Skip to main content

Special Education

Did you know? In the 2015 U.S. News and World Report rankings, Curry's Special Education program was ranked #4 in the nation.

Special education provides services for individuals with disabilities and the gifted, based on their unique educational needs, so they can make progress in educational environments where they would otherwise be likely to have limited success. To succeed, individuals with disabilities and the gifted need educational environments that incorporate one or more of several features. Environments must adjust and adapt flexibly to accommodate the learning characteristics of students who differ from typical or usual learners in ways relevant to mastery and acceleration.

Curry's special education program is aimed at advancing special education by preparing teachers, consultants, and other clinicians as well as teacher educators and researchers who can promote the application of evidence-based practices to the service of children and youths with special education needs. We offer degree programs for students who are just beginning their careers as special educators as well as advanced graduate programs for those who have extensive experience and are seeking to help others by discovering and disseminating new evidence about effective practices.

Special Education at U.Va.’s Curry School of Education includes the following areas of emphasis: Learning Disabilities (LD); Emotional and Behavioral Disorders (EBD). At the master's level, the purpose of these programs is to prepare professionals to provide exemplary, evidence-based services for individuals with disabilities. At the doctoral level, the purpose is to prepare professionals who can contribute to the advancement of scholarly knowledge about disabilities and special education, prepare future professionals, and contribute to the common wealth of the discipline.

Teacher preparation. Individuals who complete U.Va.'s teacher preparation programs work in a diverse array of school settings, depending on their area of specialization. Those who complete the high-incidence programs (i.e., focus on LD, EBD, and ID) usually focus on preschool through secondary-aged students (i.e., prek-12th grade) in school settings; although some may teach in special schools or self-contained special education classrooms, they usually find employment in collaborative or inclusion settings where they work as members of teams with regular or general educators in meeting the unique needs of students with disabilities in typical school situations.

Doctoral preparation. Graduates of Curry's special education doctoral program have regularly taken positions in schools and colleges of education (as well as other situations such as research organizations) where they have taught and conducted research. Many of them have become noted scholars who have contributed to the discipline of special education not just by teaching but also by publishing texts and research papers as well as by serving as officers in national and international organizations. (You can learn about a few of our grads' accomplishments in the notes that follow.)

Please review the list of degree programs we offer, as shown in the accompanying table, and learn about the faculty members in special education by clicking on the names under the heading "associated faculty."

Special Education Ranked #4

Actually, what the doctoral program at U.Va. did for children with disabilities, their teachers, their schools, and their families through me and my fellow alumni is what I find important. Without that opportunity, I would not be a professor at the University of California. I would not have trained about 20 doctoral students over the course of my career who, in turn, will help prepare over 10,000 teachers—and their own doctoral students—over the course of their careers who then will influence the quality of life for over 150,000 students with disabilities and their families over the course of their careers. U.Va. strongly contributed to a unique set of intellectual habits, values, and professional competencies and skills with which I've been able to do these things, all of which and in some measure have been passed on to others. Now multiply that impact by the number of U.Va.'s special education doctoral students over 35 years and you will have a small idea of the value of this doctoral program.

Michael Gerber, Professor, Gevirtz Graduate School of Education - University of California Santa Barbara, Special Education

More Information


Curry's special education faculty members are associated with many different professional organizations. The following list is not exhaustive, but it provides prospective students with guidance about our interests. 

  • Council for Exceptional Children (including the following groups)
    • Division for Learning Disabilities
    • Division for Research
    • Teacher Education Division
    • Division for Early Childhood
    • Association for the Gifted
    • Council for Children with Behavior Disorders
    • Division for Autism and Developmental Disabilities
    • Technology and Media Division
    • Pioneers Division
    • Division of International Special Education and Services
  • American Educational Research Association
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Council for Children with Learning Disabilities
  • Association for Behavior Analysis International

Faculty members are also involved in many other organizations, attending meetings of groups such as the National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities and the Association for Positive Behavior Support. Learn more by contacting faculty members who share your interests. 

Related News


Connect With Us On: