Doctor of Education in Special Education

The Wheelock College of Education & Human Development’s doctoral program in Special Education prepares students to become successful leaders in schools, government agencies, and community organizations, and researchers in colleges/universities through coursework, training in research methods, and mentoring by faculty members.

Doctoral students in the Special Education program develop a coherent and integrated program of study in collaboration with a faculty advisor in the following specialization areas:

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

Additionally, some students may also apply to the BU School of Social Work to enroll in our dual degree program.  In this program, students can choose to simultaneously pursue an MSW in Social Work and an EdD in Special Education.

Pro-seminars, research course sequences, and specialization courses facilitate the development of a deep understanding of the critical issues in the field, as well as skills to engage in scholarly activities.  Specialization courses can be selected from within the Special Education program, throughout the School of Education, and throughout Boston University in related schools and colleges.  Among these are the College of Arts & Sciences, the College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College, Questrom School of Business, the School of Law, and the School of Social Work.

Qualifying Tasks
Each doctoral student completes qualifying tasks (e.g., presentation at a doctoral student research symposium, literature review, etc.) to demonstrate their depth and breadth of understanding of the field.  Successful students continue on to conduct dissertation research as the culminating degree requirement.

All students are required to complete a residency that is intended to provide an opportunity for students to fully engage themselves as a member of a scholarly community.  Residency is defined as registration for a minimum of 12 credits at the University, during two consecutive semesters.  The residency requirement can be fulfilled during any period of the student’s matriculation (e.g. Fall/Spring, Spring/Summer, or Summer/Fall).  Twelve of more credits earned in two summer sessions constitute a summer semester.

Students will work closely with a program faculty member who is engaged in teaching and scholarship that informs policy and classroom practice.  Your faculty advisor will provide guidance in course selection, recommendations for qualifying tasks, preparation of the dissertation proposal, and support throughout the dissertation research.  In addition, students will have the opportunity to collaborate with a faculty member during the teacher and research apprenticeships.  These experiences can lead to opportunities to present at research conferences and to submit manuscripts for publications.

 Program Fast Facts

  • Program Requirements: For a list of program requirements and coursework information, please visit the BU Bulletin.
  • Program Duration: Two academic years (average) of coursework (48 credits minimum). Time to complete the qualifying tasks and dissertation research varies based on enrollment status.
  • Start Term: Students may begin the program in summer, fall, or spring.
  • Licensure: Courses related to licensure can be included, on consultation with the academic advisor.

Prerequisites: This program requires a master’s degree or an international equivalent.

Faculty Contact Information: Dr. Nancy Harayama,, 617-353-2071
Graduate Admissions:, 617-353-4237