Document Sample
					                THE STUDY OF




                      TO THE


               Respectfully submitted to

           The U.S. Department of Education
Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services
         Office of Special Education Programs

                      April 2001
                         Respectfully submitted by

                         Deborah Deutsch Smith

                              Georgine Pion

                         Naomi Chowdhuri Tyler

                           Vanderbilt University

                               Paul Sindelar

                     University of Florida - Gainesville


                            Michael Rosenberg

                         Johns Hopkins University

Project Number: H920T970006-00A
                                             Table of Contents

            Special Education Leadership Personnel with Particular
                        Attention to the Professoriate

Section 1. Introduction and Overview......................................................................... 1

         1A. Organization of the Report: Four Major Study Questions........................... 2
         1B. Data Sources and Methodology .................................................................. 3
                Survey of Search Committee Chairs...................................................... 3
                Survey of Doctoral Programs in Special Education ............................... 3
                Survey of Career Experiences of Recent Doctorates.............................. 3
                Survey of Doctoral Students in Special Education................................. 4

Section 2. The Demand for Faculty in Special Education .......................................... 5

         2A.    Position Characteristics............................................................................... 7
         2B.    Characteristics of the Search Process .......................................................... 7
         2C.    The Outcome of Searches for New Faculty ................................................. 7
         2D.    Summary .................................................................................................... 9

Section 3. The Supply of Recent Doctoral Graduates for Faculty Positions............ 10

         3A. Where Recent Graduates are Working ...................................................... 10
         3B. Characteristic Differences between Faculty and Non-Faculty.................... 12
         3C. Characteristic Differences Between Tenure-Line Faculty and “Off
             Track” Faculty.......................................................................................... 16
         3D. Academic Salaries and Working Conditions ............................................. 17
         3E. Shifts in Career Plans and Positions .......................................................... 20
         3F. Summary .................................................................................................. 22

Section 4. Current Students in the Pipeline: Their Characteristics, Career .......... 23
           Aspirations, and Likelihood of Becoming a Faculty Member

         4A. A Profile of Doctoral Students in Special Education ................................ 23
         4B. Career Aspirations: A Key Predictor of Faculty Status ............................. 24
         4C. Characteristic Differences Between Students with Faculty
             Aspirations and Those with Non-Faculty Aspirations................................ 26
                Relocation Issues ................................................................................ 27
                The Critical Role of Financial Aid ...................................................... 28
                The Issue of Stipend Levels ................................................................ 32
         4D. The Likelihood of Accepting a Faculty Position for Students
             Planning Academic Careers ...................................................................... 33
         4E. Summary .................................................................................................. 34
Section 5. Doctoral Program Capacity...................................................................... 35

          5A.     Active Doctoral Programs......................................................................... 35
          5B.     Choice of a Doctoral Program................................................................... 37
          5C.     Student Recruitment ................................................................................. 38
          5D.     Potential for Targeted Recruitment ........................................................... 39
          5E.     Increasing the Capacity of Doctoral Programs .......................................... 40
          5F.     Summary .................................................................................................. 41

Section 6. Key Findings and Implications ................................................................. 42

          6A. Key Findings for Major Study Questions .................................................. 42
                 What have been the recent experiences of colleges and universities
                 in hiring special education faculty? ..................................................... 42
                 What is the available supply of new doctorates seeking and obtaining
                 faculty postions? ................................................................................. 43
                 To what extent are current doctoral students interested in academic
                 careers?............................................................................................... 44
                 What is the current capacity of doctoral training programs for
                 producing special education faculty?................................................... 44

          6B. Strategies to Remedy the Faculty Supply and Demand Imbalance............. 44
                  1. Increase the capacity of doctoral programs ..................................... 44
                  2. Target student recruitment.............................................................. 45
                  3. Enlarge the federal presence and investment in leadership
                     personnel preparation ..................................................................... 46
                  4. Improve faculty mentoring of doctoral students.............................. 47
                  5. Assist colleges and universities with faculty recruitment ................ 48
                  6. Improve the working conditions at college and universities ............ 48
                  7. Determine future demand ............................................................... 49

Conclusion ................................................................................................................... 49

References ................................................................................................................... 50

Appendix A: Description of Mail Survey methodology................................................ 52
Tables List
       2.1 Descriptive Statistics of Candidates for Faculty Positions,
           FY 1997-1998: Applicants, Finalists, and Persons Interviewed ..................... 7
       3.1 Characteristics of 1994-98 Doctorates in Full-time Faculty versus Other ..... 13
       3.2 Characteristics of 1994-98 Doctorates in Special Education in Full-time
           Tenure-Line and “Off-track” Faculty Positions ............................................ 17
       3.3 Job Satisfaction of 1994-98 Doctorates by Type of Full-time Position ......... 19
       4.1 Characteristics of Doctoral Students by Type of Career Plans ...................... 27
       4.2 Percentage of Special Education Doctoral Students Who Used Various
           Types of Financial Support by Typical Enrollment Status............................ 29
       4.3 Comparison of Students Planning Faculty Careers and Graduates Who
           Became Faculty Members............................................................................ 34
       5.1 Doctoral Enrollments and Production for Special Education Programs:
           Spring 1999 ................................................................................................. 36

Figures List
      2.1 Trends in the Supply of New Doctorates in Special Education,
          Estimated Demand for Junior Faculty, and Hiring into Faculty Positions ....... 6
      3.1 The Flow of 1994-98 Special Education Doctorates into the U.S. Work
          Force ........................................................................................................... 11
      3.2 Primary Positions of Special Education Doctorates Who Were Full-time
          Employed in 1999: 1994-98 Graduates ....................................................... 12
      3.3 Probability of Becoming a Faculty Member by Key Background and
          Doctoral Training Characteristics................................................................. 15
      3.4 Median 9-Month Salaries by Type of Full-time Position: 1994-98 Special
          Education Doctorates................................................................................... 18
      3.5 Initial Career Plans, First Position After the Doctorate, and Current
          Position: 1995-96 Special Education Doctorates ......................................... 21
      4.1 The Career Plans of Current Doctoral Students: Spring 1999 ...................... 25
      4.2 Primary Source of Support for Full-time Students: Spring 1999.................. 31
      4.3 Percentage of Full-time Doctoral Students Reporting Various Sources of
          Financial Support and the Percentage Who Viewed It as Most Important..... 32
      5.1 Total and Full-time Enrollments in Special Education Doctoral
          Programs: Spring 1999 ............................................................................... 37
      5.2 Reasons Underlying Students’ Choice of a Doctoral Program...................... 38
      5.3 Applications and Acceptance Rates for Special Education Doctoral
          Programs by Program Ranking: Spring 1999 .............................................. 39

For over 15 years, independent researchers have chronicled an impending shortage of
special education faculty who staff the nation's colleges and universities. Reports and
observations about a possible imbalance between the supply and the demand for special
education leadership personnel consistently signaled a potential problem, raised
awareness of the issue, but were not comprehensive. Each article published on the topic
focused on different features of this, but because no single project was funded to support
sustained or multidimensional efforts, an understanding of the nature of the shortage was

In part to guide policy and make appropriation recommendations, the U.S. Department of
Education's Office of Special Education Programs funded a research project to gather
comprehensive data. The purpose of the project was to determine:

           (1) whether an imbalance exists between the supply of individuals with
               doctoral degrees in special education and the demand for their services,
               particularly in higher education;
           (2) if an imbalance does exist, what the features and nature of the
               problem are; and
           (3) how the problem might be resolved.

To accomplish this required the concerted and collaborative efforts of many of those
scholars who had previously worked independently answering individual, specific
questions related to special education faculty members. It also required the help and
participation of hundreds of individuals who work in a variety of capacities in many
different types of settings. The resulting report, though leaving many questions
unanswered, provides the most comprehensive and current study of the supply and
demand of special education doctoral personnel available today.

Answering questions embedded in the project's purposes proved to be more complicated
than originally anticipated. Without the contributions of many professionals -- at the
federal office, at colleges and universities across the nation, at state departments of
education, and at national organizations -- the research described in this report could not
have been accomplished. In particular, we would like to thank staff at the Office of
Special Education Programs (OSEP) who assisted with the initial conceptualization of the
project's work, supported the endeavor, and guided the work throughout. We first and
foremost wish to acknowledge Bob Gilmore who not only persistently supported the idea
that the study was important and should be funded, but who also participated as a full
member of the research team from the project's inception to its conclusion. We also wish
to extend our gratitude to these members of the OSEP team: Lou Danielson, Helen
Thornton, Susan Marie Marsh, and Bonnie Jones. We also want to thank the Department
Chairpersons, Doctoral Program Coordinators, and the support staff who work at the
nation's special education doctoral programs. These individuals provided us with
information about their programs, current doctoral students, and graduates. Without
them, the outstanding response rates obtained in this study would not have been possible.
We extend our thanks to Karl Murray who solicited assistance from each state's
Comprehensive System of Personnel Development committee, which helped identify the
doctoral programs in special education in the country. We also want to highlight the
contributions of Richard Mainzer of the Council for Exceptional Children, along with Al
Pascal and Lynn Boyer of the Professions Clearinghouse who went beyond the "call of
duty" to help make these results meaningful to broad audiences. In addition, we would
like to acknowledge the assistance of the following individuals who helped with the
production of this and related reports: Pamela Dismuke, Janet Church, Jeffrey Easterling,
Valerie Easterling, Judy Formosa, Susan Saunders, Anne Wierum, and Debbie Whelan.

And, finally, we thank and acknowledge those scholars on the Research Study Team.
These members played critical and integral roles throughout the study. They brought to
the effort vast experience gained from research they each had conducted previously.
They contributed unselfishly, they contributed in diverse and important ways: helping
with the conceptualization of the study, validating the questionnaires, assisting with
analyzing results, unraveling the implications, and actively participating with
dissemination efforts. Their contributions were consistent and invaluable. The Research
Study Team is comprised of these dedicated professionals:

       Ed Boe, University of Pennsylvania
       Candy Bos, University of Texas - Austin
       Vivian Correa, University of Florida
       Bob Gilmore, US Dept. of ED, Office of Special Education Programs
       Mark Goor, George Mason University
       Michael Hardman, University of Utah
       Susan-Marie Marsh, US Dept. of ED, Office of Special Education Programs
       Georgine Pion, Vanderbilt University
       Herb Rieth, University of Texas - Austin
       Michael Rosenberg, Johns Hopkins University
       Chuck Salzberg, Utah State University
       Paul Sindelar, University of Florida
       Deb Smith, Vanderbilt University
       Naomi Tyler, Vanderbilt University
       Bill Wienke, University of Central Florida

Our collective thanks and appreciation,


           Special Education Leadership Personnel with Particular
                       Attention to the Professoriate

                       Section 1. Introduction and Overview

        . . the supply of doctoral graduates in special education continues to decline as
       the demand for their services remains stable. . . Left unabated, these trends may
       result in a diminished capacity to prepare teachers to work with students with
       disabilities and to advance our understanding of effective special education
       practice. (Sindelar, Buck, Carpenter, & Watanabe, 1993)

        Even before Sindelar and his colleagues made this observation, others had warned
about a possible deficit of qualified individuals to assume college faculty positions in
special education programs. As early as 1987, Smith and Lovett speculated that the
supply of doctoral-level faculty could fail to satisfy future needs, based on survey
responses from chairpersons and special education faculty. Subsequent studies that
tracked position openings, doctoral production, and career choices of new doctorates only
supported their predictions (e.g., Pierce & Smith, 1994; Sindelar, Buck, Carpenter, &
Watanabe, 1993; Sindelar & Taylor, 1988; Tyler & Smith, 1999).

         Although these studies answered many questions, other questions remain. For
example, college administrators, policymakers, and parents still lacked the necessary data
to fully understand the magnitude of the imbalance between faculty supply and demand
or its future ramifications. They also had not identified the most promising strategies for
resolving the problem. Before the study was conducted, the most recent information
available about the employment of new special education doctorates pertained to those
graduating in 1995. Little was known about the future pipeline in terms of the number
currently enrolled in doctoral training programs, their characteristics, progress toward the
degree, and current career aspirations. Similarly, the flow of new entrants into doctoral
programs (i.e., applications and admissions) had not been systematically examined. For
these reasons, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) provided funds for data
collection efforts that would help fill these gaps. This report discusses the results of these
efforts to better inform graduate training programs, professional organizations, and
governmental agencies about ways to ensure that a pool of qualified special education
faculty exists.

1A. Organization of the Report: Four Major Study Questions

       To examine the extent and the implications of the imbalance between faculty
supply and demand, this report is organized around four major study questions. These
four questions and the section in which each one is discussed are as follows:

•   What have been the recent experiences of colleges and universities in hiring special
    education faculty? (Section 2)
•   What is the available supply of new doctorates seeking and obtaining faculty
    positions? (Section 3)
•   To what extent are current doctoral students interested in academic careers?
    (Section 4)
•   What is the current capacity of doctoral training programs for producing special
    education faculty? (Section 5)

        Section 2 provides an overview of the faculty supply and demand problem and the
changes that have occurred over time. It next gives a more detailed snapshot of job
openings in 1998 and the extent to which they were filled. Also described are the
characteristics of institutions that were seeking new faculty and the reasons for job
openings, along with the average numbers of applicants, individuals interviewed, and
offers made by search committees. Finally, the success of institutions in hiring faculty
and the factors correlated with success are explored.

       Section 3 describes the recent flow of new graduates into faculty positions and
summarizes the employment status and types of positions currently held by 1994-1998
doctoral recipients. Section 3 presents the results of multivariate analyses that identify
what distinguishes those who obtained faculty positions from those who obtained other
types of employment. The characteristics and work activities of full-time faculty are also

        Section 4 profiles current students enrolled in special education doctoral
programs. This section identifies the students’ demographic characteristics, their status
in the doctoral program, and their current career plans. Section 4 describes those
variables that distinguish aspiring faculty from their graduate student counterparts who
are less interested in pursuing acadmic careers. To examine the likelihood that those who
currently aspire to be faculty will persist in these goals, their characteristics are . . .
compared to those of recently hired faculty.

