Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Special Education

Students

UNLV Program Links

Admissions Deadline
 March 1 for Fall
September 1 for Spring
 Apply Now

The Doctor of Philosophy Degree (Ph.D.) is designed with an emphasis in the development of skills in scientific inquiry and leadership. Students enrolled in this study program gain an understanding of philosophy and theory as they relate to the conduct of research and program evaluation. Graduates pursue careers in schools, institutions of higher education, research centers and agencies that require the competencies developed through a Ph.D. course of study.

For students interested in earning both a Juris Doctor degree and a Doctor of Philosophy in Special Education degree, the William S. Boyd School of Law and the UNLV Department of Educational & Clinical Studies offers a dual Juris Doctor/Doctorate of Special Education (J.D./Ph.D.) program that allows students admitted to both programs to pursue the two degrees concurrently.


Admissions Information

Admissions Requirements

  • Masters degree in education or related discipline
  • 3.5 GPA for all graduate work
  • Letter of application (include career goals and research interests)
  • Three letters of recommendation (include a recommendation from an academic and a work related reference; the third reference may be either one of these two types)
  • Samples of scholarly writing
  • Professional resume (provide up-to-date work experience)
  • Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical GRE scores
  • Financial aid forms if seeking a Graduate Assistantship
  • International Students: 550 on the TOEFL
  • ALL admission material for both the graduate college and the department MUST be submitted by the deadlines listed below.

Admissions Process

To apply, please follow the 7-Step process listed below.

1. Submit an online application to the Graduate College

The online application is available on the Graduate College Admissions website. The materials to include as part of your online application are noted in numbers 3-6. Do NOT hit the "Submit" button until the materials noted in 3-6 are provided.

2. Arrange to have official undergraduate and graduate transcripts sent to the Graduate College.

Send official transcripts to the Graduate College.
Graduate College, UNLV
4505 Maryland Parkway
Box 451017
Las Vegas, NV 89154-1017
702-895-3320
1-800-334-UNLV

3. Arrange to have GRE scores sent to the Department of Educational & Clinical Studies in addition to including your scores in the online application.

Include a verbal, a quantitative and an analytical score. Scores must have been obtained within the last five years. The department does not impose minimum GRE scores. Instead, scores are considered as part of the complete package.

4. Submit a letter of application within the online application.

Clearly articulate your professional and research goals as related to the program.

5. Submit a professional resume within the online application

Include a description of your professional preparation (a minimum of 2 years of professional experience in special education, general education or other relevant field is preferred).

6. Submit samples of scholarly writing within the online application.

It is preferred that the samples be written using APA style.

7. Arrange to have three (3) references submit letters of recommendation through the online application system.

One letter must be from an individual familiar with your academic performance and at least one from an individual knowledgeable of your work experience. The third letter may be from either a person familiar with your work experience or a person familiar with your academic performance.

Admissions Deadlines

  • U.S. Students:
    Fall Admission - March 1
    Spring Admission - September 1
    No Summer Admission
  • International students:
    Fall Admission - May 1
    Spring Admission - October 1
    No Summer Admission

Program Goals

1. To prepare persons of diverse ethnic and experiential backgrounds to become ethical scholars who assume roles as leaders of thought and people in universities, schools, clinics, and agencies addressing the needs of persons with exceptionalities.

2. To guide doctoral students in advancing their knowledge, critical thinking, and performance skills in solving professional problems, resolving major issues, executing trend impact analyses, and developing plans with implementation procedures for creating the future in their areas of specialization.

3. To assist doctoral students in their acquisition of knowledge and performance competencies necessary for rigorous scientific inquiry, research design, statistical analyses, program evaluation, education of teachers, and the conducting of evidence-based research.


Coursework

Core Curriculum - Total Semester Hours: 24
Doctoral students must earn a grade of B or higher in all core curriculum courses.
Each doctoral student will complete the core curriculum below:
ESP 782 - Professional Seminar in Special Education
ESP 783 - Leadership Seminar in Special Education
ESP 784 - Seminar in Advanced Special Education Technology
ESP 785 - Issues, Trends and Futures in Special Education
ESP 787 - Philosophical Perspectives in Special Education
ESP 788 - Single Subject Methods in Special Education
ESP 789 - Grant Writing for Human Services
ESP 796 - Dissertation Prospectus (To be taken as an independent study supervised by the advisor)

Research Course Work - Total Semester Hours: 15
Doctoral Students must earn a grade of B or higher in EPY 721 and EPY 722.
EPY 721 - Descriptive and Inferential Statistics: An Introduction
EPY 722 - Inferential Statistics and Experimental Design
ESP 791 - Proposal Design and Analysis
An additional six semester hours in research selected from courses such as:
EPY 716 - Evaluation Research Methods
EPY 718 - Qualitative Research Methodologies
EPY 733 - Multivariate Statistics
EPY 790 - Research Seminar in EPY

Research Internship - Total Semester Hours: 3
ESP 794 A - Internship in Special Education (Research)

Leadership Studies - Total Semester Hours: 18*
Doctoral students complete 18 semester hours including:
ESP 794 B - Internship in Special Education (Teaching)
Additional leadership courses may be selected from one or more of the following leadership concentrations: Parenting, Administration, Research, Diagnosis/Assessment, Transition, Early Childhood Special Education, Early Childhood Education, English Language Learners, Higher Education, Technology, Consultation, or Curriculum.

Exceptionality Specialties - Total Semester Hours: 18*
Students complete nine semester hours each in two specialty areas from the following list: Autism, Learning Disabilities, Emotional Disturbance, Mental Retardation, Gifted and Talented Education, Developmental Disabilities/Children at Risk.
Notes: *Hours may be reduced based on student's previous academic preparation related to leadership studies and exceptionality specialties. However, under no circumstances will the Formal Program of Studies include fewer than 72 semester hours.

Writing Proficiency
Students shall be required to demonstrate doctoral-level writing proficiency beginning with the first doctoral seminar.
ESP 782 - Professional Seminar in Special Education

Dissertation - Total Semester Hours: 12
Upon completion of course work, doctoral students enroll in 12 semester hours of dissertation credit
ESP 799 - Dissertation

For additional information regarding program policies and procedures, Ph.D. Doctoral Program Policies and Procedures Guide.


Funding

Financial support is available in the form of graduate assistantships, fellowships, scholarships, and grants.

Graduate Assistantships

  • Graduate Assistantships are available for full-time students only.
  • Graduate Assistantships provide a monthly stipend and tuition/fee waivers.
  • Applications and all supporting materials must be sent to the graduate college by no later than March 1 to be considered for fall positions.
  • For additional information and an application, go to Graduate College Graduate Assistantship Information website.

Fellowships, Scholarships, and Grants


Forms

Form Timeline
Doctoral Program Policies and Procedures Guide Information related to program policies and procedures for the Doctoral Program.
Doctoral Application Checklist March 1 - FALL admission
September 1 - SPRING admission
Doctoral Paperwork Checklist N/A
Doctoral Affidavit of Commitment Must be completed immediately after entering the program.
Doctoral Permanent Advisor Form Upon completion of 9 to 12 credit hours
Proposed Doctoral Degree Program (Part one) By the end of the third semester of enrollment - submit with Part two and three
Proposed Doctoral Degree Program (Part two) By the end of the third semester of enrollment - submit with Part one and three
Proposed Doctoral Degree Program (Part three) By the end of the third semester of enrollment - submit with part one and two (For Dept use only)
Yearly Doctoral Progress Report To be completed annually.
Appointent of Advisory Committee Approval Form By the end of the third semester of enrollment
Notification of Doctoral Comprehensive Examination No later than 30 days prior to exam date
Prospectus Approval Form Bring completed form to Dissertation Proposal meeting
Doctoral Competency Checklist Prior to dissertation work
Teaching Application for Doctoral Students The application for doctoral students to teach classes in PDF format.
Advancement to Doctoral Candidacy Application After successful completion of Doctoral Comprehensive Written Exam and Dissertation Proposal is approved
Application for Graduation See Graduate College website
Oral Defense Results Obtain form from the Department - bring this completed form to your dissertation defense.
Change in Advisor/Committee Member N/A
Change in Proposed Degree Program N/A
Prerequisite Waiver For students needing permission to have a prerequisite waived or permission to get into a full class.

