Ph.D in Special Education

Special Education

Ph.D. in Special Education

Conduct cutting-edge research while gaining experience in classroom teaching in higher education.

This dynamic program will allow you to pursue study based on your personal interests and goals. Exploring theory and research across a broad range of possible topics, you’ll work closely with a warm and diverse faculty whose expertise includes:

  • Early childhood special education
  • Emotional/behavioral disabilities and systems of care
  • Intervention perspectives in Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Transition to adulthood
  • Teacher preparation
  • Learning disabilities (e.g., dyslexia), reading interventions, and English learners with disabilities
  • Application Deadline
    FallJan 15Dec 1
  • Admissions Requirements
    • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
    • Minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75 out of 4.00
    • Completed online application that includes:
      • Transcripts
      • Personal Statement
      • 2 Letters of Recommendation
      • GRE Scores:
        • Required for domestic students
        • Required for international students
      • Resume:
        • Not required for domestic students
        • Required for international students
      • TOEFL score from last two years*

      *International students only

    Learn more about specific admissions requirements

  • Degree Requirements
  • Financial Aid
    • Learn about a variety of fellowships and travel awards that are available to graduate students.
    • Visit Student Central for information about financial assistance.
    • Consult your employer about the availability of tuition reimbursement or tuition assistance programs.
    • Active duty military, veterans, and military families should visit the Center for Veteran and Military Students to take full advantage of available financial assistance and educational benefits.
  • Program Format

    The Special Education Program at Indiana University follows an inquiry-driven approach. Students are encouraged to explore diverse theoretical positions that surround special education practices, research, and theory development. Pursuing a doctorate in this program should therefore be thought of as an ongoing process of discovery, a process that is mentored by faculty advisors, committee members, and course instructors who share in student's intellectual growth through ongoing discussion, feedback, and collaborative exploration of ideas.

    Portfolio Tasks

    1. Research Proposal
    2. Research Investigation
    3. Manuscript Submitted for Publication
    4. Course Preparation
    5. Supervision
    6. Product Development
    7. Grant or Contract
    8. Inservice/consultation
    9. Presentation at a State/Regional/National Conference
    10. Article Reviews
    11. Service

    Funding Opportunities

    A variety of funded assistantships are available in the School of Education.


    An assistantship or fellowship gives you an opportunity to earn a stipend for part-time teaching or research while you earn your graduate degree. It’s also an excellent professional development opportunity. Students who submit applications by the deadlines for fall entrance will be automatically considered for departmental assistantships and fellowships.

    Associate instructor positions

    Students appointed as associate instructors teach three 3-credit undergraduate Special Education courses (or equivalent) per year . These appointments include reduction in tuition fees as well as benefits. More information can be obtained from School of Education Graduate Studies. In addition, doctoral students who are interested in pursuing faculty positions can prepare by teaching and experiencing faculty life through IU’s Future Faculty Teaching Fellowships program. This unique program gives selected candidates an opportunity to teach for an entire academic year at Butler University, IUPUI, or one of IU’s regional campuses. However, because of the many teaching opportunities in our large undergraduate program, the majority of the doctoral students are assigned teaching appointments within the special education program. Please contact the Ph.D. coordinator for further information.

    Work in Our Research Centers and Institutes

    Students’ studies and research interests may align with work going on at our centers and institutes. These centers and institutes post assistantships or hourly student employment opportunities as they become available.

    Work with Faculty in Special Education

    Special Education faculty are actively involved in research and training projects. Potential students are encouraged to consult with individual faculty members to inquire about possibilities to work with them. Paid assistantships are available through some faculty-sponsored grants, as are unpaid positions that could provide valuable research experience.

The Special Education team. Back row: Assistant Professor Kelly Williams, Associate Professor Theresa Ochoa, Administrative Assistant Aimee Polk, Associate Professor Hannah Schertz, Associate Professor Ana Maria Brannan, Professor Gretchen Butera, Professor Jeff Anderson. Front row: Associate Professor Derek Nord, Clinical Assistant Professor Tina O'Neal, Assistant Professor Sarah Hurwitz

As a doctoral student, you’ll teach in undergraduate classes and supervise field placements and student teaching. Students also have many opportunities to engage in university and professional service while working with faculty mentors.

You will develop a unique professional identity through the program, leading to a range of career choices. Our graduates go on to teach at universities or continue to post-docs, research institutes, community agencies, and government entities.

Program minors have also allowed our graduates to study in numerous other disciplines offered at Indiana University, such as public health, statistics psychology, inquiry and technology.

The program is closely associated with the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community, allowing students to benefit from its many projects and resources.

Financial Support

While not all of our students enter the Ph.D. program with funding, by the end of the first year, every student looking for funding to support program costs has found it. This has included both teaching and research assistantships, as well as working in research and development centers.