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 individuals with 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.


  • A minimum of 48 credits of coursework is required, including at least four research courses. The remaining coursework is jointly determined between the faculty advisor and student.

Residency Requirement

Every doctoral candidate must spend a minimum of two consecutive semesters in residence at Boston University. Residence is defined as registration for a minimum of 12 credit hours at the University during each of two consecutive semesters. (Summer Terms may be considered one semester.) The residency requirement may be met by holding a research or teaching assistant position or being employed at Boston University 35 hours or more per week and registering for a minimum of 8 credit hours for two consecutive semesters. For additional information, students should contact their academic advisors.

Comprehensive Examinations

Successful doctoral students complete comprehensive examination projects to demonstrate their depth and breadth of understanding of the field. The examinations are three projects jointly determined by the student and the comprehension committee, including the program advisor.


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. Students must enroll for a minimum of 12 credits of dissertation hours.