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University of Pittsburgh    
2023-2024 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  Jul 18, 2024
2023-2024 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Special Education, PhD

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*PhD students admitted prior to Fall 2023 are eligible to follow these revised requirements to qualify for graduation.*

The goal of the Special Education PhD degree is the preparation of leadership personnel to assume academic faculty positions at the university level. The focus of preparation for the PhD program is on teaching graduate and undergraduate courses, mentoring graduate students, developing a research agenda that will result in funded and published research and translating research outcomes for the improvement of educational and related service programs for children and youth with disabilities. PhD candidates are mentored by a faculty adviser who shares their research interests and are supported by graduate faculty in Special Education. Students may focus their studies in one or more of the following areas: applied behavior analysis, autism, emotional and behavior disorders, learning disabilities, or severe disabilities. The PhD program is writing, and research-intensive and PhD candidates will have multiple opportunities to learn and participate in the review of research literature, the preparation and submission of research grant proposals, the design and implementation of research studies, and the preparation and dissemination of research reports. The PHD program has a minimum of 90 credits of course work which includes dissertation research. Also, the PhD program requires, at minimum, on full-time (9 credits) semester.

For additional degree requirement information, refer to the School of Education section on Doctoral Degree Requirements.

Special Education Major Field (24 credits minimum)


  • 18 credits minimum at the 3000-level or equivalent
  • 15 credits minimum at the University of Pittsburgh

Possible classes:

  • Professional Seminar in Special Education 1
  • Issues and Trends in Special Education
  • Instructional Practices in Special Education
  • Professional Seminar in Special Education 2
  • Legal and Legislative Issues in Special Education
  • Advanced Single-Case Design
  • Grant Writing in Special Education

Research Practicum (3 credits)

Teaching Practicum (3 credits)

Special Education Writing Seminars (6-8 credits)

One credit per semester, starting in year 2.

Electives (variable credits)

Dissertation (18 credits)

Total Credits: 90

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