Main Menu Summer 2013

Project Blend: A Federally-Funded Doctoral Leadership in Early Childhood Special Education

Project Blend will prepare doctoral students in early childhood special education

Project Blend-funded students will gain knowledge and skills:

  • To provide blended early care and education, early childhood special education and early intervention professional development programs.
  • On the current policy contexts surrounding the complex early childhood systems and standards.
  • To address the needs of diverse children, families, and early care and education providers through the use and evaluation of evidence-based practice.
  • To translate research into practice so others will have access to the best available knowledge presented in practical and user-friendly ways.

Doctoral Program Support

  • Paid tuition
  • A yearly stipend for full-time 11-month participation
  • Annual stipend for conference attendance and research materials

Program Requirements

The Doctoral Program in Special Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign requires 64 credit hours beyond the master's degree.

Each Project Blend-funded student, with the support of a faculty advisor, will formulate an individual plan of study that supports completion of the core requirements for doctoral studies at the Department of Special Education in Illinois.

An emphasis on inclusive ECE/ECSE/EI will be embedded into the plan of study through specialized course work, the Project Blend Seminar, and traineeships:

Specialized Coursework

Project Blend-funded students will take required courses as well as Project Blend seminars provided each semester. Students will receive formal coursework addressing research, policy, EBP and translative research. Other coursework will be designed to meet the requirements of the PhD program and the trainees' interests in ECE/ECSE/EI programs.

Project Blend Seminar

Project Blend-funded students will participate in a 2-credit seminar for the years that they are enrolled in the program. Each seminar will focus on issues in the field, current research, educational and social policy related to young children and their families and the translation of research into practice.

Traineeship Experiences

Project Blend-funded students will participate in a traineeship (approximately 20 hours per week) each semester in which they are enrolled. They may choose to extend traineeships for a full year. The following traineeships will be offered and each aligns with the trainees' preparation as a future faculty leader:

a)  Collaborative research experiences with the trainee's advisor and other collaborating faculty. Students will work closely with faculty to address pressing research questions in the field related to the delivery of ECE/ECSE/EI inclusive services. They will become conversant in the major research methods and their quality indicators, as well as be engaged in developing hypotheses and linking the research to practice;

b)  Evaluation and policy experiences with national, state, and local agencies and organizations;

c)  Teaching and supervision experiences, including ones utilizing distance education, that are  focused on the preparation of preservice teachers and providers in ECE/ECSE/EI;

d)  Completion of research to practice translation experiences that involves multimedia methods and dissemination and evaluation for efficacy and validity with relevant constituents.

Doctoral Program Eligibility

To be eligible for the Project Blend program, a doctoral student must have:

  • A Master's degree in special education or a related field
  • U.S. citizenship or permanent U.S. residency
  • A minimum grade point average of 3.0 out of 4.0
  • 2 or more years of experience with individuals with disabilities in school or community settings.
  • Goals consistent with the program
  • A strong interest in research in the area early childhood special education and early intervention

Doctoral Program Application Process

Interested applicants should submit an application to the doctoral program in Special Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on our website.


Contact Information:

Susan Fowler - safowler@illinois.edu

Amy Santos - rsantos@illinois.edu

1310 S. Sixth Street, 288 Education Building, MC-708, Champaign, IL 61820
(217) 333-0260


Project Blend is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Personnel Preparation to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities Program. Doctoral students who receive funding from Project Blend

Doctoral students who receive funding from Project Blend will be required to meet service obligation requirements set forth by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Women, minorities and individuals with disabilities are particularly encouraged to apply. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer.