Special Education

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The Doctoral Program in Special Education, offered jointly with San Francisco State University, culminates in a PhD degree. The joint program draws on the strengths of both universities in developing leaders and researchers in the field of atypical development and learning.

The faculty and program resources on the two campuses support advanced research and theoretical discourse in a focused area of exceptionality. Area specializations in the Special Educational program include human development; early childhood, language, and literacy; mathematics, science, and technology; educational policy and administration; and area specializations selected by students in consultation with their faculty advisers.

Courses are taken on both university campuses, and faculty are drawn from both institutions.

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Admission to the University

Minimum Requirements for Admission

The following minimum requirements apply to all graduate programs and will be verified by the Graduate Division:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
  2. A grade point average of B or better (3.0);
  3. If the applicant has completed a basic degree from a country or political entity (e.g., Quebec) where English is not the official language, adequate proficiency in English to do graduate work, as evidenced by a TOEFL score of at least 90 on the iBT test, 570 on the paper-and-pencil test, or an IELTS Band score of at least 7 on a 9-point scale (note that individual programs may set higher levels for any of these); and
  4. Sufficient undergraduate training to do graduate work in the given field.

Applicants Who Already Hold a Graduate Degree

The Graduate Council views academic degrees not as vocational training certificates, but as evidence of broad training in research methods, independent study, and articulation of learning. Therefore, applicants who already have academic graduate degrees should be able to pursue new subject matter at an advanced level without the need to enroll in a related or similar graduate program.

Programs may consider students for an additional academic master’s or professional master’s degree only if the additional degree is in a distinctly different field.

Applicants admitted to a doctoral program that requires a master’s degree to be earned at Berkeley as a prerequisite (even though the applicant already has a master’s degree from another institution in the same or a closely allied field of study) will be permitted to undertake the second master’s degree, despite the overlap in field.

The Graduate Division will admit students for a second doctoral degree only if they meet the following guidelines:

  1. Applicants with doctoral degrees may be admitted for an additional doctoral degree only if that degree program is in a general area of knowledge distinctly different from the field in which they earned their original degree. For example, a physics PhD could be admitted to a doctoral degree program in music or history; however, a student with a doctoral degree in mathematics would not be permitted to add a PhD in statistics.
  2. Applicants who hold the PhD degree may be admitted to a professional doctorate or professional master’s degree program if there is no duplication of training involved.

Applicants may apply only to one single degree program or one concurrent degree program per admission cycle.

Required Documents for Applications

  1. Transcripts: Applicants may upload unofficial transcripts with your application for the departmental initial review. Unofficial transcripts must contain specific information including the name of the applicant, name of the school, all courses, grades, units, & degree conferral (if applicable). 
  2. Letters of recommendation: Applicants may request online letters of recommendation through the online application system. Hard copies of recommendation letters must be sent directly to the program, by the recommender, not the Graduate Admissions.
  3. Evidence of English language proficiency: All applicants who have completed a basic degree from a country or political entity in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This applies to institutions from Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, most European countries, and Quebec (Canada). However, applicants who, at the time of application, have already completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better at a US university may submit an official transcript from the US university to fulfill this requirement. The following courses will not fulfill this requirement:

    • courses in English as a Second Language,

    • courses conducted in a language other than English,

    • courses that will be completed after the application is submitted, and

    • courses of a non-academic nature.

Applicants who have previously applied to Berkeley must also submit new test scores that meet the current minimum requirement from one of the standardized tests. Official TOEFL score reports must be sent directly from Educational Test Services (ETS). The institution code for Berkeley is 4833 for Graduate Organizations. Official IELTS score reports must be sent electronically from the testing center to University of California, Berkeley, Graduate Division, Sproul Hall, Rm 318 MC 5900, Berkeley, CA 94720. TOEFL and IELTS score reports are only valid for two years prior to beginning the graduate program at UC Berkeley. Note: score reports can not expire before the month of June.


