes for students with disabilities. After completing 30 units of coursework, students may enroll in the Proposal Development Seminar to help them prepare a prospectus for the dissertation study. Students will then select a faculty member to chair their dissertation committee and two additional faculty members for their committee whose expertise supports their research.

Under the guidance of the chairperson, students will prepare a dissertation proposal, which will be presented to the full committee during an oral dissertation proposal defense. Students advance to candidacy after completing 45 units of required coursework and submitting an approved dissertation proposal. The final dissertation will be presented to the full committee for approval during an oral dissertation final defense.