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College of Education

Special Education, Ph.D.


  • Overview

    The Special Education PhD 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 program is offered through a HyFlex option, and can be completed through traditional face-to-face instruction or online synchronous instruction. The doctoral 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.

  • Program Goals

    Graduates of the Special Education PhD 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.
    • apply leadership skills in a variety of contexts (e.g., teaching in higher education, collaborating with school partners and involvement in professional organizations).
  • Admission Requirements

    The Special Education PhD program will accept the next cohort of students for Fall 2025. Applications will open in August 2024.

    Admission to the Program
    The Special Education PhD program admits students for a fall entrance term. Only complete applications are considered for admission. To ensure consideration for an assistantship or University Fellowship, applicants are encouraged to apply by the priority deadline.

    Application Deadlines
    All application materials must be submitted by the following deadlines:

    • January 15, priority deadline – Applications will be reviewed and considered for assistantships
    • April 15, traditional deadline – Applications will be reviewed, but assistantships may or may not be available

    Application Requirements 

    To be considered for the Program, applicants must:

    • Have completed a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale or a recognized international university with a bachelor’s degree equivalent to a U.S. bachelors.
    • Have completed a master’s degree with a minimum GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale
    • Have a minimum of two years teaching experience or the equivalent
    • Submit an online Graduate School application which requires:
      • Unofficial transcripts (official transcript(s) will be required if you are accepted into the program.)
      • Competitive, official GRE or GMAT scores taken within the last ten years
        • GRE scores accompanying a Ph.D. application will be considered as part of a holistic application review. 
      • A current resume
      • Two recommendation forms
        • Recommendation forms are emailed directly to recommenders via the online application process
      • 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.
      • A sample of professional writing
      • Official TOEFL/IELTS scores for international students
    • Participate in an on-campus or virtual interview (meritorious applications only)

    Additional information concerning supporting materials

  • Program Requirements

    Special Education Ph.D. (55 credit hours minimum)

    Research and Methodology Courses (13 credit hours): 

    EDF 9270 – Quantitative Research Designs and Introduction to Statistics for Educational Contexts 

    EDF 9770 – Multiple Regression/General Linear Model in Educational Research 

    EDF 9790 – Qualitative Research Methods 

    EDSP 9360 – Single Subject Research Design

    Core Coursework (18 credit hours): 

    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 

    EDSP 9390 – Professional Writing in Special Education 

    EDSP 9400 – Accountability and Assessment for Diverse Populations in High-Needs Schools

    EDSP 9500- College Teaching and Supervision in Special Education (1-3 repeatable to 15; required 6)

    Electives: Choose at least two courses from the following (a minimum of 6 credit hours): 

    EDSP 9300- Critical Issues and Trends in Special Education

    EDSP 9310 – Advanced Research in Learning Disabilities 

    EDSP 9320 – Advanced Research in Emotional/ Behavioral Disorders 

    EDSP 9330 – Advanced Research in Intellectual Disabilities

    EDSP 9530 – Legal Trends in Special Education

    EDSP 9600 – Internship in Special Education

    EDF 9200 – Philosophy of Educational Research 

    EDF 9710 – Case Study and Ethnographic Research Methods and Design 

    EDF 9750 – Mixed Methods Research 

    EDF 9780 – Multivariate Statistics for Educational Research 

    ED 9380 – Grant Writing in Education and Related Fields

    Dissertation (18 credit hours): 

    EDSP 9910 – Doctoral Dissertation Research

  • Financial Information

    Tuition and Fees
    Explore information on tuition and fees using the Student Financial Services’ tuition and fee calculator (be sure to choose the correct tab - ‘graduate’ and indicate your modality via the ‘program location’ dropdown: on campus for in-person OR off campus for online). The selected modality, either in person or synchronous online, will determine the fee structure used in the tuition and fee calculator.

    Financial Aid
    For information regarding Financial Aid, please contact the office of Student Financial Aid.

    A limited number of graduate assistantships are available each year through the department, and they tend to be competitive. Assistantships are available to full-time students (enrolled in at least nine credit hours per semester) and typically require a 20-hour per week work commitment. To be considered for an assistantship, we encourage applicants to submit their applications by the priority deadline.

  • Program Delivery

    Embedded within a R1 public university and designed for working professionals and full-time students alike, the Clemson Ph.D. in Special Education program is offered through a HyFlex option and can be completed through traditional face-to-face instruction or synchronous online instruction.

    Our in-person option offers courses via our main Clemson campus. Classes may be offered Monday through Thursday evenings, beginning no earlier than 4:30 p.m. EST.

    Our synchronous online option provides students the chance to join our in-person courses virtually. Through the synchronous online option, students have the opportunity to develop relationships with peers and faculty and pursue the degree while maintaining their current employment and living situation.

  • Information Sessions & Calendar

    Review our College of Education Graduate Calendar to view upcoming events and information sessions.

  • Find Out More

    For more information regarding the program please contact Dr. Shanna Hirsch at

    For questions associated with applying to the program, please contact Madison Hudson at

Department of Education and Human Development
Department of Education and Human Development | 209 Gantt Circle