The doctoral program in special education utilizes a transdisciplinary approach to the preparation of special education scholars and leaders. The program is designed to support the development of doctoral students as they acquire knowledge in the fields of neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and the developmental sciences in an effort to meaningfully translate that knowledge to the most pressing issues to special education today.
The special education curriculum reflects a critical examination and on-going synthesis of the most recent understandings about the relationship between structural and functional changes in the brain across time and experiences, their relationship to cognitive processes, and the implications of those findings for teaching and learning, as well as educational policy. The program's courses also emphasize the constructs of disability in society and the subsequent responses of social institutions towards individuals with disabilities. Included in the course sequence are core leadership, policy and research courses, as well as foundational courses in brain development from early childhood through adulthood.
The program works closely with Graduate School of Education and Human Development’s Center for Applied Developmental Science and Neuroeducation to provide research and internship opportunities for students to translate and apply neuroscience research related to learning for diverse populations. Students collaborate with faculty in the areas of early intervention and early childhood education, secondary and transition to post-secondary education, culturally and linguistically diverse learners with exceptionalities, and students with various disabilities, such as those with emotional and behavioral challenges. The Center also seeks students who can advance research with transdisciplinary partners to improve outcomes for children and families.
Upon graduation, candidates will be prepared for leadership in academic settings, research communities, policy institutions, and advocacy organizations. The ideal candidate will be equipped to assume leadership responsibilities that include translation of scholarly information from cognitive neuroscience into education practice, policy, and research. Graduates will be expected to direct transformative efforts to improve the lives of all children and to reduce the historical and continuing social exclusion of children with disabilities.
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