A complete listing of forms is also available on the Graduate College Forms page.


Testimonials

Regina Brandon, Associate Professor, San Diego State University
There are many challenges and strains in pursuing a doctoral program. However, deciding to pursue a Ph.D. in Special Education was a life long dream of mine. I feel that the program at UNLV offered me the necessary teaching and research skills required to be successful in Higher Education. My advisor and committee members provided me with the leadership and support necessary to undertake such a challenge. I continue to receive mentorship from my advisor. The remarkable part of pursuing a Ph.D. in Special Education at UNLV is the connections between faculty members and doctoral students. The faculty members in the Department of Special Education at UNLV are very dedicated and committed to ensure success after completion of the program. Upon graduation, I obtained an Assistant Professor position at San Diego State University, which has laid out the foundation for me to become a full professor at a major university.

Debra L. Cote, Associate Professor, California State University, Fullerton
My experience as a doctoral student was exceptional. My chair and committee members offered direction/guidance, assisted in every way possible, and served as the biggest cheerleaders. I am grateful for the doctoral program and the expertise of all of my UNLV instructors. I know that I received an education from the very BEST of the best! I was prepared for the challenges of pursuing a career in higher education. I am most thankful for the opportunities that Drs. Pierce and Higgins gave me during the doctoral program (e.g., writing, internship, research, district/community partnerships, leadership). I am truly thankful for the lasting friendships that developed and on going support.

Terry Cumming, Associate Professor, University of New South Wales
My doctoral experience at UNLV was an extremely positive one. The faculty goes out of their way to support you in everything from classes to publication. I feel very well-prepared to go on to a faculty position at a university.

Lindsay Lile Diamond, Assistant Professor, University of Nevada, Reno
As I enter higher education as an Assistant Professor, I am thankful for the clear guidance and mentorship provided by the faculty in the Department of Educational and Clinical Studies at UNLV. During my doctoral studies, I was afforded multiple opportunities to engage in teaching, research, and service through working with the ECS faculty and supportive faculty in other departments. The relationships I developed during my doctoral studies have led to continuous opportunities to support the children, families, and educators in the Las Vegas community, the State of Nevada, and nationally.

Nicole Dobbins, Associate Professor, North Carolina A & T University
I entered my doctoral studies at UNLV with the awareness that I wanted to change the world. Through innovative coursework and supportive mentoring relationships, my advisor and the faculty allowed me to fully experience the significance of being an effective researcher, a collaborative teacher, and an engaged service provider. As an Associate Clinical Professor, I am forever grateful for the numerous opportunities to teach and mentor pre-service teachers. This support has led me to several scholarly activities with my fellow doctoral students (now academic colleagues). The faculty in the Department of Educational and Clinical Studies are concerned with a person's growth-not just as a student going through the program, but as a future colleague.

Jamie Gunderson, Project Coordinator, Clark County School District Human Resources
My experience in the doctoral program at UNLV was exceptional! Not only did this program prepare me for a variety of post-doctoral opportunities, but it also promoted my personal and professional growth. The professors are fun to work with and I appreciate their hard work and dedication to my education. The entire Educational and Clinical Studies faculty at UNLV were very knowledgeable, helpful, and great to work with as well.

Leah Herner-Patnode, Associate Professor, The Ohio State University at Lima
The doctoral program faculty at UNLV insured that I was prepared for a position in higher education. The professors gave me opportunities for writing, research and presentations that have ensured success in my present university position.

Catherine Howerter, Assistant Professor, Georgia Southern University
As I begin my professional career as an Assistant Professor in Special Education, I am thankful for the preparation and guidance provided by the faculty in the Department of Educational and Clinical Studies at UNLV. I strongly believe that the coursework, requirements, and support of the faculty prepared me for the challenges of higher education. The opportunities available through the doctoral program at UNLV are unparalleled to other programs. My doctoral program provided me with opportunities for everything from publishing, working on grants, teaching courses, supervision of student teachers, to national presentations. I highly recommend this program---I am grateful for the opportunity to complete my studies at UNLV.

Rhoton Hudson, Associate Professor, Emerita, Nevada State College
My experiences in the UNLV special education doctoral program gave me the knowledge and confidence to pursue a position in higher education. My area of emphasis was assessment, which helped me obtain my current position as Assessment and Evaluation Coordinator for the Teacher Preparation Program at Nevada State College, where I also teach courses. I have modeled my teaching style after those of professors in the UNLV special education department whose courses I took. In the program, I learned strategies for working with people with disabilities, as well as the skills necessary for writing for professional journals, conducting research, and presenting at conferences.

Keith J. Hyatt, Professor, Western Washington University
In a word, my experience in the doctoral program at UNLV was exceptional. The coursework was challenging and the ability of faculty to merge research with practice facilitated my growth as a professional, future teacher educator, and researcher. Faculty regularly involved graduate students with the preparation of manuscripts and proposals for national conferences. The professional relationships I developed with faculty and other graduate students continued after I left UNLV and have led to several scholarly activities. I would recommend the doctoral program at UNLV without reservation.

Vita Jones, Associate Professor, California State University Fullerton
I appreciate my experience at UNLV in the doctoral program. My advisor and committee were very hands on and provided support and guidance every step of the way. Each course provided information that sequentially built upon previous coursework. This allowed me to prepare for the rigors of conducting my own research. I was impressed by the open door policy of the faculty---no question was too small to ask. As a first generation doctoral student, many times I faced uncertainty about my ability to achieve programmatic benchmarks---my uncertainty was met with optimism from the faculty and knowledge provided on how to complete the program successfully. The support provided by the faculty made it possible for me to stay on track while I learned to conduct, analyze, and report data findings on my dissertation topic. The program at UNLV is unique as the faculty continues to play a supportive role for me in my current position as an Assistant Professor. They have become trusted and valued colleagues as well as friends.

Karen Kennedy, Project Facilitator for New Teacher Site-based Mentoring Program, Clark County School District
My experience with UNLV's Special Education Doctoral Program was nothing but positive. My advisor and committee members were helpful in guiding me through the coursework and through the dissertation process. The coursework was relevant to my field of study, and I truly learned a lot. I was encouraged to write an article for an educational journal, that was published, and I presented at a national conference. It was a lot of hard work, but very well worth it!

Kit-hung Lee, Retired, Hong Kong
My name is Kit-hung Lee. I graduated from the doctoral program in 2000, with emphases in learning disabilities and assessment. The advanced coursework truly broadened and deepened my knowledge and experience in working with students with special needs. The learning environment in the Department of Special Education was a scholarly driven warm community that was highly student-centered. The close working relationship with the professors facilitated motivation and ambition. Their passion in academia inspired me to have a great love of teaching and research. I am grateful to the department for all the years of support and for granting me a graduate assistantship so that I could obtain this highest degree.

Patrick A. Leytham, Assistant Professor, Touro University
In writing this testimonial about the department and the doctoral program, I would be ungrateful if I did not include all of my experiences over the past 10 years in my undergraduate, masters, and doctoral programs of study. I broke the "traditional" way of obtaining my degrees, in which one attends three separate institutions to gain a "broader" perspective on the field. The faculty in the UNLV Department of Educational and Clinical Studies, however, provided me with a "broad" perspective through the experiences, background, knowledge, and expertise they had acquired at different institutions around the country. Of the 43 professors/adjunct/visiting lecturers (cumulative) with whom I took coursework for my three degrees, only three times did I have the same professor twice over the 10-year period. What an amazing source of knowledge to draw from and build my own perspective on special education! Furthermore, although UNLV was not included in a study where the researchers identified critical features of special education teacher preparation programs (Brownell, Ross, Colón, & McCallum, 2003), my opinion is that this department exhibits all seven features identified in the study. Truly this department ranks among the highest in preparing future special educators to enter the field of K-12 and higher education institutions.
In terms of my doctoral experience, what I appreciated the most was the willingness of the faculty to listen, guide, coach, and encourage me. I felt I was a colleague as I navigated each course, defended my proposal, and participated at the colloquia. These are the traits I hope to pass on throughout my career in higher education.