        Given that the evidence suggests a continued “undersupply” of faculty, Section 5
discusses the capacity of doctoral programs to produce special education graduates. This
section examines the ability of institutions to recruit, attract, and retain doctoral students,
particularly those who are most likely to enter the academic labor market upon

        Finally, Section 6 summarizes the report’s key findings and discusses strategies
for future action. These include, to name a few, additional funds to support doctoral
students, more targeted recruiting of groups most likely to pursue academic positions
upon graduation, and changes in program and faculty practices that might encourage and
sustain early aspirants to join the faculty ranks of special educators.

1B. Data Sources and Methodology

       Four extensive surveys were conducted to collect data relevant to the four major
study questions. These surveys were:

•   Survey of Search Committee Chairs. In early 1999, the University of Florida
    conducted a telephone survey of all search committee chairs for special education
    faculty positions that were advertised between Fall 1997 and Spring 1998 in The
    Chronicle of Higher Education. Researchers attempted to contact the search
    committee chairs of all 239 faculty positions. Of the 174 coordinators successfully
    contacted, 69% completed the interview. Coordinators were asked about the searches
    they conducted and to identify those factors that resulted in successful searches.
    These data are summarized in Section 2, which addresses the recent experiences of
    colleges and universities in hiring special education faculty.

             (2) Survey of Doctoral Programs in Special Education. Researchers made
                 extensive efforts to identify U.S. doctoral programs in special education
                 and sent questionnaires to the chairs of 84 departments. All 84 chairs
                 (100%) responded. Department chairs were asked for information on
                 graduate student enrollments, applications and admissions, number of
                 faculty, and availability of financial support. These data are summarized
                 in Section 5, which analyzes the capacity of doctoral training programs
                 to produce the next generation of special education faculty.

             (3) Survey of Career Experiences of Recent Doctorates. Researchers
                 surveyed a total of 1,090 graduates from 72 departments, who received a
                 doctorate in special education between July 1, 1995 and June 30, 1999,
                 regarding their early career experiences. The response rate was 89%.
                 Graduates were asked about their current employment settings and work
                 activities, how these differed from their expectations while in graduate
                 school, and the factors that affected their career choices. The survey also
                 collected data on the graduates’ demographic characteristics, educational
                 backgrounds, graduate school experiences, and current job satisfaction.
                 These data are summarized in Section 3, which discusses the number
                 and characteristics of new doctorates who have obtained faculty

             (4) Survey of Doctoral Students in Special Education. The names of
                 current doctoral students enrolled in special education programs were

                provided by 75 departments. Of the 1,630 currently enrolled students
                who were contacted, 81% responded. Students were asked about their
                background characteristics, their current status in the program, sources
                of support used to finance their doctoral study, their current career plans,
                and satisfaction with their graduate training. These data are summarized
                in Section 4, which describes students’ experiences in and views about
                their doctoral programs.

Additional details on mail survey methodology and procedures are provided in Appendix
A. Copies of all mail questionaires are included in Appendices B-D.

          Section 2. The Demand for Faculty in Special Education

       Since the mid-1980s, a growing concern has been raised regarding the
       increasing number of special education faculty positions available in the
       United States and the lack of qualified individuals to fill these positions.
       (Tyler & Smith, 1999)

       There may not be enough doctoral students out there to replace the soon-
       to-be-retirees, and new graduates often are not sufficiently mobile to take
       positions for which they are qualified. (Search Committee Chair)

        For nearly 15 years, faculty supply and demand in special education has
occasionally received empirical attention in the literature (e.g., Geiger, 1988; Sindelar &
Taylor, 1988; Smith & Lovett, 1987; Tawney & DeHaas-Warner, 1993). Regardless of
the specific methodology or data source used, each study’s authors reached the same
conclusion – namely, that the demand for special education faculty exceeded the supply
of individuals interested in and able to occupy these positions. Numerous factors were
viewed as responsible for this imbalance. These factors included: inadequate funding for
doctoral study, low salaries offered by institutions of higher education, constraints that
limited movement to new jobs (e.g., the inability of new graduates to relocate), and the
increasing demands placed upon new faculty members (e.g., heavy teaching and
supervisory responsibilities coupled with pressures to obtain outside funding and publish
in peer-reviewed journals).

        This imbalance is depicted in Figure 2.1, which shows the trends in the number of
position openings, new doctoral recipients, and individuals with academic positions since
1981. As can be seen, the number of estimated jobs for assistant professors with special
education degrees has fluctuated over time. In 1980, the number of positions equaled the
number of new doctorates produced that year. After a noticeable decline, estimated job
openings for junior faculty in special education began to climb and more than doubled,
rising from about 170 to almost 360 between 1982 and 1989. Available positions then
declined over the next three years, and have averaged around 250 position vacancies
annually since 1992.

                                     Figure 2.1
        Trends in the Supply of New Doctorates in Special Education, Estimated
            Demand for Junior Faculty, and Hiring into Faculty Positions


                                77   79   81    83      85     87       89    91      93     95   97
                                                                Ye ar

                                               Estimat ed job openings for junior faculty
                                               N ew doctorates
                                               R ec ent graduates wit h academic positions

Note: Data on estimated job openings are from the Survey of Search Committee Chairs, and the percent of new
doctorates in academic positions is from the Survey on Career Experiences of Recent Doctorates. Annual doctoral
producation is from the annual Survey of Earned Doctorates (Sanderson, et al., 1999; Thurgood & Weiman, 1991).
Numbers do not include speech pathology and audiology.

        Although the number of new doctorates far exceeded the number of junior faculty
jobs in the early 1980s, the number of new doctorates has more closely matched the
number of job openings since 1985. Between 1985 and 1998, the number of individuals
earning doctoral degrees in special education has averaged about 255 degrees per year.
Furthermore, the number of new doctorates who actually accepted and remained in
faculty positions is markedly smaller (i.e., an average of 130 per cohort) – nearly half of
the number needed to fill the positions advertised.

        Informative as these data are, they do not explain the reasons for the apparent
disparity between advertised openings and new faculty hires, nor do they identify where
problems may be most severe. Consequently, search committee chairs who are surveyed
were asked to identify those factors that led to a successful search.

2A. Position Characteristics

        Among the search committee chairs who were interviewed, most had chaired
searches for faculty at either urban (38%) or rural (37%) institutions. Another 25% were
in suburban locations. Openings tended to be concentrated in small programs where the
number of special education faculty totaled five or fewer (54%). Almost three-fifths
(57%) of the searches sought faculty to fill existing positions, which had resulted from
faculty being hired by other universities or from faculty choosing to retire.

2B. Characteristics of the Search Process

        On average, search committees received 19 applications for an opening (see Table
2.1). The overwhelming majority (97%) did identify at least one individual as a finalist,
and 77% found that at least three applicants met the qualifications and were worthy of
further consideration. Approximately 94% interviewed at least one individual, and 82%
of the search committees interviewed two or more candidates.

                                       Table 2.1
     Descriptive Statistics on of Candidates for Faculty Positions, FY 1997-1998:
                   Applicants, Finalists, and Persons Interviewed

                                     Applicants                Finalists     Interviewed
                                      (n=120)                  (n=117)         (n=114)
Minimum                                  2                         0              0
Maximum                                 110                       11              6
Median                                   15                        3              3
Mean                                    19.3                      3.6            2.7
Standard Deviation                      15.7                      1.9            1.2
Percent with none                        0                         3              6

Source: Data are from the Survey of Search Committee Chairs.

2C. The Outcome of Searches for New Faculty

        Search committees had a 70% success rate in recruiting an individual to fill a
faculty position. Slightly more than three-quarters (76%) were women, and 20% were
ethnic minorities. These figures resemble those for all recent doctoral recipients; for
example, 82% of the 1998 special education doctorates were female, and 22% were
underrepresented minorities (Sanderson, Dugoni, Hoffer, & Selfa, 1999). Not
surprisingly, the majority (75%) were hired at the rank of Assistant Professor or
Instructor. However, only 36% had just completed their doctoral degree. This suggests
that the movement into a faculty job does not always occur immediately after graduation;
for example, some individuals may remain at their doctoral institution for a while (e.g., as
research associates on a federal grant) or leave one faculty position to take a faculty
position at another institution.

        What is more striking (and worrisome) is that 30% of the searches produced no
results – namely, the position was not filled. This figure is dramatically higher than the
8% reported by Sindelar, et al.         Box 2.1 Unsuccessful Searches: Observations
(1993) for positions advertised in      by Search Committee Chairs
1988. Clearly, it appears that
special education programs have         People do not want to relocate.
encountered increasing difficulty in
attracting new faculty to their         We were not able to fill the position due to the lack of
                                        qualified applicants and refusals from those who were
undergraduate and graduate              offered the position.
programs. In addition, although the
proportion of ethnic minorities         I don’t believe that the applicants have been prepared to
among those hired in new positions      do research and write grants for external funding.
in 1998 was the same as that for
                                        Applicants are typically from outside special education
new special education doctorates,       (e.g., psychology).
nearly one-fifth of the 89 search
committee chairs who provided additional comments identified the lack of minority
applicants as a key problem.

        Search Committee Chairs attributed nearly one-third (31%) of the unsuccessful
searches to problems in the quality of the applicant pool. Although the survey did not
explicitly probe the nature of these problems, the comments made by interviewers
provide some insight (see Box 2.1). In such instances, no formal offer was tendered to an

        The remaining two-thirds did make at least one offer, but were turned down.
Furthermore, slightly more than half (55%) of this group had their offers turned down by
more than one candidate. Again,
comments from coordinators point to     Box 2.2 Faculty Positions: Observations by
                                        Search Committee Chairs and Recent
the problems encountered, such as
non-competitive salaries. Many of
these issues were echoed by recent      Our students make as much money, if not more, as our
graduates (see Box 2.2).                faculty. This is the reason some of our finalists
                                              decided to go elsewhere for a position.
         It was more likely that a
                                           Hospitals, clinics, and other employers offer better
search failed if the position was in a     opportunities for those with a doctoral degree.
small department with five or fewer
special education faculty or if it was     I will take a $20,000 - $30,000 pay cut if I switch from
at an institution located in either a      a K-12 teaching position to a college faculty position.
suburban or rural area. In addition,
unsuccessful searches expended
much more effort than did successful searches because more candidates had to be
screened and interviewed when those who were offered a position declined the offer.
Compared to successful searches, they had a significantly larger applicant pool to screen
(an average of 28.6 applicants versus 19.8 for successful searches), identified more
finalists (11.4 versus 3.9), and interviewed more individuals for the opening (5.0 versus

        Of course, it is well-known that faculty searches can last more than one academic
year before a qualified individual is hired. At the same time, failing to fill a faculty slot
can have serious consequences. For 20% of the programs that were unsuccessful in
hiring an individual, the position or “slot” was lost by the department. Whether this
outcome was permanent is not known; nevertheless, teaching loads, student supervision,
and teacher preparation undoubtedly suffer when positions remain unfilled.

2D. Summary

       Recruiting and attracting new faculty does not appear to have noticeably
improved. In fact, it may have worsened since the late 1980s. For example, although the
number of openings has remained relatively stable since 1992, the pool of applicants may
be much smaller. Whereas the average number of applications for positions was 35 in
1988 (Smith & Lovett, 1987), it was nearly half that in 1998 (i.e., an average of 19
applications per position).

        The percentage of successful searches in 1998 also was markedly lower than that
for those conducted a decade earlier. Increasingly, it appears that smaller departments,
particularly those located in non-urban areas, are experiencing hiring problems. This
appears to primarily result from candidates turning down formal offers, rather than search
committees receiving no qualified applications. Such outcomes are particularly
problematic, given the level of effort and resources expended to review applications,
choose finalists, interview candidates, and arrange formal offers. For some departments,
the result is that the position is at least temporarily “lost,” placing greater demands on the
existing faculty in terms of teaching, advising, and other student-related responsibilities.

            Section 3. The Supply of Recent Doctoral Graduates
                            for Faculty Positions

       My doctoral program was outstanding, but nothing could have adequately
       prepared me for the lifestyle of higher education. I love teaching, but in order to
       do all that is required of a tenure-track position, I work 80 hours per week.

       Although my first plan was to move from direct services to a faculty position after
       my degree, I have actually stayed in direct services but do some adjunct teaching.
       This is a good fit because (1) college teaching has become more stressful and less
       satisfying, (2) the degree has ‘enhanced’ my standing in direct services, and (3)
       adjunct work is advantageous for consulting.

       One issue that is rarely addressed is faculty turnover. In the school where I had
       my first tenure-track position, four assistant professors were hired and three left
       within two years.

       My beginning salary as a professor was $35,000 with a student loan debt of
       $42,000. If I am allowed to die only when my student loan debt is paid off, I’ll live

        The percentage of failed faculty searches underscores the need to examine the
supply of individuals who pursue academic careers and the attractiveness of junior
faculty positions. Some information is available from isolated snapshots that have been
taken in the past (e.g., Pierce & Smith, 1994; Tyler & Smith, 1999). To obtain more
recent data and examine the factors that affect the decision to become a faculty member,
recent doctorates in special education (1994-1998) were surveyed about their career
experiences. Data were also collected about the characteristics of those who were most
likely to obtain faculty positions.

3A. Where Recent Graduates Are Working

       Doctoral programs in special education have continued to produce individuals
who successfully enter the U.S. work force (see Figure 3.1). Among 1994-1998
graduates, the overwhelming majority (90%) were working full-time. Four percent were
employed part-time, and 2% were neither working nor seeking employment, usually
because of family responsibilities or chronic health problems. Less than 1% were
unemployed and seeking work. This indicates a strong labor market for special education
leadership personnel.

