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Department of Special Education

Ranked as the top-tier special education program in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for more than a decade, the department has long been a leader both in research and practice. The department ranks first in scholarly production among other departments at research universities in the United States, according to a new report by Academic Analytics.

With a reputation for teaching, conducting groundbreaking research, establishing innovative practices, and developing widely-used methods, we provide practitioners, researchers, parents, and policy-makers with information to act on behalf of children and youth with disabilities.

The mission of the Department of Special Education is to improve the lives of children and youth with disabilities through (a) the preparation of exceptionally competent teachers and researchers, (b) conducting research that informs and improves educational programs and behavioral interventions, and (c) leadership in professional associations and advocacy for persons with disabilities.

Because of the shortage of qualified special education professionals, most graduate students are fully funded through Department of Education grants. Our graduates typically receive multiple offers of employment in the geographic region of their choice upon graduation.

Extraordinary opportunities to develop your research skills await you in the Department of Special Education. Master's and doctoral students alike join in field experiences and research projects, collaborate with faculty and other students on important initiatives, participate in colloquia with experts from many disciplines, and supervise undergraduate students' field experiences. Many of our advanced students conduct research and disseminate their findings by writing articles for publication and presenting at local, regional, and national conferences. Indeed, according to a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, Peabody faculty, alumni, and students are responsible for one in five publications that comprise the entire literature in the field of mental retardation and psychology. At Peabody, exciting next generation research is always going on, and as a Peabody student you will be involved in that research right from the start. Here is just a small sampling of the kind of research projects that are currently under way in the Department of Special Education:

• Cooperative Learning and Social Skills
• Early Communication Interventions
• Educational Support of Children with Cochlear Implants
• Effective Instruction of Children with Autism
• Language Intervention
• National Research Center on Learning Disabilities
• Peer Assisted Learning
• Positive Behavior Support
• Preventing Conduct Disorders in Children's Social Behavior
• Providing Access to the Visual Environment
• Reading Comprehension Outcomes for Children with Disabilities
• Reading Needs of Struggling Readers in Late Elementary School
• Sibling Assessment Support and Intervention

For additional information, contact:

Department of Special Education
Box #228, Peabody College
Nashville, Tennessee 37203-5721
(615) 322-8150 (office)
(615) 343-1570 (fax)

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Department Facts

7 endowed chairs
30 full-time faculty


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Administrative Faculty


Joseph Wehby

Director of Graduate Studies

Robert Hodapp

Director of Undergraduate Studies

Andrea Capizzi

Special Education Teacher Education Director

Kimberly Paulsen

Administrative Staff

Administrative Officer

Paula Stephens

Administrative Assistant

LaRashia Grafton

Admissions Coordinator

Alfred Brady