Participating Universities

University of Northern Colorado
Ed.D. in Special Education

Required Credits: 64-70 (post-Master’s)

The Ed.D. in Special Education is a flexible doctoral program with provisions for individual planning to prepare special education professionals for positions of leadership in public and private schools and for colleges, universities, agencies, businesses and government entities. Major emphases are internally flexible, collaborative with other fields  and may be established to fit a variety of interests in the field of special education, including blindness and visual  impairment, deafblindness, orientation & mobility, and early childhood special education. Past graduates have  developed individualized programs in collaboration with faculty from the fields of kinesiology, physical education,  educational administration, deaf education, severe disabilities, reading, and psychology. 

The program is designed to prepare students for creative leadership in a rapidly changing world that is experiencing  increasing cultural diversity, curriculum and structural reforms in schools and pedagogical innovations across the  educational spectrum. Graduates develop leadership knowledge and skills in special education related to five major themes:

  1. Theory: the study and application of historical, current, and evolving theories related to special education
  2. Effective Teaching: the study and application of teaching special education procedures, methods, and interaction with students (at the higher education level)
  3. Inquiry: the study and application of procedures and methods of inquiry to  special education problems and issues
  4. Scholarly Production: The planning, development and presentation of scholarly productions in special  education
  5. Intra/interpersonal Skills: the study and application of procedures and methods for developing intra- and  interpersonal skills needed in special education

Faculty Qualifications

Kay Alicyn Ferrell, PhD, Professor

Graduate Faculty with Doctoral Research Endorsement
Number of Dissertation Committees chaired: 17
PhD, University of Pittsburgh, 1983
MA, Teachers College, Columbia University, 1975
BA, George Washington University, 1970

Research Interests: Development of young children with visual impairments; cross-modal abilities of infants with disabilities; families; special education law; outcomes for students with visual impairments; personnel preparation; distance education methodologies.

Publications 1999-2004:

  • Ferrell, K. A. (2004, Fall). What every administrator should know about students with visual impairments. Counterpoint,  
  • Ferrell, K. A., Luckner, J. L., & Muir, S. A. (2004, Spring). “Can children with low-incidence disabilities be left behind?” Counterpoint, p. 10. 
  • Bowen, S., & Ferrell, K. A. (2003). Assessment in low-incidence disabilities: The day-to-day realities. Rural Special Education Quarterly, 22(4), 10-19. 
  • Ferrell, K. A. (2003). Promises to keep: Early education in the United States. The Educator, XV, pp. {Invited] 
  • Ferrell, K. A. (2003). Issues in the field of blindness and low vision. Published online at http://www.nclid.unco.edu/BVIissues.html 
  • Ferrell, K. A., & Griego, P. (2001). Gays and lesbians with visual impairment. In M. Milian & J. Erin (Eds.), Diversity and visual impairment: The influence of race, gender, religion, and ethnicity on the individual (pp. 315-340). New York AFB Press.  
  • Ferrell, K. A., Persichitte, K. A., Lowell, N., & Roberts, S. (2001). The evolution of a distance delivery system that supports content, learners, and pedagogy. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 95, 597-608.  
  • Corn, A. L., & Ferrell, K. A. (2000). External funding for training and research in visual disabilities at colleges and universities, 1997-98. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 94, 372-384. 
  • Ferrell, K. A. (2000). Growth and development of young children with visual impairments. In M. C. Holbrook & A. M. Koenig (Eds.), Foundations of education for children and youths with visual impairment (pp. 111-134). New York: AFB Press. 
  • Ferrell, K. A. (2000). Technology as an aid for personnel preparation. In C. Stuen, A. Aditi, A. Horowitz, M. A. Lang, B. Rosenthal, & K. R. Seidman (Eds.), Vision rehabilitation: Assessment, intervention and outcomes (pp. 809-811). Lisse: Swets & Zeitlinger Publishers. 
  • Ferrell, K. A., Wright, C., Persichitte, K. A., & Lowell, N. (2000). Capitalizing distance technologies to benefit rural children and youth with visual disabilities. In J. Lemke (Ed.), Annual Council on Rural Special Education, 2000 Conference Proceedings (pp. 153-157). Alexandria, VA. 
  • Persichitte, K. A., Ferrell, K. A., & Lowell, N. (2000). Distance learning and the visually impaired: A success story. 2000 Conference Proceedings: 7th Annual Distance Education Conference (pp. 133-136). Austin, TX The Center for Distance Learning Research. 
  • Persichitte, K. A., Ferrell, K.A., & Lowell, N. (2000). Distance learning and the visually impaired: A success story. Current Issues in Technology and Education, 1(1), [Online]. Available: http://www.citejournal.org/vol1/iss1/currentpractice/article2.htm 
  • Ferrell, K. A., Raver, S. A., & Stewart, K. A. (1999). Techniques for infants and toddlers with visual impairments. In S. A. Raver (Ed.), Intervention strategies for infants and toddlers with special needs: A team approach (2nd ed.) (pp.
    298-330). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill. 
  • Spungin, S. J., & Ferrell, K. A. (1999). The role and function of the teacher of students with visual handicaps: CEC-DVI position statement. In G. S. Pugh & J. Erin (Eds.), Blind and visually impaired students: Educational service guidelines (pp. 164-173). Watertown, MA: Perkins School for the Blind.

