Intellectual Disability Autism PhD

Ph.D. in Applied Sciences of Learning and Special Education with Focus in Intellectual Disability/Autism


Intellectual Disability/Autism is one of the focus areas that may be selected by applicants to either the Ed.D. or the Ph.D. programs in the Applied Sciences of Learning and Special Education. 

The doctoral programs in Intellectual Disability/Autism are research-intensive programs designed to prepare graduates for a variety of academic and professional roles in the field of developmental disabilities. Given our programs’ strong research emphasis, all doctoral students will take rigorous statistics and research methods coursework. We practice a research-apprenticeship model of student mentorship and training. As part of this training, all doctoral students will engage in research activities as part of faculty members' research teams, where they will gain experience with all aspects of the research process: data collection in schools and/or research labs, data management, observational coding, data analysis, and manuscript preparation.  Past doctoral students have oriented 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 the Applied Sciences of Learning and 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. 

A group of students converse in a study group at Teachers College.

Admissions Information

Doctor of Philosophy

  • Points/Credits: 84
  • Entry Terms: Fall Only

Application Deadlines

  • Spring: N/A
  • Summer/Fall (Priority): December 15
  • Summer/Fall (Final): December 15

Supplemental Application Requirements/Comments

  • GRE General Test
  • Academic Writing Sample

Requirements from the TC Catalog

View Full Catalog Listing

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 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

Back to skip to quick links