                                    Figure 3.1
     The Flow of 1994-98 Special Education Doctorates into the U.S. Work Force

                     New Special                                           (45%)
                                                 Employed full-
                      Education                     time
                                                                       Other full-time
                     Doctorates                    (90%)                  position             Also part-
                         (n= 771)                                                               (14%)

                                                                      Part-time faculty
                                                   Employed                (2%)
                           Left US                 part-time
                            (4%)                    (4%)
                                                                      Other part-time
                         Unemployed,             and seeking               (2%)
                          not seeking
Note:                      (2%)                    (1%)
Data are
from the
Survey                                                                                                      on
Career Experiences of Recent Doctorates. The percentages are based on a total of 771 individuals.

        Figure 3.2 depicts the full-time employment positions held by new doctoral
recipients in Spring 2000. Across all cohorts, approximately 50% were faculty at
colleges and universities, and 50% held other types of positions. Of those who held
nonfaculty positions, 21% held administrative positions, and 16% were teaching in
schools and other educational settings. A small minority (6%) worked primarily as
researchers, and although these jobs were largely in academic settings, these graduates
devoted little (if any) time to teaching classes. The remainder (7%) worked in a variety
of roles, including those related to education (e.g., educational test publishing) and those
that were in other areas (e.g., computer programming and realty).

                                          Figure 3.2
                 Primary Positions of Special Education Doctorates Who Were
                      Employed Full-time in 1999: 1994-98 Graduates

                      Research                               Faculty                    Tenure-line
                                                             50.2%                        39.3%
                                                                                        No tenure at institution

                 Teaching/Direct Services

  Note: Data are from the Survey on Career Experiences of Recent Doctorates. The percentages are based on a total
  of 692 individuals who are employed full-time and working in the U.S. Teaching/direct services include
  elementary and secondary school teaching, diagnosis, assessment, and consulting.

Of course, the faculty work force is not only comprised of those with full-time faculty
appointments. Often, those with nonacademic positions also serve as adjunct faculty,
teaching one or two courses per year. As Figure 3.1 shows, individuals who worked only
as part-time faculty members were a tiny minority (2%). However, the extent to which
individuals in other full-time positions contributed to the faculty workforce is noticeable.
In addition to the 45% who accepted full-time faculty appointments, another 14%
reported teaching one or more classes in addition to their full-time jobs in schools, local
and state education agencies, and other nonacademic settings. Although this involvement
cannot be translated into faculty FTEs, it does highlight the significant role that
nonacademically employed doctorates play in college teaching. At the same time, it is
likely that these individuals do not advise students, supervise student teachers, or serve
on departmental and university committees—activities that were frequently mentioned by
faculty as consuming a substantial amount of their time.

3B. Characteristic Differences between Faculty and NonFaculty

        Table 3.1 identifies the characteristics that distinguish those who became full-time
faculty from doctorates who chose nonacademic positions. The two groups were
compared with regard to background characteristics and graduate school experiences. In
general, these two groups did not significantly differ in terms of gender, marital status,
and having children. Members of historically underrepresented groups, however, were

slightly less likely to hold faculty positions. Those who became faculty also were
younger when they began doctoral study. This is most likely related to the differences in
the amount of time that passed between earning a master’s degree and beginning doctoral
study. Whereas approximately six years, on average, elapsed between receipt of the
baccalaureate and master’s degrees for both groups, the average time between completing
a master’s degree and enrolling in a doctoral program was nearly 18 months shorter for
those in faculty positions.

                                    Table 3.1
 Characteristics of 1994-98 Doctorates in Full-time Faculty versus Other Positions

                                                                                 Faculty            Nonfaculty
                       Characteristic                                           (n = 346)            (n=344)
Percent who were women                                                             80.0                78.2
Percent who were underrepresented minorities+                                      14.0                19.2
Percent who were married or living together                                        70.1                68.8
Percent who had children under the age of 18                                       40.9                36.9
Percent who earned a baccalaureate in special education                            23.6                19.2
Elapsed time between receipt of bachelor’s degree and
enrolling in a master’s program (mean years)                                        6.6                  6.4
Elapsed time between receipt of master’s degree and
enrolling in a doctoral program (mean years)*                                       5.7                  7.2
Age when enrolling in their doctoral program (mean years)*                         35.8                 36.9
Percent who relocated to begin doctoral study*                                     43.4                 21.9
Percent who planned to be faculty upon entering the doctoral
program*                                                                           86.3                 53.1
Percent who had a TA, RA, traineeship, or fellowship*                              87.0                 68.6
Percent who regarded their TA, RA, traineeship, or
fellowship as their primary source of support*                                     60.7                 43.6
Percent who regarded earnings from a job as their primary
source of support*                                                                 17.2                 34.2
Percent who earned their master’s and doctoral degrees from
the same institution*                                                              29.7                 38.0
Elapsed time between enrolling in the doctoral program and
receipt of the degree*                                                              5.2                  6.1
Elapsed time between receiving the baccalaureate and
completing the doctorate*                                                          17.1                 19.8
Percent who relocated to take their current job*                                   56.9                 20.2

Note: Data are from the Survey on Career Experiences of Recent Doctorates. Included were graduates who held full-
time positions in the United States.

*p < 0.05

        In addition, those currently employed as faculty members were much more likely
to relocate to begin doctoral study (43%) and to have academic career plans when they
entered their doctoral program (86%) than those in non-faculty jobs (22% and 53%,
respectively). While in graduate school, they were more likely to have received some
type of institutional support (i.e., a Teaching Assistant, Research Assistant, traineeship,
or fellowship) and to regard this aid as the most important source for paying their
educational costs. In contrast, graduates in nonacademic positions viewed their salaries
from outside jobs during their doctoral study (e.g., as a full-time school teacher or
administrator) as primary. Finally, those who held faculty appointments spent less time
earning their degree, and they were nearly three times as likely to relocate to take their
faculty position (57%) as compared to their counterparts in other types of work roles

         In some ways, these differences point to reasonably obvious indicators that could
be used in choosing applicants (strong faculty aspirations) and facilitating their career
goals (providing financial support that also provides relevant experiences). Perhaps most
worrisome, however, is that special education doctorates typically begin their doctoral
studies at a late age – between 36 and 37 years old. This means that they are
considerably older by the time they complete their degree than individuals in other
disciplines. For example, the median age of 1998 special education doctorates was 43
years old. However, the median age of their counterparts in physics and biochemistry
was 30 years, and corresponding figures for psychology, English, and business were 33,
34, and 36, respectively (Sanderson, et al., 1999). Even if one considers that new
biochemistry and physics Ph.Ds usually must spend three to four years in postdoctoral
research training before entering the academic job market, they are younger when they
start their faculty careers than special education doctorates are when they begin their
doctoral programs. As will be discussed in later sections, the age of the special education
doctorate pool most likely imposes significant limitations on increasing the pool of future
faculty members.

         Because many of these factors are interrelated, logistic regression was used to
identify the variables that best predicted faculty employment, taking into account other
characteristics. Figure 3.3 summarizes the results of this analysis. Given that the logit
model is nonlinear, the differences between those with and without full-time faculty
positions depend on the specific values of each control variable. Consequently, the
results identify which characteristics best predict whether the typical special education
doctorate (i.e., a white, married female) will become a faculty member upon receiving
her degree.

                                          Figure 3.3
                         Probability of Becoming a Faculty Member
                  By Key Background and Doctoral Training Characteristics

       Yes                                                                          0.56

         No                                 0.21                                              Planned
                                                                                              faculty career

   3 years                                                                                                   0.78

   4 years                                                                                           0.74

   5 years                                                                                        0.71       Years from
                                                                                                             MA to PhD
   6 years                                                                                 0.67

   7 years                                                                            0.62

   8 years                                                                          0.58

RA/TA/Fel                                                                           0.56
                                                                                              Primary source
                                                                                              of support

   4 years                                                                                                   0.76

   5 years                                                                                          0.73

                                                                                               0.7          Years to
   6 years
                                                                                                            Complete PhD
   7 years                                                                                 0.66

   8 years                                                                            0.63

   9 years                                                                          0.59
                                                                                                             Moved to
                                                                                                             take job

       Yes                                                                                                               0.91

         No                                                                                       0.7

              0                    0.2                   0.4                    0.6                        0.8                  1
 Note: Data are from the Survey on Career Experiences of Recent Doctorates. “Institutional” support includes RAs,
 TAs, fellowships, and traineeships.

         Entering graduate school with explicit plans for a faculty career was the most
critical; the chances of becoming a full-time faculty member after graduation increased
from two out of ten for those who entered a doctoral program with non-faculty career
goals to nearly six out of ten for those aspiring to be assistant professors. Being able to
relocate also had a strong influence, increasing the chances of becoming a faculty
member from seven to nine out of ten (or from 0.7 to 0.9). Being primarily supported by
an RA, TA, traineeship or fellowship rather than by other sources (e.g., outside jobs or
spouse’s earning) made a faculty position more likely. Holding all else constant, the
likelihood rose by ten percentage points. Completing the doctorate in a shorter amount of
time was important – each additional year spent in doctoral study decreased the chances
of moving into a faculty slot by about three percentage points. Finally, it should be noted
that the more time that elapsed between completing the master’s degree and enrolling in a
doctoral program, the less probable employment as a faculty member became (p < 0.06).

3C. Characteristic Differences Between Tenure-Line Faculty and “Off Track”

        Recent graduates who do hold faculty positions primarily have tenure track or
tenured appointments (see Figure 3.2). However, approximately 8% of all recent
graduates have non-tenure track appointments which are more precarious positions. As
Table 3.2 shows, those in tenure-track or tenured positions were slightly less likely to be
women but slightly more likely to be underrepresented minorities (the statistical tests
reached marginal significance). This latter finding differs from previous research where
diverse individuals were more likely to hold non-tenure track positions. However, the
proportions of those who were married or had children did not differ between the two
groups, and substantial percentages of both groups entered graduate school with
aspirations of becoming faculty after completing the degree.

Where tenure-line and off-track faculty did differ was in terms of their age, where they
received their doctoral training, whether they had relocated to take the job, and the
amount of time they spent teaching. First, those in tenure-line positions were somewhat
younger than those who held non-faculty track positions. Second, tenure-line faculty to
have graduated from a doctoral program ranked in the top 10 of special education
programs by U.S. News and World Report (30% versus 14%, respectively). Third, tenure-
line faculty were also twice as likely to have relocated for this faculty slot (63% as
compared to 31%). The tendency to “not hire one’s own,” particularly in a tenure-line
position, is shown by the fact that only 4% of tenure-line faculty were working at their
doctoral institution as compared to 31% of “off-track” faculty. Fourth, teaching played a
much smaller role in the job responsibilities of “off-track” faculty. Whereas nearly all
(94%) of those in tenure-line positions indicated that teaching was their primary or
secondary work activity, this was true for only 69% of those in positions that did not
carry the promise of tenure. Instead, “off-track” faculty spent more time on management
and supervision tasks.

                                          Table 3.2
                 Characteristics of 1994-98 Doctorates in Special Education
                 in Full-time Tenure-Line and “Off-track” Faculty Positions

                                                                                Tenure-line           “Off-track”
                          Characteristic                                         Faculty                Faculty
Percent who were women+                                                            77.3                  87.3
Percent who were underrepresented minorities+                                      16.0                   7.2
Percent who were married or living together                                        70.3                  69.0
Percent with children 17 years old or younger                                      41.9                  36.6
Average age (years) +                                                              44.4                  46.0
Average years in position (years)                                                   3.1                   2.9
Percent who planned faculty careers when they
entered the doctoral program                                                         86.9                  84.8
Percent who graduated from a program ranked in
the top 10 of all special education doctoral programs*                               30.2                  14.1
Percent whose position was at the same school that
awarded their doctoral degree*                                                        4.0                  31.0
Percent who relocated to take this faculty position*                                 63.2                  31.0
Percent who reported teaching as their primary or
secondary activity*                                                                  94.9                  69.0

Note: Data are from the Survey on Career Experiences of Recent Doctorates. Included were graduates who held full-
time faculty positions at U.S. institutions of higher education. Tenure-line positions include those that are either
tenured or on the tenure track, along with ones at institutions that do not have a tenure system.
+p < 0.10
*p < 0.05

3D. Academic Salaries and Working Conditions

        Why do doctoral students
                                                Box 3.1. Observations from Recent Graduates on
chose non-faculty rather than                            Being a Faculty Member
faculty positions, and why do
those who hold faculty positions                I teach four courses per semester, advise master’s students,
leave academia? The                             serve on Ed.S. and various other university committees, and
attractiveness of various career                so forth, but I have little time to conduct research and write.
                                                However, publications are the key to tenure.
options in terms of salary,
benefits, responsibilities, and                 Tenure-track positions must be more “family friendly” so
other factors are important                     that women who are starting a family can survive without
considerations when examining                   massive stress.
the career choices of doctoral
                                                I walked away with a Ph.D. and $40,000 in loans. Six years
students in the pipeline and the                later, I’m still heavily in debt because my academic salary
likelihood of individuals                       does not help reduce this burden. I have to teach overloads
remaining in faculty positions                  just to make ends meet, and this extra time spent in teaching
(see Box 3.1). Given that                       limits my capacity to carry out research and publish – the
special education doctorates are                two areas most crucial to obtaining tenure.
older than many junior faculty in

other disciplines when they receive their degree, they will more likely have family
responsibilities and constraints that must be considered in choosing a job. Some may
have had to take out loans to pay for graduate school and thus face sizable debt burden
upon graduation. Figure 3.4 compares the median salaries of recent doctorates who were
employed as full-time faculty versus those in other positions. To make fair comparisons,
salaries of nonacademic personnel have been adjusted to reflect the amount paid for 9
months – the period for which most faculty salaries are based.