Where to Apply

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page

Doctoral Degree Requirements


Courses Required
EDUC 214Human Development and Education Seminar1
EDUC 200ACulture and Cognitive Development: Theoretical Perspectives3
or EDUC 205 Instruction and Development
EDUC 275BData Analysis in Educational Research II4
EDUC 275LEducational Data Analysis Laboratory II1
EDUC 293AData Analysis in Education Research4
EDUC 293LEducational Data Analysis Laboratory1
EDUC 299Special Study and Research1-12
Courses Required at SFSU
SPED 902: Seminar in Program Development
SPED 903: Research in Special Education: Program Design and Analysis
SPED 905: University-level Teaching Internship (RECOMMENDED, not required).
SPED 907: Learning and Development: The Influence of Disabilities
SPED 908: Directed Special Study Topics
SPED 909: Current Issues in Special Education Policy and Practice
Additional Courses per Area of Study (Concentrations)
Areas of Study: Early Childhood Special Education; Communicative Disorders; Deaf/Hard of Hearing; Mild/Moderate Disabilities; Autism Spectrum; Moderate Severe Disabilities; Physical Disabilities & Augmentative & Alternative Communication; Visual Impairment; Orientation & Mobility
3 Areas of Specialization required within the Area of Study requiring 3 UCB Graduate courses (or 9 semester units) per each area of specialization as approved by adviser
Foundational courses (SFSU) approved by adviser for Area of Study as needed per possible individual student background deficiencies


Special Education

Faculty and Instructors

* Indicates this faculty member is the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.

* Indicates this faculty member is the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.


Dor Abrahamson, Associate Professor. Mathematical cognition, design-based research, mixed-media design for mathematics learning environments, embodied interaction.
Research Profile

Patricia Baquedano-Lopez, Associate Professor. Immigration and diaspora from Latin America to the U S , Latinos and education, race and language, language socialization processes.
Research Profile

Prudence L. Carter, Professor. Youth identity and race, class, and gender, urban poverty, social and cultural inequality, the sociology of education and mixed research methods.
Research Profile

Anne E. Cunningham, Professor. Education, literacy development, disciplinary knowledge of reading, student achievement, cognitive development and instruction across the life span, cognitive consequences of literacy, adults, adolescents.
Research Profile

Michael Dumas, Assistant Professor. Urban education, urban political economy, cultural politics of education, Black cultural politics, critical social and cultural theory, Black education, critical childhood studies, photoethnographic methodology and practice.
Research Profile

Bruce Fuller, Professor. Policy analysis and evaluation, reform issues, charter schools, child care, early childhood development, economy and education.
Research Profile

Lisa Garcia Bedolla, Professor, Vice Provost for Graduate Studies, Dean of the Graduate Division. Educational inequity; immigration/immigrant integration; intersectionality; political engagement; public policy.
Research Profile

Bernard R. Gifford, Professor. Educational equity, education, assessment and educational measurement, computer-mediated learning, curriculum development, development of professional learning communities, experimental design in education.
Research Profile

Kris Gutierrez, Professor. Learning sciences, literacy and new media, design-based and qualitative research methods.
Research Profile

Susan Holloway, Professor. Japan, development, education, cognition, child development, early childhood education, families, young children in diverse societies, thoughts, values and expectations of parents, socialization and education of young children.
Research Profile

* Glynda Hull, Professor. Language, culture, society, education, literacy, writing in and out of schools, multi-media technology, new literacies, adult learning, work, and community, school, university collaborations.
Research Profile

Zeus Leonardo, Professor. Race inequality, critical social theory, sociology of education.
Research Profile

Marcia C. Linn, Professor. Technology, learning, mathematics, science, education, science teaching, gender equity, design of learning environments.
Research Profile

Jabari Mahiri, Professor. Language, culture, society, literacy, literacy learning of urban youth, African American students in schools, writing development, effective teaching, learning strategies in multicultural urban schools and communities.
Research Profile

Heinrich Mintrop, Associate Professor. Educational equity, policy analysis and evaluation, urban leadership, urban schooling, achievement issues, international education, leadership, principalship, school culture.
Research Profile

