About the Department of Special Education

students in discussion

The Department of Special Education at the University of Kansas consistently ranks as one of the top graduate-level special education programs in the country. In the latest edition of U.S. News and World Report's America's Best Graduate Schools, the Department of Special Education at the University of Kansas ranked number one overall. Each year, the Department continues to enhance its master's and doctoral-level programs to ensure the best preparation of special education teachers, teacher educators, administrators, and field researchers. Students who receive their professional development through the Department have the opportunity to learn and work closely with nationally and internationally renowned faculty. The Department's commitment to effective teaching, excellent field supervision and support for novice special educators, innovation, and leadership make the University of Kansas a great place to begin or further a special education career.

Currently KU faculty associated with the Department manage nearly $70 million in state, federal, and foundation grant awards that support research, teacher education, and professional development. Collaboration with inter- and intra-university units, area schools, and other educational agencies helps maintain the quality of the program. The Department is affiliated with nationally known research and direct-service Centers including the Center for Research on Learning and the Schiefelbusch Life Span Institute and its affiliated centers specifically the Beach Center on Disability, Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities (KUCDD) and the Juniper Gardens Children's Project.

Vision, Mission and Values

Mission: The Special Education faculty integrates research with practice, serves as social advocates, and advances education, social policies, public service, community building, and research to enhance the quality of life of persons with (dis)abilities and their families.

We recognize the evolving nature of our field with its roots in medicalized notions of (dis)ability that have historically ignored a range of social constructions of ability and diversity. We acknowledge the ways in which disability has served as a proxy for other kinds of diversity and how other forms of diversity have been used as a code to mean (dis)ability.

We trouble these notions because we are a faculty actively engaged in a range of epistemological, theoretical, policy, and empirical scholarship. This reflexivity about the field and our collective identity, as well as scholarship deeply grounded in practice, provides international leadership in pursuit of equity in educational and social outcomes that enhance the quality of life of persons with (dis)abilities and their families.

Further, we commit to excellence in research, teaching, and service built on a foundation of mutual trust, active engagement in the pursuit of equity and social justice, and respect for ALL people.  Faculty and staff invest their talents, creativity, scholarship, and energy to prepare civic professionals who pursue these ends in support of persons with (dis)abilities and their families in the following ways:

  • Value persons with (dis)abilities and their families
  • Respect diverse views, contributions and achievements
  • Promote education as a fundamental human endeavor and social right
  • Participate in emancipatory policies, practices, and research
  • Influence professional and civic communities
  • Enhance quality of life
  • Engage educational, social, political, and institutional interests
  • Employ cutting edge technologies and methods in the pursuit of meaningful solutions
  • Contribute to relevant knowledge bases through integrating research and practice
  • Collaborate on micro, meso, and macro levels to address complex challenges

Special Education Calendar
#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
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
5th nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets: Colleges," Military Times
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