College of Education

Exceptional Learning Ph.D.

Our program focuses on the characteristics, strengths, and educational needs of individuals and groups whose learning potential and opportunities for success are frequently unrealized.

  • Exceptional and at-risk populations include people for whom social, economic, and physical characteristics may serve as a barrier to development and learning.
  • The Ph.D. in Exceptional Learning prepares leaders to work in schools, agencies, and universities to effect positive change in populations of diverse and at-risk learners, addressing social, economic, and physical characteristics that may serve as barriers to learning, primarily through research and service activities.

Program Concentrations

  • Four concentrations allow you to focus on specific interests:
    • Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) prepares professionals who can develop and deliver behavioral interventions and supports for individuals in educational and habilitative settings. There are two strands with ABA:
      • Young Children and Families (YCF) prepares professionals to provide support and interventions to young, at-risk children and families with emphasis on building relationships with and advocating for those groups. (Strand Leader - Dr. Jane Baker)
      • Applied Behavior Analysis School-Aged Children and Adult Populations (ABAS) prepares professionals who will implement and provide empirical support for behavioral interventions for a range of populations and pursue board certification as a behavior analyst. (Strand Leader - Dr. Seth King) The ABAS course sequence is approved by the national Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB). NOTE: See page 20 of the Exceptional Learning Ph.D. Student Handbook for BACB information.
    • Literacy empowers educational innovators to develop cutting-edge, socially conscious approaches to multi-literacies and challenge narrow conceptions of learners, families and world views. (Concentration leader – Dr. Deborah Setliff)
    • Program Planning and Evaluation prepares professionals for leadership roles in program evaluation and planning with an emphasis on statistical methods. (Concentration leader – Dr. Barry Stein)
    • STEM Education builds the capacity of innovative educational leaders to advance new ideas and to design/implement strategic innovations in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. (Concentration leader – Dr. Holly Anthony)