The Ed.D. in special education and multiple abilities at The University of Alabama is designed to prepare future leaders to help change the world through administration, evaluation, teaching, and service for the benefit of children and youth with disabilities and their families. Future leaders would primarily be administrators but they could also be teacher trainers or executive directors of nonprofit organizations.

The program is designed to acculturate students to leadership in special education and to ensure they have the ethics and scholarship  to be top contenders for leadership appointments. Our graduates display rigor in their methods, use adult-learning theory to engage their university students, and participate in their profession.

The Department of Special Education and Multiple Abilities (SPEMA) offers doctoral preparation in five areas of faculty expertise, but other areas are possible, if a SPEMA faculty member agrees to help the student put together a logical program of studies in the broad area of special education and multiple abilities. Faculty have expertise beyond these five areas.

Faculty Expertise


In Alabama, this is the term for K-12 noncategorical special education teachers. This area of focus is for students wanting to pursue administration and teaching in teacher preparation, cultural aspects of special education, and how general educators and special educators collaborate.


Students will learn about language and literacy interventions for young children at risk and with disabilities, behavioral interventions for children with autism, coaching practitioners to implement evidence-based practices with young children, culturally responsive evidence-based interventions, child engagement, family-centered practices, the Routines-Based Model (including the Routines-Based Interview), and implementation science.

Ed.D. students in EI/ECSE participate in the Evidence-based International Early Intervention Office, which, among other activities, runs the annual Routines-Based Interview Institute and the Routines-Based Home-Visiting Institute. We offer experiences with teaching and opportunities to participate in community programs. Faculty are well-versed in coaching and implementation. Close mentorship on functional, family-centered approaches to early intervention/

early childhood special education, including implementation and systems change in the U.S. and overseas is available.


The Gifted and Talented Program at The University of Alabama is well known for the Schoolwide Enrichment Model and the Talents Unlimited Model, which both consist of practical instructional strategies.

The gifted program runs a Summer Enrichment Workshop and the Duke TIP program. Coming to Alabama, Ed.D. students interested in gifted education would learn the major models in gifted education and join a program recognized statewide and nationwide.


An Ed.D. student at The University of Alabama can focus on multi-tiered systems of supports (MTSS), including positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS).

The Alabama Positive Behavior Support Office provides training and technical assistance to schools, which provides a rich opportunity for Ed.D students to participate.

Doctoral students interested in MTSS would have opportunities to support the design and implementation of MTSS across traditional and alternative educational settings. They would travel to exemplar sites across the country, to observe and experience this implementation.


Students interested in the education of children, students, and youth with severe and profound disabilities have a home at The University of Alabama. A particular strength within this area of specialization is the transition of these students to work or further education.

CrossingPoints provides an opportunity for developing leadership in this area: It is an on-campus transition program in cooperation with Tuscaloosa City and County school systems, providing a two-tier postsecondary transition program. Tier 1 is for students still under IDEA, and Tier 2 is a summer bridge program for college-age students with intellectual disabilities.

Ed.D. students from around the country or overseas interested in students with severe disabilities and in the transition from high school would find no better place to study.

Program Requirements

Required Seminars

  • Introduction to Doctoral Studies. Literature reviews, research designs, developing the student’s program of studies.
  • Introduction to College Teaching.

Required Research

  • 12-18 hours of courses, including at least one quantitative and one qualitative course
  • In the future, single-case research designs will be offered.
  • 12 hours of dissertation


Students, with their advisors, decide on advanced-level courses from any department of college. The student’s plan of studies committee helps ensure the academic experiences will prepare the student for his or her career aspirations and intellectual fulfilment.