        Those in faculty positions, regardless of their years of experience, earned less than
their nonacademic counterparts in 2000. Moreover, this pay differential increased
significantly over time. For example, the median salary for assistant professors who
received their degree two years earlier (in 1998) was $41,000, which was 4% lower than
the $42,875 earned by their fellow graduates working in other types of settings. This pay
disparity grew to 13% for 1994 graduates where the median salaries for faculty and non-
faculty were $43,500 and $50,000, respectively.

                                                                  Figure 3.4
                                             Median 9-Month Salaries by Type of Full-time Position:
                                                     1994-98 Special Education Doctorates

                      Median 9-month salary (in thousands)




                                                             0                Years since doctorate
                                                                  2   Faculty 3 Other 4types of positions
                                                                                                    5       6
                                                                                Years since doctorate
Data are                                          Faculty Other types of positions
from the
Survey                                                                                                          on
Experiences of Recent Doctorates. All salaries are for 9 months.

Such pay discrepancies, along with other features of academe such as those expressed by
survey respondents may dissuade individuals from moving into or staying in faculty
positions. Table 3.3 reports the percentages of faculty who were satisfied, mixed, or
dissatisfied with various aspects of their current jobs, along with the corresponding
figures for those employed full-time in nonacademic positions. Both groups were similar
in terms of their overall job satisfaction. Approximately 77% were mostly or completely
satisfied, 16-19% were mixed (equally satisfied and dissatisfied), and 4-7% were most or

completely dissatisfied. Regardless of the position, both faculty and those in other jobs
also were generally satisfied with their working conditions (66% of faculty and 72% of
                                         Table 3.3
        Job Satisfaction of 1994-98 Doctorates by Type of Full-time Position

                                                   Faculty                         Other Types of Positions
    Job characteristic             Percent         Percent       Percent        Percent   Percent     Percent
                                   Satisfied       Mixed         Dissatis-      Satisfied  Mixed     Dissatis-
                                                                   fied                                 fied
Salary and fringe
benefits*                             41.9           30.8           27.3           62.4          21.3           16.3
Working conditions (e.g.,
hours and location)                   66.0           25.2            8.8           71.7          20.1            8.3
Autonomy/independence*                85.4           11.7            2.9           80.4          11.8            7.9
Professional relationships
with co-workers and
colleagues                            76.7           18.3            4.9           80.7          15.4            3.9
Social relationships with
co-workers/colleagues                 69.8           22.2            8.1           75.4          19.7            4.9
Competency of co-
workers/colleagues                    68.4           27.3            4.4           63.5          30.8            5.7
Job security*                         66.1           22.4           11.5           76.1          18.1            5.8
Relationship with
administration*                       70.1           21.8            8.1           79.1          16.3            4.6
Undergraduate course
assignments                           78.7           17.7            3.7            na             na            na
Graduate course
assignments                           81.9           13.6            4.6            na             na            na
Teaching load                         63.4           23.2           13.4            na             na            na
Quality of students                   61.1           34.4            4.5            na             na            na
Degree of interesting and
rewarding work*                       84.1           14.5            1.5           75.8          17.3            7.0
Opportunity for scholarly
pursuits*                             52.3           31.1           16.6           38.5          34.6           26.9
Overall job satisfaction              77.1           18.9            4.1           77.3          16.2            6.5

Note: Data are from the Survey on Career Experiences of Recent Doctorates. “na” refers to job characteristics that
were not applicable for the position.
* p < 0.05

non-faculty), their professional relationships with those whom they worked with (77% of
faculty and 81% of non-faculty), their social interactions with colleagues (70% of faculty
and 75% of non-faculty), and the competency of their fellow workers (68% of faculty and
64% of non-faculty).

        However, salary was a point of contention, especially for faculty. For both
groups, satisfaction levels with salary and benefits were much lower than for nearly all
other job components. Faculty were substantially more disgruntled with their pay and
fringe benefits; whereas 62% of those in nonacademic jobs were satisfied, this was true

for only 42% of those in faculty positions. In addition, although the majority of faculty
was positive about their dealings with the administration, 30% were either mixed or
dissatisfied with these interactions – a figure that differed significantly from that of those
in nonacademic positions (21%). They also were more likely to be discontented with
their job security (34% of faculty versus 24% of their non-faculty counterparts expressed
mixed opinions or outright dissatisfaction).

        Faculty were, however, somewhat more satisfied with the extent to which their
job responsibilities were interesting and rewarding. Whereas 84% voiced such
sentiments, this was true for 76% of those in other types of settings. They also felt more
positive about the opportunities that they had for scholarship than did doctorates in
nonacademic positions. This is not surprising, given that scholarly contributions are a
key function of academia. At the same time, with the exception of views on salaries, this
feature generated the lowest level of satisfaction (52%) among junior faculty. For those
in nonacademic positions, opportunities for scholarship clearly generated the most
discontent – only 39% were satisfied and 27% were dissatisfied. For faculty, this may
reflect concerns over the lack of time available for those pursuits that are important for
promotion and tenure (see Box 3.1).

3E. Shifts in Career Plans and Positions

         Another issue that has frequently been raised is the degree to which demand for special
education faculty is affected by junior faculty leaving academia after only a few years of teaching
or moving to another college or university. As one search committee chair noted, “Our institution
is used as a stepping stone to bigger institutions.” Graduates have also commented on the high
degree of turnover among their junior colleagues. Figure 3.5 presents data on two cohorts
(1995-96 doctorates) with regard to the positions they held immediately after they
received their degree and their positions as of early 2000. It also depicts the changes in
career plans when they entered graduate school compared to their actual full-time

                                            Figure 3.5
         Initial Career Plans, First Postion After the Doctorate, and Current Position:
                             1995-96 Special Education Doctorates
                                           1st position after doctorate         3 yrs. later
                  Planned faculty career                                    New faculty position (16%)
                          (61%)                    Faculty position
                                                        (38%)              Same faculty position (21%)

                                                                          New non-faculty position (5%)

                  1995 & 1996                    Non-faculty position
                                                                          Same non-faculty position (12%)
                    Special                             (17%)

                   Doctorates                                                New faculty position (2%)
                                                   Faculty position
                        (n = 307)
                                                                            Same faculty position (7%)

                   Planned non-faculty                                    New non-faculty position (10%)
                         career                  Non-faculty position
                        (38%)                                             Same non-faculty position (18%)
Note:                                                   (25%)                                               Data
are                                                                                                         from
the             9% not in U.S. or labor force
Survey                                                                                                      on
Career Experiences of Recent Doctorates.

         As can be seen, 61% initially planned to obtain a faculty job at the time they
embarked on doctoral study, and 38% had other postdoctoral goals (e.g., teaching in the
schools, directing an office for college students with disabilities, and developing policy in
a state educational agency). By the time the degree was earned, however, career plans
often differed from post-degree employment. Figure 3.5 shows that there is a
considerable amount of “loss” or “leakage” in terms of employment immediately
following graduation. Although three-fifths planned to have academic jobs, only 49%
actually took faculty positions upon completing their degree; this included both those
who had such aspirations when they enrolled in graduate school (38%) and those who
desired other careers (11%). Furthermore, some additional “loss,” albeit small, occurred
3-4 years later when only 46% of the two cohorts held full-time faculty positions.

        Another message that should be gleaned from Figure 3.5 is the movement that
occurs between the faculty and non-faculty workforce. As of Spring 2000, the 46% who
were full-time faculty consisted of 28% who were still in the same position and 18% who
had taken a new faculty position at another institution. Thus, a noticeable fraction had
“switched” academic employers within a reasonably short time span. In fact, there was
more movement across institutions among these junior faculty than there were departures
of individuals from academia altogether. Although the exact reasons for these changes
were not addressed by the survey, it highlights the fact that some of the demand for junior
faculty is a function of departures of recently hired assistant professors. In addition, it is
plausible that a noticeable fraction of these job shifts were due to dissatisfaction with

working conditions rather than job advancement (e.g., very few respondents changed jobs
because they were offered tenure or a promotion in rank by another institution). Thus,
addressing the supply-demand imbalance requires some consideration of how faculty
positions can be improved so that new hires are not inclined to look for “greener
pastures” after spending a short time in the department that invested time, effort, and
resources to recruit them.

3F. Summary

         The results from the study of recent special education doctorates provide useful
and interesting insights about the difficulties that college and university administrators
experience when attempting to replenish their faculty. While special education doctoral
programs consistently produce graduates who assume leadership positions, less than half
of those graduates accept full-time faculty jobs after graduation. The consequence is that
there are an insufficient number of graduates to fill faculty openings. Significant
differences exist between those graduates who assume faculty positions and those who do
not, particularly in terms of initial career plans, the primary source of support for
graduate study, and the flexibility to relocate after graduation. Taking more time out
between earning the master’s degree and beginning doctoral study also worked against
taking a faculty position as did slower progress in completing the requirements for the
degree. Such information provides clues regarding how to target student recruitment by
specifically gearing programs toward preparing leadership personnel to work in higher
education. It also highlights the important role of institutionally-based support in
facilitating decisions about accepting a faculty position.

        However, it is important to remember that the working conditions present in
higher education introduce disincentives, particularly for graduates with financial
responsibilities (e.g., children and educational debt). A major task for academic
departments is to identify how these barriers can be reduced. Here, attention should not
only be given to improving the attractiveness of faculty positions but also to developing
strategies that reduce the time between earning the bachelor’s degree and enrolling in a
doctoral program. Beginning and completing doctoral study at an earlier age will likely
address some of the constraints on career choice created by family responsibilities and
the problems encountered by the large discrepancy between mid-career salaries and those
of junior faculty.

   Section 4. Current Students in the Pipeline: Their Characteristics,
   Career Aspirations, and Likelihood of Becoming a Faculty Member

        Being a doctoral student is a wonderful learning experience that should be
        available to more individuals. However, it is much too expensive. I realize that
        it was my own decision to return to school and borrow money to pay for it, but it
        is a major disincentive, particularly for people in my position who have children
        and no way to pay for education other than loans. I do not regret my graduate
        studies, but I think I am a little crazy to be making such unwise financial

        My adviser means everything to me. That is why I am satisfied with the doctoral

        As a mostly full-time, employed student, the challenges are overwhelming.

        The professors go out of their way to make life miserable for students.

        My biggest frustration is that no one has explained clearly what is required.

        The possibility of a faculty shortage, made more ominous by the number of
doctoral graduates who opt not to take faculty positions, begs further examination of
students currently pursuing a doctoral degree in special education. Of particular interest
are their characteristics, career plans, and other features that may predict faculty or non-
faculty status after graduation.

       Several studies in the last six years have looked briefly at students in the pipeline
(Boone & Ruhl, 1995; Smith & Tyler, 1994, 1997, 1998). However, they have tended to
focus on the student population in HECSE schools. The current study was directed at
students who were enrolled full- or part-time in Spring 1999 in all 84 special education
doctoral programs. Contact information for students was provided by 75 departments,
yielding a total of 1,630 students. Approximately 82% (n = 1,267) responded.

4A. A Profile of Doctoral Students in Special Education

        Consistent with past research, the overwhelming majority of doctoral students
(82%) were women. Approximately 18% were ethnic minorities, most of whom were
either Black or Asian, and 8% were persons with disabilities. Foreign students composed
11% of the population; over half of these were from Asian countries such as Taiwan,
South Korea, and India.

       Fifty percent of all doctoral students were 42 years or older. Nearly two-thirds
(66%) were married or in a similar relationship, and 53% had one or more dependents.
Moreover, 92% reported that they had been working as a staff member, teacher, or
administrator when they were applying to doctoral programs. These figures may have

important implications with regard to their eventual ability to apply for and accept a
faculty position. For example, the average age of individuals who relocated to enroll in
their doctoral program was 38.5 years, which was significantly younger than for those
who did not relocate (mean = 42.5 years). Students with no dependents also were more
likely to relocate for doctoral study than their counterparts with children (40% versus
20%, respectively). These differences suggest that spouses, children, and steady full-time
employment impose constraints on the ability to move to become a doctoral student.
These constraints may continue, limiting mobility and thus the option to take a faculty
position upon receipt of the degree.

        In Spring 1999, 58% of doctoral students reported that they had primarily been
full-time students during the course of their doctoral study, and 52% were presently
enrolled full-time at the time of the survey. When asked about their progress toward
completing the degree, 43% still were taking courses as part of their degree requirements.
Another 14% had completed all courses and were preparing for exams, 18% had passed
their qualifying or comprehensive exams, and 26% had an approved dissertation
proposal. The average number of years that they had spent in doctoral study was 3.4.

        Approximately one-third of the respondents were enrolled as doctoral students at
the same institution from which they received their master’s degree. Approximately one-
fifth were doctoral students in one of the 10 institutions than had received the highest
rankings among special education programs by U.S. News and World Report. If one
considers the top 25 institutions, this proportion increased to 43%.

        The majority of current doctoral students viewed their doctoral training
experiences as positive. Approximately 26% were completely satisfied, 48% were
mostly satisfied, and 20% had mixed emotions; very small minorities were either mostly
or completely dissatisfied (5% and 1%, respectively). Positive views on specific training
areas were held by at least three-fifths of students. However, certain components were
viewed more highly than others. Satisfaction levels were highest in terms of training in
consultation and education where 91% were either completely or mostly satisfied.
Training in research and evaluation and in intervention strategies ranked a somewhat
distant second and third (79% and 74% were satisfied, respectively). Satisfaction levels
were lower with regard to the program’s performance in equipping them with skills
associated with college teaching (71%), diagnosis and assessment (70%), elementary and
secondary school teaching (66%), dealing with issues associated with cultural and
linguistic diversity (64%), and administration and supervision (62%). These views did
not significantly differ for those planning academic careers versus other types of
leadership roles.

