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Department of Special Education

Ranked as the #1 Special Education Program in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for more than a decade, our department has long been a leader both in research and practice. Our department ranks first in scholarly production and is a leader in equipping special educators to deliver high-quality educational experiences for students 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. We are committed to equipping students with diverse backgrounds and experiences to provide exceptional services and supports to people with disabilities and their families.

Our master’s and doctoral students receive strong funding through research grants, U.S. Department of Education federal training grants, scholarships, and other awards . Indeed, most of our graduate students are fully funded. Our master’s program graduates typically receive multiple offers of employment and our doctoral program graduates assume faculty and research positions in leading universities across the country.

Extraordinary opportunities to develop research and teaching skills await you in the Department of Special Education. Our graduate students participate in field experiences, contribute on research projects, collaborate with faculty on innovative initiatives, and participate in colloquia with experts across disciplines. Our students also have opportunities to publish articles and present widely at local, regional, and national conferences. Indeed, Peabody faculty, alumni, and students are responsible for one in five publications comprising the entire literature in the fields of intellectual disability and psychology. To learn more about what makes our department distinctive, click here. 

At Peabody, exciting next generation research is always underway. As a Peabody student, you will be involved in that research right from the start. Visit our faculty pages to learn about current research projects.

To learn more about our admissions information and funding support, contact Al Brady at or (615) 322-8195.


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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