The Ph.D. program prepares leaders in the field of special education to bring systemic change to educational and community settings in ways that improve access and equity for children and youth with disabilities and their families. The program prepares graduates to address pressing issues in the field including increasing equity across diverse groups of students, improving post-school outcomes for individuals with disabilities, and enhancing teacher efficacy in special education.
Faculty research focuses on the following areas:
• Research methodologies in special education
• Diversity and equity issues in the field of special education
• Literacy and reading instruction for individuals with disabilities
• Teacher education and preparation of high-quality special education teachers
• Evidence-based interventions with students with severe disabilities including multiple disabilities, intellectual disability and autism
• Special education issues in adolescence, transitional and vocational education
Special education is one of the two academic areas in the Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education. The areas are joined by a common mission of preparing professional leadership personnel to address the educational and rehabilitation needs of individuals with disabilities across the life span. Special education addresses the needs of children, youth, and young adults through its teacher education, research and service programs. Rehabilitation psychology addresses the needs of older youth, young adults, and adults. Department faculty in both areas join resources to provide training and research programs that promote successful transition from school to the world of work, post-secondary education and successful psycho-social adaptation for individuals with disabilities.
The department is a national and international leader in preparing Ph.D. professionals to serve in leadership positions in university teaching, research, and program administration. This leadership is evidenced by the publication and research record of its faculty and graduates, and by the routine placement of Ph.D. graduates in major universities and colleges.
Please consult the table below for key information about this degree program’s admissions requirements. The program may have more detailed admissions requirements, which can be found below the table or on the program’s website.
Graduate admissions is a two-step process between academic programs and the Graduate School. Applicants must meet the minimum requirements of the Graduate School as well as the program(s). Once you have researched the graduate program(s) you are interested in, apply online.
|Fall Deadline||January 1|
|Spring Deadline||The program does not admit in the spring.|
|Summer Deadline||The program does not admit in the summer.|
|GRE (Graduate Record Examinations)||May be required in certain cases; consult program.|
|English Proficiency Test||Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (https://grad.wisc.edu/apply/requirements/#english-proficiency).|
|Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT)||n/a|
|Letters of Recommendation Required||3|
Application information is available on the department website. Applicants are expected to meet general requirements for admission to the Graduate School. The admissions committee considers a variety of factors including academic preparation, letters of recommendation, personal statement, and professional experiences.
Graduate School Resources
Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.
Financial support is available to admitted students and may include scholarships, traineeships, teaching assistantships, and research/project assistantships. The Special Education Ph.D. program seeks to provide five academic years of funding to qualified admitted students. Funding includes tuition remission and stipend and access to the University's health insurance program among other benefits. Prospective students should see the program website for funding information.
Minimum Graduate School Requirements
Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.
MODE OF INSTRUCTION
|Face to Face||Evening/Weekend||Online||Hybrid||Accelerated|
Mode of Instruction Definitions
Accelerated: Accelerated programs are offered at a fast pace that condenses the time to completion. Students typically take enough credits aimed at completing the program in a year or two.
Evening/Weekend: Courses meet on the UW–Madison campus only in evenings and/or on weekends to accommodate typical business schedules. Students have the advantages of face-to-face courses with the flexibility to keep work and other life commitments.
Face-to-Face: Courses typically meet during weekdays on the UW-Madison Campus.
Hybrid: These programs combine face-to-face and online learning formats. Contact the program for more specific information.
Online: These programs are offered 100% online. Some programs may require an on-campus orientation or residency experience, but the courses will be facilitated in an online format.
|Minimum Credit Requirement||54 credits|
|Minimum Residence Credit Requirement||31 credits|
|Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement||27 credits must be graduate-level coursework. Details can be found in the Graduate School’s Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) policy (https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1244).|
|Overall Graduate GPA Requirement||3.00 GPA required. |
This program follows the Graduate School's policy: https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1203.
|Other Grade Requirements||n/a|
|Assessments and Examinations||Qualifying examination, preliminary examination, dissertation, final oral committee examination.|
|Language Requirements||No language requirements.|
|Breadth Requirement||All doctoral students are required to complete a doctoral minor or Graduate/Professional certificate. |
Complete a minimum of 54 post-master's degree credits to include the following:
|Special Education Core/Seminars|
|RP & SE 871||Foundations of Special Education||3|
|RP & SE 872||Seminar in Special Education Research||3|
|RP & SE 710||Multicultural Issues in Special Education||3|
|Seminars: Additional RP & SE seminar courses, with at least one course focused on adolescence, to reach a total of a minimum of 18 credits of seminar/core courses||9|
|Special Topics (Chosen in consultation with faculty advisor)|
|Equity and Full Participation for Individuals with Significant Disabilities|
|Educating Students in Alternative Settings|
|Doctoral Minor (chosen in consultation with faculty advisor)||9|
|Research Design and Statistics|
|ED PSYCH 760||Statistical Methods Applied to Education I||3|
|ED PSYCH 761||Statistical Methods Applied to Education II||3|
|RP & SE/COUN PSY/CURRIC/ED POL/ED PSYCH/ELPA 719||Introduction to Qualitative Research||3|
|Additional courses in research design/statistics/methods chosen in consultation with the faculty advisor to total a minimum of 15 credits||6|
|RP & SE 941||Internship: Research||3|
|RP & SE 942||Internship in Postsecondary Teaching||3|
|Dissertation (minimum of 6 credits)|
|RP & SE 990||Research or Thesis||3|
|RP & SE 990||Research or Thesis||3|
In addition to the course requirements noted above, students must pass a qualifying examination and a preliminary examination.