4B. Career Aspirations: A Key Predictor of Faculty Status

        As discussed in Section Three, individuals who began a doctoral program with the
intention of pursuing a faculty career were more likely to move into faculty positions
upon graduation. Thus, it is worthwhile to examine the career plans of current doctoral
students. As Figure 4.1 shows, 44% of doctoral students enrolled in Spring 1999

intended to pursue a career in academe. This figure is, however, considerably lower than
that reported by Boone and Ruhl (1995) for students in master’s programs who were
intending to pursue a doctoral degree. At the same time, this may be expected, given that
some period of time typically elapses between completing a master’s degree and
enrolling in a doctoral program. The unfortunate consequence, however, is that some
fraction of talented and able individuals decide not to or become unable to continue their
graduate study.

                                             Figure 4.1
                     The Career Plans of Current Doctoral Students: Spring 1999

                                           Don't know
                                   Other      10%
                        Research                                                  Faculty
                          7%                                                       44%

                            18%                         Teaching in
Note:                                                                                            Data
are                                                                                              from
Survey                                                                                           of

Doctoral Students in Special Education.

        The pool of future faculty members may be augmented to some degree by
students who had other career
plans at the time of the           Box 4.1. Concerns of Current Doctoral Students
survey. For example, 7% of                    About Academia
respondents planned to take a
                                   “I am extremely concerned about the low salaries of
research position after            university professors. I want to teach college, but may not
graduation; this involves          be able to afford to do so after graduation.”
some number who plan
additional postdoctoral study      “I and my fellow students believe we have never been in a
and typically move to faculty      more “disempowering” environment. We plan not to work
                                   in higher education because of this experience.”
jobs after completing this
training. An additional 10%        “I am disillusioned with academic jobs. There are too many
were undecided as to their         demands to obtain a good salary and job security. I’m tired
intentions. Once again, some       of working long hours as a student, and I see my professors
may eventually decide upon a       spending even longer hours in their jobs. This seems to be
                                   an unreasonable situation, especially since the outcome
faculty position. However,         (tenure) for junior faculty is so uncertain.”
the size of this group depends

on their experiences in graduate school. Whether these will facilitate the desire to teach
and conduct research is not clear, given some of the concerns voiced by respondents to
the survey. (see Box 4.1).

        Even this augmented pool of future faculty will eventually be offset by those who
change their goals or are unable to move into a faculty slot. If the findings for previous
cohorts are similar for the current cohort of doctoral students, this pool will shrink
noticeably. That is, among 1995-96 doctorates, 61% had intended a faculty career when
they began doctoral study, but this percentage declined to 38% in terms of actually
moving into a faculty position after graduation. Applying this to current doctoral
students, the most optimistic picture would be that the future faculty pool would also total
61% if one includes those currently holding academic career plans (44%) and all those
who plan a research position (7%) or are undecided (10%). However, this would drop to
38% of current doctoral students who actually become faculty members after earning
their degree. The proportion most likely would be even lower, given that some fraction
of students in the pipeline will drop out and fail to complete the doctorate.

4C. Characteristic Differences Between Students with Faculty Aspirations and Those
    with NonFaculty Aspirations

        Doctoral students planning academic and other leadership positions were
compared on many of the same variables that distinguished current faculty from non-
faculty. Table 4.1 reports the results of these comparisons. Students intending to become
assistant professors differed from their fellow graduate students planning to work in other
roles on many of the same variables that distinguished current faculty from their
nonacademic counterparts. As with current faculty, doctoral students with faculty
aspirations were more likely to relocate to begin their doctoral study. They also were
more likely to be enrolled full-time and to have received a teaching assistantship,
research assistantship, or fellowship. Three important variables are discussed next in
depth: relocation, financial aid, and stipend levels.

                                         Table 4.1
               Characteristics of Doctoral Students by Type of Career Plans

                                                                                Career Plans
                      Characteristic                                             Other Lead-
                                                                  Faculty        ership Roles           Total
                                                                 (n = 476)         (n = 696)         (n = 1,172)
Percent who were female                                             81.2              80.9              81.0
Percent who were an underrepresented minority                       21.7              24.6              23.4
Age at beginning doctoral study (mean years)                        36.6              36.8              36.7
Years between master’s and beginning doctoral
study                                                               6.3               6.7               6.5
Percent who relocated to begin doctoral study*                      35.9              26.4              30.3
Percent who were typically enrolled full-time*                      69.3              57.4              62.2
Percent who had a TA, RA, traineeship, or
fellowships*                                                        75.8              66.7              70.4

Note: Data are from the Survey of Doctoral Students in Special Education. Included were students who were either
U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Percentages are column percentages.
*p < 0.05

Relocation Issues

        In many fields, individuals typically apply to several doctoral programs and often
relocate to attend graduate school. For example, in psychology, 67% of new doctorates
indicated that they had applied to at least two programs, and 50% applied to 3 or more
programs. Doctoral students in special education, however, are dramatically different in
this regard. Nearly three-fourths (72%) of survey respondents reported that they applied
to only one doctoral program, and a small proportion (15%) applied to at least 3
programs. When only one application was made, this typically was to a program in close
proximity; 79% were within 100 miles from where the student was living at the time.
This was in sharp contrast to those who applied to 2 or more programs where 59% were
in the local vicinity. Applying to only one program also meant not relocating; whereas
79% did not move to enroll as a doctoral student, this was true for 46% of those who
applied to at least two schools.

        As previously noted, students who did not relocate to attend graduate school were
older and more likely to have dependents. They also were significantly more likely to
have pursued doctoral study part-time. Whereas 50% of those who did not relocate were
part-time doctoral students, only 9% of those who did move to begin doctoral study were
enrolled part-time. Individuals with greater mobility were more apt to feel that the
amount of financial aid, the program’s specific concentration, and its national reputation
in special education played a role in deciding which program they would attend.

The Critical Role of Financial Aid

         Because graduate education is an expensive undertaking, it is not surprising that
the amount of financial aid
offered by a department is a       Box 4.2. The Importance of Financial Support
key factor in selecting a
                                   The financial support that I received from the department
program. However, the              was essential for pursuing a doctoral degree.
availability and type of
financial support affect the       Financial support is key to recruiting and sustaining
production and supply of           doctoral students and promoting graduation within a
leadership personnel in            reasonable amount of time.
several other ways (see Box        I feel that I have been successful as a faculty member
4.2). For example, certain         because of my work as a TA (teaching a variety of courses),
types of financial assistance      RA (writing grant proposals and working on research
facilitate the full-time pursuit   projects), and trainee (providing inservice activities on the
of a doctoral degree as            national level).
opposed to enrolling in one or     I believe that working my way through school had negative
two classes each semester or       consequences. It was difficult to find a willing mentor, there
struggling with meeting            was less support for dissertation research, the degree took
course demands while               longer to complete, and it was difficult to get help in
holding down a full-time job.      locating academic career opportunities.
This freedom to concentrate
on one’s studies, in turn, influences the time required to complete the degree.
Furthermore, research assistantships, teaching assistantships, and traineeships are
designed to equip students with the skills necessary to obtain success in future
employment. Particularly with regard to faculty positions, outside jobs may be less
beneficial in preparing individuals to assume academic responsibilities. Although loans
may permit full-time study, they also can limit career options as debt repayment burdens
make salary a major determinant in the position taken after graduation.

        Table 4.2 describes the various sources of support used by doctoral students to
fund their graduate education. Most frequently reported were two generic types: (1)
university-administered support, including research assistantships, teaching
assistantships, fellowships, and traineeships; and (2) personal resources such as earnings
from outside jobs, spouse or partner salaries, personal savings, and loans. As shown in
Table 4.2, university-administered support makes a noticeable contribution. Slightly
more than two-fifths (44%) of current doctoral students indicated that fellowships had
helped finance their doctoral study, 27-29% had served as a teaching or research
assistant, and 13% had been appointed to a traineeship. Looking across these four
mechanisms, approximately 69% of students had been supported by at least one of these
sources at some time during their doctoral study.

                                      Table 4.2
   Percent are of Special Education Doctoral Students Who Used Various Types of
                   Financial Support by Typical Enrollment Status

            Type of Financial Support                                 Typical Enrollment Status
                                                               Full-time          Part-time             Total
                                                               (n = 634)           (n=457)            (n=1,191)
Research assistantship*                                           42.2               11.2               29.2
Teaching assistantship*                                           36.4               13.6               26.8
Traineeship                                                       17.3                7.7               13.3
Fellowship*                                                       56.5               27.1               44.2
Grants for dissertation research*                                  5.5                2.4                4.2
Paid internships or practica                                       4.7                3.9                4.4
Loans*                                                            43.1               20.6               33.6
Earnings from outside jobs*                                       52.8               60.2               55.9
Personal savings+                                                 56.2               60.4               58.0
Spouse’s or partner’s earnings*                                   44.1               32.3               39.1
Employer assistance or tuition reimbursement*                      7.4               30.2               16.9
Other (e.g., military benefits)                                    7.4                6.6                7.1

Note: Data are from the Survey of Doctoral Students in Special Education. Percentages are column percentages and
do not total to 100%, given that students use multiple sources to finance their doctoral study. “Typical enrollment
status” refers to whether the student reported that he or she had been primarily a full-time (even if they worked in
outside jobs) or part-time student since first enrolling in the doctoral program.

+p < 0.10
*p < 0.05

        However, the role of personal resources appears substantial. Nearly three-fifths
of the students had relied on outside jobs (e.g., positions in school districts) and their
personal savings to help pay for their graduate education. For two-fifths of respondents,
the earnings of spouses, partners, or other family members also went toward meeting
educational expenses. Approximately 34% had obtained educational loans. In fact, 19%
of all doctoral students paid for their training entirely through some combination of
outside employment, family earnings, savings, and loans; that is, they received no support
from the doctoral institution. Most likely, this meant that they were not the beneficiaries
of experiences obtained as a teaching assistant, research assistant, or trainee –
experiences that are most relevant to preparing for an academic career.

        Except for fellowships that supported 44% of students at some point in their
doctoral study, the proportions of students who used earnings from outside jobs or dipped
into their personal savings were higher than those who received university-administered
types of financial aid. Although the exact dollar amounts are not known, this suggests
that pursuing a doctoral degree entails not only sizable investments of time and effort but
also students’ own money. This is in contrast to graduate programs in many disciplines
where individuals enroll with the expectation that the costs of earning a doctoral degree
will primarily be borne by the program through research and teaching assistantships,
fellowships, and so forth.

        Table 4.2 also shows how types of support differ by enrollment status. Here the
role of university-administered support in terms of promoting full-time study can be seen.
Large discrepancies occurred in the percentages of full-time versus part-time students
who had relied on the various institutional types of financial assistance. For example, the
proportion of full-time students who reported having been a research assistant at some
time in their doctoral program (42%) was nearly four times greater than that for part-time
students (11%). Full-time students also were three times as likely to have had a teaching
assistantship and more than twice as likely to have held a traineeship or fellowship. Not
surprisingly, those enrolled part-time were considerably more likely to have had some
assistance from their employer. However, this was true for less than one-third of these
students, signifying that many employers may not provide this opportunity.

        The differences between these two groups were dramatically smaller in terms of
personal sources. That is, although a slightly smaller proportion of full-time students had
outside jobs to help finance their doctoral study than did part-time students, large
fractions of both groups had to spend time working in positions that may not have been
directly related to their studies (i.e., 53% versus 60%, respectively). Sizable proportions
also had to tap their personal savings. Full-time students were more apt to use other
family income to help pay for educational costs. They also were more than twice as
likely to take out loans (43% versus 21%). Overall, the most frequently used forms of
financial assistance for students are those that can either increase the time required to
earn the degree or limit the career options that are acceptable once they graduate.

        Figure 4.2 illustrates the important role that federal support plays for full-time
doctoral students. This graph depicts the primary type of support used by full-time
doctoral students to support their study in Spring 1999. Data are reported separately for
students in all departments, those enrolled in departments with OSEP training grants, and
students in departments without such training funds. It is clear that the funding provided
by OSEP, along with research grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Education to
individual faculty members, accounted for the largest share of students with research
assistantships and traineeships. The contribution of other types of institutionally-
administered support (i.e., teaching and graduate assistantships, was noticeably smaller,
and fellowships and research assistantships provided by other federal agencies, private
foundations, and other entities assisted very small numbers of students). Once again,
however, the significant role assumed by personal sources or “self-generated” funds can
be seen. For departments without OSEP training grants, these funds were the largest
source of support for full-time students, and even in programs with such awards, it
ranked second.

                                                    Figure 4.2
                           Primary Source of Support for Full-time Students: Spring 1999

Number of students

                           U.S. Dept. of   Self-generated      Institutional    Other federal    Other support
                                                            Type of support
                                            Total   Currently funded      Not currently funded

  Note: Data are from the Survey of Doctoral Programs

          The importance of federal resources for doctoral training is endorsed by current
  students. Figure 4.3 contrasts the numbers of full-time students who had used each
  source with the number who identified it as the most important to financing the costs of
  doctoral study. Fellowships are clearly critical; more than half of full-time students had
  received this type of award, and 50% of these individuals stated that it was primary to
  paying for their graduate education. This was not the case for personal savings and
  outside jobs; although nearly the same numbers of students drew upon these sources,
  much smaller proportions viewed them as significant. Similar discrepancies in terms of
  use and importance also occurred for loans, research assistantships, teaching
  assistantships, and family earnings. In contrast, although traineeships were awarded to
  significantly fewer students, nearly three-fifths (59%) viewed them as the most important
  sponsor of their doctoral studies. When asked to identify the reasons underlying this
  choice, the large majority indicated that it was because a traineeship provided tuition
  assistance, a stipend, and experiences invaluable to their career.

