College of Education

Early Childhood, Special Education, and Rehabilitation Counseling - Graduate

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The Doctor of Philosophy in Early Childhood, Special Education, and Counselor Education offers two unique options:  1) Counselor Education, Research and Policy and 2) Special Education.  The doctoral program is campus-based (not offered on-line). We have carefully designed our doctoral curriculum to meet the needs of students who are preparing for careers in rehabilitation and counselor education, research, and administration. Our students complete advanced doctoral seminars in rehabilitation counseling research, psychosocial aspects of chronic illnesses and disability, rehabilitation counseling theory, professional rehabilitation counseling issues, and rehabilitation administration and policy. In these courses, students explore a wide range of psychosocial, societal, and international perspectives on disability and rehabilitation counseling.

Application Requirements

  1. An undergraduate GPA of at least 2.75
  2. Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling or a closely-related field with a GPA of at least 3.5.
    • (Note: Students who are entering with a non-Rehabilitation Counseling or Counselor Education Master’s degree may be required to take leveling, or foundational courses as described below.)
  3. Submission of Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores (mandatory for all doctoral applicants).
    • Note: All doctoral applicants are required to submit results from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Results from the GRE are used by program faculty along with all other application materials in making admission decisions. The GRE is also typically required for students applying for Graduate Scholarship Awards, Stipends and Fellowships; often a certain percentile is needed to be considered for a financial scholarship or fellowship award.
  4. A minimum of one year (two preferred) of post-Master’s experience in rehabilitation counseling, mental health or a related field.
    • The Program will alternatively consider extensive prior related experience and exceptional academic performance on an individual basis.
  5. At least three (3) positive recommendations
    • attesting to the candidate’s professional disposition and fitness for the profession, self-awareness and emotional stability; oral and written communication skills; cultural sensitivity and awareness; and potential for scholarship, professional leadership, and advocacy.
  6. Personal Statement
    • A written statement of the applicant’s objectives for completing a doctoral program.
  7. Writing Sample
    • A sample of the applicant’s academic and/or professional writing.
  8. Interview
    • If an applicant meets these criteria and appears to have the background, academic record, experience, and professional objectives that are consistent with Department expectations, the person is invited to campus to interview with Program and Department faculty and to meet current doctoral students. If the candidate is unable to visit the campus, arrangements can be made to interview through video conference or alternative format. However, it is highly recommended that applicants visit campus. Final admissions decisions are the purview of the Department’s faculty.

Applicants must meet the Graduate School admission requirements.

Instructions for writers of letters of recommendations

Please upload a letter which rates the applicant as poor, fair, good, excellent, or outstanding on each of the following criteria. Further, please comment in as much detail as possible on the strengths and weaknesses of the above named applicant with respect to these criteria:

(1) professional disposition and fitness for the profession;

(2) self-awareness and emotional stability;

(3) oral and written communication skills;

(4) cultural sensitivity and awareness; and

(5) potential for scholarship, professional leadership, and advocacy.


Spring: October 1

Fall: March 1