The mission of the Special Education Doctoral Program at Purdue University is to prepare scholars for faculty positions in higher education. This full time, competency-based program is designed to prepare students to conduct rigorous scientific and applied research, to teach at the university level, and to become leaders who strive to improve educational outcomes and quality of life for individuals with special needs. Our mission is accomplished through challenging coursework, competency-based faculty mentorship, and active student involvement in applied research.
Students complete coursework in three broad areas: special education, research design and statistics, and the student’s chosen cognate area. Special education coursework includes doctoral core courses in critical issues in special education, special education research, and doctoral seminars in hot topics in the field. Research coursework encompasses a variety of methodologies including group design, single case design, and qualitative research. Students select and complete coursework in a cognate area related to special education in which they’d like to develop additional expertise.
In addition to completing coursework requirements, SPED doctoral students are mentored in four competency areas: (a) university-level teaching, (b) grant writing, (c) conducting and writing scholarly research, and (d) professional engagement. These competencies are designed to align with the program’s mission to prepare graduates to be competent and competitive for positions in higher education, to conduct scientifically rigorous applied research, to teach at the university level, and to become leaders who strive to improve educational outcomes and quality of life for individuals with special needs. Students work closely with faculty mentor(s) in an apprenticeship-like model which involves scaffolded experiences, modeling, guidance, and feedback. Students are provided opportunities to participate in scholarly activities such as professional conference presentations, local and state workshops, colloquia, and interdisciplinary research experiences.
Our faculty are active and productive researchers who partner with local school districts, state, and national organizations to advance the science and impact of special education. Doctoral students are provided with opportunities for ongoing, continuous involvement in faculty research. As students progress in the doctoral program, their level of involvement and complexity of research experiences increases. Students work with at least three faculty on research projects during their program. The purpose of these projects is to broaden students’ knowledge base with respect to research methodology and areas of special education research topics while also building a foundation for the student’s future program of research. Throughout the program, Special Education faculty mentor students to develop their own line of research and to become independent scholars.
The Special Education doctoral program includes 45 credits in Special Education coursework, 15 credits in statistics and research design coursework, 9 credits in coursework for a cognate area outside of, but related to Special Education (e.g. educational policy, child development, social justice, etc), and approximately 21 credits in core competencies of research, grant writing, university teaching, and professional engagement.
Such course work may be from other education programs or may include audiology and speech, language pathology, language development, instructional development, child development and family studies, psychology, etc. The Plan of Study must have at least one related area primarily outside of Special Education (in another program or Department, or combination of programs or Departments). The minimum requirement for the cognate is 9 credits.
Research is an important and integral part of each doctoral student’s program at Purdue. The specific course requirements for the major emphasis will be determined by the student, the advisor, and the advisory committee, subject to approval by the Graduate School.
The Ph.D. program in Special Education offers four signature areas for students to conduct research:
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