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Doctor of Education Program
with major in special education

Doctoral Program Admission Requirements

Admissions criteria are based on qualifications associated with academic success in doctoral study as well as qualifications that candidates applying for leadership positions are expected to have when seeking employment as faculty at colleges and universities. In recognition of the fact that NO SINGLE CRITERION is an adequate predictor of satisfactory completion of a program of study or subsequent success in a professional career, faculty members in this program endorse MULTIPLE CRITERIA for admission to this doctoral program. Requirements for admission are weighed using a +, 0, - system in judging each applicant and are considered necessary but not sufficient eligibility criteria for admission.

At the present time, this online program is NOT open to students applying from international areas because they cannot obtain a U.S. Student Visa for an online program and it is not available at international locations.

The following admission requirements apply to all doctoral programs:
  • Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution with minimum GPA of 3.0 out of 4.0;
  • Masters degree from a regionally accredited institution in Special Education or Gifted Education with a minimum GPA of 3.25 out of 4.0
  • Graduate Record Exam (GRE) TOTAL (verbal plus quantitative) score within a 5-year period of 1000 total (old) or 300 (new) with a minimum verbal 450 (old) or 155 (new) and a minimum analytical 4.5
  • Documentation of state teaching certification in some area of special education or gifted education
  • MINIMUM of two (2) full years of documented experience providing instruction as a PUBLIC school teacher to students with exceptionalities in grades PK-12
  • Three (3) letters of reference supporting academic ability AND professional commitment from professionals currently working in special education or gifted education. ALL letters should address leadership potential, work habits and ethics, and interpersonal skills.
    • The first letter must be from an individual with a doctoral degree in special education or gifted education with direct knowledge of the applicant's academic achievement during the Master's degree program.
    • The second letter must be from an employment supervisor who can verify job performance during the most recent employment as special educator or gifted educator.
    • The third letter should be from another professional
  • Applicant statement articulating clear career goals focused on a leadership position in personnel preparation in special education and illustrating a lifelong commitment to excellence in special education and/or gifted education or disability services.
  • Professional practice experience plan identifying the college or university and the public school system in which the applicant plans to complete professional practice experiences throughout the program
  • Academic writing sample documenting knowledge of special education/gifted education skill in organizing and expressing ideas, and appropriate citations of current sources in the professional literature

Applicants who meet the criteria specified above will also be required to undergo:

  • A personal interview demonstrating knowledge of the field and communication and interpersonal skills
  • A proctored writing sample to verify ability to express ideas with logic, clarity and correct grammar

Admission to the program with PROVISIONAL student status may be considered if openings are available:
  • Applicants who do not have a master's degree in Special Education but meet all other criteria may be admitted but may need to complete additional graduate courses in special education to address deficiencies. 
  • Applicants who have only private school teaching experience but meet all other criteria may be admitted but may need to complete a practicum experience in a public school setting during the program. 

Other Admission Information

Applicants who meet all criteria are NOT automatically granted admission to the program. Admission is contingent upon number of applicants, number of current students, and availability of graduate faculty.

Students who are admitted but fail to enroll in the first semester must re-apply for admission.

 Applications submitted before the due date with all supporting documentation are eligible for EARLY ADMISSION. Applications that are incomplete will be rejected. Applicants who meet all regular admission criteria will be admitted automatically to the program. Applicants who meet criteria for provisional admission MAY be considered IF openings remain. Under NO circumstances will ANY admission requirement be waived.

Apply for Graduate Admission 

The Department of Special Education Program Application Form can be obtained at
For assistance in completing applications, please contact or 304-293-3450.

Application Submission Deadlines

Applications for admission beginning FALL semester: DUE JANUARY 15

Tuition and Fees

Students enrolled in campus-based courses pay on-campus tuition and fees at a rate based on their status as a West Virginia resident or non-resident at the time of admission. ALL students enrolled in ELIGIBLE online programs pay off-campus tuition and fees at the RESIDENT rate regardless of residency status in all program courses (section 7D) and practica (section 7D) through an agreement with the Southern Regional Education Board’s Electronic Campus. Information on tuition and fees is available at the WVU website at

Financial Support

Academic Loans
Information about may be obtained from the WVU Financial Aid Office at

TEACH Grants
The federally funded TEACH Grant Program provides aid to graduate students seeking to become certified in high shortage areas, which many include any area of special education, and wiling to work in a high need school. Information is available at

Special Education Projects with Tuition/Fee Reimbursement
In some years, the special education programs have federally funded projects to reimburse tuition/fees for individuals pursuing certification in special education. Information about projects currently available in specific certification programs can be obtained by contacting

Applying Courses from Other Institutions 

Students who wish to ask about transfer graduate degree credits from another institution PRIOR TO APPLYING FOR ADMISSION should review the information about waivers and transfers and send the required information for pre-review to

Deferred Admission and Failure to Enroll

Regularly admitted students who find they are unable to enroll in coursework during the effective term of their admission may request that their admission be deferred to a different semester within one (1) calendar year. Since the doctoral program cohorts start only in August, students may ONLY request deferred admission for the next FALL semester. Requests for deferred admission by provisionally admitted students will NOT be approved. Students who do NOT enroll in coursework during the effective term of their admission will automatically be converted to INACTIVE status and will be required to RE-APPLY to the university and program. Inactive students who seek re-admission will be required to RE-APPLY to the university and program and meet any additional NEW requirements for admission or completion in effect at that time.