Robbie Marsh, Director of Professional Development and Behavior Consultation, Miley/Clark County School District
As I begin to enter the world of Academia, I am so very grateful for the experiences and opportunities I received from being a part of the UNLV doctoral program. I received guidance and mentorship from leading researchers in the field of special education. As a result, I have collaborated on research projects, published articles, presented at numerous conferences, and was a guest researcher and lecturer at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. I also taught a variety of undergraduate and master's level courses, which prepared me to train the next generation of teachers. This program not only changed me as an educator and researcher, but as a person. It was a truly wonderful experience!

Nghia Nguyen, Assistant Professor, Florida Atlantic University
My experience as a doctoral student in the Department of Educational and Clinical Studies was absolutely an exceptional one. Besides the endless support and assistance from my Committee Chair and Members, all other distinguished professors went out of their way to assist, support, and encourage me throughout my entire four years here at UNLV. With the acquired knowledge, during the process of completing my dissertation, I was able to present at national conferences as well as teaching various undergraduate and graduate courses as a graduate teaching assistant and a visiting lecturer for the department. Additionally, I was able to develop a few copyrighted/evidence-based reading instruments for neuro-typical developing students (K-5) and students with autism to be used collaboratively by public school administrators, classroom teachers, and parents for possible publication with ProEd.
I sincerely appreciate the guiding and teaching from all of my professors for the past four years. I am also grateful for the numerous opportunities here in the Department of Educational and Clinical Studies. I felt well-prepared to begin my new position as an assistant professor at a university this coming fall 2013. Without reservation, I would highly recommend any motivated doctoral applicants to apply to this exceptional doctoral program. Yes, there are many doctoral programs across the United States; however, I strongly believe that this program at UNLV will be a rewarding one for you.

Kathleen S. O'Hara, Early Childhood Literacy Coach, Clark County School District and Part-time Instructor Special Education, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
My experience as a doctoral student at UNLV was life changing. I am grateful for the faculty members who provided me with continuous support and expertise throughout all areas of my program. All the knowledge I received has not only made me a better educator and researcher, but prepared me for my professional future in higher education. I have grown professionally and personally, because of my experiences as a doctoral student at UNLV and I am very proud to call myself an alumni.

Conrad Oh-Young, Administrative Faculty and Part-time Instructor, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
The department is home to amazing faculty who are dedicated researchers, expert practitioners, and all around scholars. As an individual who was interested in learning about the finer details of how to design and conduct research with children with disabilities, my expectations were not only met but exceeded. I especially enjoyed working with Drs. John Filler, Josh Baker, Tom Pierce, and Kyle Higgins.

  • Dr. Filler for his calm demeanor and almost limitless levels of patience;
  • Dr. Baker for his mastery of working with individuals with significant disabilities and brilliant sense of humor;
  • Dr. Pierce for his ability to mediate even the most tenuous of situations;
  • Dr. Higgins for her ability to navigate the profession and genius level of intellect.

Yes, it is true that multiple data points collected from observations of a select few individuals are just as meaningful and impactful as pre and post data points collected from multiple individuals.

Kim Paulsen, Professor of the Practice, Vanderbilt University, Peabody College
My experience as a doctoral student at UNLV was very positive. The coursework provided me with both research tools and content knowledge needed to be successful in the field of higher education. I also had many opportunities to develop my teaching skills by teaching several undergraduate and master's level courses. The most positive aspect of my experience was working with the faculty members in the department. While I worked closely with my advisor and committee members, all of the faculty members were supportive and enthusiastic about the doctoral program.

Cathi Draper Rodriguez, Chair, California State University Monterey Bay
My doctoral experiences at UNLV pushed me to achieve things I did not think I could. The faculty provided a high quality education and advising, both academic and professional. The program is designed to allow me to gain expertise in my areas of interest. It also provides students the opportunity to experience what it is like to be university faculty (e.g., research, service, and teaching). An additional benefit was the relationships I developed with my peers in the program. I frequently collaborate with many of my UNLV 'siblings'---even though we are at different universities. Upon leaving UNLV, I knew that I was prepared for whatever academia presented. The faculty and program at UNLV definitely prepared me to be successful---I just was awarded promotion and tenure at my university!

Shannon Sparks, Assistant Professor, California State University San Bernardino
My experience as a doctoral student at UNLV was wonderful! I began my undergraduate at UNLV and continued to further my education obtaining my M.Ed. and Ph.D. I successfully completed my Ph.D. with supportive and understanding advisors. UNLV faulty and staff helped guide my steps throughout the entire program and motivated me to be the person I am today. I am so appreciative and grateful for the support and opportunities I continue to receive as a Ph.D. graduate. I am excited to start the new chapters in my life and could not have evolved and furthered my education without obtaining my Ph.D. from the Department of Educational and Clinical Studies.

Jennifer Stringfellow, Associate Professor, Eastern Illinois University
What can I say about the doctoral program at UNLV? I was afforded great examples of how to develop a research agenda as well as teaching a course to inspire and encourage students at both the K-12 and university levels. I cannot thank my committee chair and members enough for their support and encouragement. I also made good friends among the faculty. Daily, in my current position, I refer to my experiences and the people at UNLV. Additionally, I made such good friends among my candidate peers---friends that last over time and location because we have a shared experience. I am informed and motivated by what I learned in my doctoral program at UNLV. I was well prepared for higher education.

Ronald Tamura, Associate Professor, Southern Connecticut State University
Had a wonderful experience. UNLV is very supportive provided me with wealth of that have enhanced my current career as faculty member. There were opportunities for publishing, grant writing, and networking a national level. I would highly recommend the special education doctoral program at UNLV.

Judith E. Terpstra, Associate Professor, Southern Connecticut State University
I always felt as though I had the full support of the department faculty as well as support throughout the campus from other faculty members with whom I had interactions. During my program, I had the opportunity to present at several national conferences, both as an individual and with other students. With faculty support, I was able to publish an article in a peer-reviewed journal. I was also given the valuable opportunity to consult with school districts in the state. My experience was very positive and I have made several very good friends and many contacts through the experience.

Yaoying Xu, Associate Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University
Throughout the three-and-half years of doctoral studies within the Department of Special Education at UNLV, I learned knowledge and skills not only in the classes, but also through active involvement in academic and professional activities at all levels. The support and guidance from the department and graduate school were far beyond academic courses. I continuously benefit from my graduate studies. The research interest that I developed through the involvement in research projects and grant writing has led to my current research agenda, which has been guiding me to be a productive junior professor.

For more information regarding graduate students' experiences, please contact the Department of Educational & Clinical Studies.


Facilities Available to Doctoral Students

Department of Educational & Clinical Studies Faculty engage in community-focused research with a variety of partners, such as the Clark County School District, Nevada Early Intervention Services, and the Nevada Department of Education. UNLV also has on-campus facilities in which students and faculty conduct collaborative research. The following research resources are available to our doctoral students: Note: For more information on the following resources, please click on the links to visit their respective websites.

The Lynn Bennett Early Childhood Education Center
Lynn Bennett Early Childhood Education Center is the new home of the UNLV/CSUN Preschool, which is a program of the UNLV Department of Special Education. The center fosters the learning, growth, and development of children through promotion of integrated communities and facilities that focus on the whole child. This focus is grounded in classrooms and a center that are nurturing and inclusive learning communities, offering a curriculum that provides activities that are individually appropriate, and making available equipment and materials that give young children opportunities to learn through exploration and interaction with their environments.

Clark County School District
The Clark County School District is the fifth largest district in the United States. The district is divided into five regions (northwest, northeast, east, southwest, and southeast) to facilitate efficient operations. During the 2005-2006 school year, the estimated student enrollment was 295, 806. These students attended one of the district's 317 schools. Remarkably, up to twelve new schools are opened each academic year. The Department of Special Education has established strong partnerships with the Clark County School District related to teacher preparation and a variety of research endeavors.

Office of Research and Graduate Studies
The Office of Research and Graduate Studies is committed to creating an environment which is conducive to performing superior research and initiating innovative scholarly pursuits. Our entire team is dedicated to providing university faculty, staff, and students with the support necessary to fulfill UNLVs goal of becoming a nationally recognized research institution. It is our intent to help "open the doors" to research for all who wish to recognize their full creative and intellectual potential.

