Doctorate in Education - Concentration in Special Education

The PhD in Education with a concentration in Special Education is designed to address the acute shortage of doctoral level special education personnel in the Commonwealth and across the nation. Program graduates will be prepared as content experts in pre-referral intervention and early intervention to assume positions of leadership as special education faculty at the university and college level.

Additionally, graduates of the special education concentration will have the professional skills to work with school systems to address the diverse learning needs and behavior challenges associated with the education of students with special needs and those students at risk. Program graduates will attain a degree of proficiency in research and writing that will prepare them to make contributions to the professional literatures of special education and related disciplines.

The Special Education Program at Old Dominion is small and selective, and by virtue of that smallness, we are able to provide not only the theoretical foundation and content doctoral students need, but more importantly, we are able to build close mentoring relationships with our students. In this way, they learn firsthand what it takes to be a faculty member who can make a difference by their teaching, scholarship and service to the field.

Entrance Requirements

The following are required:

  1. Application to the university/program: download an Application for Graduate Study and submit it to the ODU Office of Graduate Admissions, Rollins Hall [(757)683-3685] or submit your application online;

    Application Deadlines: Application and credentials received by February 1. (Dates subject to change. Contact the Admissions Office for further information.) Note: If you wish to apply for Financial Aid, deadlines for application are as much as six months earlier. Contact the Financial Aid office at 757-683-3683. Financial aid is awarded only to regularly admitted graduate students. The Financial Aid Office also offers a graduated payment plan.

  2. A completed master's degree in special education or an equivalent degree, in an appropriate discipline in a program that is accredited by an appropriate specialized accrediting agency and from an institution of higher education that is regionally accredited. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.60 (on a 4.0 scale) overall for the master's degree and in the major area of study in the master's degree will be expected. In extraordinary circumstances, an individual may be accepted into the PhD in Education program on a provisional status without having received a master's degree. This individual first must complete the master's degree in the selected concentration area and meet all other admission criteria prior to beginning PhD coursework;
  3. An acceptable overall total score on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) (Minimum 150 on the verbal portion) and no less than a 4.5 on the writing sample. Applicants whose native language is not English must submit a current score for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) according to the standards established by Old Dominion University;
  4. A 500-800-word statement of academic and professional goals. This statement must address how the applicant would work within the research agenda of the concentration to achieve his/her goals;
  5. Submission of a professional curriculum vitae that shows a minimum of three years teaching K-12 students with disabilities;
  6. Three letters of reference from sources capable of commenting on the applicant's readiness for the advanced graduate study. At least two of these letters must be from an academic source;
  7. Prior course work in statistics and in theories of learning. If this requirement is not met, a student may be admitted and additional course work will be added to the candidate's program of study; and
  8. An on-campus interview with concentration area faculty and completion of a spontaneous writing sample.

Applications for admission will be reviewed by the admissions committee from the special education concentration. Admission to the special education program is competitive with the number of applications expected to exceed the number of available openings. Admission criteria will be weighted with the most competitive applicants invited to participate in an on-campus interview. Most full-time students will begin their course of study each summer semester as a cohort following a summer orientation.