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Build on your experience in special education through our competency-based PhD in Special Education, which is individualized to your background and goals. You will work with our well-regarded faculty to design in-depth studies and research to reach the next level in your career.

Program Highlights

  • Opportunities to customize your program of study
  • A focus on preparing higher-education faculty
  • Multiple opportunities for experience in college-level teaching
  • Participate in research
  • Supervise undergraduate field placement


The flexibility of our doctoral program is its greatest strength, preparing students with diverse experience and interests for a variety of leadership roles at colleges, universities, research settings, and human service agencies.

Focus your studies anywhere in the span of special education, with possible inquiries into topics such as:

  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Learning disabilities/dyslexia
  • Elementary special education
  • Mild/moderate intellectual and developmental disabilities
  • Behavior disorders
  • Applied Behavior Analysis

You will pursue a combination of coursework, research, college teaching, and service opportunities to earn your degree.

You will design your full course of study in conjunction with your advisory committee. At a minimum, you will be expected to complete:

  • 12 hours of special education law, issues, and trends along with a research seminar
  • 9 hours in your area of emphasis
  • 9 hours in your support area, with at least 3 hours outside the special education department
  • 12 hours of research courses
  • At least 10 hours for your dissertation


Additional information and disclosures regarding state licensure for professional practice in this field can be found at the UGA Licensure Disclosure Portal.


Part 1: Apply to the University of Georgia

The Graduate School handles admission for all graduate programs at the University of Georgia, including those in the College of Education. The Graduate School website contains important details about the application process, orientation, and many other useful links to guide you through the process of attending UGA at the graduate level.

Start A Graduate School Application

Part 2: Apply to the PhD in Special Education

Applicants who meet all of the following requirements are eligible to apply:

  • Professional preparation
    Completion of a master's degree; minimum of two years professional experience in special education or a closely related area.
  • GRE
    Minimum GRE results of 150 verbal and 150 quantitative.
  • GPA
    Minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 for undergraduate work and 3.5 for graduate work at accredited universities.
    Foreign applicants will also need to score a minimum of 20 points each on the Speaking and Writing sections of the TOEFL with an overall minimum score of 80. Test scores must be within 5 years from the date of application.

Initial Admission Requirements

While completing the Graduate School application, please be sure to attach the following required materials for Special Education:

  • Official GRE scores
  • Unofficial transcripts
  • Three letters of recommendation

In the Graduate School application, students should upload the following items:

  1. Statement of purpose
    Students should submit a two paged, single spaced statement of purpose, outlining your teaching philosophy, experience and career goals, as well as answering the following questions:

- Identify at least two special education graduate faculty members with whom you want to work. - Identify your potential research interests that you would pursue as a doctoral student. 2. Resumé/vita 3. Technical writing sample
A master's degree thesis, literature review, published article, or similar document written during the past five years. In the absence of this the applicant may write a prospective paper outlining a current trend in special education that is guiding his/her decision to pursue doctoral study. The paper should be written in APA style and cite current research.

Final Admission Requirements

Interviews: All applicants are required to interview with at least three members of the program faculty as part of the application process. After completing the initial admission requirements (see above), the applicant will be contacted by the department with names of potential faculty members with whom they may interview. It is the applicant's responsibility to schedule interviews.

Admissions decisions will be based on the faculty's evaluation of undergraduate and graduate GPA, GRE (and TOEFL where relevant) scores, quality of essay, letters of recommendations, resumé, and interviews.

The program faculty will review applications on an ongoing basis. Final acceptance into the PhD program requires support by the faculty at large, and agreement by a faculty member to be the applicant's major professor.

Deadline To Apply

Jan. 1 (summer and fall), Nov. 1 (spring)

Looking for an assistantship? Apply by Jan. 1. You can find information about assistantships on our website.

Complete Your Application

Additional Resources

Please use our online form if you have any questions for the department. Please be as specific as possible so that we may quickly assist you.

Meet Your Advisor

Meet Your Advisor

A close working relationship with your advisor is key as you progress through your program of study. Please note that most graduate students at UGA are not assigned to a faculty advisor until after admittance.

Find Your Advisor

Tuition and Financial Aid

Tuition and Financial Aid

Almost all in-state students begin their studies at UGA paying limited tuition or fees. Please note that these amounts are subject to change and are meant to give prospective students an idea of the costs associated with a degree at the University of Georgia College of Education.

Students may qualify for a variety of assistantships, scholarships, and other financial awards to help offset the cost of tuition, housing, and other expenses.

Tuition Rates Browse Financial Aid

Student Life

Student Life

Work collaboratively with doctoral students in other disciplines. Our faculty members also manage over $5 million in grants to support research, teacher education, and professional development.

Explore Student Organizations

See for yourself how much UGA College of Education has to offer! Schedule a tour of campus to learn more about the UGA student experience.

Schedule A Visit

Apply For An Assistantship