Deaf and Hard of Hearing PhD

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Education of the Deaf & Hard of Hearing


The Ph.D. in Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is administered and awarded through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Columbia University.  The degree requires a minimum of 84 credits beyond the master’s degree and presumes a background in and/or direct professional experience in working with individuals who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing. The Ph.D. program comprises several areas of study including: 1) advanced study in general special education, 2) advanced study in research paradigms, 3) advanced study in the education of the d/Deaf and hard of hearing, and 4) advanced study in a professional specialization.

Doctor of Philosophy

  • Major Code: PDIS
  • Points/Credits: 84
  • Entry Terms: Fall Only

Application Deadlines

  • Spring: N/A
  • Summer/Fall (Priority): December 15
  • Summer/Fall (Final): Rolling
* For details about rolling deadlines, visit our admission deadlines page.

Supplemental Application Requirements/Comments

  • Academic Writing Sample
  • GRE General Test

Doctor of Philosophy

Doctor of Philosophy Exceptionality Focus Areas:

  • Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Intellectual Disability/Autism
  • Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Research and Evaluation Emphasis:

Students with excellent potential as researchers and theoreticians who are interested in scholarly careers in special education, education, and related social sciences may apply for the Ph.D. degree program, which represents the highest level of achievement in the Arts and Sciences. This degree program is administered jointly by Teachers College and the graduate faculty of Columbia University. Prospective students may obtain information on program offerings by contacting the program office.

 Ph.D. Program in Teaching as Applied Behavior Analysis

The Teaching as Applied Behavior Analysis M.A. and Ph.D. programs incorporate an approach to teacher training in which all instruction used by teachers is based on scientific evidence and the use of scientific procedures to fit the appropriate science-based practices to individual students’ varied learning and language developmental needs. The M.A. program prepares graduates to be dually certified from birth to grade 6 in New York State. Students may also apply for certification in other states according to state-specific processes and inter-state reciprocal agreements. Students accepted in the program are placed in paid teacher assistant positions (M.A. students and Ph.D. students taking the M.A. core) or paid teacher positions (Ph.D. students who have completed at least 3 semesters of the M.A. core) in schools and classrooms that practice teaching as applied behavior analysis. The training of teachers is also based on scientifically tested procedures.  Teacher trainees are taught until they master the science and its application with all children from 2 years through grade 5.

Research is a central component of the training—both the applications of research using science-based tactics and measurement and the generation of new research. The focus of the M.A. program is in the application of scientific procedures in classrooms, while Ph.D. students engage in research throughout their program, building on their research training in the M.A. and culminating in a dissertation that identifies and investigates a topic related to our mission. Dissertations must make contributions to both the applied and basic science. The faculty and the students generate a substantial body of research leading to publications and presentations at international scientific conferences each year, and this is a key component of the Ph.D. training. Programmatic research is conducted in the following areas: effective classroom practices, language/verbal development interventions that result in children learning to learn in different ways, observational learning, and systems-wide scientific approaches to education.

Students who already hold M.A. degrees from other institutions must take the ten M.A. core courses, because the core prepares them with the means to be successful in completing milestone Ph.D. requirements. Ph.D. students also need to be dually certified in New York State for teaching children from birth to grade 6. The teaching placement is a critical part of the program, because it provides the opportunities to train M.A. students and to be involved in cutting-edge research.  In that role Ph.D. students are critical instructors for the first- and second-year M.A. students, an experience that prepares the doctoral candidate to teach and mentor graduate-level students. Our Ph.D. candidate teachers play a significant role in our record of providing measurably superior instruction and bridging the educational gap.  For more information please see the Teaching as Applied Behavior Analysis M.A. program description.

Department Courses Required for All Student Majors in Degree Program

Core Requirements for all Ph.D. Special Education Majors

  • HBSE 5010     Study of the philosophic foundations of special education
  • HBSE 6001     Research in special education: Research/experimental design
  • HBSE 6005     Research in special education: Single-case design
  • HBSE 6010     Advanced study of problems and issues in special education
  • HBSE 7500     Dissertation seminar in special education
  • HBSE 8900-8910     Dissertation advisement in special education

Non-Department Courses Required for All Student Majors in Degree Program

  • HUDM 4122     Probability and statistical inference
  • HUDM 5122     Applied regression analysis

Specialization Requirements, Applied Behavior Analysis:

  • HBSE 5304     Advanced practica in special education: Behavioral disorders
  • HBSE 5904     Problems in special education: Behavioral disorders
  • HBSE 5915     Supervision and administration of special education and human resources agencies through organizational behavior analysis
  • HBSE 6008     Behaviorism
  • HBSE 6015     The verbal behavior model: Individual educational programming
  • HBSE 6031     Single-case experimental design in education, medicine, and therapy
  • HBSE 6404     Advanced internship: Behavior disorders
  • HBSE 6504     Advanced seminar in special education: Applied behavior analysis and behavioral disorders

Ph.D. Program in the Education of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing 

The Ph.D. doctoral program is divided into several areas of study including 1) advanced study in general special education, the philosophy of science, and theory building; 2) advanced study in a minimum of two paradigms of research; 3) advanced study in the education of the deaf and hard of hearing, including advanced study in linguistics, psycholinguistics, and developmental psycholinguistics; and 4) a professional spe­cialization. 

