The Doctor of Education: Special Education is a competency-based graduate program designed to prepare an individual to serve as a college teacher in a department of special education and as an administrator of educational programs for children and youth with disabilities.
Students interested in the Doctoral Program in Special Education at Western Michigan University are referred to the Graduate Policy Handbook (GPH) and the Graduate College Catalog (GCC) for the policies of the University which govern the admission, program, and graduation requirements of the University for doctoral students. The handbook may be obtained from The Graduate College, Western Michigan University and the catalog from the University Bookstore.
To prepare special educators to serve as leadership personnel in the field of special education.
To prepare special educators to function in administrative roles in the education of learners with disabilities.
To prepare special educators to function as college professors in a department of special education or its equivalent.
To prepare special educators to develop and complete research projects employing appropriate research and statistical methodology.
Following the interview with the applicant, at least one member of the graduate faculty of the department must express a willingness to work with the student as program advisor in order for the student to be accepted into the program. If two or more faculty members indicate a willingness, the department chair will designate one to become program advisor. The program advisor will work with the student in developing the student's overall program and may or may not become the student's dissertation advisor.
The student together with the program advisor will develop the student's program of study. This program will then be presented to the graduate faculty of the department for their review and approval prior to submission to The Graduate College.
The student must fulfill all requirements of the Graduate College. In the Doctoral Program, an individual will be expected to complete a minimum of ninety (90) semester hours of graduate credit (beyond the BS or BA degree) with an overall grade point average of 3.25 in all graduate work.
Becuase the doctoral program presents a great deal of flexibility dependent upon the individual student's background but also requires all students to demonstrate competence in five basic areas, the objectives for each area are delineated followed by possible acquisition modes available to the student.
A student admitted to the doctoral program with more than twenty (20) hours of graduate study must request status as an applicant after completing one full semester of graduate work at WMU or forty (40) semester hours of graduate work, whichever comes first.
Criteria for being awarded status as an applicant include:
An overall grade point average of at least 3.25 in all graduate work completed.
During the course of doctoral study and prior to the student's admission to candidacy, the student will be required to demonstrate competency in college teaching and undergraduate advisement and in administration of programs and services for the students with disabilities. The usual mechanism for demonstration of such competence is the satisfactory completion of two internship experiences. If an individual has had previous teaching and/or administrative experience and can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Program Advisor an acceptable level of competence in either or both of these areas, either or both internship requirements may be waived. No credit will be awarded to those granted waivers, additional courses may be required and the minimum requirement of ninety (90) semester hours will be maintained.
The doctoral student will be required to successfully complete a written examination prepared and administered by the Graduate Faculty of the Department. This examination is generally taken during the last semester of course work upon recommendation of the Program Advisor. The written comprehensive examination will consist of twelve (12) hours of examination and will include:
Two-hour questions in each of the following areas:
Foundations of Special Education
Administration and Supervision
In those instances where the research tool questions are combined with questions in one of the other competency areas, the length of time for answering the questions will be adjusted to reflect both questions with the total number of hours for the total exam remaining at twelve (12). The time structure will be adjusted to reflect the composition of the questions such as two six-hour days or three four-hour days. Students who are unsuccessful in the first examination may (a) retake the total examination, (b) retake a designated section or sections, (c) augment their program of study and retake all or a portion of the examination, or (d) be dismissed from the program, depending upon the action of the Graduate Faculty of the Department. Students failing the second examination will be dismissed automatically from the program.
The student will select a Dissertation Advisor from approved faculty in the Department. The Dissertation Advisor will guide the student in developing a prospectus (concept paper) regarding the dissertation. Keeping in mind the nature of the topic, the student, in conjunction with the Dissertation Advisor, will nominate Committee members and present these recommendations to the Dean of the Graduate College. The Dean will appoint the members of the Dissertation Committee, appoint a Graduate Faculty Representative and notify the Dissertation Advisor of the appointments. The Graduate Representative will act as a non-voting observer and participant throughout the dissertation process. With the help of the Dissertation Committee, the student will formulate a proposal from the prospectus. The Committee will then formally approve the proposal for the dissertation. The Dissertation Advisor and the Committee will then aid the student in completing the review process as specified by the Human Subjects Institutional Review Board (HSIRB), if appropriate. (See GPH and GCC for requirements for Dissertation Committee structure.)
Prior to the term or semester in which the dissertation is defended, the student is required to demonstrate
Completion of any special requirements established at the time of admission.
Graduate Dean's approval of the student's Permanent Program of Study as approved by the Department Graduate Faculty.
An overall grade point average of 3.25 or better.
Completion of all basic course requirements.
Completion of all research tool requirements.
Successful completion of the Comprehensive Examination.
All students admitted to the Doctoral Program in Special Education will be required to successfully complete a scholarly dissertation according to the College of Education and Human Development and Graduate College specifications. When a proposal has received written approval by all members of the Dissertation Committee and approval has been granted by the HSIRB, the student may proceed in the implementation and completion of the dissertation. If, during the conduct of the dissertation research, major deviations from the proposal occur or appear to be imminent, the student shall receive approval from the Dissertation Committee to continue the research study. Final copies of the dissertation will be submitted to each member of the Committee including the Graduate Faculty Representative and must receive formal written approval by the Committee prior to the scheduling of the Oral Examination. (See the current Graduate College Catalog for deadline dates).
The student will prepare the application for the oral defense and submit the application and an abstract of the dissertation to the Graduate College at least 10 working days prior to the oral defense. The oral defense must not be scheduled without completion of all program requirements except the dissertation. The dissertation advisor will conduct the oral examination together with the members of the student's dissertation committee and the graduate facultyrepresentative. Acceptance of the dissertation and the oral defense by all of the committee members will be required before the dissertation will be judged as satisfactory for submission to The Graduate College (abstentions shall be considered negative votes). If the dissertation is not accepted, the committee may: (a) require a revision and resubmission of the dissertation without an additional oral defense, (b) require a revision and resubmission of the dissertation and require a second oral defense, or (c) reject the dissertation and require another research proposal to be submitted.
The student will be allowed a period of seven years from the date of admission to complete all requirements for the doctoral degree. All courses, seminars and other requirements must be completed with an overall grade point average of 3.25. The dissertation must be approved by the appropriate groups, the oral examination must be satisfactorily completed and the dissertation must be completed as required by The Graduate College. In addition, the student is responsible for providing a bound copy of the corrected dissertation to each member of the dissertation sommittee.