Special Education

Review Process and Admissions Status

Review Committee

The Leadership Studies Committee composed of faculty and current doctoral students reviews each application packet. The committee considers multiple indicators in determining admission to the doctoral program in Special Education.

Indicators Considered in Determining Admission

  • GRE and GPA (master's) and TOFEL (if appropriate) minimum standards*
  • Overall strength of the application packet
  • strength of the letter of introduction (i.e., quality of thought and expression)
  • strength of the letters of recommendation (i.e., evidence of strong skills for pursing the doctoral degree)
  • quality of writing and critical thinking as evidenced in the submitted writing sample
  • quality of previous experience and background in special education or a closely related discipline
  • availability of an appropriate advisor in the applicant's identified area of interest
  • the fit between the applicant's professional and doctoral program goals and the purpose and mission of the KU Department of Special Education Doctoral Program.

Standard admission a 153 scaled score on verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning and 4.0 Analytical Writing Score are required. All applicants to the doctoral program must have a faculty member willing to serve as an advisor. Provisional admission may be granted based on the discretion of the admitting advisor and admissions committee.

International students must meet one of the following English proficiency exam score requirements UNLESS they have completed a baccalaureate degree or higher from an accredited English-medium U.S. college or a college or university in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, an English-speaking province of Canada, or an English-speaking Caribbean country, with instruction conducted in English:

  • TOEFL (paper): 57 or above on each section and 5.0 on the Test of Written English
  • TOEFL (iBT): 23 or above on the reading, listening, and writing sections
  • IELTS (Academic): 6.5 minimum overall score and at least 6.0 in listening, reading, and writing
  • PTE: 58 or above with no part score below 53 in listening, reading, and writing

To forward exam scores electronically, the University code is 6871 and the Department code is 85. Please see the English proficiency chart or the English Proficiency Requirements for Admission to Graduate Study for more information.

Admission Decisions

Once the Leadership Studies Committee has reviewed an application, one of the following recommendations is made: admit, admit with provisional status*, or do not admit. Applications receiving a recommendation of admit or admit with provisional status are sent to the appropriate faculty member in the individual's area of interest to confirm the availability of appropriate advisement and mentoring. The final decision regarding admission status is made following this review by faculty. It is important to note that all of the above indicators are considered in making an admission decision. Therefore, many qualified applicants may not be admitted due to advising loads or lack of fit between the applicant's goals and career directions and the purpose and mission of the doctoral program.

Notification: once the final decision (admit/do not admit) has been made by the Department of Special Education Admission Committee, you will be notified of that decision by e-mail. It is critical that you provide a current, valid e-mail address.

Admission Status

Regular Admission (no restrictions)

Provisional Admission

Provisional admission means that additional evidence of potential is required before the Department can make a clear decision to deny or approve regular admission. If granted provisional admission status, the student completes a program of study consisting of at least four regularly scheduled courses approved by a faculty advisor.

Upon completion of the provisional program, the faculty advisor reviews the course grades (at least a 3.5 grade point in the required courses) and other performance indicators (e.g., term papers, presentations, satisfactory completion of the first year doctoral seminar,) and makes a final determination of admission status.

In addition, students who are admitted provisionally because of their English test scores will be required to take the Applied English Center Proficiency Test upon arrival at KU. Please see additional information on this below.

  • If you pass all three parts of the AEC Proficiency Test (Listening, Reading & Writing, and Grammar for Communication), you may enroll full-time in university academic courses.
  • If you do not pass all of the AEC Proficiency Test, you will be required to enroll in 1 to 3 AEC courses (2 to 15 credit hours) depending on your scores.
  • If you are required to take a full load of AEC courses (15 credit hours) you will not be allowed to enroll in any Special Education courses.
  • If you are required to take 8-10 hours of AEC courses, you may enroll in one academic course.
  • If you are required to take 7 hours of AEC courses or less, you may enroll in two academic courses.

For more information, contact the Applied English Center at the University of Kansas by phone at 1-785-864-4606 or by email (aec@ku.edu).

Advisor Assignment/Funding Options

Once you have been admitted, you will be notified of your advisor. You will want to contact your advisor to confirm your interest, explore funding options that may be available, and determine appropriate courses for fall semester.


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