UCR education doctoral students

Special Education

Special Education Ph.D. Program

UCR’s first family autism center

The focal point of the Special Education doctoral program is clinical and applied research that adds to the knowledge base in understanding learning, behavioral, and cognitive difficulties, particularly as they manifest in development of interventions for children with learning disabilities and autism. Students pursue a research agenda under the guidance of faculty. The School of Education also houses the SEARCH Autism Center, where students can learn about assessment of autism in both clinic and school and be introduced to EEG and neuroscience for education. 

Specialization Overview


  • Start Term: Fall only
  • Program Length: Approximately 5 years
  • Units: 60 minimum
  • Format: In-person instruction on Riverside campus
  • Schedule: Each class meets once a week 4-7pm (Monday-Thursday)
  • 94% of students receive multi-year fellowships

Steps to Degree Completion

  1. Complete coursework
  2. Written qualifying exam
  3. Oral qualifying exam/pre-proposal
  4. Proposal approved by dissertation committee
  5. Dissertation and final defense

Students admitted to the Ph.D. program are often offered a multi-year fellowship which covers tuition and health insurance and provides a stipend and/or paycheck during the academic year. It is recommended that students complete the program full time to meet the fellowship requirements working as a Teaching Assistant (TA) or Graduate Student Researcher (GSR). These duties require students to be available Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for 15-20 hours per week.

Quarterly costs may be viewed here

Curriculum Overview

Through your coursework and apprenticeship in any of our ongoing research projects and centers, you will learn how to conduct research using a variety of research methods, and design independent and collaborative studies in your area of specialization. A background in undergraduate or graduate-level special education studies and teacher certification are desirable, but not required. Candidates with background in special education and an ability to pursue the doctoral program full-time can reduce the time required to complete the degree, which is five years, on average.

Curriculum Overview

Career Opportunities

Recent graduates are:

  • Project officers at the Institute for Education Services
  • Researchers at Educational Testing Services
  • Coordinators for grants funded by the U.S. Department of Education
  • Targeted Student Advisors, LAUSD

Alumni are also faculty members at:

  • University of North Carolina
  • California State University, Fullerton
  • California State University, Northridge
  • Seton Hall University



Let us help you with your search