Program Will Offer Tuition-Free Grants to Doctoral Candidates in Special Education

$16,000 annual student stipends also provided by $800,000 federal grant

Release Date: September 29, 2003

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The joint doctoral program in special education offered by the University at Buffalo Graduate School of Education and Buffalo State College has received a federal grant to fund five students as they work toward a doctorate in special education.

Applications are being accepted, with priority given to those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds or individuals with physical, vision, hearing or learning disabilities. The deadline for applying is Nov. 15 for the Spring 2004 semester.

The $800,000 leadership grant was received from the U.S. Department of Education.

Successful candidates will receive funding to cover full tuition and all college fees, a $16,000 fellowship, summer tuition and a fellowship to prepare them to work in urban areas with culturally and linguistically diverse students, as well as conference travel and fee support. Interested participants also can complete courses toward certification as a school district administrator.

Sharon L. Raimondi, Ph.D., adjunct associate professor of learning and instruction in the UB Graduate School of Education and director of the program, says the positions are full-time and applicants must be willing to relocate to the Buffalo area for the duration of their course work, which will cover three to four years.

The goal of this grant is to produce educational leaders who will help create a highly trained workforce to provide services for students with disabilities.

"The ability of students with special needs to achieve educational goals rests largely on the availability of educators qualified to teach them," Raimondi says, "but there is in Western New York and elsewhere a shortage of university faculty members in the field of special education. The need for those with doctoral degrees who can offer leadership and training in the field is great.

"Currently, 50 percent of undergraduate courses in special education in Western New York's colleges and universities are taught by adjunct faculty members who do not have terminal degrees," she points out, "and the percentage jumps to 98 percent for graduate courses."

Not only is there a dearth of individuals with doctorates to teach special-education teachers, but, Raimondi notes, the New York State Education Department and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education mandate that general education teachers at all levels have some degree of competence in the delivery of services to special students in the general education environment.

She says this has produced a great demand for the leadership and expertise of fully trained, special-education professors in colleges and universities and administrators in school districts.

Applicants for the program must have special-education certification, a master's degree, a minimum score of 1,000 on the GRE exam (qualitative and verbal) and three years' teaching experience in the field of special education. References and a writing sample also are required.

Information about the program can be found on the UB Graduate School of Education Web site at

Interested applicants can contact. Raimondi at 716-645-2455 ext. 1143 or

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