May 24, 2018  
2014-2015 Graduate Catalog 
2014-2015 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Exceptional Learning, Ph.D.

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Lisa Zagumny, Director

The Ph.D. at TTU focuses on the characteristics, strengths, and educational needs of individuals and groups whose learning potential and opportunities for success are frequently unrealized. Exceptional and at-risk populations include people for whom social, economic, and physical characteristics may serve as a barrier to development and learning. The Ph.D. will prepare leaders to work in schools, agencies, and universities to effect positive change in populations of diverse and at-risk learners, addressing social, economic, and physical characteristics that may serve as barriers to learning, primarily through research and service activities. The program core develops an understanding of the characteristics of these populations. The research core provides a strong emphasis on research techniques and applications. Four (4) concentrations allow you to focus on specific interests:

Applied Behavior Analysis prepares professionals who can develop and deliver behavioral interventions and supports for individuals within educational and habilitative settings. There are two strands with ABA:

      Young Children and Families prepares professionals to provide support and interventions to young, at-risk children and families with emphasis on building relationships and advocating for children and families.  (Concentration leader - Dr. Jane Baker)
      Applied Behavior Analysis School-Aged Children and Adult Populations prepares professionals who will implement and provide empirical support for behavioral interventions for a range of populations and pursue board certification as a behavior analyst (BCBA). (Concentration leader - Dr. Seth King)

Literacy empowers educational innovators to develop cutting-edge, socially conscious approaches to multiliteracies and challenge narrow conceptions of learners, families, and worldviews. (Concentration leader – Dr. Deborah Setliff)

Program Planning and Evaluation prepares professionals for leadership roles in program evaluation and planning with an emphasis on statistical methods. (Concentration leader – Dr. Barry Stein)

STEM Education builds the capacity of innovative educational leaders to advance new ideas and to design/implement strategic innovations in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. (Concentration leader – Dr. Holly Anthony)

Admission Requirements

Applications will be accepted for the Fall semester only and must be received by March 1.

  1. QPA–Consideration for admission to the program is based on the applicant’s grade point average (GPA) in the last graduate degree or the last 60 hours of undergraduate work if no graduate degree has been completed. An average of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) or above from a recognized baccalaureate, graduate, or professional degree from an accredited college or university, or an international equivalent based on a four-year curriculum is required for admission.
  2. GRE–  Exceed 153 on Verbal Reasoning and score 140 or above on Quantitative Reasoning AND a score of 4.0 or above is required on Analytical Writing. -OR- Exceed 144 on Quantitative Reasoning and score 146 or above on Verbal Reasoning AND a score of 4.0 or above is required on Analytical Writing.
  3. Scholarly Writing–Students must demonstrate the ability to do scholarly writing by submitting a reference-based paper, thesis, or other written document in which information from various sources has been synthesized. The applicant must be the sole author.
  4. Statement of Intent–One (1) to two (2) pages should be sufficient to include intended enrollment (fall admission only), intended concentration, autobiographical statement, education and professional goals, area of interest for future research, and how your interest fits with faculty in your chosen area of study.
  5. Three Letters of Recommendation–At least one (1) letter should be from a professor who is able to comment on your qualifications for graduate study. Consideration will be made based upon the content of the letters.
  6. Professional Vitae
  7. Interviews with Ph.D. doctoral program faculty.


Degree Requirements

The student must maintain a cumulative point average of 3.25 and, in addition to adhering to the general regulations of the Graduate School, adhere to the specific regulations for the Ph.D. in Exceptional Learning program. These regulations, standards, and expectations include:

  1. A minimum of 78/79 semester hours of course work, including 36 semester hours in the research component and dissertation requirements and built upon the student’s course of study.
    • A minimum of 51 semester hours of course work beyond the baccalaureate must be completed after admittance into the doctoral program, including a minimum of 12 semester hours at the 7000 level (excluding dissertation credit).
    • No more than 27 semester hours of credit at the Master’s and Educational Specialist levels, excluding theses and problems courses, will be accepted for transfer credit toward the doctorate. All graduate course credit transferred from other degree programs must be approved by the student’s Advisory Committee prior to an assignment of credit in the student’s formal program of study.
  2. A residency requirement of three (3) full-time semesters (at least nine [9] hours each) must be met following matriculation.
  3. All requirements, including the dissertation, must be completed within a period of no more than eight (8) consecutive years.
  4. Following completion of all course work, excluding EDU 7920 and EDU 7990 , or during the last semester during which such course work is to be completed, students should complete their Comprehensive Examinations.
  5. Satisfactory completion of the dissertation requires an oral defense.
  6. The 15 hours required for the dissertation may be completed in no fewer than two (2) semester.
  7. A’s and B’s are required in coursework. A grade of “C” is considered a failing grade in doctoral programs. The student is allowed to maintain a grade of “C” in only one (1) course completed toward the Ph.D. degree. If a student receives two (2) “C’s” they will be dismissed from the program.
  8. “F’s” are not acceptable in the Ph.D. in Exceptional Learning program. If a student receives a grade of “F” in a course, they will be dismissed from the program.
  9. If an Incomplete is granted, the student has one (1) academic year to complete the requirements. If the requirements have not been met in the allotted time period, the grade is converted to an “F,” and the student will be dismissed from the program.
  10. Approval of the dissertation topic and a successful proposal to the entire Committee must precede any significant work on the dissertation. Approval from the Institutional Review Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects must be obtained for any research project initiated by a student (or faculty member).
  11. A maximum of 12 credit hours may be taken in one (1) semester. Written approval from the Ph.D. Coordinator, the student’s concentration leader, and advisor is required to register and take more than 12 credit hours in one semester.


Summary of Course Requirements
Curricular Component Hours Required
General Education N/A
Major Field/General Core 13
Guided Electives 6/7
Concentrations 23/24
Research Component 21
Dissertation 15
  Total Hours: 78/79



*Only students admitted to the Ph.D. program are permitted to enroll in these courses.


ABA Specialization:



*Only students admitted to the Ph.D. program are permitted to enroll in these courses

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