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PhD in Special Education

Build on your experience through our competency-based Ph.D. in Special Education program which prepares researchers, teacher educators, and practitioner-scholars. Through an individualized program of study under the advisement of expert faculty, you will learn through coursework, mentored and independent research, internships in college teaching and supervision of field placements to prepare for leadership roles at colleges, universities, research settings, and human service agencies.

Program Highlights

  • Individualized course of study
  • Multiple research experiences
  • Opportunities for college teaching and field placement supervision experiences
  • Program typically consists of approximately four years of full-time study, which includes two years of full-time coursework, pre-dissertation research competencies, comprehensive exams, and dissertation research

The graduate faculty in the special education program are known internationally, nationally, and regionally as leaders in research, pre-service education, and in-service professional development. All are active researchers and instructors and maintain active collaborations with within and beyond the University of Georgia, including area schools and community agencies. Program faculty are committed to evidence-based practice through instruction, research, and service.


As a Ph.D. Student, you will work closely with a doctoral advisor or major professor who has aligning research interests, as well as with faculty from other programs, departments, and colleges. With your major professor and faculty advisory committee, you will develop an individualized program of study addressing your primary and secondary areas of focus. In addition to coursework and multiple mentored research experiences, you will have the opportunity to complete internships in student-teaching and field placement supervision.

While your overall course of study will vary, 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 .

How to Apply


You are eligible to apply to the Ph.D. in Special Education program if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • Completed a master’s degree and a minimum of two years of professional experience in special education or related field
  • Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0
  • For international students, meet the English proficiency requirement .

Application Step 1: Identify Potential Faculty Advisors

Given the individualized nature of a Ph.D. program, the first step in your application process will be to email at least one potential faculty advisor. Use the faculty bios to identify at least one faculty member whose research activities and publications align with your interests. Email that faculty member to introduce yourself and ask if they could consider serving as your advisor. If you need help identifying potential advisors, email the Graduate Coordinator.

Application Step 2: Complete Three Initial Interviews

All applicants are required to interview with at least three members of the department faculty as part of the application process. Interviews may be completed either before or after you submit the online application described in Step 3. Conversations with your potential faculty advisor(s) from Step 1 are considered interviews. It is the applicant’s responsibility to schedule interviews, but if you need help scheduling interviews, email the Graduate Coordinator.

Application Step 3: Complete the Online Application to the University of Georgia’s Ph.D. in Special Education Program

Apply to the Graduate School

Select the Ph.D. in Special Education program on your Graduate School Application. You will need to submit the following information as part of your application:

  1. Unofficial transcripts
  2. Three letters of recommendation
  3. Statement of purpose A statement outlining your research interests, teaching philosophy, experience, and career goals, not to exceed two single-spaced typed pages.
  4. Resumé/vita
  5. 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.
  6. English Proficiency Exam (TOEFL or IELTS) Scores for international students

Deadline To Apply

If you will need funding from the department or from the university, you must apply by December 15 to be considered for the following Fall semester. Applications from students who do not wish to be considered for department or university funding are reviewed on an ongoing basis.

Log Into Existing 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.

Faculty and Advisors

The College’s programs are taught by dedicated faculty who are experts in a range of areas and are passionate about helping students succeed both in their programs and professionally.

Meet the Faculty

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.

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

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.

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.

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