Autism and Developmental Disabilities

Doctoral Program

Department of Special Education

The Autism and Developmental Disabilities (A&DD) Doctoral Program provides students with cutting-edge training for conducting research. Students engage in hands-on practice with individuals with autism and developmental disabilities. In this concentration, we strive to provide students with teaching, research, and clinical training experiences that will prepare them for careers in academia and/or clinical-based settings. As a Tier-1 research institute, we provide highly personalized training with a wide range of clinical and research opportunities.

The Ph.D. degree generally takes four years of full-time study to complete. Students develop their own individualized program of study in consultation with their academic advisor and the graduate advisor. In addition to content and research coursework, Ph.D. students will complete a dissertation and professional activities beyond coursework. This can include supervision of student teachers, presentation at professional conferences, submitting manuscripts for publication, teaching at the undergraduate level.

Program Details

Semester Start: Fall

Deadline to Apply:
Priority: December 1
Rolling Admissions

GRE Required? No

Location: On Campus

Length of Program: 60 months, 57 hours 

  • SED 388 Challenging Behaviors and Developmental Research
  • SED 388 Advances in Understanding and Treatment of Autism
  • SED 396 Trends & Issues in Autism & DD
  • SED 389 Policy/Procedures in Special Education Administration

To gain breadth of knowledge, students must take at least one course from outside of their concentration area or outside of the department.

  • SED 695S A & B Professional Seminar (taken over fall and spring semesters of Year 1)
  • SED 398T College Teaching (Year 2)
  • SED 380 Diversity and Disability: Continuing Perspectives; or SED 380 Diversity, Equity, and Disability
  • SED 696 A and B Research Mentoring (taken over two semesters)
  • EDP 380C Fundamental Statistics – prerequisite as needed

Additional coursework must include at least two courses out of the following three:

  • Qualitative Research Design and Data Analysis
  • Quantitative Research Design and Data Analysis
  • Single-Subject Research Design

Coursework must include:

  • SED 395D Grant Writing in Education

Select other research courses in consultation with your Academic Advisor to be sure that you will fulfill research requirements in your concentration area.

All doctoral students are required to complete a dissertation. This includes conducting original research with direction from a dissertation supervisor. The dissertation will be submitted and defended to a dissertation committee consisting of faculty in the field of study.

  • SED 399, 699, or 999 R and W

Photo of faculty member Laura Estep
Assistant Professor of Practice

Engages in training and supervision of clinicians to support individuals with challenging behavior and difficulty transitioning between activities, particularly for students with autism spectrum disorders.

Photo of faculty member Terry S Falcomata

Assessment and treatment of problem behavior displayed by individuals with ASD/DD, methods for increasing behavioral variability in individuals with ASD/DD, and methods for preventing clinical relapse pertaining to challenging behavio

Photo of faculty member Christina Fragale
Assistant Professor of Practice

Works with culturally diverse individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders to assess and treat challenging behavior.

Photo of faculty member Mark F O'Reilly
Department Chair

Assesses and supports individuals with intellectual disabilities and develops social skill/communication interventions for children with ASD.

Area Co-Coordinator
Mark O’Reilly

Area Co-Coordinator
Terry Falcomatta

Graduate Students

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