Ph.D. in Special Education

The Special Education Ph.D. program prepares graduates for academic and leadership positions in research, teaching and service with a focus on integrated coursework, internships, professional collaborations and individual/group research experiences. The program is rigorous, relevant and innovative, offering superior professional preparation that produces exceptional and creative researchers and teachers with a focus on improving the lives of students with disabilities and their families.

Students have the opportunity to work with and be mentored by leading researchers in the field and become involved in a variety of research experiences in schools, communities and beyond. The program includes a research and a specialization core, providing the opportunity to focus on a student’s special interests.

Program highlights

  • Individualized research focus
  • Collaboration with faculty and other graduate students on all four WSU campuses in research, teaching, service and professional activities
  • Opportunities to work with nationally and internationally recognized faculty in specific areas of interest, such as autism spectrum disorders, Universal Design for Learning, augmented reality, assistive technology, early childhood, transition, intellectual disabilities, emotional/behavioral disabilities, learning disabilities, reading/writing disabilities, multi-tiered systems of support, and diversity and multicultural education.
  • Potential partnerships with schools, communities, faculty and other graduate students
  • Research and teaching internships with faculty mentors


Students completing the program and degree will have:

  • The knowledge, skills, and experiences in special education that are desired by higher education and teacher education institutions, as well as other professional agencies and organizations
  • The ability to design curriculum and coursework, and teach undergraduate and graduate courses
  • The ability to implement research that will improve the lives of students with disabilities and their families

Application requirements

If you want to conduct research to positively impact the field of special education and improve the lives of students with disabilities and their families, we encourage you to apply. Strong applicants will have:

  • A graduate degree in special education or related field with a GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale
  • K-12 experience (preferred)
  • Demonstrated contributions to schools and communities

The program admits students each fall. The priority application deadline is December 1. After that date, applications are reviewed on a space-available basis.

To apply, submit an online application to the Graduate School, including:

  • A letter of intent
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • A writing sample
  • GRE scores less than seven years old

For more information contact Jennifer Gallagher at or 360-546-9075