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Washington State University
College of Education

Special Education Ph.D.

Special Education PhD

The Department of Teaching and Learning, in the College of Education, at Washington State University offers a PhD in Special Education. The PhD program is valued by potential students, graduates, and institutions as rigorous, relevant, and innovative, offering superior quality professional preparation that produces exceptional and creative researchers and teachers with a focus on improving the lives of students with disabilities and their families. The PhD program emphasizes the generation, application, and translation of research that will enhance the field and improve the lives of those with disabilities. Graduates are prepared for academic and leadership positions in teaching, research, and service with a focus on equity and social justice for persons with disabilities.

Program Information

  • The research methods courses in the PhD program include the Carnegie Core: Epistemology, Principles of Research, Quantitative Research Methods, and Qualitative Research Methods (12 credits). The research core is required of all doctoral students in the College of Education and provides students with the advanced research skills and knowledge they will need in their future professional positions.
  • The Special Education required core courses in the PhD program include: Seminar in Disability Studies, Response to Intervention, Single Subject Research Design, Diversity Issues in Special Education, Social Development and School-Based Prevention and Intervention Practices, Universal Design for Learning and Assistive Technology, and Seminar in Quality Indicators for Research in Special Education (24 credits). Within these broad-based courses, students have the opportunity to focus on their areas of interest (e.g., Universal Design for Learning as applied to students with intellectual disabilities, autism, or K-12 populations, etc.; Research in Special Education as applied to K-12 settings, early childhood, students with behavior disorders, etc.).
  • The scholarship support course work includes an Academic Writing for Dissertation course and a Dissertation Preparation course (6 credits). PhD students are also provided with the opportunity to enroll in specialty courses taught by faculty (e.g., Autism, Transition, etc.).
  • PhD students complete two internships, one in research in which they obtain hands-on experience in research projects. The other internships is focused on teaching in higher education and involves syllabus preparation, effective teaching practices, and assessment/evaluation activities.
  • Students are supported and mentored throughout their program by faculty advisors and program committees. Dissertations on problems of practice in students’ areas of interest are encouraged.

Note: Students can access the doctoral program through interactive television on WSU campuses.