Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Special Education

Graduate Programs

The mission of the Special Education Doctoral Program at Purdue University is to prepare scholars for faculty positions in higher education. This residential, full time, and 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.

April 15th is the deadline for applications for Fall

December 1st is the deadline for applications for those interested in being considered for any available College and University Funding for Fall.

Applications must be fully complete and submitted (including all required materials) and all application fees paid prior to the deadline in order for applications to be considered and reviewed. For a list of all required materials for this program application, please see the “Admissions” section below.


This program does not lead to licensure in the state of Indiana or elsewhere. Contact the College of Education Office of Teacher Education and Licensure (OTEL) at before continuing with program application if you have questions regarding licensure or contact your state Department of Education about how this program may translate to licensure in your state of residence.


How to Apply


Request Information


View Admissions Information

Application Instructions for the Special Education PhD program from the Office of Graduate Studies:

In addition to a submitted application (and any applicable application fees paid), the following materials are required for admission consideration, and all completed materials must be submitted by the application deadline for an application to be considered complete and forwarded on to faculty and the Purdue Graduate School for review.

Here are the materials required for this application:

We encourage prospective students to submit an application early, even if not all required materials are uploaded. Applications are not forwarded on for faculty review until all required materials are uploaded.

When submitting your application for this program, please select the following options:

  • Campus and Program Tab:
    • Select a Campus: Purdue West Lafayette (PWL)
    • Select your proposed graduate major: Educational Studies
  • First Choice Program Details Tab:
    • Please select an Area of Interest: Special Education
    • Please select a Degree Objective: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
    • Primary Course Delivery: Residential

Program Requirements

View Requirements

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.

Statistics and Research Methods Courses

  • Statistics and Research Methods (minimum of 9 credits required):
      • EDPS 55600 and 55700
      • STAT 50100 and 50200
      • EDPS 53300
    • Single Subject Research (3 credits req.)
      • EDPS 58800
    • Dept. Adv. Research Methods Course (3 credits required)
      • EDPS 63000 (EDPS 53300 or equivalent as prerequisite)

Core Special Education Courses

  • EDPS 65000 – Critical Issues in Special Education
  • EDPS 66100 – Review and Implications of Research in Special Education
  • EDPS 66400 – Research Seminar in Special Education (students register for rotating topics each fall until they pass prelims)


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.

Signature Areas

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:

  • Autism and Developmental Disabilities
  • Challenging Behavior Assessment and Intervention
  • Disproportionality in Identification, Placement, and Discipline
  • Mathematics Instruction and Learning Disabilities/Difficulties



Course Registration, payment, drops/withdraws, and removing holds:
Career accounts:
ITaP (765) 494-4000