Doctor of Philosophy in Special Education (PhD)
The Special Education program at UBC concerns the education of students with exceptionalities, such as students with visual impairments, developmental disabilities, emotional or behavioural disorders, learning disabilities, gifts and talents, and those who are deaf or hard of hearing. Faculty are committed to promoting practices that facilitate inclusion, empowerment, and self-determination of individuals with disabilities and other special needs in home, school, and community settings.
What makes the program unique?
- Only university in the country to offer graduate coursework in special education across all areas of exceptionality.
- Opportunities for practical experiences with a variety of district and community partnerships.
- We offer opportunities for research and funding through faculty partnerships.
- We offer opportunities to change practice for the better through Special Education faculty initiatives.
- Outstanding support through a world-class faculty and staff to guide you on your academic journey!
Meet a UBC representative
Q&A with UBC Graduate Student Ambassadorswebinar
Date: Wednesday, 05 February 2020
Time: 08:30 to 09:30
Chat with current graduate students during this online session about their experiences being graduate students at UBC. Topics include accommodation, moving to a new city/ province/country, settling into an academic lifestyle, finding a supervisor, making friends, and more. Please keep in mind that we will not be able to provide answers to specific application and admission questions or any that involve specific personal information.
Admission Information & Requirements
In order to apply to this program, the following components may be required.
All applicants must complete an online application form and pay the application fee to be considered for admission to UBC.
Minimum Academic Requirements
The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies establishes the minimum admission requirements common to all applicants, usually a minimum overall average in the B+ range (76% at UBC). The graduate program that you are applying to may have additional requirements. Please review the specific requirements for applicants with credentials from institutions in:
Each program may set higher academic minimum requirements. Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission as it is a competitve process.
Letters of Reference
A minimum of three references are required for application to graduate programs at UBC. References should be requested from individuals who are prepared to provide a report on your academic ability and qualifications.
Statement of Interest
Many programs require a statement of interest, sometimes called a "statement of intent", "description of research interests" or something similar.
English Language Proficiency
Applicants from a university outside Canada in which English is not the primary language of instruction must provide results of an English language proficiency examination as part of their application. Tests must have been taken within the last 24 months at the time of submission of your application.
Minimum requirements for the two most common English language proficiency tests to apply to this program are listed below:
Students in research-based programs usually require a faculty member to function as their supervisor. Depending on program, applicants either reach out to faculty members directly or the program supports this process in different ways.
This program has not specified whether applicants should reach out to faculty members. Please review the program website for additional details.
Test Scores (GRE / GMAT or similar)
Some programs require additional test scores such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Test (GMAT). The requirements for this program are:
Permanent Residents of Canada must provide a clear photocopy of both sides of the Permanent Resident card.
Deadline to submit online application. No changes can be made to the application after submission.Transcript Deadline
Deadline to upload scans of official transcripts through the applicant portal in support of a submitted application. Information for accessing the applicant portal will be provided after submitting an online application for admission.Referee Deadline
Deadline for the referees identified in the application for admission to submit references. See Letters of Reference for more information.
September 2021 Intake
Application Open Date19 September 2020
All full-time students who begin a UBC-Vancouver PhD program in September 2018 or later will be provided with a funding package of at least $18,000 for each of the first four years of their PhD. The funding package may consist of any combination of internal or external awards, teaching-related work, research assistantships, and graduate academic assistantships. Please note that many graduate programs provide funding packages that are substantially greater than $18,000 per year. Please check with your prospective graduate program for specific details of the funding provided to its PhD students.
Applicants to UBC have access to a variety of funding options, including merit-based (i.e. based on your academic performance) and need-based (i.e. based on your financial situation) opportunities.
We encourage all applicants to review the awards listing to identify potential opportunities to fund your graduate education. The database lists merit-based scholarships and awards and allows for filtering by various criteria, such as domestic vs. international or degree level.
In addition to scholarships and awards, applicants may be eligible to apply for financial aid or other benefits in the form of loans, bursaries, tax credits, or similar.
16 students graduated between 2005 and 2013. Of these, career information was obtained for 14 alumni (based on research conducted between Feb-May 2016):
RI (Research-Intensive) Faculty: typically tenure-track faculty positions (equivalent of the North American Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor positions) in PhD-granting institutions
TI (Teaching-Intensive) Faculty: typically full-time faculty positions in colleges or in institutions not granting PhDs, and teaching faculty at PhD-granting institutions
Term Faculty: faculty in term appointments (e.g. sessional lecturers, visiting assistant professors, etc.)
Sample Employers in Higher EducationUniversity of British Columbia (2)
Capilano University (2)
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
Royal Roads University
University of Bahrain
University of Manitoba
Sample Employers Outside Higher EducationCanucks Autism Network
Winnipeg School Division
BC Provincial Government
Coquitlam School District
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher EducationDirector of Programming
Senior Behavioural Consultant
PhD Career Outcome SurveyYou may view the full report on career outcomes of UBC PhD graduates on outcomes.grad.ubc.ca.
DisclaimerThese data represent historical employment information and do not guarantee future employment prospects for graduates of this program. They are for informational purposes only. Data were collected through either alumni surveys or internet research.
