Graduate opportunities

By pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Special Education, you'll have unique opportunities to:

  • Become involved in community-based programming
  • Network with professionals in special education and other disciplines
  • Participate in interdepartmental studies

The rigorous curriculum allows you to participate in formal coursework, independent study, internships, practicums and dissertation research. As you progress through the program, you can enroll in specialized coursework focusing on autism intervention, emotional/behavioral disorders or mild/moderate disabilities. You'll also receive teaching experience or related experiences before completing the program.

Our faculty members' research covers a wide range of areas such as:

  • Educational assessment/evaluation of students with special needs
  • Implications of school reform/refinement for delivery of services to students with special needs
  • Leadership personnel needs in special education
  • Prevention and evidence-based interventions for at-risk populations and individuals with disabilities
  • Services for culturally and linguistically diverse children with special needs in urban and rural areas

The College of Education is accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (1140 19th St., Suite 400; Washington, D.C. 20036; telephone 202-223-0077). This accreditation means we meet or exceed strict academic standards for excellence in education. The college also is one of Texas' top producers of teachers, administrators, counselors and other school professionals.

Research centers and research opportunities

The Department of Educational Psychology is affiliated with various centers, providing research and professional development opportunities for faculty and students.

The Kristin Farmer Autism Center offers opportunities for research and intervention with individuals with autism.

The Office for Giftedness, Talent Development and Creativity is committed to transforming potential into excellence through innovative education opportunities, research and community outreach.

The Office of Research Consulting provides research and statistical consulting services.

Attending UNT

Admission requirements

Admission to the doctoral program is a two-step process. You need to meet the admission requirements for the Toulouse Graduate School® outlined at the graduate school website, and provide the department the following:

  • GRE scores (The department views high scores as positive indicators of potential success in the program. However, lower scores don't exclude a candidate who shows positive indicators in other areas. GRE scores must be less than five years old.)
  • Three written letters of recommendation from academic or professionally applicable sources
  • Professional résumé describing your previous work, educational experiences, membership and involvement in professional organizations or scholarly activities
  • Personal statement of career objectives including how a doctoral degree will advance them

No one factor determines admission to the doctoral program. We believe that several factors are important for success in the program.

Degree requirements

The minimum program requirements are based on having the appropriate bachelor's and master's backgrounds. Your individual coursework will vary and may include more than the minimum hours outlined below. The projected requirements are:

  • 6 credit hours of educational psychology Ph.D. core courses
  • 15 credit hours of research core courses
  • 12 credit hours of special education core courses
  • 18 credit hours in a concentration area
  • 3 credit hours of supervised research
  • Minimum of 9 credit hours of dissertation

Financial assistance

A number of competitive teaching fellowships and assistantships are available to help you pursue your degree. These opportunities include working with professors on research grants and projects, working as a teaching assistant, and supervising student teaching.

You can apply for these positions by submitting an application to the department. We also offer several scholarships.

Information about other financial assistance programs is available at the financial aid website or the graduate school site.


Miriam Boesch, Assistant Professor; Ph.D., Purdue University. Autism; augmentative and alternative communication; applied behavior analysis.

Mei Chang, Assistant Professor; Ph.D., Ball State University. Neurocognitive functioning; neurodevelopmental disorders; neuropsychological assessment; academic achievement of racial/ethnic minority concentration; research, measurement and evaluation/statistics.

Bertina Hildreth Combes, Associate Professor and Dean for Academic Affairs and Research; Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin. Transition of students with learning disabilities from high school to post-secondary settings; mentoring; teacher development; use of juvenile literature in teaching about disabilities.

Smita Shukla Mehta, Associate Professor; Ph.D., University of Oregon. Autism and severe developmental disabilities; functional behavioral assessment and positive behavior support; behavior escalation and prevention of problem behavior; classroom and instructional management; philosophy and practice of inclusive education.

Melissa Savage, Assistant Professor; Ph.D., Purdue University. Autism spectrum disorders; developmental disabilities; physical activity; special education; assistive technology.