Erin Murphy-Graham, Associate Adjunct Professor. Educational equity, cultural studies, gender equity, diversity, international education, alternative schooling, democratic education, ethnic issues.
Research Profile

Larry Nucci, Adjunct Professor. Moral development, social development, moral education, domain theory, personal domain.
Research Profile

Zach Pardos, Assistant Professor. Education Data Science, Learning Analytics, Big Data in Education, data mining, Data Privacy and Ethics, Computational Psychometrics, Digital Learning Environments, Cognitive Modeling, Bayesian Knowledge Tracing, Formative Assessment, Learning Maps, machine learning.
Research Profile

P. David Pearson, Professor. Language, culture, society, education, literacy, early literacy education, reading assessment.
Research Profile

Daniel Perlstein, Associate Professor. Schooling, diversity, democracy, urban education, teachers unions, inequality education.
Research Profile

Sophia Rabe-Hesketh, Professor. Biostatistics, educational statistics, latent variable models, multilevel models, generalized linear latent and mixed models, hierarchical models, longitudinal data, Item response models, structural equation models.
Research Profile

Michael Ranney, Professor. Problem solving, knowledge representation and reorganization, explanatory coherence and inference, conceptual change, societal implications, science instruction, global climate change psychology, numeracy in journalism, naive/informal physics, computational models of cognition, perceptual-cognitive interactions, intelligent tutoring systems, understandings of biological evolution, Reasoning, qualitative and quantitative thinking.
Research Profile

Geoffrey B. Saxe, Professor. U S , developmental psychology, interplay between culture and cognitive development, mathematical cognition in children, Papua New Guinea, urban and rural areas of Northeastern Brazil, elementary school classrooms, cognitive development, mathematics education.
Research Profile

Alan H. Schoenfeld, Professor. Thinking, teaching, learning, productive learning environments, mathematics education, modeling the process of teaching, understanding how and why teachers do what they do.
Research Profile

Janelle Scott, Associate Professor. Educational policy, charter schools, politics of education, race and education, school choice, desegregation, philanthropy and education, advocacy.
Research Profile

Harley Shaiken, Professor. Mexico, labor, globalization, education, United States, geography, work organization, issues of economic and political integration in the Americas, information technology, skill.
Research Profile

Laura Sterponi, Associate Professor. Language and literacy socialization, moral development, communication of and with children with autism.
Research Profile

Tina Trujillo, Associate Professor. Educational equity, urban schooling, educational leadership, high stakes accountability, school improvement, educational policy, educational management and administration.
Research Profile

Elliot Turiel, Professor. Development, education, cognition, human development, development of social judgments and action, the development of moral reasoning, children_ _s conceptions of authority, rules in school settings, culture and social development.
Research Profile

Derek Van Rheenen, Associate Adjunct Professor.

Michelle H. Wilkerson, Assistant Professor. Science and mathematics learning environments, technologies for thinking and learning.

Mark Wilson, Professor. Measurement, psychometrics, assessment, development of assessment resources, assessment systems.
Research Profile

Frank Worrell, Professor. Development, education, cognition, academic talent development, adolescence, African American, at-risk youth, English-speaking Caribbean, ethnic identity, gifted, psychosocial development, racial identity, school psychology, teacher effectiveness, Trinidad and Tobago.
Research Profile


Cheryl Anne Lana Agrawal, Lecturer.

Elizabeth C. Baham, Lecturer.

Amy E. Bloodgood, Lecturer.

Alisa B. Crovetti, Lecturer.

Michael Davis, Lecturer.

Dora J. Dome, Lecturer.

Kathleen M. Donohue, Lecturer.

Rena Dorph, Lecturer.

Karen Draney, Lecturer.

Charles Flores, Lecturer.

David Futterman, Lecturer.

Laura Galicia, Lecturer.

Lloyd Goldwasser, Lecturer.

Thomas R. Green, Lecturer.

Lisa M. Griffin, Lecturer.

