EdD in Special Education

This program is on a moratorium for the 2021/2022 academic year.

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 leadership 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 Wheelock College of Education & Human Development, the University, and the field. 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 Wheelock 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.

Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate deep knowledge and understanding of a specific area in their field and the ability to use the knowledge to seek and find solutions to important problems of practice.
  • Demonstrate competence in either qualitative or quantitative research methodology to conduct original research while also demonstrating sufficient familiarity with other research methodologies to be able to critically read relevant literature in the field.
  • Through research and scholarship, expand the theoretical and empirical knowledge base in their field to inform researchers, practitioners, and policymakers.
  • Contribute to their field as highly effective teachers in a variety of educational contexts (e.g., schools, colleges, universities, conferences, community meetings).
  • Contribute to their field through service to educational and civic organizations that inform or implement policy, research, and practice.

Coursework and Other Requirements

Pro-Seminars (8 credits across two semesters; completed in Year 1)

  • SED ED 800 Doctoral Pro-Seminar 1 Theories of Teaching, Learning, and Equity (4 cr)
  • SED ED 801 Doctoral Pro-Seminar 2 Educational Foundations and Systems (4 cr)

Two-semester pro-seminar designed to develop a common conceptual understanding of Schools, Educational Institutions, Communities, Educational Foundations, and Systems and Theories of Learning and Teaching, with Social Justice being a unifying theme throughout, across all Wheelock EdD students.

Research and Teaching Apprenticeships (minimum: 6 semesters)

  • At least 1 teaching apprenticeship: CT 700 Doctoral Teaching Apprenticeship (0 cr)
  • At least 3 research apprenticeships: SED RS 799 Doctoral Research Apprenticeship (0 cr)
  • Remaining apprenticeship foci determined in consultation with student’s doctoral advisor

Research (minimum: 16 credits)

  • Qualitative (Required)
  • Quantitative (Required)
  • Mixed methods
  • Advanced research course
  • Additional courses may be required by programs

Specialization Courses (minimum: 24 credits)

Specialization courses are determined jointly between the student and doctoral advisor.

Qualifying Tasks—ED 900 Qualifying Tasks (0 cr)

  • Participation in a research project culminating in a formal write-up and presentation at a Doctoral Student Research Symposium at the end of the student’s second or third year. The research report will include a statement of the student’s contribution to the research. Work will be evaluated by the student’s Qualifying Committee.
  • Completion of a literature review and an oral defense of that review on an area of the student’s field of study where there is a problem/challenge/gap in the literature and identifying one or more promising practical or theoretical approaches. Work will be evaluated by the student’s Qualifying Literature Review Committee.

Dissertation Proposal

  • Preparation of written proposal for dissertation research
  • Oral defense of proposal to Dissertation Committee

Dissertation Study and Oral Defense (minimum: 12 credits)—SED ED 999 Dissertation Advising

  • Dissertation which can take one of two forms: Traditional or Alternative format with three publishable articles
  • Oral Defense of dissertation findings to Dissertation Committee

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.

For more information about requirements for the doctorate, please visit the EdD Implementation Policies page.