UT offers first online PhD program at an Ohio university

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The University of Toledo is enrolling students for the first online PhD program approved in Ohio.

The Curriculum and Instruction: Special Education doctoral degree program starts in the fall semester and is open to people across the country, specifically those who specialize in early childhood special education. It is the first such program to be offered online at a public or private university in the state.

“We are proud to play a pioneering role in the state of Ohio for making doctoral degrees more accessible to hard-working, full-time professionals who want to take the next step in their careers,” UT President Sharon L. Gaber said. “This rigorous program of study is designed to prepare the leaders who will guide our education system into the future.”

“Students can complete the program without having to set foot on UT’s campus,” said Dr. Laurie Dinnebeil, chair of the UT Department of Early Childhood, Higher Education and Special Education in the Judith Herb College of Education. “Students will have the opportunity to work with nationally known leaders in the field of early childhood special education, research and measurement.”

Earning this doctoral degree would allow educators to advance into district, regional or state leadership positions. For example, they could serve as a state consultant to school districts, the director of a school district’s special education program or work for agencies and organizations at the national level. They also would be able to teach at colleges and universities.

The 70-credit hour program is designed to be completed in less than five years by part-time students who register for six credit hours each semester, including summers.

All coursework is available online with the exception of two professional seminars that students can attend virtually using Skype or FaceTime technology if they cannot attend in person.

“I’d like to congratulate the University of Toledo for this innovative approach and for changing the dynamics of higher education by offering this degree,” said Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor John Carey.

No matter the distance, students enrolled in the program will have access to all University services and resources relevant to the program, such as the UT Virtual Lab, and the library and all of its digital resources and databases. Students also will have access to supplementary support as needed, such as the UT Writing Center and College of Graduate Studies staff and resources.

Students will present information about their progress using web-based tools, such as discussion boards and webinars.

Course instructors, as well as the students’ dissertation advisor and dissertation committee members, are already accustomed to working with students from a distance. UT offers an online master’s degree and an education specialist degree program online, and students complete comprehensive examinations and master’s projects online.

“Educational scholars are used to working by themselves in classrooms, schools or other settings that provide educational experiences,” Dinnebeil said. “That means that the quality of research that online students complete will not differ from the quality of research that traditional face-to-face doctoral students in our college complete.”

To apply, go to utoledo.edu/admissions/apply.

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