Program goal

The special education and disability leadership concentration is designed primarily for individuals employed in leadership positions in the field of special education. Emphasis in this concentration is placed on developing in-depth knowledge about topics as they pertain to personnel development, research, issues and policies in special education.

Student learning outcomes

  1. Apply skills in external setting (externship component): Students will demonstrate their knowledge and skills in a professional placement in a school, agency or corporate setting. The faculty adviser and the externship site supervisor work together to evaluate the student.
  2. Develop research knowledge and skills (research component): Students will acquire the prerequisite skills essential to designing, conducting and interpreting qualitative and quantitative design research. Students will demonstrate this knowledge and skill set on a qualifying examination, which is independently evaluated by at least two faculty members. To address inter-rater reliability, if the two faculty members disagree on the student’s level of knowledge, a third faculty member is called in to evaluate the student’s responses on the qualifying examination. This exam is also graded “blindly,” meaning that the evaluator does not know which student he or she is evaluating.
  3. Develop in-depth knowledge in one area of study (concentration component): Students will demonstrate in-depth knowledge and skills in an area of study that is congruent with their current or projected career goals. Content will differ according to chosen concentration.
  4. Complete an original research study (dissertation component): Students will design, implement, analyze and defend an original research study. Once a student passes the prospectus hearing, he or she will collect and analyze the data and finish writing the last two chapters of their dissertation. Students have a committee of a minimum of four faculty members. Typically, this consists of a chair, a methodologist, a subject-matter expert and an expert outside of the School of Education. Each committee member independently reviews the student’s work. Once the dissertation defense has occurred, the committee discusses their thoughts on the quality of the student work. Once members approve, the student is granted a Ph.D.

VCU Graduate Bulletin, VCU Graduate School and general academic policies and regulations for all graduate students in all graduate programs

The VCU Graduate Bulletin website documents the official admission and academic rules and regulations that govern graduate education for all graduate programs at the university. These policies are established by the graduate faculty of the university through their elected representatives to the University Graduate Council.

It is the responsibility of all graduate students, both on- and off-campus, to be familiar with the VCU Graduate Bulletin as well as the Graduate School website and academic regulations in individual school and department publications and on program websites. However, in all cases, the official policies and procedures of the University Graduate Council, as published on the VCU Graduate Bulletin and Graduate School websites, take precedence over individual program policies and guidelines.

Visit the Graduate study section for additional information on academic regulations for graduate students.

Degree candidacy requirements

A graduate student admitted to a program or concentration requiring a final research project, work of art, thesis or dissertation, must qualify for continuing master’s or doctoral status according to the degree candidacy requirements of the student’s graduate program. Admission to degree candidacy, if applicable, is a formal statement by the graduate student’s faculty regarding the student’s academic achievements and the student’s readiness to proceed to the final research phase of the degree program.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following degree candidacy policy as published in the VCU Graduate Bulletin for complete information and instructions.

Visit the Graduate study section for additional information on degree candidacy requirements.

Graduation requirements

As graduate students approach the end of their academic programs and the final semester of matriculation, they must make formal application to graduate. No degrees will be conferred until the application to graduate has been finalized.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following graduation requirements as published in the Graduate Bulletin for a complete list of instructions and a graduation checklist.

Visit the Graduate study section for additional information on graduation requirements.

Other information

Below is a link to the Doctoral Student Handbook:
soe.vcu.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/3436/2014/10/2014_PhD_Handbook.pdf [PDF]

Apply online at graduate.admissions.vcu.edu.

Admission requirements

Degree: Semester(s) of entry: Deadline dates: Test requirements:
Ph.D. Summer or fall Dec 15 GRE

In addition to the general admission requirements of the VCU Graduate School, the following represent the minimum requirements for admission:

  1. Master’s degree in an appropriate discipline
  2. Three letters of recommendation addressing the student’s potential for graduate study in education
  3. Student’s written statement concerning career interests
  4. Transcripts of all previous college work
  5. A personal interview and writing sample (may be requested
  6. Professional vitae/resume
  7. Satisfactory scores on the GRE

Please see doctoral admissions information on the School of Education website for details.

Degree requirements

In addition to the VCU Graduate School graduation requirements, students are required to complete course work in core and elective courses.

  1. Credit hour requirements: Students are required to complete a minimum of 48-54 credit hours depending on concentration.
  2. Grade requirements: Receipt of a grade of C or below in three courses constitutes automatic dismissal from the program. Courses with a grade below C cannot be used to satisfy degree requirements.
  3. Externship requirement: Students must complete an approved externship in teaching, research and service policy.
  4. Examination requirements: Students must pass both a qualifying examination early in the program and a comprehensive examination near the end of the program.
  5. Dissertation requirements: Students must complete and defend a research dissertation.

Curriculum requirements

Foundation
EDUS 702Foundations of Educational Research and Doctoral Scholarship I3
EDUS 703Foundations of Educational Research and Doctoral Scholarship II3
Research
EDUS 608Educational Statistics3
EDUS 710Quantitative Research Design3
EDUS 711Qualitative Methods and Analysis3
Research elective3
Externship
EDUC 700Externship3
Dissertation
EDUC 899Dissertation Research (minimum of six credit hours)6
EDUS 890Dissertation Seminar3
Concentration courses
SEDP 705Seminar on Disability Policy3
SEDP 706Personnel Development in Special Education3
SEDP 707Critical Issues in Special Education3
SEDP 708Grant Writing in Special Education and Other Social Sciences3
SEDP 709Literature Reviews in Special Education and Other Social Sciences3
Other courses selected in consultation with adviser3
Total Hours48

Total graduate credit hours required (minimum) 48

Graduate program coordinator
Kevin S. Sutherland, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Counseling and Special Education
Email: kssuther@vcu.edu
Phone: (804) 828-1332

Additional contact
Colleen Thoma, Ph.D.
Professor and chair, Department of Counseling and Special Education
Email: cathoma@vcu.edu
Phone: (804) 827-2653

Program website: soe.vcu.edu