UNLV Libraries
The University Libraries were established in 1957 and now include the main Lied Library and three branch libraries: Architecture Studies, Curriculum Materials, and Music. The Lied Library, completed in 1998, is the centerpiece of UNLVs main campus, containing state of the art technology and an update and current collection of books from around the world.

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders (UNLV CASD)
The University of Nevada, Las Vegas Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders (UNLV CASD) conducts community-focused research, assessment, and training of persons with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), their families, and community service providers in Southern Nevada. The goal of UNLV CASD is to be a nationally recognized leader in the field of ASD through high quality research, assessment, and training. UNLV CASD positively impacts people with ASD and their families in Southern Nevada by researching best practices in assessment and intervention, actively engaging community stakeholders, and conducting outreach training with individuals and families. Doctoral student research and training opportunities are available.

The Paradise Professional Development School
The Paradise Professional Development School provides a powerful learning environment which fosters responsible decision-making values diversity, and enables all students to master essential skills and concepts through reading, writing, and mathematics. Through continual professional renewal, Paradise Professional Development School teachers and University of Nevada, Las Vegas partners accept responsibility to ensure that students reach their highest potential. The Paradise Elementary PDS is a pre-K through grade 5 school that operates as a nine-month school. The school serves the children of the area in a zone determined by the CCSD Board of Education. Paradise PDS opened August, 1998.


Frequently Asked Questions

Question: How long does it take to complete the program?
Answer: The Graduate College policy states that doctoral students must complete their programs of study within 6 years. The range of completion is 3 to 6 years depending on how many credits are taken during each semester.

Question: How many credits will I have to take?
Answer: You will take a minimum of 72 "NEW" course credits. Of these 72 credits, 12 are dissertation credits. Upon approval of your doctoral studies committee, previous graduate course work may be used to waive some of the leadership and/or exceptionality course requirements. However, under no circumstances will the doctoral program of studies reflect fewer than 72 hours of "NEW" course work that has NOT been applied to a previous degree program.

Question: Do I have to study full-time?
Answer: Students have the option of studying full- or part-time. All doctoral students must, however, enroll in two consecutive full-time semesters (i.e., 9 credits) at some point in their doctoral studies (fall-spring, spring-summer, or summer-fall) to meet what is called the residency requirement. Outside employment is permissible during residency, but students are encouraged to consider taking a leave of absence to fully benefit from a full-time on-campus experience. Financial support is available for students who wish to study full time.

Question: How does advising work?
Answer: Upon admission to the Ph.D. program, an interim advisor is assigned. This advisor assists students in determining initial courses to take and is available to assist with induction into doctoral studies. Students select a permanent advisor after they've had an opportunity to meet faculty and learn about their research and professional interests. The permanent advisor assists the student in developing a program of studies to meet specific professional goals.


Notable Alumni

Click on various states and the international link to see our doctoral graduates and where they currently work.


Our Graduates and Their Dissertations

Graduation Year Name Dissertation Link
1997 Kimberly Paulsen Preservice Education: Exploring Alternative Methods of Instruction, Advisement, and Field-Based Supervision
1998 Dale Warby Formative Evaluation: An Instrument to Measure the Effects of Using the Universal Format
1999 Frances Butler Fraction Instruction for Student With Disabilities
1999 Jan Butz Facilitating Social Development With Play Groups in Early Childhood Settings
1999 Rho Hudson Special Education Students: Which Ones are Prepared to Receive a High School Diploma?
1999 Byoung-In Lee Family and Service Coordinator Agreements in the Development and implementation of the Individualized Family Service Plan
2000 Leah Herner Educator Study Groups: An Exploration of an Alternative Method of Preservice Teacher Development
2000 Keith Hyatt A Comparision of Social Skills Training Approaches on Preschool Teacher and Child Behaviors
2000 Kit-hung Lee Effects of Preservice Peer Coaching on Student Teachers in Special Education
2000 Robin Stall Using Comics to Teach Multiple Meanings of Words
2001 Monica Brown School and Student Alienation: Perceptions of Secondary Students With and Without Disabilities
2001 Cynthia Lau The use of Teacher Facilitation During Computer Activities to Improve the Social Interaction of Preschool Children in Inclusive Classrooms
2001 Tammy Neil Coping Strategies and Stress Levels of Parents of Children With Autism
2002 Mary Greene Instructional Differentiation in General Education and the Gifted Resource Room: Teacher and Student Perceptions
2002 Connie Malin Traditional and Nontraditional Teacher Perceptions and Applications of a Developmentally Appropriate Program
2002 Brian Saffle Paraeducator Training: An Investigation of Current Practice and Related Needs
2002 Barbara Webb Effects of Social Skill Training for High-Functioning Adolescents With Autism Spectrum Disorder
2003 Glinda Bullock Cognitive Rehabilitation: A Method of Improving Sustained and Selective Attention in Adolescents With Attentional Deficits
2003 Deborah Kennedy Linking Transition Best Practices to Student Outcomes for Students With Mental Retardation
2003 Karen Kennedy Alternative Route to Licensure in Special Education: A Program Evaluation
2003 Kelly O'Neal Comparing Web-Based Instruction to Traditional Instruction for Teaching Special Education Content to General Education Preservice Teachers
2003 Carol White Postsecondary Readiness Skills: Perceptions of Students With and Without Disabilities
2003 Yaoying Xu Effects of Classwide Peer Tutoring (CWPT) on Social Interactions of Children With and Without English Proficiency
2004 Craig Butz Student and Parent Satisfaction With Online Education at the Elementary and Secondary Levels
2004 Kyle Konold Using the Concrete-Representational-Abstract Teaching Sequence to Increase Algebra Problem-Solving Skills
2004 Stephanie Kaczynski The Impact of Full-Day and Half-Day Kindergarten on the Language Arts Achievement Scores of First Grade Students
2004 Catherine Lyons The Effect of Video Instruction on Social Interactions of Children in the Inclusive Preschool Classroom
2004 Ashley Skylar Distance Education: An Exploration of Methods and Media
2004 Ronald Tamura Comparing Preservice Teacher's Special Education Knowledge and Attitudes Toward the Placement of Students With Disabilities
2004 Judith Terpstra A Comparison of Single and Combined Social Interaction Interventions to Increase the Social Interaction of preschool Children in Inclusive Setting
2005 Susan D'Aniello Teacher Satisfaction With Their Preparation Programs as Related to Students With Disabilities
2006 Keri Altig The Effect of Selective Attention on Preschool Teacher and Child Behavior
2006 Regina Brandon An Exploration of the Alienation Experienced by African American Parents From Their Child's Educational Environment
2006 Shannon Crozier The Effects of Performance Feedback With Goal Setting on Effective Teacher Behavior
2006 Therese Cumming Social Skills of Students With Emotional Disabilities: A Technology-Based Intervention
2006 Bradley Kaffar Exploring the Effects of Online Instructional Models on the Writing Achievement of High School Students With and Without Disabilities
2006 Edith Naas Colored Overlays and Symbol Identification in Pre-School Children With Disabilities
2006 Yvonne Randall Program Evaluation of Service Delivery Trends in Early Intervention
2006 Jane Sileo Investigating the Perceptions of Academic Dishonesty Among Special Educators
2006 Dalhee Songlee Effects of Test-Taking Strategy Instruction on High-Functioning Adolescents With Autism
2007 Christine Beaird The Effects of Computer-Assisted Language Learning
2007 Nicole Dobbins An Analysis of Social Skills Instruction
2007 Catherine Draper Rodriquez The Impact of Computer-Based Intervention With and Without Primary Language Support on Reading Skills of English Language Learners
2007 Michelle Dupree Investigating Stress Related to Beginning Teacher Standards
2007 Jennifer Stringfellow Effects of Possible Selves Instruction on Self-Determination of Students With Learning Disabilities
2007 Claire Tredwell Impact of Peer Tutoring Sessions on Oral Language Vocabulary in Early Childhood Inclusive Settings
2008 Michele Farmer The Seven Cs of Reading Comprehension / Graphic Organizer
2008 Tyi-Sanna Jones Multicultural Education in Preservice Teacher Education
2009 Jennifer Black Teacher and Student Perceptions of Self-Determination
2009 Debra Cote Increasing Skill Performances of Problem Solving in Students With Intellectual Disabilities
2009 Danielle Ferreira Effects of Explicit Subtraction Instruction on Fifth Grade Students With Learning Disabilities
2009 Nancy Fitzgerald Effects of Online Instruction on Reading Comprehension of Students With Learning Disabilities
2009 Vita Jones African American Parental Beliefs About Resiliency: A Delphi Study
2009 Marc Tedoff Effects of Script Fading
2009 Leota Tucker Investigating the Emotional Intelligence of Adolescents
2009 Mia Youhne Examining Play Among Young Children in single-Age and Multi-Age Preschool Classroom Settings
2010 Jennifer Boeddeker A Comparison of Special Education Teachers' and Administrators' Perceptions of School Climate Factors Leading to Teacher Attrition
2010 Lillian Englund Language Modeling in Early Childhood Classrooms
2010 Cori More Effects of Social Story Interventions on Preschool Age Children With and Without Disabilities
2010 Rory Sipp The Efficacy of Emotional and Instructional Support Training and Consultation on Head Start Teacher-Child Interactions
2010 Jason Travers Emergent Literacy Skills of Young Children With Autism
2011 Christi Carmack Investigating the Effects of Addition With Regrouping Strategy Instruction Among Elementary Students With Learning Disabilities
2011 Shannon Hennrich Exploring the Factors That Influence Adequate Yearly Progress Within Elementary School Settings
2011 Dustin Mancl Investigating the Effects of a Combined Problem-Solving Strategy for Students With Learning Disabilities in Mathematics
2012 Lindsay Lile Diamond Problem Solving Interventions: Impact on Young Children With Developmental Disabilities
2012 Joseph Morgan Teaching Online Social Skills to Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
2013 Teresa Byington Literacy Coaching and Preschool Teachers' Implementation of Literacy Instructional Practices
2013 Wendie Lappin Castillo An Analysis of Reading Skills Instruction Provided to Special and General Educators in their Pre-service and In-service Teacher Education
2013 Vanessa Marie Fessenden Comparison of the Pervasive Developmental Disorders Screening Test and Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers: Which is the Better Predictor of Autism in Toddlers?
2013 Catherine Howerter An Analysis of Co-teaching Instruction Provided in Teacher Education and Inservice Training for Special Education and General Education Teachers
2013 Yun-Ju Hsiao Parental Stress, Family-Professional Partnerships, and Family Quality of Life: Families of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
2013 Delilah Krasch Effects of a Social Story Intervention with a Modified Perspective Sentence on Preschool-Age Children with Autism
2013 Patrick Allen Leytham Decoding Skills of Middle-School Students with Autism: An Evaluation of the Nonverbal Reading Approach
2013 Jessica Love Effects of PECS Phase III Application Training on Independent Mands in Young Children with Autism
2013 Leslie Lynn Nelson Using a Mobile Device to Deliver Visual Schedules to Young Children with Autism
2013 Rae Ette Veronna Newman A Comparison of Two After School Strategies for Improving the Parenting Knowledge and Parenting Perceptions of Preschool Families Enrolled in a Title 1 Program
2013 Nghia Van Nguyen First Grade Teachers' Perceptions of the Five Strands of Effective Reading Instruction and Their Possible Influence on Daily Instructional Practices
2013 David Rago Investigating the Effects of a Sentence-Writing Strategy and a Self-Monitoring Procedure on the Writing Performance of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder
2013 Lena Sankovich Development and Implementation of a Video-Based Physical Activity Preference Assessment for Children with Autism and Their Parents
2013 Lidia Sedano An Analysis of English Language Learning Instruction Provided in Teacher Education and Inservice Training Programs for General and Special Educators
2013 Rene' Segler Zender A High School Turnaround School Initiative: Effects on Students' Math and Reading Proficiency
2013 Shannon Lynn Sparks Increasing Choice-Making and Choice Awareness for Students with Intellectual Disability
2013 Cynthia Joyce Stunkard Educational Experiences of Emancipated Foster Youth: An Exploratory Study
2014 William Garnett Analysis of Suspension, Expulsion, and Incarceration Data Reported Under IDEA 2004
2014 Chris Holcomb Digital Behavior Intervention Plans: Effects on General Education Teacher Fidelity of Implementation
2014 Teri Marx Effects of Cooperation Games on the Social Interactions of Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
2014 Allenda Tharel Zionch An Evaluation of Video Prompting to Teach Students with Intellectual Disabilities to Use a Cell Phone
2015 Jamie L. Gunderson Exploring Cognitive Accessible Academic Lessons Using the iPad for Students with Intellectual Disabilities
2015 Jennifer Hart Playful Aggression and the Situation Context that Affects Perceptions
2015 Troy Keiser Special and General Educators Attitudes and Beliefs Concerning Alcohol and Drug Use
2015 Katie O'Hara A Comparison of PIPRT to VMO to Increase Social Play Skills in Children with Autism
2015 Juanita Ortiz Robinson A Comparison Study of Parents' Perceptions of Quality in Early Childhood Programs
2015 Pamela Marie Juniel Evidence-Based Practices: An Exploratory Study Concerning School District Professional Development Considerations
2015 Michael Eric Morrisett Effects of Picture Activity Schedules on Tasks Completed
2016 Conrad Oh-Young A Comparison of the Effects of Peer Networks and Peer Video Modeling on Positive Social Interactions Performed By Young Children With Developmental Disabilities
2016 Robbie Marsh School Connectedness: Comparing Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders to Their General Education Peers
2017 Dolores Williamson Preview-View-Review: Increasing Academic Access for Students with Intellectual Disabilities Who Are English Learners

