Program type:


On Campus
Est. time to complete:

2-4 years
Credit Hours:

Become a leader in the field of special education.
The doctorate in Special Education with a concentration in Developmental Disabilities and Autism focuses on the preparation of personnel to assume leadership roles in research, education, and training.

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Why Earn a Developmental Disabilities and Autism Special Education Ph.D.?

In addition to the required course work, all doctoral students will have opportunities to accomplish a number of professional competencies including submitting a grant application, submitting a manuscript for publication consideration, course instruction, and presenting at professional conventions.

The requirements are designed to increase the capacity of graduates to provide effective leadership in the area of autism programming and policy development and to conduct valid, empirical intervention-based research that will bridge existing research-to-practice gaps and improve outcomes for students with autism spectrum disorders and their families.

A master's degree in Special Education or a closely related field is required for application to the doctoral program. Candidates with master's degrees in other fields will be required to take up to five additional courses in Special Education, with advisor's approval.

Marketable Skills
  • Synthesize empirical literature for research trends
  • Critically evaluate existing research
  • Design/conduct methodologically rigorous research
  • Evaluate special education programs/personnel
  • Apply knowledge for educational/social policy-making

Developmental Disabilities and Autism Special Education Ph.D. Highlights

UNT's College of Education is one of Texas' top producers of teachers, administrators, counselors and other school professionals.
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.
The College of Education is accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, which means we meet or exceed strict academic standards for excellence in education.
The Kristin Farmer Autism Center offers opportunities for research and intervention with individuals with autism.
You'll have unique opportunities to become involved in community-based programming, network with professionals in special education and other disciplines, and participate in interdepartmental studies.

What Can You do With a Developmental Disabilities and Autism Special Education Ph.D.?

This program prepares graduates to:

  • Become involved in community-based programming
  • Network with professionals in special education and other disciplines
  • Participate in interdepartmental studies
  • Assess and evaluate students with special needs
  • Analyze the implications of school reform/refine the delivery of services to students with special needs
  • Fill leadership personnel needs in special education
  • Offer prevention and evidence-based interventions for at-risk populations and individuals with disabilities
  • Provide services for culturally and linguistically diverse children with special needs in urban and rural areas

Developmental Disabilities and Autism Special Education Ph.D. Courses You Could Take

Advanced Studies in Evidence Based Practices in High and Low Incidence Disabilities (3 hrs)
Examination of research to support evidence-based practices. Students read and critically analyze studies that form the evidence base for practices used with students with high and low incidence disabilities.
Special Education and Public Policy (3 hrs)
Examination of the current social, political and economic factors influencing the public policy decisions affecting special education programs and practices. Major historical public policy decisions affecting special education are used to examine current and proposed public policy decisions.
Advanced Program Evaluation (3 hrs)
Provides theoretical and methodological foundations of program evaluation, as well as basic applications and hands-on experiences tailored to students’ academic and professional needs toward evidence-based practices. Aligned with the American Evaluation Association’s guiding principles and best practices addressing applied evaluation topics for needs assessment to data collection and analysis, interpretation and making inferences, quality audits, and policy/practice recommendations.
Biomedical Aspects of Autism (3 hrs)
Overview of basic human functional neuroanatomy as well as an introduction to the various research modalities being applied in biomedical studies of autism. Addresses major empirical findings from areas of neuroanatomical, neurobehavioral, and neurochemical research as they apply to individuals with Autism in addition to other non-neurologic medical findings.
Advanced Studies in Autism (3 hrs)
Designed to review existing interventions for instructing students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) to determine if they meet the criteria for evidence-based practice (EBP). Procedures for determining EBP in autism spectrum disorders are discussed in relation to various interventions for addressing the core deficit areas of ASD.
Analysis of Trends, Issues and Research in Special Education (3 hrs)
Investigation and analysis of recent trends, issues and research in special education. Emphasis on how these will affect special education programs. Special attention to competency-based programs, accountability and individualized programming.

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