                                                           Figure 4.3
            Percentage of Full-time Doctoral Students Reporting Various Sources of
                                                      Figure 4.3
                        Percentage of Full-time Doctoral Students Reporting Various Sources of
                        Financial and the Percentage It as Most Important
            Financial SupportSupport and the Percentage Who ViewedWho Viewed It as Most Important
















                                                                Type of support


                                                                 Type of support
           Used this source to finance training                                       Viewed source as most important
                                Used this source to finance training         Viewed s ource as most important
Note: Data are from the Survey of Doctoral Students

         OSEP personnel preparation funding did not appear to be related to the total
number of students enrolled in a program. Instead, it was associated with the proportion
of full-time to part-time doctoral students within the special education program. For
those without OSEP training grants, this ratio was much smaller. Clearly, OSEP
leadership personnel preparation dollars has some influence on the amount of time that
students can devote to their doctoral studies.

The Issue of Stipend Levels

        As previously noted,
                                      Box 4.3. The Adequacy of Graduate Student
doctoral students in special
education used several different
sources to finance their graduate     Doctoral students need better pay to survive.
study which are viewed as
inadequate for several reasons        Not only is the stipend amount discouraging but the
                                      health benefits are insulting. The monies offered have to
(see Box 4.3). This is partly         increase as well as the benefits package.
related to the amounts paid for
graduate student stipends. In         The financial pressures of supporting a family while
academic year 1998-99, the            meeting professional standards in my program are
average monthly stipend was           immense. Two-thirds of my monthly stipend go to paying
                                      my health insurance premium. I have to juggle 2 and 3
approximately $1,062. This
                                      other outside jobs to make ends meet. This situation is
amount was not appreciably            prolonging my progress toward the degree and is nearly
different that that reported by the unbearable at times.
top-ranked doctoral programs
($1,174). Consequently, it is not surprising that doctoral students must draw upon
multiple sources to cover tuition and other related expenses and that financial aid
packages were an important consideration in choosing a doctoral program. In addition,
stipend levels are far below those reported for earlier years if cost-of-living increases are

taken into account (Tawney & DeHaas, 1993). Their “spending power” has further
eroded, given that these stipends are now taxed by the federal government. This raises a
serious concern in terms of attracting talented people to doctoral programs, particularly if
trainee stipends pay less than what can be earned by research assistantships and other
types of employment.

         The problem of non-competitive stipends has faced other federal agencies that
sponsor predoctoral training such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the
National Institutes of Health (NIH). With regard to the latter, the maximum amount set
for individual predoctoral students was $11,748 in FY 1998, which translated into a
monthly stipend that was lower than OSEP’s. However, the NIH made a considerable
effort to remedy this situation, and as of FY 2001, the minimum stipend is $16,500 (or
$1,375 per month). The NIH also makes provisions for training grants to pay health
insurance. Similar actions need to be taken with regard to OSEP stipends if they are to be
competitive and provide high-quality training experiences to the most talented emerging
leaders in special education.

4D. The Likelihood of Accepting a Faculty Position for Students Planning Academic

        Table 4.3 compares the characteristics of students who reported academic career
plans with those of recent graduates who actually became faculty. The results of this
analysis suggest that students in the pipeline with faculty aspirations look slightly
different from recent graduates in faculty positions. In some respects, these students bear
a greater resemblance to the graduates who selected non-faculty careers. For example,
individuals in the pipeline were, on average, nearly one year older than were current
faculty when they first entered their doctoral program; in fact, they were closer to the age
of those who chose other leadership roles (the mean for non-faculty was 36.7).
Consequently, they may be less able to relocate for a faculty position after graduation as
family and other financial responsibilities may intrude. Second, a smaller proportion of
students (36%) relocated to begin their doctoral studies than did their faculty
predecessors (44%) – another variable that distinguishes faculty from non-faculty.
Finally, the percentage of doctoral students receiving TAs, RAs, traineeships, or
fellowships declined from 87% for recent graduates in faculty positions to 76% of those
aspiring to be academics. Students also reported more involvement in outside jobs to
support their doctoral studies than did graduates who are faculty (57% versus 40%,
respectively. Both of these factors may lengthen the time required to complete the degree
and thus work against taking a faculty position.

                                     Table 4.3
                 Comparison of Students Planning Faculty Careers and
                     Graduates Who Became Faculty Members

                    Characteristic                                 Students with            Recent Graduates
                                                                  Academic Plans            in Faculty Positions
Percent who were female                                                81.2                         80.0
Percent who were an underrepresented minority*                         21.7                         14.0
Age at beginning doctoral study (mean years)*                          36.6                         35.8
Years between master’s and beginning doctoral
study                                                                     6.3                          5.7
Percent who relocated to begin doctoral study*                           35.9                         43.4
Percent who were typically enrolled full-time                            69.3                          Na
Percent who had a TA, RA, traineeship, or
fellowships*                                                             75.8                         87.0
Percent who has/had outside job to support
doctoral study*                                                          57.1                         40.0

Note: Data on students are from the Survey of Doctoral Students in Special Education, and information on faculty is
from the Survey of Career Experiences of Recent Doctorates.
*p < 0.05

4E. Summary

        Doctoral students in special education are predominantly white and female. Of
the 18% who are from historically under-represented groups, most are Black or Asian.
Persons with disabilities make up 8% of the doctoral student cohort. The age of doctoral
students continues to increase, with half of them over the age of 42. This will impact
future supply and demand, particularly as it relates to those who will seek and obtain
faculty positions. Differences between those who are planning careers in higher
education and those who intend to assume other leadership roles in special education
mirror those of their counterparts who recently graduated and took faculty jobs versus
nonacademic positions. That is, students with faculty aspirations were younger, were
more likely to relocate to enroll in their doctoral program, and more frequently had
received some type of institutionally-based support (a TA, RA, fellowship, or
traineeship). These characteristics were positive predictors for actually taking a faculty
position among recent doctorates. At the same time, it appears that the group with plans
to become an assistant professor may shrink even more than what might be anticipated,
given the behavior of previous cohorts. As compared to doctoral students who completed
their degree and took faculty positions, smaller percentages had relocated to begin
doctoral study and had served as a TA, RA, fellow, or trainee – two key predictors of
taking a faculty job. With regard to the latter, the availability of financial assistance may
continue to worsen, given changing economic conditions, little growth in federal
programs that provide support (i.e., OSEP training grants), and low stipends. Moreover,
they began graduate school at a later age, which may reduce their success in searching for
and obtaining a full-time faculty appointment.

                      Section 5. Doctoral Program Capacity

       One obvious solution to the shortage of faculty in special education is to produce
more graduates. Simply put, solve the problem as industry might when faced with
demands that outstrip supply – increase production. This could be accomplished in two
ways. First, the number of students enrolled in existing doctoral programs could be
increased. Second, encouraging the creation of more doctoral programs could be
considered. Of course, using both strategies are logical long-term solutions to the
problem of the supply/demand imbalance described earlier in this report.

        Unfortunately, the data collected in this study indicate that resolving the shortage
is complex. In other words, simple solutions will be neither sufficient nor effective. In
the following sections, the discussion centers on issues relating to the capacity of special
education doctoral programs and their ability to attract students.

5A. Active Doctoral Programs

        The 84 special education doctoral programs vary in both their size (current
number of students enrolled) and the production rates (number of graduates per year).
This variability was discussed by the Leadership Study Team (a list of these individuals
is found at the beginning of the report), and criteria were developed to use in identifying
“active” doctoral programs. For example, one issue concerned whether programs with
few students enrolled and very few graduates produced are different from those with
many students and consistent graduate rates.

        Student enrollment includes both individuals taking courses and those engaged in
dissertation research or completing other requirements (e.g., comprehensive or qualifying
exams). These students are pursuing these activities on either a full- or part-time basis.
Because most institutions require a minimum number of enrolled students (typically six)
for a course to be offered, it is necessary to admit at least six students each year for a
cohort to progress through coursework together. Given that coursework usually lasts for
three years for full-time students, the result is that at least 18 students are enrolled at any
one point in time. This number expands to 36 students if one considers the typical time
required to complete the degree is nearly six years for special education doctorates.
Ideally, this would also mean that six new doctorates, on average, would graduate from
the program annually.

        However, when examining enrollment data, it is apparent that relatively few
programs enroll more than 18 students in a given year. As Table 5.1 shows, slightly
more than two-fifths (41%) of all doctoral programs reported 19 or more students
enrolled in Spring 1999. Doctoral production also is much lower than desirable. Over a
three year period (1996-1998), approximately 38% of the programs graduated an average
of three new Ph.D.s or Ed.D.s per year. Nearly the same percentage (41%) produced an
average of one or fewer per year. Given the Study Team’s original definition of an

“active program,” none satisfied these criteria. Even with more lenient standards (at least
seven enrolled students and an average of two graduates per year), less than half (45%)
could be classified as “active.”

                                      Table 5.1
         Doctoral Enrollments and Production for Special Education Programs:
                                    Spring 1999

                                    Doctoral Production between 1996 and 1998 (average per year)
     Current Doctoral                Less than 1           1               2          3 or more
         Students                    N        %       N       %        N       %      N       %
6 or fewer                           5        7       3        4       0       0       0      0
7 – 12                               1        1       7        9       4       5       1      1
13 - 18                              1        1       6        8       5       7       4      5
More than 18                         0        0       7        9       7       9      24     32

Note: Data are from the Survey of Doctoral Programs. Percentages are based on the total number of doctoral programs
that had been in operation since 1990 and that had provided the information.

        Figure 5.1 displays the total and full-time student enrollments across schools. As
can be seen, about 46% of departments had 20 or more students enrolled, and another
24% had between 15 and 19 individuals working on their degree. Only a small
proportion of programs (6%) had five or fewer doctoral students. This would suggest
that the majority of departments had a sizable graduate student population, interacting
daily with each other and with faculty as they progressed toward their degree. However,
this picture is somewhat misleading inasmuch as the full-time graduate student
population – the individuals who may be viewed as the “critical mass” of students
actively pursuing their degree – was considerably smaller. Approximately half of the
programs had only five or fewer full-time enrollments. Nearly 20% reported having
between six and nine full-time students, and the same proportion had between ten and
fourteen enrolled full-time. Departments with larger numbers of full-time students were
a very small fraction (about 10%). Thus, although the majority of departments have
graduate student counts of 15 or higher, these are primarily part-time students. As
discussed earlier, part-time students are more likely not to have relocated to begin
doctoral study, will take longer to complete the degree, will graduate with limited
mobility and more financial responsibilities, and thus be less apt to accept a faculty

                                    Figure 5.1
      Total and Full-time Enrollments in Special Education Doctoral Programs:
                                   Spring 1999







                       5 or fewer   6-9         10 - 14          15 - 19   20 or more
                                          Number of students
                                             Total   Full-time
Note:                                                                                   Data
are                                                                                     from
Survey of Doctoral Programs

5B. Choice of a Doctoral Program

        Doctoral students identified the factors that influenced their choice of a doctoral
program. As Figure 5.2 shows, the two most frequently mentioned reasons involved the
opportunity to work with specific faculty members and the desire not to relocate (each
reason was mentioned by 54% of respondents). The program’s special area, national
reputation, and financial aid package offered also affected the decision for nearly half of
the students. One-third wished to be near family or friends, and one-quarter selected a
program partly because of family constraints or the program’s commitment to addressing
their needs (e.g., the ability to attend part-time).

                                          Figure 5.2
                Reasons Underlying Students’ Choice of a Doctoral Program

          Specific Specific faculty
             Financial aidaid
                   Specialty area
            Specialty area
            Program reputation
    Program reputation
                     Not relocate
              Not Relocate
    Near family/friends
            Near family/friends

      Attractive location
               Attractive location

      Family constraints
               Family constraints

           Focus on needs
                  Focus on needs


                                      0       10        20         30         40       50   60
                                                      A reason Most important reason

                                          A reason           Most important reason
Note: Data are from the Survey of Doctoral Students

        Students indicated that the most important reasons underlying their choice of a
doctoral program were the amount of financial aid they received and not having to
relocate. Each of these reasons was chosen by 19% of students. The chance to work
with certain faculty was a close third (16%).

5C. Student Recruitment

        An issue clearly related to the size of doctoral programs is their ability to attract
students. A secondary issue is whether they can attract students who, upon graduation,
will assume roles in academe. It appears that doctoral programs in special education are
not very selective. In other words, the pool of applicants is not large, and most are
accepted. This fact may be a function of potential students self-selecting other graduate
study options after investigating the content of doctoral programs and career potentials; it
also could mean that the overall pool of candidates to select from is not large. In the Fall
of 1998, nearly half of the programs (48%) received fewer than five applications.

        Figure 5.3 shows the number of applicants and acceptance rates for the national
special education leadership training effort for Fall 1998. Approximately half of the
programs accepted two-thirds of their applicants, and 19% accepted all of their
applicants. Surprisingly, acceptance rates did not significantly differ, depending on the
reputational standing of the doctoral program. As mentioned earlier, these acceptance
rates are low compared to other disciplines.

                                        Figure 5.3
                  Applications and Acceptance Rates for Special Education
                   Doctoral Programs by Program Ranking: Spring 1999






                                        Number of applicants             % accepted

                                       Top 10          11-25           26 and higher
                                       Top 10                  11-25        26 and higher

Note: Data are from the Survey of Doctoral Programs

5D. Potential for Targeted Recruitment

       Without special incentives and support, increasing the number of doctoral
students enrolled in special education programs will be a difficult task. This has
implications for the imbalance between the supply and demand for special education
leadership personnel, especially in terms of filling faculty positions.

        Those who became faculty were more likely to have received institutionally-based
support (a TA, RA, traineeship, or fellowship) to support their doctoral studies. Clearly,
financial assistance is critical to the leadership training effort, and OSEP is a very
important part of this sponsorship. Moreover, individuals who eventually became faculty
members tended to relocate to attend doctoral programs and to relocate after graduation
to assume a faculty position. Relocation is important because many teacher education
programs seeking new faculty are not in proximity to a doctoral program.

        Is the ability to relocate a variable that can be changed? Most current special
education doctoral students (72%) applied to only one graduate school, and the majority
of these (79%) enrolled at a school that was less than 100 miles from their current
residence. Issues involving barriers to relocation are many. For example, low stipend
levels of approximately $1,000 per month probably impede prospective students from
leaving part-time jobs that better cover daily living expenses. Having an adequate

income may be especially important, given that the average age of prospective students is
37 years old. Children impose additional financial responsibilities. The lack of financial
assistance to support campus visits – a common activity of prospective undergraduates
seeking to identify the “right school for them” – makes it more probable that individuals
will choose the closest doctoral program available for their graduate work. Changes in
some of these factors could be effective in altering patterns related to relocation.

         Data indicate that targeting certain variables may lead to the enrollment of
students who actually follow specific career paths. For example, current faculty were
more likely to report having career interests in academe upon entering their doctoral
programs. It also is important to note that a considerable group of graduates changed
their initial career plans from an academic to a nonacademic career. Why is this so?
Much to the surprise of some near-graduates, the salaries of entry level assistant
professors are lower than the salaries they earned when they left their school district
positions for graduate study. This is partly a function of the number of years that typical
doctoral students in special education spend working in school districts before entering
doctoral programs. As shown previously, graduates assuming faculty positions took less
time out between completing the master’s degree and beginning doctoral study than those
who obtained nonacademic jobs.

        Thus, it appears that targeting recruitment (and attending to key characteristics of
individuals more likely to match the purposes of the training program) may well be one
solution to the supply/demand imbalance. Also helpful will be efforts to better inform
students at the onset about the job market and realities of employment (e.g., salary

5E. Increasing the Capacity of Doctoral Programs

         As mentioned earlier, approximately 45 programs met the Study Team’s criteria
for “active” doctoral training sites, and even the number of students enrolled in
coursework was considered to be low by many members. About half of these programs
have very small student enrollments and few graduates. It is quite likely that the faculty
at U.S. doctoral programs can serve more students. However, the applicant pools are
already small and selection factors liberal. This situation leaves questions about whether
it is possible to increase enrollments at existing programs without affecting quality.

        In examining the capacity of doctoral programs, this study did not include
programs described by their coordinators as “emphasis areas.” Six such programs were
identified, and it is likely that more exist within merged departments of special and
general education, along with early childhood programs. The nature of these programs
was not studied, and it is unclear whether they differ greatly from programs that were
identified as those having special education doctoral degrees. It also is likely that core
offerings of special education exist in some educational leadership administration
programs that could serve as the foundation for new special education doctoral degrees.
This study did not seek to identify how many of these programs might exist nor did it
address the reasons why six doctoral programs in special education had closed in recent

years. The timelines for new, proposed programs or information about the clientele that
they intend to serve was not examined. These issues remain for future efforts.
Regardless, it is likely that the number of special education doctoral programs could be
expanded with incentives, support, and directives from policy makers.

        Because students are unlikely to relocate for graduate study, reopening programs
that have closed or establishing new programs in underserved locales might, over the
long-term, augment the regional pools of graduates who would not have to relocate
considerable distances to assume faculty roles. Increasing enrollments in existing
doctoral programs and establishing new programs may well solve the significant shortage
of leadership personnel who can assume vacancies in teacher-preparation programs for
needy states.

        However, creating a new doctoral program is not a simple undertaking and
represents a significant investment by an institution. Resources must be allocated, new
faculty must be hired, financial assistance must be available for graduate students, an
administrative infrastructure must be developed, and so forth. Arguments must be made
and supporting data obtained that demonstrate a strong and continuing need for program
graduates. Given the problems previously discussed in terms of hiring new faculty and
preparing graduates who will move into faculty slots (e.g., ability to relocate), the long-
term success of new programs is uncertain. With additional funding, OSEP could
provide some assistance in this regard by awarding personnel preparation grants to “jump
start” new programs that show clear promise for both recruiting students who have the
desire to become faculty and ensuring that these goals will be realized (e.g., relevant
preparation, adequate financial support, and active mentoring).

5F. Summary

         Of the 84 special education doctoral programs in the U.S., about 45 are “active”
in the sense that they enroll a sufficient number of students to make up a cohort for
seminars and experiences. In other words, these 45 programs enroll more than 6 students
and graduate at least two doctorates annually. To many members of the Study Team, the
size of current doctoral programs is small, and it is likely that more students could
participate in each of these programs without considerable drain on existing resources.
Data from this research provide clear markers that can be used to predict the career paths
of applicants and beginning doctoral students. Programs should consider these in their
recruitment activities. However, impediments to increasing the size of doctoral programs
and thereby increasing the supply of new doctorates exist and should be recognized.
First, it appears that doctoral programs are facing difficulties recruiting large pools of
applicants from which to select students. Second, it also seems that doctoral programs in
special education are not highly selective. Third, ensuring adequate and continued
financial support for students is not easy. Therefore, it is apparent that special efforts and
actions will have to be mounted to both recruit and support students likely to assume
faculty positions and also to increase the size of doctoral student enrollments.

                    Section 6. Key Findings and Implications

        Results from this study reveal a chronic and serious shortage of faculty available
to prepare the next generation of special educators. The implications of this situation are
dire. The impact of shortages not only influences the generation of new knowledge about
effective practices that improve services to children and youth with disabilities but also
the number of service providers available to educate these students. For example, OSEP,
the Council for Exceptional Children, and the Professions in Special Education
Clearinghouse conservatively estimate that a typical faculty member can be credited for
the preparation of at least 25 new teachers each year. A precise ratio of special education
teachers serving students with disabilities is not available, but several reasonable
estimates place the ratio somewhere between 16 and 10 students per teacher. Using the
16:1 ratio, every faculty position then is responsible for training teachers that could serve
400 students annually. Therefore, if the annual shortage of faculty is approximately 120
per year (250 vacancies minus the 130 doctoral graduates who accept faculty positions),
the result, at a minimum, is an annual shortage of 3,000 teachers and 48,000 students
with disabilities being underserved. This annual shortfall is compounded by the current
number of special education teacher positions that are filled by unqualified teachers
(37,000) that result in 560,000 children being negatively affected.

6A. Key Findings for Major Study Questions

        The findings from this study about the supply and demand of leadership personnel
in special education support the results of previous studies that indicate a serious
imbalance between professionals available and those needed to meet the needs of
students with disabilities and their families. It is likely that shortages of leadership
personnel are pervasive, existing in all domains where the field requires doctoral level
personnel (e.g., school district administrators, state directors, policy makers, and faculty).
However, the major focus of this report was college and university faculty. Future efforts
will need to address shortages that probably exist for the numerous roles that special
education and related services leadership personnel assume.

        This report began by identifying the four major questions that were of interest. A
brief summary of the key findings for each question follows.

What have been the recent experiences of colleges and universities in hiring special
education faculty?

        Since 1992, the nation’s special education programs have sought to fill
approximately 250 positions for faculty each year. Although the nation’s 84 special
education doctoral programs graduate 255 doctorates annually, about 50% (130
individuals) either do not take faculty positions upon graduation or shortly leave their
positions. These individuals assume roles in educational administration and direct
services on behalf of students with disabilities and their families, and their contributions
are substantial. At the same time, the current problems associated with faculty shortages
cannot be overlooked.

        Searches for new faculty whose roles are to generate new knowledge, prepare the
next generation of special educators, and provide services to local and state education
agencies are conducted at colleges and universities. Over half of the position openings in
1998 were concentrated in small programs with less than five faculty members. Given
limited resources, these programs’ ability to successfully compete in attracting new
faculty appeared limited. Moreover, the results were disappointing. Approximately 30%
of the searches failed, and this outcome was more likely to occur for small programs.

        The size of the applicant pool at schools with unsuccessful searches was larger
(an average of 29 applicants) as compared to that for schools who hired an individual (an
average of 20 applicants). Unsuccessful searches also identified more finalists and
interviewed more candidates. Two-thirds of this group made offers but were turned
down by finalists, and over half of these were rejected by more than one individual.
When an offer was not made, it was attributed to problems in the quality of applicants.
The lack of diverse applicants was also identified as a barrier.

       The effect of an unsuccessful search can be devastating to a program, its faculty,
and students. The work involved in a faculty search is considerable, and typically over
and above faculty members’ instructional and research duties. Not only is the strain of an
unsuccessful search difficult, but it can impose additional demands on the already
overworked faculty. In the best case, courses are shifted to part-time or adjunct faculty,
advisory duties are handled by faculty taking on additional student advisees, and the
search process is re-initiated the following year. However, 20% of the coordinators who
headed an unsuccessful search reported that the position was “lost” to the program and
consequently not re-advertised. It is not unlikely that this loss adversely influenced the
number of special educators produced by that program.

What is the available supply of new doctorates seeking and obtaining faculty positions?

        The nation’s special education doctoral programs are producing leadership
personnel who fill a variety of roles. These graduates work as administrators, teachers,
direct service providers, researchers, and faculty. Only small percentages are either not
working due to family responsibilities, health problems, and other factors (2%) or have
been unsuccessful in finding suitable employment (1%).

        About 50% of recent special education doctoral recipients are working in full-
time faculty positions. These individuals differ from those who work in other types of
positions in certain ways. They were younger and more likely to have relocated to attend
graduate school. They also were more apt to enter their doctoral program with plans to
become faculty upon graduation and to have a TA, RA, fellowship, or traineeship
contribute substantially to supporting their studies. Finally, they took less time to
complete the degree.

To what extent are current doctoral students interested in academic careers?

        Current doctoral students may be less likely to work in academe that those who
graduated in the past five years – a situation that may well increase faculty shortages in
the future. A substantially smaller proportion of current students expressed career
intentions of working in higher education. Of those that did, they were older than their
predecessors, fewer of them had relocated to attend graduate school, and fewer had
received financial aid from their institution. In addition, more held jobs outside of their
program. If the 1994-98 doctorates are indicative, these results may portend even fewer
actually taking faculty positions upon graduation.

What is the current capacity of doctoral training programs for producing special
education faculty?

        It appears that the number of the nation’s special education doctoral programs has
been relatively stable at 88 programs (as programs close, others open). However, many
of these programs are very small, are not able to sustain a cohort large enough for diverse
course offerings, and produce few graduates. Only 45 programs enroll more than 13
students and graduate an average of two or more doctorates per year.

        Most likely, existing programs could enroll more doctoral students. However,
without concerted and targeted efforts, it is unlikely that this expansion could occur
easily. Applicant pools are small. This may at least partly contribute to the fact that they
are not highly selective. The lack of funds to support students may only exacerbate this
problem in terms of recruiting talented individuals.

       The compounding effects of this shortage, we believe, have and will continue to
negatively impact the quality of services received by students with disabilities and their
families. Clearly, action is needed to remedy the situation. However, as discussed in the
following sections, these strategies will need to be comprehensive and multi-faceted.

6B. Strategies to Remedy the Faculty Supply and Demand Imbalance

   1. Increase the capacity of doctoral programs

               Over three-fourths of special education doctoral programs were small,
       having fewer than 18 students enrolled and producing fewer than three graduates
       per year. While five new doctoral programs were in planning stages and were
       anticipated to open in the next several years, six other programs had closed
       recently. Additional doctoral programs described as “emphasis areas” within
       another major area of study (e.g., curriculum and instruction, early childhood, or
       educational leadership) exist, but their contribution to the special education
       leadership pool was not examined.
               Although not specifically addressed, it seems reasonable to assume that
       existing programs could enroll more students and, thus, eventually produce more
       graduates. This strategy, in general, appears preferable to expanding the number

   of special education doctoral programs for several reasons. First, existing
   programs have the necessary degree, coursework, and administrative
   infrastructures in place. Second, it seems clear that doctoral programs are not
   operating at their capacity in terms of attracting large applicant pools and
   producing new graduates. Third, program coffers are not overflowing in terms of
   monies for graduate student support, newly established programs may have even
   more limited funds. Also, Sections 3 and 4 of this report discuss the inability of
   many recent graduates to relocate to assume faculty positions. This fact is a
   substantial impediment to the possibility that new programs will help fill faculty
   vacancies across the nation. In some cases, the local or regional need may be
   sizable (e.g., California), and the establishment of a new doctoral program may be
   advisable. At the same time, even localized faculty shortages will eventually be
   alleviated; when this occurs, the ability to have graduates move into faculty jobs
   will again decrease if doctoral students still face the same limited mobility.

2. Target student recruitment

           Tables 4.1 and 4.2 profile doctoral students and graduates who are more
   likely to assume faculty positions and make their careers in academe. Some key
   characteristics were identified by this analysis which might be used to target
   recruitment of doctoral students for academic career paths. Students who pursue
   faculty positions tend to be younger, tend to relocate for graduate study, and
   complete their degree more quickly than their counterparts who establish careers
   in other sectors. They also were more likely to begin doctoral study with faculty
   aspirations. Although most special education doctorates take considerable time
   off between completing their master’s degree and beginning a doctoral program,
   the amount of time is less for those who moved into faculty jobs.

           Certainly, it is more difficult for individuals to begin careers as full-time
   faculty when they are older. By the time individuals are in their late thirties, their
   financial and family responsibilities have usually increased. Taking a faculty
   position also involves some degree of uncertainty, given the increasing
   requirements being imposed by tenure and promotion committees. Moreover,
   transferring from middle management positions in school districts or other
   organizations typically results in a considerable reduction in earnings.

