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The Department of Special Education provides professional opportunities for students committed to the improvement of quality of life for children, youth, and adults with disabilities. The department is one of the most comprehensive in the country. Student programs draw on resources available within the department and through collaboration with other university and community units. Students in the department study with leaders in special education and participate with faculty as colleagues in research, demonstration projects, and service activities on a state, regional, and national level.

The department faculty average between 40-45 federally funded projects per year. Students have competed successfully for federal support of student research. Faculty are active scholars involved in state and national organizations and committed to public service on the local, state, national, and international levels.

The KU Department of Special Education has been ranked the number one special education graduate program in the country for more than 20 years. Moreover, the department has been identified as the top special education doctoral program nationally in every empirical study reported in the special education literature, including the first such study to be conducted (Smith, 1978) and subsequent ones published in the 1980s and 1990s. In the studies published in the 1980s, our number one ranking was based on having the most distinguished faculty (Sindelar & Schloss, 1986) and producing the best prepared doctoral students in the nation, including the country's most prolific special education researchers (Schloss & Sindelar, 1986; Sindelar & Schloss, 1986, 1987). In the most recent empirical study, our number one ranking was based on having the nation's most highly regarded faculty in terms of both scholarly reputation and actual research productivity (Cardinal & Drew, 1993).

The interdisciplinary nature of the program is maintained by collaboration with several inter- and intra-university units. This enables faculty and students to conduct research and to train in many areas related to special education. Opportunities for training, research, and student employment are provided through federally funded projects such as the Center for Research on Learning, Beach Center on Disability, and Schiefelbusch Institute for Life Span Studies.

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