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Special EducatioN PhD – Courses & Requirements

This program can be completed in 77 credit hours (including dissertation). Additional credit hours could be required if optional research tools coursework or additional externship hours are chosen.

With our open enrollment and expanded schedule of available courses, you can start any term and choose the enrollment level that is right for you. Full-time students generally finish in three years; part-time students can typically finish within five years.

  • Content courses are offered in the Fall and Spring terms. Three 16-week courses are available. You can enroll in 1 to 3 courses.
  • In Summer terms, you will focus on electives, research tools courses, externship, and your dissertation. These courses are also available in Fall and Spring.

Degree Requirements (77 Credit Hours)

For an example of upcoming courses, visit the Current Program Students page.

Doctoral Core (25 Hours)

EDSE 701 Introduction to Doctoral Study in Exceptionalities (1)

EDSE 702 Law of Exceptionalities (3)

EDSE 721 Theories of Exceptionality (3)

EDSE 727 Issues and Trends in Exceptionality (3)

EDSE 728 Professional Writing (3)

EDSE 732 Research in Exceptionalities (3)

EDSE 733 Preparing Teachers of Students with Exceptionalities (3)

EDSE 744 Grant Writing Seminar (3)

EDSE 745 Advanced Doctoral Seminar (3)

Electives (9 Hours)

Students are to select 9 semester hours of courses in a cognate closely related to the student’s program goals. Electives are chosen in consultation with the major advisor and are an integral part of the program plan.

Research Core (12 Hours)

SRM 602 Statistical Methods I (3)

SRM 603 Statistical Methods II (3)

SRM 680 Introduction to Qualitative Research (3)

SRM 700 Advanced Research Methods (3)

Research Tools (12 Hours Minimum)

Students in special education must demonstrate proficiency in two of the four research tools. You will work with your advisor on research tool course options.

Add a Director of Gifted Education Licensure/Endorsement

You can include Director of Gifted Education Endorsement preparation if you take it as an Area of Special Interest for this PhD degree.

Contact the Program Coordinator for details and advice based upon your academic background.

Dissertation (16 Hours)

EDSE 797 Doctoral Proposal Research (4 total)

EDSE 799 Doctoral Dissertation (12 total)

Externships (3 Hours Minimum)

EDSE 730 Externship in Exceptionalities (3)

Comprehensive Performance Assessment

The comprehensive examination consists of a written Major Paper plus a matrix of performance options that demonstrates competency in theory, pedagogy, research methodology, evidence-based practice, public policy/advocacy, and collaboration.


For full details, see the official program listing in the UNC Graduate Catalog.

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Credits Required:
Time to Completion:
3-5 years including dissertation
$630/credit hour

Delivery Options:

Program Coordinator:

Silvia Correa-Torres, EdD


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