The Ph.D. in Deaf and Hard of Hearing is administered and awarded through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Columbia University and requires the equivalent of an undergraduate liberal arts degree. The degree requires a minimum of 54 credits beyond the master’s degree and presumes a background in and/or direct professional experience in working with individuals who are Deaf or hard of hearing.

Core Requirements for all Ph.D. Special Education majors (15):

  • HBSE 5010     Study of the philosophic foundations of special education (3)
  • HBSE 6001 & 6005 Research in special education (6 total)
  • HBSE 6010     Advanced study of problems and issues in special education (3)
  • HBSE 7500     Dissertation seminar in special education (3)
  • HBSE 8907     Dissertation advisement in special education: Deaf and hard of hearing (0)

Research Requirement (15)

  • HUDM 4122     Probability and statistical inference (3)
  • HUDM 5122     Applied regression analysis (3)
  • HUDM 5123     Linear Models (3)

Advanced Statistics/Research/Evaluation/Measurements Courses (examples listed below)

  • HUDM 5059     Psychological Measurement (3)
  • HUDM 6122     Multivariate Analysis I (3)

Area of Concentration: Deaf and Hard of Hearing  (18):

Deaf and Hard of Hearing (6)

  • HBSE 5907     Problems in special education: Deaf and hard of hearing (3)
  • HBSE 6507     Advanced seminar in special education: Deaf and hard of hearing (3)

Depending upon the student’s background, the student is expected to choose 12 credit hours of study in a specialization area determined through advisement.

Ph.D. Program in Intellectual Disability/Autism

Intellectual Disability/Autism is one of the exceptionality focus areas that may be selected by applicants to the Ph.D. Programs in Special Education. Individuals who are interested in careers as researchers and scholars in the field of developmental disabilities or special education, inclusive education, and related social sciences may apply for the Ph.D. degree program (84 credits), which represents the highest level of achievement in the Arts and Sciences.

The doctoral program in Intellectual Disability/Autism is a research-intensive program designed to prepare graduates for a variety of academic and professional roles in the field of developmental disabilities. Given our program’s strong research emphasis, all doctoral students will take rigorous statistics and research methods coursework. In addition, we practice a research-apprenticeship model of student mentorship and training, thus all students will engage in research activities with faculty members. Doctoral students may orient their preparation towards careers as college and university professors, researchers, program directors, or curriculum and instructional evaluators.

Successful doctoral candidates will pass a doctoral certification examination in general special education and will complete a doctoral certification project in their area of specialization. Upon achieving official status as a doctoral candidate, students will be eligible to select a faculty committee and begin work on their doctoral dissertation research.

Procedures for admission to the Ph.D. program in Special Education in the Department of Health and Behavior Studies at Teachers College are administered jointly by the Office of Admission and the Department. Applicants are evaluated according to the following criteria:

1. Strong academic record and potential,
2. GRE scores,
3. Two to three years of successful teaching experience in special education and/or evidence of strong applied or basic research experience in a related field (e.g., empirical Master’s thesis, conference presentations, and/or peer-reviewed publications).
4. Scholarly and professional promise,
5. Appropriate fit with faculty research,
6. Appropriate career objectives,
7. English proficiency (TOEFL score of at least 600), if applicable,
8. Non-academic attributes which demonstrate ability to meet the challenges of working with people with developmental disabilities and conducting research with this population,
9. Academic or professional writing sample.


Course requirements in each of the following categories must be satisfied in order to complete the 84-credit Ph.D. program:

Master’s-level courses in Intellectual Disability/Autism (30 credits total):

Core Coursework in the Applied Sciences of Learning and Special Education (24)

  • HBSE 5010     Study of the philosophic foundations of special education (3)
  • HBSE 6010     Advanced study of problems and issues in special education (3)
  • HBSE 5901     Problems in Special Education – Intellectual Disability/autism (3)
  • HBSE 6501-I  Advanced seminar in Intellectual Disability/autism (3)
  • HBSE 6501-II Advanced seminar in Intellectual Disability/autism or Seminar in Deaf/Hard of Hearing or Seminar in School Psychology (3)
  • HBSE 6001     Research in Special Education: Group Design (3)
  • HBSE 6005     Research in Special Education: Single Case Design (3)
  • HBSE 7500     Dissertation Seminar (3)

Coursework in Statistics and Research Methodology (15)

  • HUDM 4122     Probability & Statistical Inference (3)
  • HUDM 5122     Applied Regression Analysis (3)
  • HUDM 5123     Linear Models and Experimental Design (3)
  • Advanced Statistics, Research Methods, Evaluation, or Measurement Course (3)
  • Advanced Statistics, Research Methods, Evaluation, or Measurement Course (3)

Specialization Electives (15)

  • Elective Coursework (15)

Areas of specialization include:
Health, Neuroscience, Movement, or Communication Sciences
Developmental, Counseling, or School Psychology
Educational Policy or Organization & Leadership
Diversity & Multicultural Studies
Research Methodology

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