Ph.D. Special Education

Ph.D. program in Special Education

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Special Note: The GRE test has been waived for the 2024 application cycle (Summer and Fall 2024 start).  

  • Application requirements: Online application, transcripts, minimum GPA of 3.0 (undergraduate and graduate), proof of English language proficiency, a Master's degree in Special Education or related field, GRE score (waived for Summer and Fall 2024 start), two letters of recommendation, and a personal statement.
  • International Students: Please visit this page for information regarding transcript evaluation requirements.
  • Deadline(s): December 1 for Summer or Fall start. The application and all supporting materials are due by the listed deadline.
  • Course Requirements: 20 courses (60 credits)
  • Typical Course Load: Fall (3 courses), Spring (3 courses), Summer (1-2 courses)
  • Time to Completion:  4-5 years depending on course loads and status (full-time versus part-time)
  • Alumni Current Positions: Graduates of the program include professors at universities, teacher trainers in school districts, and other educators vital to the field


Having the complex skills and knowledge to educate people with a broad range of abilities has never been more important. This doctoral program prepares students to assume faculty positions in universities and leadership positions at school districts where they train teachers in research-based practices in Special Education. 

Those enrolled in the 60-credit Ph.D. program work closely with innovative faculty mentors to learn how to conduct and evaluate advanced research in the field. They gain the sophisticated tools necessary for college teaching, grant writing, program administration, and writing for publication. 

Lehigh’s noted faculty in Special Education have expertise in such areas as autism, academic interventions for children with learning difficulties, ADHD, emotional/behavioral disorders, and applied behavior analysis. Alumni of the program include professors at universities, teacher trainers in school districts, and other educators vital to the field. 

The program has full-time and part-time options, and classes are held in the late afternoon or evening. This Ph.D. is geared toward the college graduate who holds a master’s degree in Special Education or a related area. Full-time doctoral students may engage in research activities for about 20 hours per week, supported with stipend and tuition funding.  In addition, they typically begin co-teaching with faculty in the second year of the program. 

Ph.D. candidates are required to complete a qualifying project to demonstrate their research skills and then take a comprehensive exam. Researching and writing a dissertation is the culmination of the program. 

There are opportunities for doctoral students to gain practical experience at Lehigh’s Autism Services Clinic, which works with young children using such proven methods as Applied Behavior Analysis, Pivotal Response Treatment, and Positive Behavior Support. 

Those seeking to apply to the Ph.D. program should complete the online application and provide official undergraduate and graduate transcripts. They must have a Master of Education in Special Education or a master’s in a related field. 

Prospective students should provide a personal statement of their career objectives and work experience in the field and two letters of recommendation with at least one from a faculty member of an accredited academic institution. They should submit their GRE test scores from within the last five years, and their TOEFL score, if applicable. 

The admission committee will use a holistic approach to review applications. We take into consideration the applicant's research interests, letters of recommendations, graduate academic performance, and GRE scores. The Special Education Program is committed to inclusion, diversity, and equal opportunity. We encourage applications from individuals who have a broad range of life experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds.



Doctoral Core (12 credits)
SCHP 496  Doctoral Seminar in School Psychology and/or SPED 490 Doctoral Seminar in Special Education 3
Research Core (18 credits)  
EDUC 410    Univariate Statistical Models 3
EDUC 408  Introduction to Statistics 3
EDUC 409 Analysis of Experimental Data 3
EDUC 461 Single-Subject Research Design 3
SCHP 473 Advanced Research Methods in Applied Psychology 1-3
SPED 495 Independent Study in Special Education  1-6
  Other courses with approval of adviser.    
Special Education Major Core (15 credits)  
  Choose from special education courses or independent studies in special interest areas with approval of adviser.     15
Related Areas (9 credits) 
EDUC 471  Diversity and Multicultural Perspectives 3
  Other courses with approval of adviser.   6
  Supervised mentored experiences such as college teaching, student teaching supervision, writing for publication, participation in research projects, presentations at national conferences, grant writing, or educational leadership in schools and community. 6
Course descriptions can be found in the course catalog.