Learning Disabilities and Behavioral Disorders

Doctoral Program

Department of Special Education

The Department of Special Education offers a doctoral (Ph.D.) degree with a concentration in Learning Disabilities and Behavior Disorders (LD/BD). This program will prepare you to work in a variety of settings including higher education, leadership roles in schools and districts, and further research into the practices and interventions that effectively treat learning disabilities. This program focuses substantial coursework and research in the areas of reading and math disabilities as well as school-based behaviors.

During your studies, you will learn about trends and effective interventions used for individuals with learning disabilities and behavioral disorders. In addition, you will have the opportunity to explore courses in at least two other areas of Special Education, research methods, professional coursework, and courses outside the Department of Special Education.

You will be encouraged to become involved in research projects under the direction of faculty in the Department of Special Education. The program generally takes four years of full-time study to complete.

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

The Learning Disabilities and Behavioral Disorders (LD/BD) Ph.D. program prepares students for careers in both university and clinical settings. There are several goals that our program aims to achieve:

  • We seek to prepare graduates with strong knowledge of LD/BD trends, issues, and interventions in the academic and behavioral domains.
  • We seek to prepare strong researchers in special education with particular emphasis on improving the lives of students with LD/BD.
  • We seek to prepare graduates with strong communicative ability to present major research findings and disseminate information in order to improve educational quality for students with LD/BD.
  • We seek to prepare leaders and researchers in special education who are socially responsible, ethical, and who use culturally responsive practices in their work.

Students admitted to the LD/BD doctoral concentration typically begin their studies in the fall semester, and are encouraged to register on a full-time basis. Doctoral students typically complete their degrees in four years of full-time study.

Doctoral students complete coursework related to LD/BD specialization, professional coursework, research coursework, and dissertation. Doctoral students are encouraged to become involved in research projects, write for publications, and participate in dissemination conferences.

Doctoral Degree Components – 54-57 hours minimum

  • Specialization Core: 12 hours
  • Professional Core: 18 hours
  • Research Core: 18-21 hours
  • Dissertation: 6 hours minimum

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

  • SED 396C Trends & Issues in Learning Disabilities/Behavioral Disorders (spring)
  • SED 395D Seminar in Reading (spring [every alternate year])
  • SED 395D Seminar in Mathematics (spring [every alternate year])

To gain breadth of knowledge, students will take the remaining credits of designated coursework outside the 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)

Students in the LD/BD program must take:

  • SED 383 Intervention Research in Learning Disabilities (fall)
  • 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:

  • Seminar in Scholarly/Grant Writing

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 Kizzy  Albritton
Associate Professor

Examines ways that school psychologists can improve the academic, social-emotional, and behavioral outcomes for young children (i.e., preschool) from minoritized and marginalized backgrounds in early childhood settings. Dr. Albritton will be rev...

Photo of faculty member Sarah Kate Bearman
Associate Professor and School/Clinical Child Psychology Area Chair

Dr Bearman's research focuses on the effectiveness and implementation of empirically supported practices for common mental health concerns (anxiety, depression, PTSD, OCD, and disruptive behavior) in publicly-funded settings that serve historically ...

Photo of faculty member J. Mark  Eddy

J. Mark Eddy's primary area of expertise is the development, refinement and rigorous testing of culturally informed multimodal preventive and clinical psychosocial interventions to improve physical and mental health outcomes for children and families...

Photo of faculty member Jane S Gray
Director of Clinical Training, Counseling and School/Clinical Child Psychology Doctoral Programs

Supports the clinical training of doctoral students, teaches clinically-focused courses and prepares students for psychology internship training. Jane Gray does not serve as a research mentor for students in the School Psychology nor Counseling ...

Photo of faculty member Jessica J O'Bleness
Assistant Professor of Practice, Director of Clinical Training for MA/SSP

Supports the clinical training of MA/SSP students, teaches clinically-focused courses, provides supervision for students, and prepares students for MA/SPP internship. Jessica O'Bleness does not serve as a research mentor for students in the Scho...

Photo of faculty member Erin M Rodriguez
Associate Professor

Dr. Erin Rodríguez studies family, sociocultural, and contextual influences on children’s development and health outcomes, with a focus on understanding and reducing health disparities affecting low-SES Latinx youth. Dr. Rodríguez will be rev...

Photo of faculty member Monica  Romero
Assistant Professor

Investigates culturally and linguistically responsive interventions and assessments for emergent bilingual/multilingual learners. Dr. Romero will be reviewing applications in anticipation of taking a student for Fall 2024.

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