2022-2023 Graduate Course Catalog 
    Jun 12, 2024  
2022-2023 Graduate Course Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Special Education, PhD

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For master’s degree programs see Early Childhood Special Education and Inclusive Special Education: 1-6 preparation and 7-12 preparation and Inclusive Special Education: Severe/Multiple Disabilities.


Beth A. Ferri, 150 Huntington Hall, 315-443-2699, baferri@syr.edu;

Syracuse University has a long tradition of leadership in the field of special education and is recognized nationally and internationally for its leadership and vision in inclusive education. Throughout its fifty-year history, faculty and students in the program have engaged in critically important research. Syracuse was among the first universities to bring attention to the educational needs of students with disabilities and to effectively develop and refine assessment and educational strategies for diverse learners. Syracuse also led the way in deinstitutionalization policy, research, and advocacy. Syracuse faculty and students continue this important legacy of promoting the educational rights of students with disabilities. In collaboration with area school districts, faculty and students have been instrumental in demonstrating ways to meaningfully integrate students with disabilities in general education classrooms.

Doctoral study at Syracuse University affords students the opportunity to examine critical issues in the field. It encourages expansive thinking and new ways of examining important educational issues through in-depth study. At Syracuse University we pursue both aims by supporting broadly framed inquiry and in-depth investigations into particular, focused areas or issues. We have organized our program to address two interrelated foci: a concern for public policy affecting the lives of people with disabilities; and, the development of effective instructional programming for diverse learners. Doctoral students may select one major emphasis: 1) Inclusive Educational Studies or 2) Disability Studies and Policy Studies. The purpose of selecting a major emphasis is to help bring focus to student’s coursework plans, research activities, internships, and career planning. Students are not limited to any one particular area and are encouraged to take courses and participate in seminars that expand or contribute to their research interests.

The doctoral concentration is designed to serve students who wish to pursue leadership positions in special education or related fields. This includes those who seek a career in higher education, or as field-based researchers, government/policy specialists, public and private agency/organization directors, program developers, and special education consultants and advocates. The majority of our graduates seek academic positions as faculty at colleges and universities.

Student Learning Outcomes

1. Expand knowledgebase in foundations, history, theoretical frameworks, law, and policy

2. Expand and synthesize knowledgebase in effective and research-based inclusive instructional practices

3. Develop knowledge and application of quantitative and qualitative research methodologies with an emphasis in one area

4. Locate, summarize, critique, synthesize, and communicate understanding of a topically-focused body of inclusive/critical special education literature

5. Demonstrate expertise as an inclusive/critical special education teacher educator, including undergraduate and graduate teaching, field supervision, advising, and mentoring

6. Design, conduct, and disseminate original inclusive/critical special education research

Requirements for Courses on Methods of Research and/or Scholarly Inquiry

The Programs of Study must include 15 hours of courses in research methods. The minimal requirement of 15 research credit hours is usually best met by completing EDU 603  Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods and EDU 647  Statistical Thinking and Applications Methods of Educational Research, plus nine additional credit hours selected in consultation with your advisor to ensure both a depth and breadth of knowledge in research methods and to develop further expertise appropriate to his or her dissertation research.


Research Apprenticeship Requirement

Ph.D. students must complete a research apprenticeship prior to beginning work on the dissertation.

The research apprenticeship is supervised by a faculty member in the program. Some students complete the research apprenticeship experience within the context of a regular course (in which case the course instructor sponsors the apprenticeship). Other students contract with their sponsor for an independent study course carrying 3 credit hours. Still others conduct the apprenticeship without any formal hours attached to it.

Qualifying Examination Requirement

In the semester following coursework, students take Qualifying Exams. The exam covers three areas: 1) the major field of study; 2) research methods; and, 3) research area of interest or, if applicable, a question related to the minor or Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS).

Additional Information

Applications are reviewed in December and January for the following fall. A writing sample must be submitted when applying to the program.

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