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Special Education Doctorate Degree (Ph.D.)

The Ph.D. program is designed to prepare you for a position of leadership as a special educator in a school, college, university, research settings, or human service agencies. The program is competency based, with specific emphasis on research and teaching. An individually crafted program of study consists of core requirements and an individually designed series of courses and competencies.

In addition to engaging in research activities on topics of particular interest and importance, as a doctoral student you will also have the opportunity to prepare and submit student initiated federal grant proposal applications where a number of our doctoral students have received grants from the U.S. Department of Education.

You will also be encouraged to make presentations based on your graduate work at local, regional, and national conferences and make significant progress in the development of your professional portfolio before graduation. Expectations for college teaching and supervision include a two-step competency in college teaching under faculty direction.

Program Areas

The Early Childhood Program is designed to serve infants, toddlers, young children, and their families who deal with a wide range of developmental delays including cognitive, communication, social, adaptive behavior, and/or motor skills.

The High Incidence Program is designed to serve children and young adults with learning disabilities, behavior disorders, and mild/moderate mental retardation.

The Severe Disabilities Program is focused on research and leadership addressing children, youth, and adults who have intellectual disability, autism, multiple disabilities, and other students with significant support needs.

The Education of Students with Visual Impairments Program is open to individuals committed to the education of children and young adults who are blind/visually impaired.

Cross Disciplinary Collaboration

The Department of Special Education is closely associated with the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development, one of the 12 national centers for research on mental retardation and related aspects of human development. This relationship allows students to benefit from the many available resources and programs.

Additionally, the Department of Special Education offers you the opportunity to work cooperatively with other academic programs at Peabody and other schools at Vanderbilt. This option fosters the study of relevant issues, develops related competencies, and can lead to apprenticeships in appropriate positions.