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Special Education, Ph.D.

The Department of Special Education (EDSP) offers a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree which is designed to prepare individuals to conduct and disseminate research and prepare future teachers in special education. U.S. News and World Report has consistently ranked the EDSP program as one of the nation's leading programs in personnel preparation. Students accepted into the PhD program are prepared to assume faculty positions at research universities or leadership positions in state and local education agencies, policy organizations, or the federal government. The program is designed to:

Prepare highly qualified scholars and researchers in the field of special education

Prepare highly qualified teacher educators in the field of special education who can prepare personnel in the field of special education

Prepare leaders, advocates, and policy developers who will make an impact upon the education and lives of individuals with disabilities and their families. 

Admission Requirements

Minimum requirements for admission to the doctoral program include:

  1. A Master's degree or equivalent academic coursework in Special Education or a related area from an accredited institution;
  2. A grade point average of 3.0 or better (based on a 4.0 system) from an accredited undergraduate institution;
  3. A grade point of 3.5 or better in previous graduate coursework;
  4. Two (2) years of research or work experience with exceptional populations;
  5. Three (3) letters of recommendation from individuals who have direct knowledge of the applicant's academic capabilities, work experience, and professional characteristics;
  6. A statement of academic and research goals including a description of the applicant's previous background, preparation, intended area of study, research interests, and plans for future employment;
  7. Evidence of writing skills via the statement of academic and research goals.
  8. For international applicants, minimum TOEFL scores of 100 are required.

For more information visit the graduate admission requirements webpage. Select an area of interest from the various offerings in the College of Education to determine the admission requirements and deadlines.  If you are unsure of your area of interest you may request information by submitting an Inquiry Form.  

MA/PhD Deadlines:
*Fall Domestic/International (Preferred): December 1 (for PhD funding, apply by the preferred deadline)
*Fall Domestic/International: (Final) February 1

Deadlines for receipt of Ph.D. application materials are as follows:

  • Application materials for fall admission into the Ph.D. program are due December 1 when reviews will begin.
  • No applications will be reviewed after February 15th.
  • *The program does not admit students in spring semester.
  • For further information regarding admissions please review the Special Education Doctoral Program Handbook

Please refer to the Guide to Applying for instructions on how to apply for graduate admission. If you have questions or concerns, we ask you to first review our list of Frequently Asked Questions.   International applicants should visit the International admissions webpage for additional information.  For questions about the application process, or to check on the completion of your application please contact:

Judy Foster, Coordinator of Graduate Admissions
Office of Student Services, College of Education
(301) 405-2359                  

After you apply for graduate admission you may check your application status by logging into the online graduate application using your user name and password.  Graduate faculty in the Academic Department you applied to will review your completed application for graduate admission.  Questions regarding application reviews and decision recommendations should be directed to Department of Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education (CHSE).  Please contact:

Carol Scott, Coordinator of Graduate Studies
Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education
(301) 405-8384

Please contact the Office of Student Services,, or (301) 405-2364.

Academic advisement for graduate students is provided by the graduate faculty in the Department of Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education (CHSE).   For advising information, please contact the Coordinator of Graduate Studies, Carol Scott at (301) 405-8384 or

Visit the College of Education Scholarship opportunities webpage. 

Visit the Graduate School Fellowship and Graduate Assistantship web page for additional funding opportunities 

For information about other student financial aid, review the Office of the Student Financial Aid website.


The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree Special Education prepares researchers, teacher educators, and leaders who will advance the education of children and adults with disabilities. The program curriculum requires a minimum of 60 post-Master’s credits. The program is intended for full time students.

Required Coursework

The 60 credit hours for the PhD are organized into five areas (See Tables 1, 2A, 2B).

The areas are:

1. Required Courses in Special Education (15 credits)

2. Required Courses in Research Methodology & Design (15 credits)

3. Elective Area (15 credits)

4. Advancement to Candidacy (minimum 3 credits)

5. Dissertation Research (minimum 12 credits)

Special Education Coursework: Five courses are required in special education content. These courses address issues and trends, policies, current research and practice, theory and technological advancements associated with the education of individual disabilities. Doctoral candidates build their knowledge and skills associated with research (e.g., theory and design), teaching at the college level, and leadership (e.g., policy, instruction, and research to practice).


