Ph.D. in Special Education

The Ph.D. in Special Education is for students who wish to pursue leadership positions in special education and related fields, including those seeking careers in higher education, as researchers, government/policy specialists, public and private agency/organization directors, program developers, or as special education consultants and advocates. The majority of our graduates secure tenure track faculty positions at colleges and universities.

Students in the Special Education Doctoral Program examine critical issues in the field in the broadest possible contexts. The program invites expansive thinking about important educational issues as well as in-depth study. At Syracuse University students and faculty engage in cutting edge research in inclusive education and policy.

Student choose a concentration in either Inclusive Education Studies or Disability Studies and Policy Studies, based on their experience, interests, and professional goals.

A Tradition of Innovation

Special Education doctoral studentsSyracuse University has a long tradition of leadership in the field of special education and is recognized nationally and internationally. SU offered one of the first comprehensive programs of its kind in the United States and continues to be recognized for its leadership and vision in inclusive education. Throughout its fifty-year history, faculty and students in the program have engaged in critically important educational issues and concerns. 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 rights of students with disabilities. In collaboration with area school districts, faculty and students have been instrumental in demonstrating ways of meaningfully integrating students with disabilities in general education classrooms.

Recent Student Dissertations

  • Struggles of Korean Americans Labeled with Intellectual Disabilities to Claim Adult Status, Eun Young Jung
  • Opening the Doors: A Collaborative and Digital Exploration of Inclusive Secondary Classrooms, Kate MacLeod
  • Inclusive Education in Practice: District-Level Special Education Administrators' Leadership, Chelsea Tracy-Bronson
  • The Tensions of Northern Imports: Disability and Inclusion in Kenyan Primary Education, Brent Elder
  • Blazing Trails, Being Us: A Narrative Inquiry with Five High School Students with Autism who Type to Communicate, Casey Woodfield
  • Implementation of School-wide Positive Behavior Supports in the Neoliberal Context in an Urban Elementary School, D.L. Adams
  • Trying Times: Disability, Activism, and Education in Samoa, 1970-1980, Juliann Anesi
  • Negotiating DSE Teaching Identity in Today’s Public Schools: Complexity, Camaraderie, & Subversion, Carrie Rood
  • Toward a Co-vivial Community: Hopes Found in the Friendship Among People with Intellectual Disability Labels, Maho Suzuki
  • Twenty-first Century Exclusion, Valarie Torrence
  • "Being Grown": How Adolescent Girls with Disabilities Narrate Self-Determination and Transitions, Danielle Cowley
  • A Blueprint for Kindergarteners' Educational Trajectories: The Power of Discursive Practices in Constructing Students' Stories Based on Behaviors, Fernanda Orsati
  • The Impact of Standards-Based Reform on Special Education: An Exploration of Westvale Elementary School, Jessica Bacon

Program Contact

Beth Ferri, Program Coordinator

Jeanne Schmidt

Ready to apply?

Syracuse University Graduate School Application