Special Education, Ph.D.

The Special Education doctoral program requires a minimum of 90 graduate credits beyond the undergraduate degree, and 9-24 credits of dissertation work. Students must enroll full time in graduate study. In consultation with an advisor, each doctoral student identified a core sequence of courses in their concentration area, as well as courses across the School of Education and other departments at Syracuse University.

Other Requirements

  • 12-15 credits in research methodology or other scholarly inquiry. Recommended sequences have either a qualitative or quantitative research emphasis.
  • Research apprenticeship, typically in the context of a required or elective course or as an independent study with the student’s advisor. This mentored research experience often leads to a professional co-authored publication.
  • Doctoral Qualifying Exam.
  • Dissertation proposal, writing, submission, and defense (within 5 years of exam).


Inclusive Educational Studies
This concentration has a focus on effective and innovative inclusive practice and the preparation of teachers and support personnel to teach in inclusive settings. You’ll be prepared for a variety of professional roles including developing, implementing and evaluating model inclusive programs; training future teachers and support personnel in best practices for inclusive education; and conducting basic and applied research that focuses on inclusive practice. Coursework areas may include:

  • Collaboration/Cooperation in Inclusive Schools
  • Literacy, Disability and Inclusion
  • Psychoeducational Evaluation and Planning
  • Differentiating Instruction
  • Significant Disabilities: Shifts in Paradigms and Practices
  • Perspectives on Learning Disabilities

Students will also have the opportunity to be directly involved in practicum settings, including field supervision of undergraduate and master’s students, creating and presenting professional development programs with faculty, internships at local schools and agencies, and collaborative work on faculty grants, research, and publications.

Disability Studies and Policy
This concentration is designed to provide students with intensive training in both policy studies and critical special education practice. Disability Studies applies social, cultural, historical, and philosophical perspectives to the study of disability in society. This concentration is designed to help students understand and work to overcome the barriers to full participation of people with disabilities in the community and society. Consistent with the Syracuse tradition, this concentration stands at the forefront of change and new ways of thinking about and accommodating people with disabilities. Coursework areas may include:

  • Critical Issues in Disability and Inclusion
  • Social Policy and Disability
  • Representation of Disability
  • Federal Policy and Local Practice in Special Education
  • Gender, Disability and Sexuality
  • Race and Disability

Faculty also offer independent study opportunities to advanced students to enable them to concentrate on a specific policy issue or topic.

More information on academic requirements available in the Syracuse University Course Catalog.