Sep 24, 2022  
University Catalog 2013-2014 
University Catalog 2013-2014 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Doctor of Philosophy in Special Education

A doctoral program in Special Education, offered jointly by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA), combines the unique resources of the two institutions. The program is designed to prepare graduates for teacher education in special education or other leadership positions in the field. This program offers a focus on disability issues in special education, emphasizing teacher education, theory and pedagogy, and research. Graduates are prepared to assume university faculty positions in which they will conduct teacher education, research, and other scholarly pursuits related to special education and disabilities. This program offers a Ph.D. in special education, thus students are required to obtain both breadth and depth of knowledge in special education and may specialize in specific areas that include but are not limited to: early childhood education, learning disabilities, emotional disturbance, mental retardation, severe disabilities, physical and health impairment, gifted education, multicultural education, bilingual special education, visual impairment, and transition to adulthood.

The degree requires major work in special education, and breadth work in related areas as well as work in a cognate field outside of education. Advanced courses and research seminars supply technical backgrounds in the specialization in which students plan to do their dissertation. Practicum, field work, and/or internship assignments are planned on an individual basis.

Admission to the Program

To be considered for admission, applicants must meet the following requirements:

Completion of a Master’s degree in Special Education or a related field.

Acceptable minimum score on such examinations as may be specified by the Division of Special Education and Counseling joint doctoral program committee (currently a minimum of 1,000 combined verbal and quantitative scores on the Graduate Record Exam).

An upper division undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 and a minimum graduate grade point average of 3.5.

The potential to perform research as demonstrated in evidence submitted to the special education joint doctoral program committee.

At least three years’ successful professional experience, such as teaching, with individuals with disabilities (if an exception is made at the time of admission, the requirement must be completed prior to advancement to candidacy).

Three letters of recommendation, two of which should be written by faculty from whom the student has taken graduate work.

Complete sufficient course work to merit recommendation for admission by at least two resident graduate faculty members and one professional field supervisor, or three resident faculty members from one or both campuses.

The program coordinator on the CSULA campus will assist in preparation of application materials. Applicants may be asked to participate in an oral interview as part of the screening process. Applicants will be considered for admission by a joint screening committee consisting of special education faculty from both CSULA and UCLA. Students are initially admitted to the CSULA campus. Upon recommendation of the CSULA special education joint doctoral program committee, students may make formal application to UCLA and be approved for admission to that campus to complete the program of study.

Planning the Program

Upon admission to the program, students meet with an assigned CSULA adviser to plan their program of studies at the CSULA campus. At the time of transfer to the UCLA campus, a UCLA adviser is assigned to complete the program plan with UCLA course work. Course work is taken at both campuses. Course requirements include the following areas: depth and breadth in core content, research methods, research practicum, and cognate, or outside field of study. Specific courses in each of the required areas are determined by the candidate and the faculty advisers within approved program guidelines. Students’ individual programs are based on the students’ backgrounds and are designed to assure their competencies in the above areas.

The program is planned to provide a comprehensive understanding of the entire field of special education as well as an emphasis area. The program is designed to develop competence in statistics and research; provide an understanding of research relating to individuals with disabilities, strengthen background through study in a cognate area; and provide electives to complete a balanced program of study. The program is not built around specific unit requirements, but will be designed to ensure the candidate’s competencies in the above areas.

Residence Requirements

All doctoral candidates are required to engage in a minimum of one year of full-time residence on the UCLA campus. However, candidates are encouraged to engage in full-time residence throughout their entire doctoral program. The exact distribution of time on each campus will depend upon the individual program. Doctoral candidates must be enrolled in three of every four quarters unless on formal leave of absence.

Candidates are allowed a period of time not to exceed four years from the beginning of course work to advancement to candidacy, and four additional years from advancement to candidacy to completion of the dissertation.

Doctoral Written Qualifying Examination

When the candidate has completed the course work recommended by the resident advisers, application is made for the written qualifying examination. The examination is written and scored by faculty at both campuses and follows the guidelines set forth by the UCLA Graduate School of Education. Students who fail this examination will be given a second opportunity to take the examination at the discretion of the student’s CSULA and UCLA advisers, and a third opportunity upon majority vote of faculty from both
campuses. No fourth sitting for the examination is permitted.

Doctoral Oral Qualifying Examination

After the candidate has completed the written qualifying examinations successfully, a joint doctoral committee will be appointed by the deans of the graduate divisions of the two institutions. This committee will be composed of two approved faculty members from the UCLA Graduate School of Education, two from the Cal State L.A. Division of Special Education and Counseling, and one from the student’s cognate area at UCLA. Additional committee members may be appointed at the student’s or adviser’s request. This committee will conduct an oral examination covering topics from both special education and the cognate discipline related to the candidate’s research proposal, to determine the candidate’s qualifications to conduct meaningful research in the field. This oral examination is open only to the committee and the student. Upon majority vote of the joint doctoral committee, the oral qualifying examination may be repeated once.

Advancement to Candidacy

Candidates who have passed both written and oral qualifying examinations file an application for advancement to candidacy at both campuses. Thereafter, enrollment is required each quarter such course or courses as the student’s committee chair may direct, until the dissertation is completed.


The dissertation, required of every candidate for the Ph.D. degree, embodies the results of the candidate’s independent investigation. It must contribute to the body of knowledge in the field and draw upon interrelations between education and the cognate discipline. The dissertation must be approved by the candidate’s assigned joint doctoral committee and, after approval, copies must be filed in the libraries of both institutions. An abstract must be submitted to University Microfilms for publication in Dissertation Abstracts. Candidates should check with the committee chairperson regarding the need for additional copies of the dissertation.

Final Oral Examination

Candidates must pass a final oral examination conducted by the assigned joint doctoral committee stressing the interrelation of the dissertation and existing knowledge in education and in the cognate field. The major emphasis of this examination is on defense of the dissertation. The final oral examination is open to faculty, students, and other interested researches at the discretion of the dissertation chairperson and the student.


A faculty member on each campus is designated as resident doctoral adviser for all students intending to apply for admission to the Joint Doctoral Program. As soon as the decision is made to seek admission, applicants should consult with the joint doctoral program coordinator at the CSULA campus regarding application deadlines and formal procedures required for consideration for admission to the program.

The addresses and telephone numbers for the resident doctoral advisers are as follows:

California State University, Los Angeles
Division of Special Education and Counseling
5151 State University Drive
Los Angeles, California 90032-8144
King Hall C1064
( 323) 343-4400

University of California, Los Angeles
Graduate School of Education
405 Hilgard Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90024
(323) 825-8343