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Special Education Doctorate Degree (Ph.D.)

The doctoral program is designed to prepare students for faculty and leadership positions in colleges, universities, research institutes, or human service agencies. The program is competency based, with specific emphases 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, our doctoral students have opportunities to prepare and submit grant proposals and many of our students have received grants from the U.S. Department of Education. Expectations for college teaching and supervision include a two-step competency in college teaching under faculty direction.

Our doctoral students have numerous opportunities to publish throughout their program. They also present their work widely at state, regional, and national conferences. Such experiences provide them with strong professional portfolios that lead to faculty and research positions in leading programs across the country. 

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Note: GRE scores are required for all Ph.D. students.

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 intellectual disability.

The Low Incidence Program is designed to serve children, youth, and adults within the low incidence disability areas of severe disabilities (individuals who have intellectual disability, autism, multiple disabilities, and other students with extensive support needs) or visual disabilities (individuals with low vision or blindness).

Cross Disciplinary Collaboration

The Department of Special Education is closely associated with the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development, one of 12 national centers for research on intellectual disability 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.