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Funding Opportunities

Project SCORE (Doctoral)

Secondary Curriculum that leads to Outcomes and Research in Employment (SCORE) for youth with severe disabilities - 

no longer accepting applications

SCORE prepares dynamic leaders in the fields of special education and rehabilitation counseling with unique knowledge and expertise to improve post-school competitive integrated employment outcomes for students with severe disabilities. This interdisciplinary doctoral program addresses six competency areas:

  • Collaborative transition planning
  • Secondary curriculum
  • Competitive integrated employment
  • Evidence-based research practices
  • Effective postsecondary instruction
  • Disability policy and advocacy

Core Doctoral Program Requirements

Individuals enrolled in SCORE will choose to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in either (a) special education or (b) community health (which includes rehabilitation counseling). Both doctoral degrees require 64 credit hours beyond the master’s degree. Upon entry into the program, students create an Individual Plan of Study with their adviser that is tailored to their individual needs and interests.

For more information about core requirements of the Ph.D. in Special Education, please see:

For more information about core requirements of the Ph.D. in Community Health (which includes rehabilitation counseling) please see:

Unique Aspects of the SCORE Program

Individuals who participate in SCORE complete the core doctoral program within their chosen discipline (special education or rehabilitation counseling) with several program enhancements that contribute to a specialized, interdisciplinary focus on post-school competitive, integrated employment outcomes for students with severe disabilities. All students complete the following activities together:

  • Specialized Academic Coursework: Doctoral students complete four required courses and choose a minimum of three Advanced Topics courses to address the SCORE competency areas. 
  • SCORE Seminar: Each semester doctoral students participate in a bi-weekly seminar to discuss evidence-based practices, engage with national and state experts regarding issues relative to the competency areas, and collaborate on shared research projects.
  • Externship: During the first two years of study, doctoral students participate in a 2-day externship in the Chicago Public Schools to observe programs that prepare students with severe disabilities for employment. Doctoral students will meet with teachers, school/district leaders, and vocational rehabilitation staff about issues associated with preparing students for employment in a diverse, urban environment.
  • Internships in Local High Need Schools: In years three and four, each doctoral student in special education will be paired with a doctoral student in rehabilitation counseling to complete a one year internship at a local high school that focuses on preparing students with severe disabilities for employment.
  • Traineeships: Each semester doctoral students will complete a series of activities that prepare them for the professoriate. Activities will focus on research, teaching, and service with program faculty and community members.

Doctoral Program Support

This program is supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. SCORE provides program participants with a:

  • Tuition waiver for up to 5 years
  • Fee waiver of most university fees
  • Paid 11-month traineeship
  • Generous stipend for conference travel, research materials, and externship/internship travel

Participants must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to qualify for funding through SCORE. In addition, individuals funded by SCORE must sign a service agreement indicating that they will work in the field of special education or related services for two years for every year of funding received.

Doctoral Program Application Process

Applicants should submit an online application to the specific program at:

For more information about core requirements of the Ph.D. in Special Education, please see: 

For More Information Please Contact:

Stacy K. Dymond, Professor, Department of Special Education, at
David R. Strauser, Professor, Department of Kinesiology & Community Health, at

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.

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