Doctoral Student Spotlight

Below are examples of the quality work that our Doctoral students are producing:

Name: Jennifer Buchter
Spotlight Item: Selected for a virtual internship with the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education to research resources for states based on the DOE/DHHS Joint Position Statement 2016-2017.

Name: Stephanie Devine
Spotlight Item: Selected as a participant in Nevada LEND (Leadership in Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities) 2016-2017. The award comes with a stipend of $5,000.

Name: Kathy Ewoldt & Joe Morgan (accepted for publication)
Spotlight Item: Using color-coded graphic organizers to chain prewriting and drafting for students with learning disabilities. Teaching Exceptional Children.

Name: Maryssa Kucskar
Spotlight Item:Selected as a doctoral participant in the national meeting of the Higher Education Consortium of Special Education, Washington, DC spring 2016.

Name: Matthew Love
Spotlight Item: Selected for a summer research internship at the Center for Applied Special Education Technology (CAST), Boston, MA, summer 2016.

Name: Sarah Murphy (2016)
Spotlight Item: Math anxiety in students with learning disabilities: Identifying and reducing the fear. LDForum, June, 2-4.

Name: Samantha Riggleman & Joe Morgan (accepted for publication)
Spotlight Item: Using the behavior expectation discrepancy tool to support young children with challenging behaviors. Young Exceptional Children.

Name: Samantha Riggleman
Spotlight Item: Selected for a virtual internship with the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education to research resources for states based on the DOE/DHHS Joint Position Statement, 2016-2017.

Name: Dominique Tetzlaff
Spotlight Item: Appointed by the Hammill Institute on Disabilities and Sage Publications as the Editorial Assistant for Intervention in School and Clinic, 2016-2017.

Name: Mona Tucktuck, Joshua Baker, & Matt Love (in press)
Spotlight Item: Education learners with disabilities in Palestine: The past, present, and future. Intervention in School and Clinic, 52(3).

Name: Kristin Withey (in press)
Spotlight Item: Using Apps to develop socio-emotional skills in young children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Intervention in School and Clinic, 52(4).

Name: Kristin Withey (accepted for publication)
Spotlight Item: Interventions for young children with and at-risk for emotional behavior disorders. Intervention in School and Clinic.

Name: Kristin Withey
Spotlight Item: Selected by the Council for Exceptional Children, Division of Teacher Education, Kaleidoscope as a participant in the Special Education Summit, Alexandria, VA., summer 2016.

Name: Ryan Wennerlind
Spotlight Item: Selected by the Council for Exceptional Children, Division of Teacher Education, Kaleidoscope as a participant in the Special Education Summit, Alexandria, VA., summer 2016.

Doctoral students: Have you recently had a paper accepted for publication or presentation? Have you been invited to conduct a workshop or received an award? If so, we want to know about it. Let us know by filling out the Doctoral Spotlight Submission Form.


