Jun 15, 2024  
Graduate Record 2018-2019 
Graduate Record 2018-2019 [ARCHIVED RECORD]

Special Education (PhD)

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Doctor of Philosophy in Education - Special Education

Doctoral study in special education at the University of Virginia Curry School of Education allows students to focus on one of two areas—high-incidence disabilities or gifted education.  The program provides students a unique opportunity to develop skills needed for success as teacher educators, researchers, and scholars in the field of education. In addition to the usual coursework, doctoral students work closely with faculty members on research projects, college teaching, support of professional organizations, and other activities that will be important parts of their subsequent professional careers. Graduates of the doctoral program in special education at U.Va. have become eminent scholars and leaders of professional organizations.

Goals of the Ph.D. in Special Education Program

Students who pursue advanced studies in Special Education generally have one of two settings in mind for employment, one a university or college setting, the other a research-and-development center, agency, or organization. The Ph.D. program includes coursework, a research apprenticeship, and practical experiences to prepare graduates to produce original research that contributes to the knowledge base in special education and to teacher education in general; it also prepares graduates to provide effective leadership in this area. For those who plan to work in colleges and universities, the Ph.D. program additionally prepares graduates to educate special education professionals with evidence-based practice as the base.

Core Requirements

A minimum of 72 hours of coursework is required for the PhD. in Special Education. This includes 24 hours of Special Education core courses or 12 hours of core courses and 12 hours of courses in an optional area of emphasis.

Possible Core Courses

  • EDIS 8821 Proseminar for Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education
  • EDIS 8850 Seminar in Special Education
  • EDLF 7390 Differentiated Instruction
  • EDIS 8855 Education and Diversity
  • EDIS 8090 Teacher Education and Diverse Populations

Research Requirements

A minimum of 24 semester hours of core coursework is required. Required research courses include:

  • EDIS 7852 Reading the Research
  • EDLF 7300 Foundations of Educational Research
  • EDLF 5330 Educational Statistics - Stat I
  • EDLF 7404 Qualitative Analysis
  • EDLF 7420 Experimental Design - Stat II

Other Requirements

Research mentorship

A minimum of 12 semester hours of research mentorship must be completed.

Preliminary Examination

Completed after the first year of full-time coursework.

Qualifying paper/Comprehensive Examination

Completed after the second year of full-time coursework.


A minimum of 12 credits hours must be completed.

Culminating Experience

PhD students in Special Education must successful design, implement and defend the dissertation project in accordance with the Curry Dissertation manual.