Special Education, Ph.D.

The Ph.D. program in special education examines critical issues in special and inclusive education, and prepares our graduates to become advocates and change agents for full inclusion in policy and academic settings.

This program in the Department of Teaching & Leadership invites expansive thinking on critical educational issues as well as in-depth study. You will select a concentration in either Inclusive Educational Studies or Disability Studies and Policy, and then work with faculty to engage in cutting edge research in inclusive education and policy. Opportunities are available for conducting in-service seminars and collaborating with faculty members in research, teaching, and grant writing.

Syracuse University has a long tradition of leadership in the field of special education and is recognized nationally and internationally. Syracuse was among the first universities to bring attention to the educational needs of students with disabilities and to effectively develop and refine assessment and educational strategies for diverse learners. Syracuse faculty and students continue this important legacy of promoting the rights of students with disabilities.

Expertise in teaching and instruction is also developed with the department and with participation in the Future Professoriate Program. This includes orientations, year-round services for teaching assistants, and opportunities to co-teach with fellow doctoral students and department faculty, guest lecture, and independent instruction.

Our graduates hold prestigious leadership positions in special education and related fields, including careers in higher education, as researchers, government/policy specialists, public and private agency/organization directors, program developers, or as special education consultants and advocates. The majority of our graduates secure tenure track faculty positions at colleges and universities.

sara jo soldovieriI chose to pursue my Ph.D. in special education at Syracuse because as I was working in schools around the country, I saw a real lack of understanding from teachers of what research and best practice say regarding inclusive education of disabled students-particularly students with intellectual disabilities. This led me to develop a passion for teacher preparation and ensuring all teachers are prepared to educate ALL students. Post Ph.D. I plan to become a teacher preparation program professor where I can continue researching and supporting undergraduate pre-service teachers to become truly inclusive educators.

Recent student dissertations include:

  • Struggles of Korean Americans Labeled with Intellectual Disabilities to Claim Adult Status, Eun Young Jung
  • Opening the Doors: A Collaborative and Digital Exploration of Inclusive Secondary Classrooms, Kate MacLeod
  • Inclusive Education in Practice: District-Level Special Education Administrators’ Leadership, Chelsea Tracy-Bronson
  • The Tensions of Northern Imports: Disability and Inclusion in Kenyan Primary Education, Brent Elder
  • Blazing Trails, Being Us: A Narrative Inquiry with Five High School Students with Autism who Type to Communicate, Casey Woodfield
  • Implementation of School-wide Positive Behavior Supports in the Neoliberal Context in an Urban Elementary School, D.L. Adams
  • Trying Times: Disability, Activism, and Education in Samoa, 1970-1980, Juliann Anesi
  • Negotiating DSE Teaching Identity in Today’s Public Schools: Complexity, Camaraderie, & Subversion, Carrie Rood
  • Toward a Co-vivial Community: Hopes Found in the Friendship Among People with Intellectual Disability Labels, Maho Suzuki
  • Twenty-first Century Exclusion, Valarie Torrence
  • “Being Grown”: How Adolescent Girls with Disabilities Narrate Self-Determination and Transitions, Danielle Cowley
  • A Blueprint for Kindergarteners’ Educational Trajectories: The Power of Discursive Practices in Constructing Students’ Stories Based on Behaviors, Fernanda Orsati
  • The Impact of Standards-Based Reform on Special Education: An Exploration of Westvale Elementary School, Jessica Bacon

Program Contacts

Beth Ferri, Associate Dean for Research; Professor|315.443.1465
Beth Ferri
Jeanne Schmidt, Assistant to T&L Department Chair|315.443.1468
Jeanne Schmidt
Speranza Migliore, Assistant Director of Graduate Admissions and Recruitment|315.443.2505