Current Doctoral Students

Carnina Lopez
Picture Description
Kendra Antill Kendra Antill
Kendra Antill is a licensed special education teacher in the Clark County School District. She is in her second year teaching in an early childhood, self-contained classroom for students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). In addition, she has 4 years experience providing services based in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) to children with ASD in their homes, schools, and clinical settings. Her research interests include parent-mediated interventions, social and communication skills, and culturally relevant pedagogy. Her professional goals are to work in higher education and work with families to promote empowerment.
Nicole Atwell Nicole Atwell
Nicole Atwell has proudly served children with disabilities (birth to 3 years) in Nevada since 2005. Her background includes working in early intervention and natural environments as well as advising families of their rights under IDEA, ADA, and Section 504. For seven years, she has been the Program Manager of Therapy Management Group's Early Intervention program for the Las Vegas and Reno offices. Her vision is to provide comprehensive, multidisciplinary, and family-centered services to all infants and toddlers with disabilities and to children who may be at risk for disabilities. She also has played an active role in the State of Nevada's statewide systemic improvement plan for early intervention services for the last three years. Nicole has served as a member of the Interagency Coordinating Council (ICC), representing community Early Intervention providers. Her professional goals are to obtain a position in higher education in special education that allows her to use her knowledge and leadership skills to promote innovative focusing on the advancement of services for children with developmental disabilities and their families.
Christine Baxter Christine Baxter
Christine Baxter taught students with disabilities for five years at the elementary level. Her areas of emphasis in her doctoral studies are early childhood education and early childhood special education. She is currently a teaching graduate assistant in the Department of Special Education. She is particularly interested in inclusive programs and Universal Design for Learning in early childhood. Her goal is to work in higher education.
Molly Biel Molly Biel
Molly Biel has taught students in the 1st grade for 11 years. Her experience includes teaching students in inclusive classrooms, students who speak speak English as a second language, and teaching small groups of struggling students as a school-based interventionist. Her next big adventure is teaching students with gifts and talents. The areas of focus of her doctoral studies are gifted and talented education and the education of students who speak English as a second language. Her research interests include the underrepresentation of students for whom English is not their native language in the gifted and talented classroom and the lack of gifted and talented programs in schools located in high poverty areas. Her goal is to work in higher education, conduct research, and improve the methods for identifying and teaching students with gifts and talents.
Cecilia Billow Cecilia Billow
Cecilia Billow has taught students with learning disabilities at the elementary level. The focus of her doctoral studies includes students with learning disabilities and intellectual disabilities. Her research area is reading strategies (e.g., long vowel sounds). Her goal is to work in higher education.
Jennifer Buchter Jennifer Buchter
Jennifer currently works as a Developmental Specialist with Nevada Early Intervention Services, providing family-based services for infants and toddlers with developmental delays and disabilities. Previously, she worked as a social worker, day treatment counselor, Head Start teacher, inclusion teacher, general educator, and in child welfare services. The foci of her doctoral program are early childhood education, early childhood special education, and Autism. Her research interests include inclusion, child development, play skills, and social emotional development. Her goal upon graduation is to work with the U.S. Department of Education and other federal programs assisting states in the implementation of early childhood programs.
Gloria Carcoba Falomir Gloria Carcoba Falomir
Gloria Carcoba worked in a general education setting in Mexico City for 4 years. This is where she discovered her passion for working with children with disabilities. Her doctoral studies focus on students with math learning disabilities as well as students who are learning English. Gloria is currently a Graduate Assistant for the English Language Learning program in the ECS department. In the future, she wants to conduct research to improve the social, economic, and academic conditions of culturally diverse students with disabilities and their families.
Eunhye Choi Eunhye Choi
Eunhye Choi has worked with children and youth who are grieving. She has conducted program evaluations on a camp designed to help children through the grieving process. She also has worked with students with learning disabilities using various assessment tools. She has produced films and media to reach out to grieving individuals as they move through their grief journey. Her current research focuses on increasing children's resilience through creative works such as film, music, and art. To this end, Eunhye's doctoral program concentrates on helping children with disabilities who undergo stressful life events, including the death of a loved one. This includes developing and evaluating an intervention program using creative works. Also, she hopes to increase the awareness of children with disabilities through film and various other media outlets.
Fatma Deniz Fatma Deniz
Fatma Deniz has taught elementary math and science for five years at elementary. Prior to this, she taught character education and history of world religions in Turkey. She completed her Master's degree in elementary education emphasizing gifted and talented education at Arizona State University. She currently works as a Gifted Specialist in the Clark County School District. Her doctoral studies focus on the areas of gifted and talented education and twice exceptional students. Her research interests involve working with students with gifts and talents from linguistically and culturally diverse groups. She is particularly interested in working with newly immigrated, multicultural, and multiracial individuals. Her goal is to work in higher education.
Brittany Desnoyer Brittany Desnoyer
Brittany Desnoyer taught students with disabilities at the elementary and secondary levels for four years, primarily working with students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in self-contained environments. She will continue to focus on students with ASD in her doctoral students. Her plans include research and implementation of effective environmental supports to increase autonomy for this population. Brittany is currently a Graduate Assistant in the Department of Educational and Clinical Studies. She is also working on Project FOCUS, a college program focused on the integration of students with Intellectual Disabilities into UNLV undergraduate programs across campus.
Krithika Devi Krithika Devi
Krithika Devi has Bachelors degree in Speech Language Pathology and Audiology from India during which she developed AAC's for special schools in India. She completed her Master's degree in special education with a specialization in Autism at UNLV. She has experience working in pediatrics as well as adults with disabilities and elderly people with disabilities. Ms. Devi's focus in her doctoral program is Autism Spectrum Disorders and Intellectual Disorders. She is very interested in the use of Assistive Technology devices by people with different disabilities. She also plans to conduct research in the field of ASD.
Stephanie Devine Stephanie Devine
Stephanie Devine has been teaching special education, working primarily with high school students with intellectual disabilities, for five years. She currently works as a Special Education Instructional Facilitator. Her research interests include how to help individuals with intellectual disabilities become more independent and successful, particularly as they transition from school to adulthood. Her goal is to work in higher education/
Kathy Ewoldt Kathy Ewoldt
Kathy Ewoldt has four years of experience working with students in grades 6-12 who have Learning Disabilities, Emotional Behavioral Disorders, and Autism. She has taught in both the resource room and general education settings. Her doctoral studies focus on students with Learning Disabilities. Her research interests include K12 students with disabilities taking online courses as well as special education teacher retention. She is currently a graduate assistant in the Department of Educational and Clinical Studies and a participant in Project CULTURED, an OSEP Sponsored Leadership Program.
Yuying Fan Yuying Fan
Yuying Fan's research interest is in family and multicultural education. The focus of her doctoral studies includes improving multicultural education in classrooms and the school environment to better reflect the increasingly diverse demographics of the United States. Her plans include publishing a child development guidebook for parents to use in the home environment. She also wants to create a foundation to work with parents who are non-English speakers as they access available resources to better their child's opportunities for equal opportunities in education.
Danielle Feeney Danielle Feeney
Danielle Feeney has taught students with disabilities for three years at the middle school level. Her doctoral studies focus on the areas of learning disabilities, emotional behavioral disorders, and teaching English as a second language. Danielle's research interests include literacy, social skills, and teacher preparation. Her goal is to work in higher education.
Isabelle Flores Isabelle Flores
Isabelle Flores is currently in her fourth year of teaching special education with the Clark County School District (CCSD). In her four years with CCSD, she has worked with students in both resource and self-contained programs. In that time, she has developed a deep appreciation for students with both autism and intellectual disabilities. Through ongoing collaboration, she works daily to promote optimal academic and behavioral outcomes for all students. Outside of the classroom Isabelle works with various student organizations to foster friendships and build a sense of community for students in the self contained programs across the southwest region of the valley. Her goal at the district level is to develop a curriculum that provides both consistency and continuity in specialized programs in the Las Vegas valley. In the university setting, Isabelle hopes to share her experience and teaching methodologies with new teachers as a professor.
Ameia Fuqua Ameia Fuqua
