Doctoral Studies in Special Education

Admission to Ph.D. in Special Education at KU

Applicants pursuing a Ph.D. in special education must have relevant professional training, usually represented by undergraduate and graduate degrees in special and/or general education or a related field. Also, doctoral applicants are usually expected to have at least three years of professional teaching experience in public schools or related agencies that serve individuals with disabilities. Both your formal education and experience in the field help to demonstrate that you have the foundational knowledge necessary to develop expertise in special education. The Department’s doctoral graduates pursue faculty positions at other institutions of higher education. Accordingly, the doctoral program educates you to become a researcher and scholar who will then prepare prospective teachers and administrators to work in the profession.

Applicants are strongly advised to establish a dialogue (e.g., videoconference, telephone, and email correspondence) with one or more faculty members in the preferred area of study prior to applying for the doctoral program. The purpose of the dialogue is to understand how your scholarship interests align and/or intersect with departmental faculty, identify an area of specialization, and to identify with whom you would like to study with in the specialization (i.e., your advisor). This dialogue also is critical for informing you about various social, academic, and teaching aspects of the doctoral experience that will complement your development as a scholar. Communicating with faculty prior to submitting your application will support a level of specificity in your application that is vital to the Department admissions process. 

The link below provides additional considerations along with guiding questions for prospective applicants that will be helpful when establishing dialogue with faculty members and assembling application materials for submission to the Department.

Thinking about Doctoral Studies? (pdf)

Admission Process Components

There are several important factors to consider before submitting your application. Doctoral program applications are only reviewed for fall admission. All materials must be received prior to that date to be considered. After the Admission Committee has reviewed applications, selected applicants will be invited to participate in an interview.

Application & Interview Dates


Fall 2017 Application Deadline(s) On-site/Online Interview Date(s)
November 7, 2016  December 11 & 12, 2016 
April 10, 2017 May 7 & 8, 2017

On-line Application Process:  Application Packet Submission

  • Letter of Introduction
  • Professional Resume
  • Transcripts (Bachelor's and Master's degree conferral)
  • Official GRE Exam Results
  • Official Proof of English Proficiency (international applicants only)
  • Official Statement of Financial Documentation (international applicants only)
  • Letters of Reference
  • Academic Writing Sample


Apply Domestic | Apply International

Request more information

Apply Now

#1 public program in nation for special education
—U.S. News & World Report
Wayne Sailor directs KU’s largest grant, the $24.5 million SWIFT project, to develop a national center to assist schools
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times
KU Today
Connect with KU Special Education

KU Special Education Facebook page KU School of Education YouTube Channel KU Special Education Twitter Feed KU School of Ed instagram icon