Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Washington State University Factsheets

Doctor of Philosophy in Education – Special Education

Faculty working with Students: 5
Students: 15
Students receiving assistantships or scholarships: 26.67%
Priority deadline:
  • Fall January 10
  • Pullman: Yes
Tests required:
  • GRE
  • TOEFL - iBT 80
  • IELTS Band 7

Degree Description:

The Doctor of Philosophy in Education (Ph.D.) with a specialization in Special Education prepares graduates for academic positions in research and teaching. The program in special education includes the study of response to intervention across the curriculum, diversity issues, social development and school based prevention practices for students with social and behavioral adjustment problems, universal design, and single subject design in addition to the comprehensive Carnegie core of research courses in quantitative, qualitative and program evaluation research methods. The faculty support a strong program of mentorship and encourage doctoral students to work closely with faculty of their choosing in investigating the world of research, knowledge generation and dissemination, pedagogical action and advocacy.

Admission Requirements:

Applicants must have a degree from an accredited 4-year institution and a 3.0 or higher cumulative grade point average (GPA) on a 4.0 scale. Complete the WSU Graduate School’s online application, Official transcripts, a supplemental department application, GRE scores, Resume or Vitae, a writing sample, letter of intent, and three letters of recommendation as described on the supplemental department application. Acceptance into the doctoral program partially depends on the availability of a faculty member with expertise in the area of the student’s primary research interest.

Student Learning Outcomes:

All graduates will be able to:

  1.  Demonstrate a wide scope of as well as an in-depth understanding of the field of special education research and disabilities.
  2.  Demonstrate critical thinking and ability to evaluate, understand, and communicate (oral and written) special education scholarship and research.
  3.  Demonstrate understanding of and ability to synthesize and apply special education research (knov.(ledge/theory) to problems of practice through the generation and dissemination of  original scholarship.
  4.  Demonstrate scholarly habits of curiosity, inquiry, skepticism, and data-based decision-making.
  5.  Demonstrate understanding and value of diversity through pedagogical and inquiry endeavors.
  6.  Demonstrate a professional identity appropriate for future career plans and show potential as an emerging expert in the field.

Student Opportunities:

Internships in the public school system are available.

Career Opportunities:

Faculty at a research university, clinical faculty, central administrator at K-12 school district, administrator at state educational agency.

Career Placements:

Teacher, faculty member at a research university.

Faculty Members:

Dunn, Michael, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Literacy skills/strategies and response to intervention, development of literacy skills/strategies in an intervention format, use of The Ask, Reflect, Text (ART) Strategy and artistic expression, how students use the strategy, and improvement in students skills.

Hsiao, Yun-Ju, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Special education, including children/youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), students with emotional and behavioral disorders, and early childhood special education. Research focuses on families of children with disabilities and effective strategies for teaching students with ASD. Also interested in culturally responsive teaching preparation and practices in special education.

McMahon, Donald, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Universal Design for Learning, Assistive Technology, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Wearable devices, Mobile Devices, Mobile Learning, and Instructional technology.

Petersen, Sara Sorenson

Serves as: member only of graduate committee

Research Interests

Focus on special education law, litigation and policy. She is also interested in Universal Design for Learning and accessibility in higher education, and international special education practices and policies.

Poppen, Marcus, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member of graduate committee

Research Interests

Focused on supporting career development and employment outcomes for young adults with disabilities, including those with a history of mental health and substance abuse concerns, emotional and behavioral disabilities, and involvement in the juvenile justice system.

Contact Information:

WSU Pullman College of Education
Cleveland Hall 70
PO Box 642114
Pullman, WA 99164-2114
(509)-335-9195 or (509)-335-7016
Fax: (509)-335-9172