Special Education PhD Programs California

Special Education PhD

Prepare to Hold a University Teaching or Research Position

Research that adds to the field of education’s knowledge base is at the heart of the accredited UC-Riverside Special Education doctoral program. Through your studies in Special Education you will learn to use various research methods, conduct research, and design independent and collaborative research studies in your area of specialization.

A background in undergraduate or graduate-level Special Education studies and teacher certification is desirable, but not essential. However, a strong Special Education background and your ability to pursue your doctoral program full-time can reduce the time required to complete the PhD. As a full-time student, you can expect to complete the Special Education PhD in about four years.

Highly qualified, full-time doctoral students have the opportunity to receive multi-year fellowships to help cover the cost of their PhD studies.

Highlights of the Special Education PhD Program

  • Study with award-winning professors, all of whom have federally funded research underway including such programs as Bridges, designed to improve reading instruction for poor readers and Smooth Sailing, a first-of-its-kind study that will assess how autistic children adapt to school and identify predictors that will lead to a successful transition.
  • Gain the skills needed to begin a faculty career teaching and researching on the university level following completion of your Special Education PhD.
  • Conduct research in such areas as learning disabilities, developmental disabilities, autism, or multicultural Special Education.
  • Receive funding when – as a qualified student – you devote 20 hours per week to research in schools and clinics.
  • Attend classes held during the late afternoon and evening to accommodate working professionals. Please note: it is highly desirable to participate in Special Education field research during the day, if possible.
  • Become familiar with best practices in the Special Education field, conduct independent research studies, gain speaking and mentoring skills and have opportunities to present at national conferences.
  • Learn about autism spectrum disorder and train in assessment at the SEARCH Family Autism Resource Center (Support, Education, Advocacy, Resources, Community, Hope)

Career Prospects for Special Education PhD Graduates

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates a 19 percent increase in university teaching and research positions between 2012 – 2022, which is much faster growth than the average. Median annual pay for post-secondary educators begins around $68,970.
Erica Howell's Photo

Alumni Testimonials

“The doctoral program in Special Education at UCR provided me with mentorship, knowledge, and application skills that equipped me to work in a variety of employment settings post-degree. As a tenured faculty member at Cal State Fullerton, the training and mentorship I received in the College of Education was instrumental in my ability to teach, conduct research, collaborate with students, and successfully work with colleagues.” -Erica Howell, Associate Professor at CS-Fullerton