Amelia is currently a special education teacher of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the Clark County School District. She is in her third year of teaching in a self-contained intermediate autism classroom. She has a strong interest in researching self-management as an effective intervention for students with ASD to promote independence and improvements in functioning skills in a variety of areas. Her goal is to continue her research to develop effective teaching strategies and to advocate for more resources to help special education teachers translate this research into practice.
Leah Gardner Leah Gardner
With an educational background in Deaf Studies, Psychology, and Clinical Mental Health, Leah Gardner has interacted with and counseled children and adults with disabilities. The focus of her doctoral studies is on children with emotional and/or behavioral disorders (EBD) and learning disabilities (LD). Additionally, Leah's research interests include multi-tiered systems of support for students with EBD and language deficiencies, family advocacy, and community involvement as a means of support. Her goal upon graduation is to work in higher education and help develop new intervention practices for children with EBD and language deficits.
Bret Greenwald Brett Greenwald
Brett Greenwald is currently a preschool teacher. He works with young children with disabilities in a self-contained classroom. He has eight years of teaching experience, with two being in special education. His areas of interest are early childhood special education and early intervention. His areas of research include family advocacy and the identification of children with disabilities, particularly those with intellectual disabilities. His goals include working in higher education and serving as an advocate for families as they move through the special education process.
Joice Higa Joice Higa
Joice Higa has taught students with autism, intellectual disabilities, emotional behavioral disorders, and learning disabilities in elementary and secondary environments. The focus of her doctoral studies is on students with learning disabilities and emotional behavioral disorders. Her research interests include inclusive practices, teacher education, and technology applications for students with disabilities. Her goal is to mentor teachers and work in higher education.
Sarah Katz Sarah Katz
Sarah is in her third year of teaching in the Clark County School District. She taught two years in an elementary Resource Room and is currently teaching in a primary autism program. She holds the generalist, autism, and intellectual disabilities licenses in the State of Nevada. She is in her eighth year of working with students with autism using Applied Behavior Analysis and social skills curricula through agencies such as the Lovaas Center and Grant a Gift Autism Foundation. Her goals for the future are to teach in higher education, mentor teachers, and advocate for students with autism. Sarah's research goals focus on mental health issues and emotional supports, sensory input, leisure skill development, and relationship maintenance for students with autism.
Paula Kerchenski Paula Kerchenski
Paula Kerchenski has taught elementary school for 17 years. She has taught general education, inclusion education, and self-contained classes. Her doctoral studies focus on the area of early childhood special education. Her research interests are inclusion education in both preschool and kindergarten settings. Her goal is to work in the area of educational policies.
Maryssa Kucskar Maryssa Kucskar
Maryssa Kucskar has taught students with disabilities for five years at the elementary level. In this time period, she has worked with students in self-contained, resource room, and general education settings. She also has experience working as the Special Education Instructional Facilitator and RTI Coordinator at her school site. Her doctoral studies focus on the areas of early childhood education and early childhood special education. Her research inters include inclusion, social skills, alternative routes to licensure, and teacher preparation programs.
Jennifer Lee Jennifer Lee
Jennifer Lee has been a teacher for 18 years. She has worked in a variety of classrooms including those focused on early childhood, early childhood special education, autism, kindergarten, learning disabilities, and as a Title 1 reading teacher. Her research interests include early childhood special education, developmental delays, autism and visual impairments. Her goals include mentoring teachers, consulting with school districts and childcare centers, advocating for families, and working in higher education.
 Alexandra Lemelson Alexandra Lemelson
Alexandra Lemelson has taught students with disabilities at the elementary and secondary levels in both general and resource room settings. She currently teaches K-8 special education, working with students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Her role involves work as a developmental specialist providing early intervention services to families and children. Alexandra's doctoral studies focus on the areas of learning disabilities and the ASD. Her research interests include neuroscience in the classroom, teacher effectiveness, the relationship between mind, brain, health, and education, behavior, inclusion, and social skills. Alexandra's goal is to continue working in the area of ASD and advocating for families with children who have ASD.
Carina Lopez Carina Lopez
Carina is currently a special education teacher working with students with emotional behavioral disorders in CCSD.. Previously, she spent 4 years as a behavior therapist implementing in-home and clinical based behavior intervention services for children with Autism and other development disabilities. As a master's student, she worked as a Graduate Assistant for the Educational and Clinical Studies Department. In her doctoral studies she is focusing on emotional or behavioral disabilities (EBD) and Applied Behavior Analysis. Upon completion of her degree, she will work in higher education, focusing on the development of resources, facilities, and services for children with EBD.
Crystal Lopez Crystal Lopez
Crystal Lopez is currently a teacher in Clark County School District. She teaches children with autism at the elementary level. The foci of her doctoral studies is on students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and students who are English Language Learners. She is interested in the impact of inclusion on students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Her second interest is on the general education curriculum and how the English Language Learner population are impacted by it being taught in English. She will explore all her options upon graduation.
Matthew Love Matthew Love
Matt Love is currently teaching in the Clark County School District. He has taught at the elementary and high school levels. The focus of his doctoral studies is on students with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD). His current research interests include preparing students with EBD for 21st century college and career demands.
Matt Marinucci Matt Marinucci
Matt is currently in his 6th year as a teacher for the Clark County School District. He has taught at Clark High School. His first three years were spent teaching resource math and reading and co-teaching math, science and English classes. Beginning in his fourth year of teaching, be began teaching in a self-contained autism program. His area of interest is autism and transition, specifically transitioning students with autism into life beyond high school. He will explore all of his options upon graduation.
Monique Matute Monique Matute
Monique worked as a developmental specialist for Nevada Early Intervention Services where she provided early intervention services to families and children from birth to three years old with developmental delays and disabilities. She speaks Spanish fluently, increasing her culturally sensitive service to the diverse Las Vegas community. She also has worked as a community-based instructor and psychosocial rehabilitation worker. She currently is an on campus teaching graduate student in the Educational and Clinical Studies Department. Her research interests are Autism, Emotional Behavioral Disorders, and Applied Behavior Analysis. Monique's goal is to work in higher education and practice as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst upon graduation.
Shannon McInerney Shannon McInerney
Shannon currently is a special education co-teacher in the middle school setting. She has taught students with learning disabilities (LD), emotional behavioral disorders (EBD), and autism. Her research interests include behavioral support for students with LD and incorporating technology as a tool for teaching and learning. Her goal is to work in higher education with a focus on providing support for special education teachers.
Sarah Murphy Sarah Murphy
Sarah Murphy has taught students with autism and learning disabilities at both the elementary and secondary levels. Her experience also includes mentoring and tutoring students at the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth. Sarah is currently a graduate assistant with the Department of Educational and Clinical Studies and a participant in Project CULTURED, an OSEP Sponsored Leadership Program. Her doctoral studies focus on students with learning disabilities and emotional and behavioral disorders. Sarah's areas of focus include mathematics instruction and curriculum across multiple disability categories and her interests include advocacy for homeless youth. Her goal is to teach in higher education, as well as develop strategies and interventions used during math instruction to support students with disabilities.
Rebecca Norton Rebecca Norton
Rebecca Norton has taught for 30 years. Over the last 17 years, she has taught students with gifts and talents. The areas of focus of her doctoral studies are learning disabilities and gifted and talented education. Her research interests include achievement of students with gifts and talents, the impact of national trends on students with high abilities, and the emotional impact of traditional instruction on students with gifts and talents. Her goal is to work in higher education or for a school district.
AJ O'Reilly A.J. O'Reilly
A.J. O'Reilly has spent the past several years serving as a Special Education Teacher working with at-risk and students with emotional behavioral disorders. He is a Program Liaison with the CCSD's Equity & Diversity Professional Development Department, training other educators for CCSD and the Nevada Department of Education in the areas of Inclusive Classroom Development, School Campus Safety, Policy Development and Understanding LGBT Youth Education. As a doctoral student, A.J's areas of research include academic performances for students with high incidence disabilities, emotional behavioral disorders, and educational leadership.
Cristina Reding Cristina Reding
Cristina has worked in multiple settings, including the corporate world and Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) to children and adults. She currently is a graduate assistant in the TESL program, assisting with research in the areas of English Language Learners and special education. The focus of her doctoral studies is TESL, learning disabilities, and students with gifts and talents. Cristina's research areas are second language acquisition, the academic progress of students learning English, and integrated pedagogy methods for students learning English who have disabilities. Her career goal is to work in higher education.