Judith Guilkey-Amado, Lecturer.

Edward Ham, Lecturer.

Annie Johnston, Lecturer.

Frances Kendall, Lecturer.

Richard Mccallum, Lecturer.

Xenia Meyer, Lecturer.

Anthony A. Mirabelli, Lecturer.

Sonal Patel, Lecturer.

Kate Perry, Lecturer.

Rachel Reinhard, Lecturer.

Lihi L. Rosenthal, Lecturer.

Soraya A. Sablo-Sutton, Lecturer.

Murray A. Sperber, Lecturer.

Katherine S. Suyeyasu, Lecturer.

Yukiko Watanabe, Lecturer.

Matt Wayne, Lecturer.

Nives B. Wetzel De Cediel, Lecturer.

Gary Yabrove, Lecturer.

Visiting Faculty

Zehlia Babaci Wilhite, Visiting Assistant Professor.

Jacoba A. Bulterman-Bos, Visiting Professor.

Emeritus Faculty

Paul R. Ammon, Professor Emeritus.

Guy (Karen Nelson) Benveniste, Professor Emeritus.

Joseph Campione, Professor Emeritus. Development, education, cognition, learning and transfer processes, atypical development, new approaches in instruction and assessment, and the integration of institutional procedures, instructional practices.
Research Profile

Geraldine Joncich Clifford, Professor Emeritus.

Patricia K. Cross, Professor Emeritus. Learning, higher education, assessment, community colleges.
Research Profile

Andrea Disessa, Professor Emeritus. Education, cognition, conceptual development, science education, design of technology for education, computational literacies.
Research Profile

Lily Wong Fillmore, Professor Emeritus. Language, culture, society, education, literacy, education of language minority students in American schools, second language learning and teaching, the education of language minority students, the socialization of children for learning across culture.
Research Profile

Sarah W. Freedman, Professor Emeritus. Writing, educational linguistics, international civics education, multiculturalism, human rights, English teaching, teacher education, teacher action research.
Research Profile

David Pierpont Gardner, Professor Emeritus.

James W. Guthrie, Professor Emeritus.

Donald Hansen, Professor Emeritus.

Curtis Hardyck, Professor Emeritus.

Paul Holland, Professor Emeritus.

John G. Hurst, Professor Emeritus.

James L. Jarrett, Professor Emeritus.

Jean Lave, Professor Emeritus. Ethnography, social theory, education, social practice, anthropologu, re-conceiving of learning, learners, and educational institutions.
Research Profile

Judith Warren Little, Professor Emeritus. Organizational contexts of teachers' work, teacher policy,teacher workforce issues, professional education.
Research Profile

* Lawrence F. Lowery, Professor Emeritus.

Kathleen Metz, Professor Emeritus. Development, education, cognition, young children_ _s scientific reasoning, children_ _s intuitions about rudimentary statistical constructs, data-based inquiry, limitations of young children_ _s scientific inquiry.
Research Profile

Rodney J. Reed, Professor Emeritus.

William Rohwer, Professor Emeritus.

Robert B. Ruddell, Professor Emeritus.

Lloyd F. Scott, Professor Emeritus.

Carol B. Stack, Professor Emeritus. Language, culture, migration, society, education, literacy, urban youth, rural and urban families, service sector employment, facets of the social context of education, women_ _s studies.
Research Profile

David S. Stern, Professor Emeritus. Education, school reform, high schools, career academies, the relationship between education and work, school-based enterprise, resource allocation in schools.
Research Profile

Lawrence Stewart, Professor Emeritus.

* James C. Stone, Professor Emeritus.

Paul T. Takagi, Professor Emeritus.

Alan B. Wilson, Professor Emeritus.

Contact Information

Berkeley School of Education

2121 Berkeley Way, 4th Floor

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Program Assistant

Caron Williams

2121 Berkeley Way, 4123-9

Phone: 510-642-4202


Department of Special Education & Communicative Disorders

SF State University

156 Burk Hall

Phone: (415)338-1161


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