Doctoral Program Development

group studyStudents admitted to doctoral programs in the Special Education program area will major in special education. Programs of study are developed collaboratively by the doctoral student and must be approved by the supervisory committee. The program of study consists of a minimum of 90 semester hours beyond the baccalaureate degree and must include required courses as described below.

Academic Major and Minor

With the approval of the supervisory committee, one or more minor fields may be chosen and included in the program of study. (A minor is not required.) Minor work may be completed in any school or department other than special education that is approved for master’s or doctoral degree programs as listed in the Graduate Catalog.

If a minor is chosen, the supervisory committee must include at least one person from the school or department representing the minor field.

Required Courses in the Special Education Program Area

Five seminars are required of all doctoral students in the Special Education program area. Each seminar is briefly described below.

  • Historical and Theoretical Foundations of Special Education
    This course addresses the historical, social, and political events and figures in the development of the field of special education and the major theories that have influenced the field.
  • Introduction to Field of Inquiry in Special Education
    This course provides an introduction to research methods commonly used in the field of special education, the conditions under which particular designs are employed, and approaches to the interpretation of data.
  • Trends in Special Education
    This course addresses current trends and issues in special education, including research, policy, and practice priorities at local, state, and federal levels.
  • Inquiry in Special Education: Analysis of the Literature
    This course addresses methods for reviewing and critiquing special education research literature using rigorous systematic review methods. Topics include developing and refining a research question, search resources and techniques, screening and selecting primary studies using explicit and reproducible criteria, information management, choosing a synthesis approach, and interpreting and communicating findings.
  • Inquiry in Special Education:  Proposal Development
    This course prepares the student to develop a sound research proposal.  Topics include use of research literature and theoretical frameworks to generate research questions and hypotheses, development of a conceptual framework, and design of the study.

College of Education Ph.D. and Ed.D. Research Requirements

All doctoral students in the College of Education are required to complete course work resulting in expertise in designing and conducting research. To meet this requirement, doctoral students must complete a minimum of 12 semester hours of coursework in research methodology. The courses will be selected from the two lists below. Substitutions and alternative courses must be approved by the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Technology.

  • Qualitative Methods
    • EDF 6475–Qualitative Foundations of Educational Research (4)
    • EDF 7483–Qualitative data collection (3) Prereq: EDF 6475
    • EDF 7479–Qualitative data analysis (3) Prereq: EDF 6475
    • EDF 7639–Research in Educational Sociology (3) Prereq: EDF 6475
  • Quantitative Methods
    • EDF 6403–Quantitative Foundations of Educational Research (6) OR,
      • EDF 6400–Quantitative Foundations in Educational Research: Overview (3), and
      • EDF 6402—Quantitative Foundations in Educational Research: Inferential Statistics (3).
    • EDF 6436–Theory of Measurement (4) Prereq: EDF 6403 or 6400 & 6402 o EDF 6471–Survey Design and Analysis in Educational Research (3) Prereq: EDF 6403 or 6400 & 6402
    • EDF 6481–Quantitative Research Methods in Education (4) Prereq: EDF 6403 or 6400 & 6402
    • EDF 7405–Advanced Quantitative Foundations of Educational Research (4); Prereq: EDF 6403 or 6400 & 6402
    • EDF 7491–Evaluation of Educational Products and Systems (3) Prereq: EDF 6403 or 6400 & 6402
    • EDF 7412–Structural Equation Models (3) Prereq: EDF 6403 or 6400 & 6402; and EDF 7405
    • EDF 7439–Item Response Theory (3) Prereq: EDF 6403 or 6400 & 6402; and EDF 6436
    • EDF 7474–Multilevel Models (3) Prereq: EDF 6403 or 6400 & 6402; and 7405
    • EDF 7432–Multivariate Analysis in Educational Research (3) Prereq: EDF 6403 or 6400 & 6402; and 7405

Program areas, schools, and supervisory committees have the discretion to require more than 12 semester hours. Courses used to meet these additional requirements are not subject to review by the College of Education Associate Dean for Graduate Studies.

Writing the Program Plan

All Ed.D. and Ph.D. program plans must contain the following sections when presented to the supervisory committee for approval.

  • Section I
    • Biographical Sketch
    • Professional Preparation
    • Professional Positions
    • Related Experiences
  • Section II: Vocational and Career Goals
  • Section III
    • Review of Previous Graduate Studies
    • Proposed Course of Study
    • Proposed Competency Experiences
  • Section IV: Timelines
  • Section V: Signature Page

First Year Review

The first year review of doctoral students takes place at the end of the second semester of full-time study. For part-time students, the review is conducted after they complete 12 to 18 hours of coursework. The review is designed to assess the student’s strengths, motivation, professionalism, and potential for achieving an in-depth knowledge of special education issues and a high level of competence in professional writing and speaking. The goal of this review is to assist students in making wise career decisions and to recommend specific courses or experiences, it any, that the student should undertake if he or she continues in our special education doctoral program.

The review is conducted by the student’s supervisory committee. If a committee has not been formalized, the School Director will select an ad hoc committee consisting of a tenured faculty member in the program area to serve as the review committee chair (possibly the student’s temporary advisor) and three additional faculty members.

The student will submit the following items to the review committee:

  • A vita or other documentation of professional accomplishments.
  • A 10 to 20 page paper (plus references) addressing an area of special education research produced in a doctoral seminar.
  • Evaluations by faculty or others who have had contact with the student during coursework or employment through evaluation forms.
  • A statement of career goals.

On the basis of its assessment of the student’s performance in the first year review, the review committee may indicate one of the following options:

  • The student has completed the review successfully, and the student may continue in the doctoral program without special contingencies.
  • The student has completed the review successfully, but with special contingencies (which will be specified in writing to the student by the review committee chair) such as: (a) successful completion of specific course work to address concerns or (b) successful completion of other professional experiences deemed necessary.
  • The review committee determines a need for significant contingencies that would require a written course of remediation acknowledged by the student and committee members. The student has another meeting with the committee (or chair) at an agreed upon date to evaluate progress toward completion of the written remediation plan.
  • The review committee determines a mismatch between the student’s career goals and the program offerings in special education, although the student showed good potential for doctoral study in another field, and the student is encouraged to apply for admission to a different degree program.
  • The review committee identifies substantial concerns in the student’s preparation for doctoral study and the committee discontinues the student from the program.