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Leadership Preparation, Flexible Options

Prepare for creative leadership in a rapidly evolving educational landscape. UNC offers a top-ranked program that brings together diverse graduate students and education professionals from all over the world. UNC ranks fifth nationally in teacher candidate graduates and is designated as the primary institution for undergraduate and graduate teacher education in Colorado. We're also Colorado’s top-ranked university for online graduate programs in education, and one of the top 10 in the nation.

Our flexible doctoral program meets the needs of working professionals: Earn your PhD in a face-to-face learning environment on campus, or through our affordable online program. Whether you study on-campus or online, you’ll work closely with nationally-recognized faculty who bring extensive research experience and expertise in virtually every area of special education, as well as have numerous opportunities to work beyond the classroom via externships, research grants and graduate assistantships.

Degree Details

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Degree Options

The Ph.D. in Special Education is a flexible doctoral program with provisions for individual planning to prepare stewards of the discipline of special education for positions of leadership in public and private schools and for colleges, universities, agencies, businesses and government entities. Major emphases are internally flexible and may be established to fit a variety of interests in the field of special education and gifts and talents. Graduates develop leadership knowledge and skills in exceptionalities related to six major themes: theory, pedagogy, research methodology, evidence-based practice, public policy/advocacy, and collaboration. The program is designed to prepare students for creative leadership in a rapidly changing world that is experiencing increasing cultural diversity, curriculum and structural reforms in schools and pedagogical innovations across the educational spectrum.

Degree Requirements

Minor Option

Special Education Doctoral Minor

A Doctoral Minor in Special Education is available to students in any UNC doctoral program with the approval of their doctoral program advisor. The intent of this program is to encourage doctoral students throughout the University to increase and expand their understanding of the field of special education and disability issues. Completion of the minor will be noted in the student's transcripts as Minor in Special Education.

Degree Requirements

Related Programs

Your Future in Special Education

Special education is a growing field and skilled leaders are in high demand. At UNC, you’ll have valuable opportunities to gain leadership experience, working directly in the community and alongside expert faculty who are noted researchers in diverse areas of special education.

Consider UNC’s Ph.D. in Special Education if you:

  • Want to make a difference in the lives of infants, children and youth with disabilities
  • Intend to pursue a leadership role in elementary or secondary schools, or teach special education at the university level
  • Need a flexible graduate program you can complete while continuing your career

You’ll learn:

  • Cutting-edge theory and evidence-based practice related to special education
  • Skills to effectively collaborate with students, families, educators and community members in P-12 and higher education
  • Methodology to conduct, analyze and apply research in special education
  • How to advance special education policy through regional and national discourse

Sample courses:

  • Law of Exceptionalities
  • Preparing Teachers of Students with Exceptionalities
  • Research in Exceptionalities
  • Issues and Trends in Exceptionalities
  • Grant Writing Seminar
  • Advanced Doctoral Seminar

Beyond the Classroom

Prepare to train the next generation of special education teachers and conduct ground-breaking research. With a growing number of students who have special educational needs, schools throughout the United States and around the world need effective leaders who can create positive change through evidence-based practice.

Where can your degree take you?

With a doctoral degree in special education from UNC, you’ll be prepared to assume leadership positions in colleges, universities, agencies, businesses, government entities and public/private schools. You can also publish your research work in professional journals and hold leadership positions in professional organizations.

Ready for what's next? Here's what you need to know.

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Still not completely sold? We understand. Here's more information on costs and funding and how to apply.

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