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Special Education (PhD)


SPED Doctoral Research Projects


Do you want to become a world-class researcher?

Learn from the best researchers in the field of special education at the University of Oregon.  The doctoral (PhD) program in special education prepares individuals for:

  • Research and teaching positions in higher education
  • Policymaking positions in state and federal government
  • Consultation positions in professional education
U.S. News and World Report has ranked UO Special Education as one of the top three programs in the country since 2000

The depth and breadth of research, teaching service, and preparation at the UO College of Education transcend many program options in special education.  The cohort model and history of full funding for doctoral students allows scholars to focus on their studies in a collaborative, supportive learning environment.

Research Specializations

All PhD students actively engage in small and large-scale applied research projects with internationally recognized experts in special education.

Students in the PhD program focus on one of five areas:

Positive Behavior Support.  Establishing the behavioral support practices and systems that lead to reduction in problem behaviors and an increase in the quality of educational, social, work, and leisure life of individuals with disabilities.
Affiliated Research Unit:  Educational and Community Supports

Low-Incidence Disabilities.  Serving children and adults with severe or low-incidence disabilities (including autism) in school, home, and community settings, and specialization areas.
Affiliated Research Unit:  Pearl Duck Autism Center

Early Intervention.  Serving infants and preschool children at risk or who have an identified disability and their family.
Affiliated Research Unit:  Early Intervention Program

Prevention & Academic Interventions.  Enhancing educational systems to prevent and remediate academic difficulties through effective instructional and assessment practices to accelerate learning.
Affiliated Research Unit:  Center on Teaching and Learning

Secondary/Transition Services.  Serving adolescents and young adults with disabilities and high-risk behaviors during high school and during the transition from the public schools into society and adult roles.
Affiliated Research Unit:  Secondary Special Education and Transition


The doctoral degree program provides advanced training in preparation for leadership positions in special education.  The program requires approximately 90 credits beyond the master's degree and is designed for full-time students.  Typically, students complete the program in three or four years.  Financial assistance is awarded based on the applicant's qualifications.