Project LEADERS: Fully funded PhD in Special Education with specializations in severe disabilities and advanced research methods

Preparing Future Scholars in Severe DisabiLitiEs and ADvancEd ReSearch Methods

The Department of Educational Studies Special Education program was recently awarded a grant through the U S Department of Education Office of Special Education Programming that will fund a cohort of five PhD students to study severe disabilities and advanced research methods.

Apply by December 1, 2021 at

Learn more about the program at

Benefits include:

  • Tuition, books, and fees
  • Monthly living stipend
  • Computer
  • Conference travel and training opportunities
  • Mentorship from leading experts in severe disabilities and advanced research methods
  • Total value of $194,000


When does the program begin and end?
Students will begin the program in Summer 2022 and graduate in Summer 2026. Prospective students must apply by December 1, 2021.

Is this a full-time or a part-time program?
The program is full-time only. A monthly living stipend is included.

Is this an online program?
Although some courses will be delivered in an online format, most coursework and training activities will be delivered in person.

What qualifications are required for acceptance?
Successful candidates will have a master’s degree and practical experience working with students with severe disabilities in schools.

Is the GRE required?
No, the GRE is not required for admission.

Do students need a background in research methods or statistics?
No background in research methods or statistics is required. Training will be provided.

Who are students with severe disabilities?
This program focuses on studying special education for students with intellectual disability, on the autism spectrum, or with multiple disabilities who have intensive support needs.

Who will advise students in LEADERS?
Students will be advised by leading experts in severe disabilities (Dr. Matt Brock), advanced quantitative methods (Dr. Ann O’Connell), and complex communication challenges (Dr. Laura Justice).

How do applicants express interest in LEADERS funding?
Every applicant who describes an interest in severe disabilities in their personal statement will be considered for LEADERS funding.

How many students will be accepted into LEADERS?

Five students will be accepted into LEADERS through a competitive admission process.

What research opportunities will be available?
Students will receive mentorship on federally funded research projects such as FLIP Recess and PEERS, as well as opportunities to partner on other research projects at the Crane Center for Early Childhood Research and Policy. In addition, students will receive access to restricted datasets from the U.S. Department of Education.

In addition to coursework and mentorship, what additional training opportunities will be available?
LEADERS funding will pay for students to receive training to administer the Autism Program Environmental Rating Scale (APERS), attend the Council for Exceptional Children Leadership Summit, attend multiple national conferences in special education, and receive training and consultation from experts from other Universities.

What kind of training will be provided in advanced research methods?
Students will complete the Graduate Interdisciplinary Specialization in Quantitative Research Methods.

Will this funding be offered for students who apply after 2021?
No, this funding is only available for students who apply by December 1, 2021 for admission in Summer 2022.

Where do students work after they graduate?
Recent graduates in the severe disabilities program are currently working as special education faculty at major Universities across the United States including the University of Oklahoma, Duquesne University, and Cleveland State University.

What is it like to live in Columbus, Ohio?
Columbus is the 15th largest city in the United States, and offers outstanding opportunities to enjoy art, music, live sports, dining, parks, and nightlife. In addition, Columbus has very affordable housing compared to other metro areas. Read more about living in Columbus here.

Additional questions?
Please contact Dr. Matt Brock

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