Doctorate in Special Education

Lead the Way in Creating an Equitable and Inclusive Education System

Break barriers and reform special education by gaining cross-disciplinary expertise in our doctoral (EdD) program. The program is designed to support the development of researchers, educators, and scholar leaders as they acquire knowledge in the fields of cognitive psychology and the developmental sciences in an effort to meaningfully translate that knowledge to the most pressing issues in special education today.

As a doctoral student in our program, you'll collaborate with faculty in a variety of areas, including early childhood education, elementary, secondary and transition to post-secondary education, and working with culturally and linguistically diverse learners with exceptionalities. We also focus on students with various disabilities, such as emotional and behavioral challenges.

We're looking for students who are passionate about improving outcomes for children and families, and who are eager to work with transdisciplinary partners to advance research in this field.





Transform Knowledge into Action
Our program infuses cutting-edge theoretical lenses in the field of SEDS to translate and apply research related to learning for diverse populations, developing scholar leaders who are changing the landscape in academic and community settings.


Collaborative Research
Students have a unique opportunity to work alongside SEDS faculty, who are nationally recognized researchers in the field, on funded research projects, resulting in a wide range of experiential learning outcomes, such as presenting at conferences and co-authoring research publications.


Convenient Schedule
Courses are scheduled once a week in late afternoons and evenings (Monday-Thursday) to accommodate the schedules of working professionals, and for internship experiences.




The GW Advantage

Benefit from our unique location in the heart of our nation’s capital. With close proximity and connections to government and private organizations, along with the area's diverse school settings, our students have access to opportunities to truly affect systems change in special education policy, research, and practice. Our diverse community allows students to explore and investigate the most pressing issues in the education and development of students identified with disabilities, as well as support a more inclusive and equitable world.





 Program at a Glance


Doctor of Education (EdD) in the Field of Special Education


Special Education &
Disability Studies

Course Delivery:

Main Campus

Program Entry:



Our Mission

The mission of the doctoral program in the Department of Special Education and Disability Studies Department (SEDS) is to prepare scholars and leaders who can translate and determine the appropriate application of research at the school, local, and federal levels for people with disabilities. In other words, scholars draw from findings in developmental science, disability studies, and intervention research practices to develop and implement equitable, inclusive practices for students and adults with disabilities. Our mission is to prepare doctoral candidates for leadership roles in special education and related fields with a strong foundation in developmental science and strength-based, inclusive pedagogy.

The following requirements must be fulfilled: 54 credits, including 12 credits in foundation courses; a minimum of 15 credits in research courses, including 3 credits in advanced research; a 3-credit internship; 9 credits in elective courses; a minimum of 15 credits in dissertation courses; and successful completion of a comprehensive examination.
Neuroscience Foundations (6 credits)
SPED 8306 Advanced Study in Development Science and Variance I: The Early Years
SPED 8310 Advanced Study in Development Science and Variance II: The Later Years
Leadership Foundations (6 credits)
SPED 8308 Preparation for the Professoriate in Special Education
SPED 8352 Disability and Public Policy
Research Tools (15 credits)
SPED 8304 Research and Trends in Special Education (Literature Review)
EDUC 6116 Introduction to Educational Statistics
EDUC 8120 Group Comparison Designs and Analyses
EDUC 8122 Qualitative Research Methods
Advanced Research Elective
3 credits in Level B research methods coursework selected in consultation with the advisor.
SPED 8354 Doctoral Internship: Special Education
9 credits in interdisciplinary elective courses selected from the following in consultation with the advisor:
SPED 6299 Federal Education Policy Institute
SPED 8303 Administration and Supervision of Special Education
SPED 8311 Doctoral Proseminar: Scholarly Writing in Applied Settings
SPED 8345 Consultation and the Change Process
SPED 8998 Doctoral Seminar in Special Education
SPED 8999 Dissertation Research (taken for a minimum of 12 credits)
Comprehensive Examination
Successful completion of a comprehensive examination is required.



 Apply Now

GSEHD’s Office of Admissions invites you to apply for a spot in our program. Please review the following admission and financial information.

Ready to take the next step in your career? Review our step-by-step guide to applying to GSEHD >

To learn more about the program, admission process, and upcoming events, please connect with the GSEHD Admissions Team at or 202-994-9283.

Apply Now  Schedule Consultation with Admissions Counselor 

To be considered for admission, applicants must submit the online application form as well as the following required supporting documents. There is no application fee.

  • Prerequisite: Master's Degree

  • Resume
  • Statement of Purpose
  • 2 Letters of Recommendation (must be academic)
  • Transcripts from all previously attended colleges or universities

*Additional application requirements may exist for international applicants.

View more details about requirements 

Applications are now being accepted for Fall 2024. We encourage you to apply as early as possible.

Application Timeline Fall 2024
Priority Deadline Nov 1
Round 1 Deadline Dec 15
Round 2 Deadline Jan 16
Round 3 Deadline March 1
Round 4 Deadline May 1
Round 5 Deadline June 15
Round 6 Deadline Aug 1


For more information or to inquire about the next admissions cycle, contact the GSEHD Admissions Team at or 202-994-9283.



 Tuition & Financial Aid

We know embarking upon graduate school is a big decision - due in part to the costs of attending. At GW, we understand the time and thought behind making graduate school work for you. Please take a moment to learn more about the options and opportunities available to help fund your graduate education.

Learn more about scholarships, grants & financial aid  

Graduate tuition is charged per credit hour, unless otherwise noted. Rates vary by program and location.

The tuition rate* for the EdD in Special Education program is $1,905 per credit hour.

This program requires 54 credits.

Please note: Additional fees may apply for international students, late fees, etc. Current tuition rates may be updated during the year.

*Summer 2024, Fall 2024 and Spring 2025

View the current fee chart   

Scholarships are available to eligible admitted students. Review eligibility requirements and learn more about funding your education >


My master’s led to policy work, a doctorate, and the decision to focus my skills, energy, and commitment on co-founding a middle school with a GSEHD colleague. In a Title I setting, we have designed and are delivering the best, comprehensive education model for students. Our project based, small group learning builds problem solving skills, a strong sense of community, and confidence. We draw no lines - all of our students - general and special education alike - learn to advocate for themselves.

Co-Founder, Washington Global Public Charter School
EdD in Higher Education Administration



 Career Outlook

Graduates are prepared to have an impact through leadership in academic settings, research communities, policy institutions, and advocacy organizations. You will become a leader, innovator, and change agent in the field of special education.

Special Education Career Opportunities
professional female addresses room full of adults

Our graduates serve as:

  • Academic Faculty
  • Research Scientists
  • Senior-level Policy Analyst
  • Special Education Program Directors/Coordinators
Potential Employment Settings
casually dressed group of professionals review charts and their laptops around a conference table - photo credit: Freepik
  • Universities or Colleges
  • PreK-12 Educational Settings
  • Policy Think Tanks
  • Research Organizations, Centers, and Institutes



Special Education (EdD) Faculty

Dr. Maxine Freund

Associate Dean for Research and External Relations; Director of Accreditation; Professor, Special Education and Disability Studies

(202) 994-1547
Dr. Doran Gresham

Assistant Professor, Special Education and Disability Studies

(202) 994-1509
Dr. Karen Ihrig

Assistant Professor, Special Education and Disability Studies

(202) 994-5986
Dr. Elisabeth Kutscher

Assistant Professor, Special Education and Disability Studies

Dr. Elisabeth Rice

Associate Professor, Special Education and Disability Studies

(202) 994-1535
Dr. Beth Tuckwiller

Department Chair and Associate Professor, Special Education and Disability Studies

(202) 994-9860



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