EdD in Special Education

The doctoral degree program in special education at Boston University is designed to increase and expand the knowledge and skills of enrolled graduate students to assume roles as leaders in the field as teacher educators, program administrators, and researchers. It is recognized that to do so requires a deliberate course of study, including coursework in a specific content area, and research and active immersion in the community of student and faculty scholars within the program and throughout the School of Education, the University, and the profession. Doctoral students enrolled in the special education doctoral program pursue one of three specializations. These specializations are:

  • Teaching and Learning with a focus on moderate or severe disabilities
  • Student Support with a focus on students with emotional and behavioral disorders or social work and disability
  • Policy and Program Administration for individuals with disabilities

Students work closely with SED faculty as research, teaching, and/or graduate assistants as they work to augment their knowledge and skills through their coursework, residency, and research.


The minimum credit requirement for a doctorate is 60 credits that includes:

  • 48 credits of coursework, including a core course on the Intellectual History of Education and a minimum of three research courses. The remaining coursework is jointly determined between the faculty advisor and student.
  • 12 credits of dissertation hours

Residency Requirement

Students must meet a residency requirement of two consecutive semesters of 12 credits of coursework each semester. (The residency requirement can be fulfilled during any period of the student’s matriculation, e.g., Fall/Spring, Spring/Summer, or Summer/Fall.) Twelve or more credits earned in two summer sessions constitute a summer semester.

Comprehensive Examinations

Successful doctoral students complete comprehensive examinations to demonstrate their depth and breadth of understanding of the field. The examinations are three projects including an analysis of a topic of general interest in special education, a literature review in a specific area of interest, and a report on the design and implementation of a research project designed to demonstrate competency in a research methodology.


After successful completion of the Comprehensive Examination, students propose and conduct dissertation research designed to answer an important question related to the education of children and youth with disabilities.