Paula Wenner Conroy, Ed.D., Assistant Professor

Graduate Faculty
No Dissertations Committees chaired yet.
Ed.D., University of Northern Colorado,
MA, University of Northern Colorado,
BS, Russell Sage College,

Research Interests: Braille literacy development; second language learners; personnel preparation; teaching braille to sighted learners.

Madeline Milian, Ed.D., Professor

Graduate Faculty with Doctoral Research Endorsement
Number of Dissertation Committees Chaired:
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University, 1994
MA, California State University, Los Angeles,
BS, Florida International University

Research Interests: Education of students who are learning English as a second language and those who are bilingual; education of students with visual impairments; issues related to bilingualism and bilingual education; working with families of students with disabilities; early childhood bilingualism; and second language teaching and learning.

Publications 1999-2004:

  • Milian, M. (2001). Schools' efforts to involve Latino families of students with visual impairments. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness.95(7). 389-402.  
  • Milian, M. (2001). Multiple dimensions of identity: Individuals with visual impairments. In M. Milian and J. Erin (Eds.). Diversity and visual impairment: The influence of race,  gender, religion, and ethnicity on the individual (pp. 35-53).  New York: American Foundation for the Blind Press. 
  • Milian, M. & Correa, V. (2001). Latinos with visual impairments. In M. Milian and J. Erin (Eds.). Diversity and visual  impairment: The influence of race, gender, religion, and ethnicity on the individual (pp. 109-149). New York: American Foundation for the Blind Press. 
  •  Milian, M. (2000). Multicultural issues. In A. Keonig and C. Holbrook (Eds.), Foundations of education: History and theory of teaching children and youths with visual impairments (pp. 197-217). New York: American Foundation for the Blind  Press. 
  • Milian, M., & Erin, J. (Eds.). (May 2001). Diversity and visual impairment: The influence of race, gender, religion and ethnicity on the individual. New York: American Foundation for the Blind Press.

Number of Current Doctoral Students (Spring, 2005): 3

Recent Dissertations at this University:

  • Correa-Torres, Silvia Maria (2005). The nature of social experiences of elementary students with deafblindness educated in inclusive classrooms (Doctoral dissertation proposal, University of Northern Colorado, 2004). Dissertation Abstracts International, 65 (07), 2558A (UMI # AAT 3139607). [Outstanding Dissertation Award] 
  •   Bak, Sunhi. (2000). Reliability and validity of the Battelle Developmental Inventory when used with young children who are visually impaired. (Doctoral dissertation, University of Northern Colorado, 2000). Dissertation Abstracts International, 61 (06), 2251A. [Outstanding Dissertation Award]  
  • Conroy, Paula Wenner. (2000). ESL teachers' practices, perceptions and experiences in educating second language learners with visual impairment (Doctoral dissertation, University of Northern Colorado, 2000). Dissertation Abstracts International, 61 (06), 2252A. 
  • Mamer, Linda. (1998). Vision in persons ages 9-21 with visual and multiple disabilities exposed to a systematic program of vision stimulation (Doctoral dissertation, University of Northern Colorado, 1997). Dissertation Abstracts International, 58, 3807. [Graduate Dean’s Citation for Excellence; CEC-DVI Dissertation of the Year] 
  • Stewart, Kevin. (1998). A kinematic analysis of transitional movements of preschool children who are blind and visually impaired. (Doctoral dissertation, University of Northern Colorado, 1997). Dissertation Abstracts International, 58, 2994. 
  • Graham, Michael Joseph. (1998). Work experience for blind youth: A system for successful employment (Doctoral dissertation, University of Northern Colorado, 1997). Dissertation Abstracts International, 58 (08), 3084A.
Current Positions of these Doctoral Graduates:
Position Number of Graduates
Higher education 3
State agency director 1
Early childhood program director/teacher trainer 1
Deafblind consultant 1

Average Time to Complete Doctoral Program for These Graduates: 4.16 years