            Several strategies might increase the number of those who actually assume
   teacher training responsibilities. First, the time between master’s completion and
   doctoral entrance could be shortened from the present seven years. This can be
   partly accomplished by actively encouraging master’s students to continue in the
   doctoral program and providing support for them to do this. Also, some attention
   must be paid to testing innovative programs. For example, a combined master’s
   and doctoral degree program could be structured so that it would provide both the
   coursework and direct classroom experiences with children who have disabilities
   that is needed to prepare teacher educators. Such strategies would result in
   admitting younger students who may not have the financial and personal barriers

   to either becoming a full-time student or assuming entry level positions in higher
   education. Second, because recruiting individuals who indicate an interest in
   becoming faculty plays an important role, recruitment strategies could be targeted

3. Enlarge the federal presence and investment in leadership personnel

           Historically, federal support for doctoral students in special education has
   served as a significant and effective incentive that has helped build the special
   education personnel                   Box 6.1 Students’ Assessments of
   infrastructure for the nation.                   Federal Support
   As the results of this study
   indicate, the role of the federal     I could not have completed my studies in a timely
   government remains important.         fashion without support from federal personnel
                                         preparation grants.
   The U.S. Department of
   Education is the predominant          I was able to attend a doctoral program only because
   source of federal support for         of a U.S. Department of Education grant that
   special education students            provided full tuition and a small stipend.
   nationwide. The presence of
                                         I wish more prospective students had the benefits of
   funding from its Office of            being an OSEP trainee.
   Special Education Programs
   allows more students to be            OSEP financial support for leadership training and
   enrolled full-time, which             student research made my degree possible.
   subsequently decreases their
   time-to-degree and quickens the flow of doctoral personnel into the work force.
   According to students and graduates alike, federal funding is a critical part of the
   support formula (see Box 6.1). If federal funding were to cease or even remain
   the same, it is likely that the supply of new faculty and other leadership personnel
   would decrease.

           “Level funding” already has had an impact on doctoral programs, and the
   situation will continue to challenge program administrators who often depend on
   external funds to support doctoral students. Although the appropriations for
   OSEP leadership programs have remained constant over the past five years, the
   number of new projects awarded funds has declined from 17 to 11 -- nearly a 30%
   decrease. This reduction is a result of the need to increase the amount of funding
   per project, which decreases the number of programs that can be supported. This
   trend is likely to continue for the foreseeable future as the cost of living increases
   and the tax on stipends chip away at this important recruitment tool.

           Others have estimated the changing value of stipends awarded since the
   federal government began the program supporting leadership preparation efforts.
   When PL 85-926 began in 1959, doctoral students received a $2,000 tax-free
   stipend and an additional $400 per dependent (Smith & Salzberg, 1994).
   Although many of the initial recipients were married males with families, it was

   possible to live comfortably while attending school (J.O. Smith, personal
   communication, February 29, 1996, as cited in Tyler, 1996). Tawney and
   DeHaas-Warner calculated the worth in 1993 of a $2,500 stipend awarded in
   1960. They estimated to be equivalent to 1960 dollars, a student would have
   received $32,000 (tax-free) in 1993. The extension of this logic would place the
   equivalent award level at $37,935 in the year 2000. Regardless of the lack of
   precision of these estimates, the recruitment value of leadership stipend awards
   has clearly diminished over the years. Part of the solution to reduce the shortage
   of leadership personnel might be to reexamine the attractiveness of graduate
   student support packages and the economic hardships they currently impose.

          Results from this study support the need for additional funding for the
   leadership effort. Additional funding could help in numerous ways. First, it
   could be instrumental by increasing trainee stipend levels. This not only would
   help those supported by OSEP training grants but also trigger institutions to pay
   teaching and graduate assistants higher salaries for reasons of equity. Second,
   additional funding could be used to assist students with relocating to attend a
   doctoral program not in proximity to their current residence. Finally, additional
   doctoral support would most clearly assist students in completing their studies and
   entering the work force in a more timelier fashion.

            Of course, such efforts will only address the faculty shortage problem if
   they are targeted at individuals who are likely to pursue academic careers. So as
   not to negatively impact the production of graduates for nonacademic leadership
   roles, these targeted resources for faculty preparation must supplement (rather
   than supplant) OSEP’s existing efforts in leadership preparation.

4. Improve Faculty Mentoring of Doctoral Students

           Any successful efforts to recruit more students with faculty aspirations
   will be diluted if these individuals change their goals as a result of their doctoral
   training experiences, or even worse become so disillusioned that they fail to
   complete the degree. In addition, strong advising and mentoring by faculty can
   help in speedier degree progress – one clear marker of assuming a faculty

           The lack of comparable data on other disciplines makes it somewhat
   difficult to evaluate these data in terms of how well special education programs
   are preparing their students for leadership roles. At the same time, the fact that
   between 30% and nearly 40% of students have at best “mixed” views or at worst
   are dissatisfied with their training in supervision, cultural diversity, and so forth
   (See Section 4A) requires further consideration by graduate educators.

           It was striking to note the number and intensity of volunteered comments
   from both current students and recent graduates regarding the role of the mentor
   or faculty advisor in influencing their doctoral experiences. A representative
   sample of these views is presented in Box 6.2, and these highlight the difference
   that faculty advisors and mentors can make both on completing the degree and
   pursuing a faculty career path. Unfortunately, mentoring is not a skill that is
   directly taught in graduate school nor is it definitely reinforced in salary and
   promotion decisions. Concern over the lack of strong mentoring by faculty has
   recently been expressed in many areas, and the lack of mentors has been
   identified as a factor that has contributed to the lack of researchers and
   academicians in medicine and other professions. In terms of the supply of special
   education faculty, mentoring may help – at least “on the margins” – in terms of
   reducing the numbers who enter with faculty aspirations but become disillusioned
   with this role during graduate school or are inadequately equipped to land such a
   job (e.g., lack of publications). It also may be instrumental in changing the group
   of “undecided” to consider academic careers. Given that the survey of recent
   graduates suggested that faculty were concerned about their available time for
   research and ability to earn tenure, mentoring of junior faculty by other faculty in
   this regard may also help retain individuals in these positions.

5. Assist Colleges and Universities with Faculty Recruitment

           One of the findings from this study addresses the difficulty many schools
   have experienced in hiring new faculty. The short- and long-term impact of three
   out of every ten searches resulting in unfilled positions is unclear. In some cases,
   the position was “lost,” and in others, it was readvertised the next year.
   Regardless, how the preparation program was maintained with an insufficient
   number of faculty is unknown, although it is logical to assume that program
   quality and capacity were affected.

           Direct action to assist colleges and universities in acquiring new faculty
   should be considered. Possibly, traditional faculty recruitment efforts are
   inefficient and ineffective, leaving restaffing of preparation programs too much to
   chance. One potential solution might be a national recruitment and placement
   organization that could assist in matching personnel with program needs. Another
   solution might focus on placing students in internships at schools with a history of
   recruitment difficulties so they become familiar with programs they may not have
   otherwise considered for employment.

6. Improve the Working Conditions at Colleges and Universities

          Typically, market demands have resulted in increased salaries, benefits,
   and working conditions. In other words, in “tight markets,” employers often have
   to improve conditions and implement incentives to hire qualified workers. It is
   possible that at some point, colleges and universities will become more desirable
   working environments as the supply and demand imbalance worsens. However,

       substantial increases in salary levels are unlikely. At the same time, attention to
       such issues as job assistance for dual-career couples, housing assistance,
       reasonable teaching loads, and family-leave can be attractive inducements for
       accepting a position.

   7. Determine Future Demand

               Considering the significant implications of an inability to prepare enough
       special educators to provide appropriate services to students with disabilities and
       their families, it may be advisable to attempt to project future faculty shortages.
       Except for the study conducted by Smith, Pierce, and Keyes (1988), no effort has
       been devoted to describing the demographics of the nation’s special education
       faculty. Previous efforts have identified imbalances between supply and demand
       and have even projected future shortages from extended trend lines. These
       studies, however, did not assess the characteristics or aspirations of current
       faculty at the nation’s 703 special education preservice personnel preparation
       programs. The studies described in this report also did not survey current special
       education faculty to determine levels of future attrition (retirement or changes in
       career paths). The benefits of such an effort could assist policy makers in
       assessing the magnitude of the problem in years to come.


This research project was initiated to determine whether a supply and demand imbalance,
which results in a shortage of higher education faculty available to generate new
knowledge and to prepare the special educator, has been occurring. It is now clear that a
supply and demand imbalance does exist, and the likelihood of its diminishing without
systematic intervention is remote. The shortage of leadership personnel to assume
faculty positions is chronic and persistent. The compounding effect of this situation is
and will continue to negatively impact the educational services provided to students with
disabilities and their families.

Resolution of the current supply/demand imbalance will not be easy. The factors
contributing to the situation are complex and will require sustained intervention targeted
specifically toward the problem: an insufficient number of leadership personnel seeking
faculty positions in areas of greatest need. Most likely, the efficacy of a variety of
solutions will need to be tested and then replicated. Regardless, the problem is of
sufficient importance to receive the attention of policy makers, parents, educators, and
the higher education community.


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minority and nonminority individuals for doctoral study in special education. Multiple
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       Geiger, W. L. (1988). An overview of doctoral programs in special education. In
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Related Service. Report of a National Conference (pp. 23-32). Washington, D.C.:
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       Pierce, T. B., & Smith, D. D. (1994). Career choices of recent special education
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       Sindelar, P. T., Buck, G. H., Carpenter, S., & Watanabe, A. K. (1993). Supply
and Demand of leadership personnel in Special Education: A follow-up study with
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       Sindelar, P. T., & Taylor, C. (1988). The supply of doctoral graduates and the
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A. Kochhar (Ed), Excellence in Doctoral Leadership Training: Special Education and
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        Smith, D. D., & Lovett, D. (1987). The supply and demand of special education
faculty members: Will the supply meet the demand? Teacher Education and Special
Education, 10, 88-96.

      Smith, D. D., & Salzberg, C. (1994). The shortage of special education faculty:
Toward a better understanding. Teacher Education and Special Education, 17, 52-61.

        Smith, D. D. & Tyler, N. C. (1994). Pipeline data for doctoral students from
historically underrepresented groups attending HECSE colleges and universities. HECSE

        Smith, D. D., & Tyler, N. C. (1997). Special education doctoral students’
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      Smith, D.D., & Tyler, N.C. (1998). The doctoral pipeline: Its Ebb and Flow.
OSEP Leadership Conference Monograph.

       Tawney, J. W., & DeHaas-Warner, S. (1993). Assessing demand for special
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                                     Appendix A
                          Description of Survey Methodology

                              Survey of Doctoral Programs

        The potential population of 108 special education doctoral programs was
identified, using several sources. These sources included: relevant websites, state
officials, national organizations, personal contacts, and program directories. Contacts to
these departments revealed that 5 programs had closed, and 4 programs focused on
special education administration. Six programs were in the process of “opening their
doors.” The department chairs of the remaining 93 programs were sent questionnaires
during Summer and Fall of 1999.

       The questionnaire asked for information on several topics. One key variable
concerned whether the department offered a formal major in Special Education (i.e., a
Ph.D. or Ed.D. in special education) or included it as a emphasis or focus within a
doctoral program in another major field (such as elementary education). Of the 93
programs, 85 were formal degree programs, and 6 classified them as emphasis programs.

        For departments that had formal majors in special education, the survey asked for
information in several areas, including: (a) the number of full- and part-time graduate
enrollments and the number of foreign students; (b) the numbers of individuals who
applied to the program in Fall 1998, who were accepted, and who subsequently enrolled
in the program; (c) the sources used to support graduate students and the typical stipend
paid; (d) the number of doctoral degrees granted between July 1993 and June 1998; and
(e) the number of full- and part-time faculty, whether the department was conducting any
faculty searchers in special education, and the strategies they used to advertise these

      Departments were paid $100 for their participation. The response rate was 100%.
Appendix B contains a copy of the survey instrument.

                   Survey of Doctoral Students in Special Education

        The Survey of Doctoral Programs in Special Education asked department chairs if
they were willing to provide the names and addresses of current students. Sixty-nine
departments provided this information, and 16 departments agreed to distribute the sealed
questionnaire packets to their students, which they could complete and mail directly back
to the Vanderbilt investigators. This involved approximately 1,633 students.

       After contacting these individuals, 1,511 individuals were eligible. That is, they
reported being enrolled in a doctoral program in Spring 1999 (some students returned the
survey and indicated that they were only enrolled in a master’s program). The original
mailing included a cover letter describing the purpose of the survey and pledges of
confidentiality, the questionnaire, a stamped, self-addressed envelope for returning the

completed questionnaire, and $5 in appreciation for their considering to participate. After
one follow-up mailing, the response rate for this group was 81%.

        A copy of the questionnaire is provided in Appendix C. Topics included: (1) their
experiences in applying to doctoral programs; (2) their enrollment status, progress
through the program, field specialization, and sources of support for doctoral training; (3)
their anticipated career plans after receiving their doctoral degree, including academic
and nonacademic employment and factors that would influence their job search and
decisions; and (4) educational and demographic characteristics.

                  Survey on Career Experiences of Recent Doctorates

       In the Survey of Doctoral Programs in Special Education, department chairs also
were queried regarding their willingness to provide the names and addresses of
individuals who received their special education doctorate between July 1, 1993 and June
30, 1998. Seventy-two departments supplied this information. This involved 1,090

         Graduates were queried about: (1) their current employment status, settings, and
activities; (2) their initial notions about preferred careers upon entry into graduate school
and their career experiences immediately following the doctorate; (3) their assessment of
how well their doctoral training prepared them for their employment and how satisfied
they were with various aspects of their current job; and (4) educational history and
demographic characteristics. A copy of the survey instrument is included in Appendix D.

         Individuals received up to 4 mailings. First, a prenotification letter announcing
that the survey would be arriving shortly, the purpose of the study, and the importance of
participating was sent. Approximately one week later, the survey pack was mailed. This
included: a cover letter describing the purposes of the survey, confidentiality promises,
response burden, and the voluntary nature of their response; the questionnaire; a self-
addressed, stamped envelope for returning the completed survey; and $5 in appreciation
for their considering to participate. Approximately three weeks later, another cover
letter, questionnaire, and self-addressed, stamped envelope were sent to nonrespondents.
The same materials were again sent 4 weeks later by priority mail to those who had not
yet responded. The response rate was 89%.