Graduate School Policies
The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.
Graduate Work from Other Institutions
No credits taken as an undergraduate are allowed to count toward the post-master’s credits for the degree.
UW–Madison University Special
This program follows the Graduate School's Probation policy.
ADVISOR / COMMITTEE
Students are assigned a faculty advisor upon admission to the program. See the program handbook for additional information about advising.
CREDITS PER TERM ALLOWED
Doctoral students have five years from the date of passing the preliminary examination to take the final oral examination and deposit the dissertation.
A candidate for a doctoral degree who fails to take the final oral examination within five years after passing the preliminary examination is required to take another preliminary examination and be admitted to candidacy a second time.
Deposit of the doctoral dissertation in the Graduate School is required.
Grievances and Appeals
These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:
- Bias or Hate Reporting
- Graduate Assistantship Policies and Procedures
- Hostile and Intimidating Behavior Policies and Procedures
- Dean of Students Office (for all students to seek grievance assistance and support)
- Employee Assistance (for personal counseling and workplace consultation around communication and conflict involving graduate assistants and other employees, post-doctoral students, faculty and staff)
- Employee Disability Resource Office (for qualified employees or applicants with disabilities to have equal employment opportunities)
- Graduate School (for informal advice at any level of review and for official appeals of program/departmental or school/college grievance decisions)
- Office of Compliance (for class harassment and discrimination, including sexual harassment and sexual violence)
- Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards (for conflicts involving students)
- Ombuds Office for Faculty and Staff (for employed graduate students and post-docs, as well as faculty and staff)
- Title IX (for concerns about discrimination)
School of Education Grievance Policy and Procedures
The following School of Education Student Grievance Policy and associated procedures are designed for use in response to individual student grievances regarding faculty or staff in the School of Education.
Any individual student who feels they have been treated unfairly by a School of Education faculty or staff member has the right to file a grievance about the treatment and receive a timely response addressing their concerns. Any student, undergraduate or graduate, may use these grievance procedures, except employees whose complaints are covered under other campus policies. The grievance may concern classroom treatment, mentoring or advising, program admission or continuation, course grades (study abroad grade complaints are handled through International Academic Programs), or issues not covered by other campus policies or grievance procedures.
For grievances regarding discrimination based on protected bases (i.e., race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, etc.), contact the Office of Compliance (https://compliance.wisc.edu/eo-complaint/).
For grievances or concerns regarding sexual harassment or sexual violence (including sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, stalking and sexual exploitation), contact the Sexual Misconduct Resource and Response Program within the Office of Compliance.
For grievances that involve the behavior of a student, contact the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards in the Dean of Students Office at https://conduct.students.wisc.edu/).
For grievances about, or directed at, faculty or staff in a School of Education department, unit, or program, students should follow these steps:
- Students are strongly encouraged to first talk with the person against whom the concern is directed. Many issues can be settled informally at this level. If students are unable to resolve concerns directly or without additional support, step 2 or 3 should be pursued.
- If unresolved after taking or considering step 1:
- If the concern is directed against a teaching assistant (TA), and the student is not satisfied, the student should contact the TA's supervisor, who is usually the course professor. The course professor will attempt to resolve the concern informally.
- If the concern involves a non-TA instructor, staff member, professor, academic department, or School of Education office or unit, the student should contact the chair of the department or the director of the office or unit, or their designee. The chair or director, or their designee, will attempt to resolve the concern informally. If the concern is about the department chair or office/unit director, the student should consult the School of Education Senior Associate Dean for guidance.
- If the concern remains unresolved after step 2, the student may submit a formal grievance to the chair or director in writing within 30 business days1 of the alleged unfair treatment. To the fullest extent possible, a formal written grievance shall contain a clear and concise statement of the issue(s) involved and the relief sought.
- On receipt of a written grievance, the chair or director will notify the person at whom the grievance is directed with a copy of the written grievance. The person at whom the complaint is directed may submit a written response, which would be shared with the student.
- On receipt of a written grievance, the chair or director will refer the matter to a department, office, or unit committee comprised of at least two members. The committee may be an existing committee or one constituted for this purpose. The committee, or delegates from the committee, may meet with the parties involved and/or review any material either party shares with the committee.