Samantha Riggleman Samantha Riggleman
Samantha Riggleman is a graduate assistant in the Department of Educational and Clinical Studies. Her experience includes working with adults and children in community residential settings, day programs, and schools as a residential instructor and a behavior specialist. In these roles she implemented positive behavior support plans; trained staff, teachers, and parents; and collected data on the implemented support plan. Her research interests include early childhood special education, family education, and literacy. Her goal is to work in academia and conduct research concerning effective methods to train and mentor parents and educators.
Joanne Ringer Joanne Ringer
Joanne Ringer has taught students with emotional/behavioral disorders for three years. The focus of her doctoral program is learning disabilities and emotional/behavioral disorders. Her research interests include positive behavior supports and drop out prevention. Her goal is to work in higher education.
Rachel Robertson Nelson Rachel Robertson Nelson
Rachel has taught in the Clark County School District for seven years. She worked as a general education teacher before moving into special education. She currently teaches in an early childhood self-contained program for children with autism. He area of interest is early childhood special education with a focus on children with developmental disabilities and autism. Her research interests are inclusive strategies, peer mediated interventions, and the use of technology in teaching early learning concepts. Rachel's goal is to work in higher education.
Heike Ruedenauer-Plummer Heike Ruedenauer-Plummer
As an early interventionist/ developmental specialist, Heike Ruedenauer-Plummer has provided family-based services for infants and toddlers (ages 0-3) and their families. Her main focus was on educating and supporting families with children who are deaf or hard of hearing, and on working with families with diverse cultural backgrounds. Previously, she worked as social worker and trainer for social skills and communication with adolescents and adults in vocational training settings and in political education. Her research interests include inclusion across all educational settings, ELL students, and programs for children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Her goal is to work in higher education.
Janelle Drown Saunders Janelle Drown Saunders
Janelle is currently a Board Certified Behavior Analyst with The Lovaas Center for Behavior Intervention and a Licensed Behavior Analyst in the state of Nevada. She has worked with children with autism for eight years, and will focus on autism and Applied Behavior Analysis throughout her doctoral studies. Her research interests include early and comprehensive interventions. Upon completion of her degree, she plans to obtain a degree in speech pathology as well as teach in higher education.
Lori Slater Lori Slater
Lori Slater has taught students with autism and intellectual disabilities at the secondary level for three years. The focus of her doctoral studies is on autism and intellectual disabilities. Her research interests include alternate assessments, transition preparation, inclusive practices, and policy change in special education. Her goal is to work at the state and national level on special education policy.
Ebony Sherman Ebony Sherman
Ebony has work as a mental health therapist with students with intellectual disabilities, emotional and behavioral disorders, and youth with oppositional defiant disorders in a residential setting. She holds Master's degrees in Community Counseling, Special Education, and Business Administration. Ebony's decision to work in special education is based on personal reasons that led her to want to serve as an advocate for children/youth with disabilities to ensure that they receive the educational support needed to succeed outside of the classroom. Her goals include working in educational reform, reducing teacher attrition, and increasing student readiness.
Jennifer Smith Jennifer Smith
Jennifer is currently a Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) Specialist for Clark County School District. She has taught at the elementary level for eleven years. The areas of focus for her doctoral studies are gifted and talented education and learning disabilities. Jennifer's research interests include effective academic instruction and assessment for students with gifts and talents. Her goal is to work in higher education and to advocate for gifted students in the K-12 setting.
June Talamoni June Talamoni
June Talamoni is currently a middle school Resource Room teacher. The focus of her doctoral studies is on students with learning disabilities (LD). Her main research interest is on the improvement of educational outcomes for students, specifically in the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. To this end, her doctoral research focuses on the need for better accommodations for English language learners in the classroom, methods to recruit and retain AAPI educators, and analysis of the underrepresentation of AAPI students in all disability programs. June's goals are to work in higher education and continue her research and advocacy for AAPI students and their families.
Dominique Tetzlaff Dominique Tetzlaff
Dominique Tetzlaff has taught students with learning disabilities (LD) and emotional behavioral disorders for six years at the middle school level. The focus of her doctoral studies revolves around students with LD and EBD. Her research interests include effective academic instruction for students with EBD. Her goal is to work in higher education.
Mona Tucktuck Mona Tucktuck
Mona Tucktuck has worked as a special education consultant and trainer to teachers in Israel and the Palestinian Territories for five years. She also taught for two years in an early childhood autism classroom. During her doctoral studies, she will focus on Autism and IDD. Her research interests include cultural influences on parents of children with Autism and best practices in working with these families. Her goals are to work in higher education and become an international consultant and trainer for the Middle East. Her goal is to help set up programs to train professionals to work with families of children with special learning, academic, and social needs.
Janet Vanheck Janet Vanheck
Janet Van Heck has taught students with high incidence disabilities for seven years in English Language Arts and Mathematics. The focus of her doctoral studies is learning disabilities and intellectual disabilities. Her research interests revolve around the use of the Concrete-Representational-Abstract mathematic sequence, in-service trainings for co-teachers, and the effect of co-teacher relationships on the academic performance of students in co-taught classrooms. Her goal is to become a principal in the Clark County School District.
Jack Watts Jack Watts
Jack is currently a graduate assistant in the Educational and Clinical Studies Department. He has worked with children with various developmental disabilities and emotional behavioral disabilities in both educational and clinical settings. In his doctoral studies he is focusing on emotional or behavioral disabilities (EBD) and learning disabilities (LD). Jack's research interests include early intervention programs for students with EBD, their family, and their interactions in community settings. He also is interested in improving the education and perception of these students while in the school setting. He is studying the complex relationship between students with learning disabilities and EBD. Upon completion of his PhD, he plans to work in higher education with the goal of creating a research lab in which newly developed early intervention practices will be studied to improve the educational and social outcomes for students with EBD and LD.
Ryan Wennerlind Ryan Wennerlind
Ryan Wennerlind previously taught in the Clark County School District for 4 years. He taught students with intellectual disabilities in a self-contained classroom. Ryan currently works at UNLV with Project FOCUS and Project SEARCH---both college bound programs for students with intellectual disabilities and autism. The focus of his doctoral studies is on students with intellectual disabilities. His research interests are inclusion, transition, universal design for learning (UDL), and access to state standards. His goal upon graduation is to work in higher education.
Kristin Withey Kristin Withey
Kristin Withey is currently an Early Childhood Special Education teacher in a self-contained program for CCSD. Her areas of emphasis include early childhood education, early childhood special education, and emotional disturbance. She is particularly interested in inclusive programs and investigating environmental adaptations or the antecedent side of ABA. Upon graduation, her goal is to work in higher education but continue to work closely with local school districts towards reform and teacher support.
Kris Yeager Kris Yeager
Kris Yeager has taught students with disabilities for two years at the high school level in Clark County. The areas of emphasis for his doctoral studies are learning disabilities, emotional behavioral disorders, and autism. His research interests include technology, literacy, and teacher preparation. Kris's goal is to work in higher education as well as on state and national education policy.
Douglas Zellar Douglas Zellar
Douglas Zallar has taught students with disabilities for three years at the elementary level. His experience includes working with students in self-contained, resource room, and general education settings. The focus of his doctoral studies is learning disabilities and emotional behavioral disorders. His research interests include early childhood special education, response-to-intervention models and outcomes, the relationship between working memory and math problem solving, orthography and the acquisition of literacy skills. He also has interest in the preparation of special educators. His goal is to work in higher education.
Katelyn Zirkus Katelyn Zirkus
Katelyn Zirkus has six years oexperience teaching students with autism, intellectual disabilities, emotional and behavioral disorders, and other related mental health conditions in grades 7-12. Her experience includes working with adolescents and adults in day treatment and self-contained programs. Her doctoral studies focus on young adults with multiple disabilities who exhibit severe and/or risky behaviors. Her research interests include transition planning, parent/guardian involvement as well as the role of social services in the special education process. She is currently a graduate assistant in the Department of Educational and Clinical Studies and a participant in Project CULTURED, an OSEP Sponsored Leadership Program.

Dr. Josh Baker
Interim Program Coordinator
Email: josh.baker@unlv.edu
Phone: 702-895-3238
Room: CEB 148