Tuition / Program Costs
|Fees||Canadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / Diplomat||International|
|Installments per year||3||3|
|Tuition per installment||$1,698.56||$2,984.09|
|Tuition per year|
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
|Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible)||$3,200.00 (-)|
|Other Fees and Costs|
|Student Fees (yearly)||$944.51 (approx.)|
|Costs of living (yearly)||starting at $16,954.00 (check cost calculator)|
All fees for the year are subject to adjustment and UBC reserves the right to change any fees without notice at any time, including tuition and student fees. Tuition fees are reviewed annually by the UBC Board of Governors. In recent years, tuition increases have been 2% for continuing domestic students and between 2% and 5% for continuing international students. New students may see higher increases in tuition. Admitted students who defer their admission are subject to the potentially higher tuition fees for incoming students effective at the later program start date. In case of a discrepancy between this webpage and the UBC Calendar, the UBC Calendar entry will be held to be correct.
Completion Rates & Times
This list shows faculty members with full supervisory privileges who are affiliated with this program. It is not a comprehensive list of all potential supervisors as faculty from other programs or faculty members without full supervisory privileges can request approvals to supervise graduate students in this program.
Butler, Deborah (special education, learning disabilities, inclusive educational practices, intervention research for students with learning disabilities, Collaboration and co-regulation in teachers' professional learning, collaborative professional development models, learning disabilities in adolescence and adulhood, mathematics, metagocnition and self-regulated learning, research methods in educaiton, strategic performanc ein reading, writing)
Cannon, Joanna (Special Education and Social Adaptation, Teacher Education, Educational Approaches, Speech and Language Development Disorders, Language Acquisition and Development, Cognition and Language, Literacy Training, Education of Students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, Students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing with complex language or cognitive needs)
Ervin, Ruth (Systems Change, Prevention and Intervention Strategies in Special Education )
Holbrook, Cay (special education, Special education, education of students with visual impairments, instruction in Braille reading and writing)
Jamieson, Janet Ruth (Education of deaf and hard of hearing students)
Lo, Owen (Gifted Education, High Ability, Metacognition and Self-Regulated Learning, Multiculturalism, Problem Solving, Qualitative Research, Research Methodologies, Sociocultural Approaches to Learning and Teaching)
Lucyshyn, Joseph (Applied Behaviour Analysis, Behaviour Disorders, Behavioural Family Intervention, Positive Behaviour Support, Single-Subject Research)
McKee, William (Behavioral Disorders in Children and Adolescents, Behavioral Problems, Learning Disorders in Children, Teaching and Learning Systems, Educational Counselling, Program Management (Education), Autism, Mental Health and Psychopathology in Children and Youth, School-Based Mental Health, Children and Youth with Special Needs)
Mercer, Sterett (Literacy Training, Learning Disabilities, curriculum-based measurement, academic intervention)
Mirenda, Pat (autism; developmental disability (mental retardation, etc.); positive behaviour support; augmentative communication (communication technology for people who are unable to speak), Autism, communication and behaviour challenges, developmental disabilities, augmentative and alternative communicaiton, positive behaviour support, inclusive education, literacy development)
Perry, Nancy (motivation and self-regulated learning in young children; social perspectives on teaching and learning, reading and writing; accommodating individual difference in general education classrooms; learning disabilities; special education, Metacognition, motivation, and self-regulated learning in elementary school children Social perspectives on teaching and learning, including social cognitive and sociocultural theories, Teacher development, Individual differences, Learning disabilities)
Zebehazy, Kim (Assessment, Instructional Strategies, Problem Solving, Visual Impairment)
Recent Doctoral Citations
- Dr. Tyla Marie Frewing
"Dr. Frewing evaluated three methods for providing rewards when teaching new skills to children with autism spectrum disorder. All participants demonstrated a clear and stable preference for one method over the others. Children's preferences for teaching strategies may inform treatment selection, particularly when two or more strategies are similarly effective." (November 2018)
- Dr. Ashley Flis
"Dr. Flis examined the effectiveness of a computer-based reading program when implemented as an intervention tool to a group of grade 1 students who are at risk for reading failure, and a group of students who speak another language other than English. She found that early literacy intervention delivered by technology is a successful practice for both groups of students." (May 2018)
- Dr. Hadas Av-Gay
"Dr. Av-Gay examined the complexities of learning disabilities by interviewing students and parents. Findings revealed insights into lived experiences relating to their diagnosis; a lack of systemic early identification; and emotional difficulties. This research may contribute to the development of policy and practice on student assessment." (May 2018)
- Dr. Kathryn Charlotte Garforth
"Dr. Garforth examined the relationship between Chinese character reading and English literacy skills among students who had English as a second language and Chinese as their first language. She found that measures of English phonological awareness accounted for more of a relationship to English literacy skills than Chinese character reading did." (May 2018)
- Dr. Shuting Huo
"Dr. Huo studied English language learning, particularly reading and spelling, among children in China. She found that English vocabulary and phonological awareness have causal influence on English word reading. Her work informs the practice of English literacy education for young learners in non-English speaking countries." (May 2018)