3 EDSP 600: Issues and Trends in Educating Individuals with Disabilities (Fall)

3 EDSP 675: Legal and Policy Issues for Individuals with Disabilities (Spring)

3 EDSP 798X:Seminar in Special Education: College Teaching (Fall)

3 EDSP 670: Single Subject Research Designs

3 EDSP 872: Theory and Empirical Design in Educational Research (Spring)

3 EDSP 888: Research Apprenticeship in Special Education

Research Methodology and Design Coursework: Doctoral candidates will take five courses that are intended to make them familiar with a variety of research methods and design. Note that students must have successfully completed EDMS 645 Quantitative Research Methods I or an equivalent introductory quantitative research methods course. (For a description of this course go to Graduate Catalogue at



3 EDMS 646: Quantitative Research Methods II or Equivalent

3 EDMS 651: Applied Multiple Regression Analysis

3 Qualitative or Mixed Methods Course (e.g., EDSP 671: Qualitative Methods in Special Education EDCI/EDPS Seminar in Mixed Methods)

3 Intermediate Qualitative or Quantities Methods Course (e.g., EDMS 655)

Elective Area Courses: Doctoral students will, with their advisor, identify a sequence of courses and experiences to advance their knowledge and experience in an area of specialization.

15 Courses to be determined by doctoral candidate and advisor. See Table 2A, 2B for example elective areas.

Advancement to Candidacy: After completing all coursework, the doctoral candidate enrolls in EDSP 898 Pre-Candidacy Research (3 credits minimum). During this time, the student prepares items for the Comprehensive Portfolio Review (see Section 4 for additional information). The Portfolio is designed to ensure that doctoral students have attained specific knowledge and skills as identified in the Doctoral Graduate Outcomes Assessment)=. The Comprehensive Portfolio is required in lieu of comprehensive exams and upon a successful review by the EDSP Graduate Committee, the student Advances to Candidacy to work on dissertation research. A student will enroll in EDSP 898 until the Graduate Committee determines that he or she has passed the review successfully.

All required doctoral coursework and credits and advancement to candidacy must be completed within 5 years after acceptance into the doctoral program.

Credits 3-8 EDSP 898: Pre-Candidacy Research

Dissertation Research. Following successful completion of the Comprehensive Portfolio Review, students will enroll in EDSP 899 to work on dissertation research. There will be two major benchmarks: Dissertation Proposal and completion of the dissertation research and completion of Oral Examination. Completion of the dissertation must occur within 4 years after advancing to candidacy.

Once a student is Advanced to Candidacy by the Graduate School, he or she is automatically registered each fall and spring for 6-credits of EDSP 899 (PostCandidacy or Continuous Registration). The student must complete all requirements for the PhD within 4 years after advancing to candidacy.


12 EDSP 899: Doctoral Dissertation

Dr. Gulnoza Yakubova, Admissions Director (

Carol Scott, Coordinator (

Academic deadlines are provided by the Office of the Registrar for the academic year. Students should refer to the deadlines listed in Important Dates  prior to the beginning of the degree completion semester.  

Students should check with their Department or Program for any deadlines it may have.  Please contact:

Carol Scott, Coordinator of Graduate Studies
Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education
(301) 405-8384



Visit the Department of Counseling, High Education and Special Education program handbooks and forms page.

The Graduate Student Life Handbook provides information on academics, campus resources, finances, health, job opportunities, and information on how to get involved as a graduate student. 


Graduate students in the College of Education are responsible for meeting University and the Graduate School policy, and for meeting Program requirements.   The Graduate Catalog  is the official listing of Policies governing graduate education at the University of Maryland.  The schedule adjustment policy is available from the Office of the Registrar and provides information on adding and dropping courses, penalties, and refund schedules.


Graduate students are required to submit various forms at specific points in the program and as part of the degree clearance process.  Please refer to Steps Toward Graduation to determine the steps and forms that are required.  The forms for use by graduate students are available here. 


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