- The committee will provide a written description of the facts of the grievance and communicate recommendations to the department chair or office/unit head regarding how the grievance should be handled.
- The chair or director will offer to meet with the student who made the grievance and also will provide a written decision to the student, including a description of any related action taken by the committee, within 30 business days of receiving the formal grievance.
For the purpose of this policy, business days refers to those days when the University Offices are open and shall not include weekends, university holidays, spring recess, or the period from the last day of exams of fall semester instruction to the first day of spring semester instruction. All time limits may be modified by mutual consent of the parties involved.
If the grievance concerns an undergraduate course grade, the decision of the department chair after reviewing the committee’s recommendations is final.
Other types of grievances may be appealed using the following procedures:
- Both the student who filed the grievance or the person at whom the grievance was directed, if unsatisfied with the decision of the department, office or unit, have five (5) business days from receipt of the decision to contact the Senior Associate Dean, indicating the intention to appeal.
- A written appeal must be filed with the Senior Associate Dean within 10 business days of the time the appealing party was notified of the initial resolution of the complaint.
- On receipt of a written appeal, the Senior Associate Dean will convene a sub-committee of the School of Education’s Academic Planning Council. This subcommittee may ask for additional information from the parties involved and/or may hold a meeting at which both parties will be asked to speak separately (i.e., not in the room at the same time).
- The subcommittee will then make a written recommendation to the Dean of the School of Education, or their designee, who will render a decision. The dean or designee’s written decision shall be made within 30 business days from the date when the written appeal was filed with the Senior Associate Dean. For undergraduate students, the dean or designee’s decision is final.
Further appealing a School of Education decision – graduate students only
Graduate students have the option to appeal decisions by the School of Education dean or designee by using the process detailed on the Graduate School’s website.
Questions about these procedures can be directed to the School of Education Dean's Office, 377 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall, 608-262-1763.
- Office of Compliance (for discrimination based on protected classes, including misconduct) 179A Bascom Hall, 608-262-2378
- Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards (for conflicts between students, or academic integrity violations) 70 Bascom Hall, 608-263-5700
- Bias or Hate Reporting (for students who experience or observe bias or hate incidents) 70 Bascom Hall, 608-263-5700
- Graduate School (for graduate students who need informal advice at any level of review; for official appeals of program/departmental or school/college grievance decisions, see Graduate Assistant Policies and Procedures) 217 Bascom Hall, 608-262-2433
- Ombuds Office for Faculty and Staff (for UW-Madison employees, including graduate students) 523-524 Lowell Center, 608-265-9992
- Employee Assistance (for conflicts involving graduate assistants and other employees) 256 Lowell Hall, 608-263-2987
- Dean of Students Office (for any students needing advice or support) 70 Bascom Hall, 608-263-5700
- Office of Human Resources for policies and procedures to address workplace conflict) 21 N Park Street Suite 5101, 608-265-2257
- School of Education, Office of Student Services (for students, particularly undergraduates, in the School of Education) 139 Education Building, 608-262-1651
- School of Education, Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (OEDI) 145 Education Building, 608-262-8427
Graduate School Resources
Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career.
- (Conceptual Knowledge) Formulates ideas, concepts, designs, and/or techniques within and beyond the current boundaries of knowledge, or practice within the field of study; demonstrates breadth within their learning experiences.
- (Research Skills) Articulates research problems, potentials, and limits with respect to theory, knowledge, or practice within the field of study; creates research, scholarship, or performance that makes a substantive contribution.
- (Teaching/Advising Skills) Shares knowledge and research in the field with students in a clear and engaging manner; effectively communicates with students within and outside of class; advances contributions of the field of study to society.
- (Communication and Leadership Skills) Communicates complex ideas in a clear and understandable manner to a variety of audiences.
- (Service) Participates in public and professional service.
- (Professionalism/Ethics) Demonstrates the ability to work well with others, participates in professional organizations, adheres to ethical standards of research protocol and professional behavior.
Malachy Bishop, Jina Chun, Kyesha Isadore, Sang Qin, David Rosenthal, Susan Smedema, Timothy Tansey, and Susan Wiegmann
Zhe An, Aydin Bal, Heather Dahl, Bonnie Doren, Hailey Love, Carlyn Mueller, Andrea Ruppar, Susan Syverud, Beverly Trezek, Ashley White, and Kimber Wilkerson
For more information about faculty in the Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education Department, see: https://rpse.education.wisc.edu/fac-staff/
PROFESSIONAL CERTIFICATION/LICENSURE DISCLOSURE (NC-SARA)
The United States Department of Education requires institutions that provide distance education to disclose information for programs leading to professional certification or licensure about whether each program meets state educational requirements for initial licensure or certification. Following is this disclosure information for this program:
The requirements of this program meet Certification/Licensure in the following states:
The requirements of this program do not meet Certification/Licensure in the following states:
The requirements of this program have not been determined if they meet Certification/Licensure in the following states:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming; District of Columbia; American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands