Ph.D. in Special Education

A woman at a whiteboard smiling.

“I appreciate the creative solutions that faculty commit to building community, collaboration and inclusion throughout the program.”

- Amber Brown Ruiz, Ph.D. ’21 (anticipated)

he Ph.D. in special education is designed to prepare researchers who are ready to assume leadership positions at universities, research centers, state departments of education, or other educational and governmental institutions in the field of special education.

Emphasis in this program is placed on developing in-depth knowledge about research, evidence-based practice, equity and inclusion, personnel development, and critical issues and policies affecting those with disabilities, their families and the professionals who serve them.

The program is designed to provide a solid research foundation, broad theoretical perspectives and structured opportunities to develop expertise in research, teaching and policy/service.

The conceptual framework for the Ph.D. program is PRACTICE, which stands for Practice, Research, and Academic Coursework in Teaching, Implementation and Community Engagement.

Grounded in core knowledge through focused coursework and an emphasis on both “learning” and “doing,” doctoral students are mentored by senior faculty who are engaged in school-based research and dissemination via research internships, preservice and inservice educator development via teaching internships, and the large-scale transfer of learning and development of 21st century skills via policy/service internships.

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How to apply: Graduate application
Semester of entry: Summer or fall
Application deadline: Jan. 15
Late part-time applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis
Additional materials:
Concentration handbook [PDF]
VCU School of Education Graduate Assistantship Application
Faculty listing: Counseling and Special Education
Faculty areas of interest: Research areas

Resources and Checklists

Application checklist [PDF]



The VCU Holmes Scholars Program is a selective program that provides accepted doctoral students from historically underrepresented groups with resources and professional development to best position them for tenure track faculty positions in high (R2) and very high (R1) research universities. Our cross-disciplinary scholars create a network that leverages the collective and individual strengths of each member to maximize their VCU School of Education program. Learn more about how we live our values through the Holmes program!

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