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Exceptional Learning Ph.D.

Admissions Requirements

All application materials should be submitted as Adobe PDF documents.

Please note that the STEM Education has additional admissions requirements.

  • ELPhD Admissions Criteria


    Consideration for admission to the program is based on the applicant’s grade point average (GPA) in the last graduate degree. If no graduate degree has been attained, the student’s GPA for the last 60 hours of undergraduate work will be used. If a student has successfully completed some graduate hours but not attained a graduate degree, the GPA for these courses may also be considered. An average of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) or above from a recognized baccalaureate, graduate, or professional degree from an accredited college or university, or an international equivalent based on a four-year curriculum is required for admission. 


    Exceed 153 on Verbal Reasoning and score 140 or above on Quantitative OR exceed 144 on Quantitative Reasoning and score 146 or above on Verbal Reasoning. A minimum of 4.0 is required on Analytical Writing.

    Scholarly Writing

    Students must demonstrate the ability to do scholarly writing by submitting a reference-based paper, thesis, or other written document in which information from various sources has been synthesized. The applicant must be the sole author.

    Statement of Intent

    One to two pages that address the following: intended enrollment (semester & year), intended concentration, autobiographical statement, educational and professional goals, and areas of interest for future research. If you are applying to the ABA concentration, you must indicate the strand in which you wish to enroll: School-Aged & Adult Populations (ABAS) or Young Children & Families (YCF).

    Three Letters of Recommendation

    Letters should be from professors who are able to comment on your qualifications and academic ability for doctoral study. Consideration will be made based upon the content of these letters. Please make certain the recommenders know they must submit a letter as well as evaluate the applicant on a series of qualities (done when submitting the letter). Applications without three letters may not receive full consideration.

    Professional Curriculum Vitae (CV)/Resume

    An Interview

    Applicants who pass the initial evaluation will be required to have an interview with the Ph.D. program faculty and Director of Graduate Programs.

    International Students

    International applicants must also meet the English Language Requirement by providing TOEFL test scores: a minimum of 80 on the TOEFL iBT is required. If you have taken another version and the results are still valid (no more than 5 years old), the score requirements are: 213 on TOEFL CBT or 550 on the TOEFL PBT.

    Applicants who have been awarded a degree from a university in one of the following countries are exempt from the TOEFL requirement: Australia, Belize, the British Caribbean and British West Indies, Canada (except Québec), England, Guyana, Ireland, Liberia, New Zealand, Scotland, the United States, and Wales.

    *Please note the STEM Education concentration requires the following additional admission requirements:

    • Three years of STEM teaching/outreach (P–16)
    • Master’s Degree, and

    • One of the following:
      • A minimum of 18 semester hours of graduate credit in a STEM discipline;
      • Teacher Licensure in a STEM discipline (Grades 6–8, 6–12, or 7–12);
      • Teacher Licensure (K­–5) with 24 semester hours in math/science; or
      • Teacher Licensure (K­–5) with a passing score on the state-approved licensure exam for a STEM content area

  • Graduate Studies Admissions

    Prospective students are encouraged to make application to the College of Graduate Studies in time for admission to be completed at least one full semester before expected entrance to the Ph.D. program.

    • Admission is open for Fall semester only.
    • Please visit the College of Graduate Studies for admissions application deadlines and to apply to the program

    Submit Your Application to:

    College of Graduate Studies
    Tennessee Tech University
    Campus Box 5012
    Cookeville, TN 38505

    P: 931-372-3233

    1. complete the Graduate School Application for Admission;
    2. return the completed application form with application fee to the Tennessee Tech Graduate School;
    3. request that the registrar of all college and universities attended send one official transcript to the Graduate School;
    4. request that the Educational Testing Service (ETS) submit to the Graduate School an official copy of verbal, quantitative, and writing scores from the General Portion of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE);
    5. submit a scholarly writing sample (described in Admissions Criteria);
    6. submit a statement of intent (described in the Admissions Criteria);
    7. submit three letters of recommendation (described in the Admissions Criteria) required for the application file to the College of Education;
    8. submit a Graduate Assistantship, grant, or scholarship application (as appropriate)
    9. submit a professional curriculum vitae (CV) or resume.

    Processing of Application

    1. Once application materials reach the Director of Graduate Programs, the file will be reviewed to see if the criteria for admission have been met.
    2. The file will then be sent to the appropriate concentration leader for further deliberation.
    3. Once reviewed by the admissions committee and the concentration leader, it will be returned to the Director’s office with a recommendation about if the applicant should proceed to the interview.
    4. If the applicant continues to the interview, the interview will be scheduled with Ph.D. faculty and the Director of Graduate Programs.
    5. Once the interview is complete, a recommendation will be forwarded to Graduate Admissions. Graduate Admissions will notify each applicant of the final, official decision.

  • Graduate Assistantships

    Students may apply to be a Graduate Assistant (GA), as well as apply for various fellowships and scholarships.

    Applications for a Graduate Assistant position should be made at the time of application to the program*:

    GA Application Information

    *ELPhD GA positions are very limited. If you think you are interested in a GA position, let the Director of Graduate Programs know immediately – prior to application is best; assignments are generally full and a wait list is maintained.

    Please send the GA application to the Director of Graduate Programs, the Administrative Associate for the Associate Dean’s Office, and Graduate Studies as soon as you apply.

    Please refer to the Graduate Catalog for more specific information.

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