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.
The Ph.D. in special education is a 90-credit hour residential program in which students take classes on the Bloomington campus. Doctoral students work closely with a faculty advisor who acts as a mentor and provides continuity throughout the doctoral program and an advisory committee that oversees each student’s Plan of Study (POS). All students create an individualized POS based on the credit distribution requirements listed in the Graduate Bulletin; however, students have freedom to select courses that reflect their evolving intellectual interests and career goals. Doctoral students in our program are also given hands-on opportunities to work in the field and conduct research through an early research inquiry experience and special education internship requirement.
Throughout the program, doctoral students also work towards the completion of a portfolio, which serves as the qualifying examination to enter doctoral candidacy and begin the doctoral dissertation. The portfolio forms a creative synthesis between professional growth and academic rigor to ensure quality outcomes. The portfolio also provides students with opportunities to develop their skills at their own pace, using different strategies to ensure that these tasks form an integrated part of their vision for their doctoral program. Although the portfolio consists of several different tasks, the main component is the completion of 10 portfolio tasks, which are listed below.
- Research Proposal
- Research Investigation
- Manuscript Submitted for Publication
- Course Preparation
- Product Development OR Grant/Contract
- Presentation at a State/Regional/National Conference
- Article Reviews
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.