Doctoral Program

Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Psychology, Special Education

The PhD program in Special Education is designed to prepare doctoral students for careers as academics, researchers, consultants, specialist practitioners, and leadership roles in special and inclusive education. Programs are highly individualized, depending upon the student's prior education, experience, and interests. The PhD program provides flexibility for the student in terms of course work, and the opportunity to work with a faculty member. Applicants must secure a supervisor prior to submitting an application to the program.

Entrance Requirements

Applicants applying for the Doctoral Program in Special Education must:

  1. have obtained a Master's degree in a relevant field (e.g., education, psychology, linguistics, social work, rehabilitation medicine). Applicants with insufficient background in learning and educational research may be required to take additional courses;
  2. secure a supervisor before being accepted to the PhD program. Applicants are advised to contact potential supervisors 3-6 months prior to the application deadline;
  3. provide a statement of intent answering the following three questions:
    a. How have your professional experiences prepared you for a doctoral program that specializes in special education?
    b. How have your previous research experiences prepared you for advanced research?
    c. What research would you like to undertake during your doctoral degree and which identified faculty member has agreed to consider taking you on for supervision should you meet all the admission requirements and get an offer of admission.

Applicants are NOT required to complete the GRE for admission purposes.

Submission Dates

Applications are accepted every year and must be submitted by December 1 for July or September start. Applicants must secure a supervisor prior to submitting an application to the program.

Program Requirements

Students in the doctoral program must complete 15 course credits, pass the oral candidacy exam, and a dissertation.

Required Core Course

EDPY 620 Advanced Seminar in Special Education

Elective Course Credits

In addition to the one required course listed above, students must complete at least four 3-credit courses related to their area of specialization.

Oral Candidacy Examination

The Candidacy Examination occurs once all course work is completed, and within three years of the start of the PhD program. The Candidacy Examination is an oral examination, which is primarily intended to assess the student's ability to conduct independent research.


Students must successfully complete and defend a dissertation on an approved research topic developed in consultation with the student's supervisor. The scope and quality of the dissertation must represent an advance in knowledge of the candidate's field of study and should be appropriate to form the basis for at least one refereed journal publication describing the methodology and results of the research.