Skip to Main Content

Ph.D. Special Education

Our graduate programs at Clemson University build on the rich experiences and expertise of faculty and students to provide an educational environment in which both groups share in research, exploration and inquiry. The result of this synergy is impact — on our community and beyond.

Specialty Concentrations

The Ph.D. program prepares scholars to be researchers, teacher educators and leaders in the field of special education in order to address the needs of individuals with mild/moderate disabilities from high poverty and culturally diverse backgrounds. The Ph.D. special education students will benefit from a faculty that has an individualized approach of study to meet their students’ needs and enhance graduates’ marketability for positions in higher education and leadership positions.

Graduates of the Ph.D. in special education program will:

  • develop, revise and implement an effective personnel preparation program by focusing on identification and implementation of evidence-based practices and culturally-responsive teaching practices;
  • develop, implement, analyze and disseminate high-quality research related to the unique needs of students with disabilities and teachers in high-needs schools;
  • design and implement research studies that meet high-quality research standards;
  • provide high-quality, targeted professional development in academic and behavioral interventions for students with disabilities to teachers and leaders in high-needs schools; and
  • apply leadership skills in a variety of contexts (e.g., teaching in higher education, collaborating with school partners and involvement in professional organizations).

The priority application deadline is January 15. Applicants who wish to be considered for an assistantship must submit a complete application by January 15 in order to be included in the first round of reviews.

If the annual priority deadline is missed, applicants have until April 15 to submit complete applications, but no assistantships will be available during this second round of reviews.

This program only admits for fall terms.

Admission requirements include the following:

  • Minimum of two years teaching experience or the equivalent
  • Master’s degree with a GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale
  • A complete application:
    • Unofficial transcripts (Official transcripts will be required if recommended for admission.)
    • Competitive GRE scores
    • Current resume/vita
    • Two letters of recommendation
    • Letter of intent – Writing sample that communicates the applicant's professional philosophy and goals, research interests and purpose for seeking the doctorate. The letter should be two to three pages in length.
    • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores for applicants whose native language is not English

In addition to the requirements above, students may be required to participate in an on-campus or telephone interview.

This section includes the requirements for completing the doctoral degree. More detailed information about these requirements can be found in the Program Handbook.

Research and Methodology Courses (15 hours):
EDF 9270 Quantitative Research Designs and Introduction to Statistics for Educational Contexts
EDF 9770 Multiple Regression/General Linear Model in Educational Research
EDF 9780 Multivariate Statistics for Educational Research
EDF 9790 Qualitative Research Methods
EDSP 9360 Single Subject Research Design

Specialty (18 hours):
EDSP 9390 Professional Writing in Special Education
EDSP 9340 Evidence-Based Research in Instructional Design and Delivery
EDSP 9350 Preparing Highly Qualified Special Educators: Research in Teacher Education
EDSP 9370 Research in High Incidence Disabilities
ED 9380 Grant Writing in Education and Related Fields
EDSP 9400 Accountability and Assessment for Diverse Populations in High-Needs Schools

Choose at least one course from the following (a minimum of 3 hours):
EDSP 9310 Advanced Research in Learning Disabilities
EDSP 9320 Advanced Research in Emotional/ Behavioral Disorders
EDSP 9330 Advanced Research in Intellectual Disabilities

Choose at least one course from the following (a minimum of 3 hours):
EDSP 9530 Legal Trends in Special Education
EDF 9200 Philosophy of Educational Research
EDF 9710 Case Study and Ethnographic Research Methods and Design
EDF 9720 Phenomenology and Grounded Theory Research Methods and Design
EDF 9730 Narrative and Historical Research Methods and Design
EDF 9750 Mixed Methods Research
SOC 8030 Survey Designs for Applied Social Research
PSYC 8730 Structural Equation Modeling in Applied Psychology
MATH 8070 Applied Multivariate Analysis

Teaching and Supervision Internship (6 hours):
EDSP 9800 Internship in Special Education

Dissertation (18 hours): EDSP 9910

Abby Allen - Special Education

Shanna Eisner Hirsch

Janie Hodge - Learning Disabilities

Antonis Katsiyannis - Emotional/Behavioral Disorders

W. Kent Parker - Special Education

Beverly Romansky - Special Education

Joseph Ryan, Program Coordinator - Emotional/Behavioral Disorders

Pamela Stecker - Learning Disabilities

For more information regarding the program or questions associated with applying to this program, please contact Dr. Joe Ryan at or 864-656-1531.