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ProjectSPIDERS UNF OU and UofL logos


Project SPIDERS stands for School-University Partnerships Influencing aDvocacy and Engaging Rural Special educators. This scholarship program for doctoral students is a partnership between the University of Oklahoma, University of Louisville and the University of North Florida. Project SPIDERS prepares special education personnel who are well-qualified for, and can act effectively in, leadership positions in high need rural school systems. This five-year project will fund six scholars from each University. 

The three Universities working together were awarded a $3.5M grant from the U.S. Department of Education making this program possible. 



  • SPIDERS scholars are working professionals interested in enhancing their research, professional development, and policy skills.  
  • A Master of Special Education, or closely related field, degree
  • Interest in conducting applied rural research, rural policy development, and effective rural professional development and training practices
  • Strong commitment to enhancing rural special education
  • Admission to the Doctorate of Special Education degree program at the University of Oklahoma, University of Louisville and the University of North Florida


  • Tuition and fees for four years of study
  • $15,000 yearly stipend for four years of study
  • $7,000 to support research activities
  • Yearly conference travel for four years of study
  • Mentorship and support from experts in rural education from three leading universities 
  • Opportunities to complete advanced research, policy and professional development training and internships. 

Project SPIDERS Scholars Commit to...

  • Fully engage in the doctoral program, SPIDERS activities and training
  • Part time doctoral study and to working within and across each university team
  • Work collaboratively with district, advisory panel and project partners
  • For each year of support, scholars are responsible for two years of service to the special education field that includes working with individuals with disabilities


  • Take a moment to view our brief (less than 5 minutes) pre-recorded information session from Nov. 2021 or our more detailed information session recorded in Jan. 2022 which includes information on how to apply to each University.
  • Still have questions? Visit our FAQ Page
  • Then, start the application process by completing a quick 6-question prospective student interest form. Click the button below to take the survey. 

Prospective Student Interest Form

Ready to Apply? 

The application process is easy! 

Step 1

Simply apply to any of the three Universities' respective doctoral programs at either the University of Oklahoma, University of Louisville or the University of North Florida.

  • Be mindful of application deadlines and requirement
  • Indicate interest in Project SPIDERS when applying

 Apply to the University of Oklahoma  Apply to the University of Louisville  Apply to the University of North Florida 

Step 2

Submit a Project SPIDERS grant application. 

  • Please submit this application after you have started your application to OU, UL or UNF
  • Complete SPIDERS interview process 
  • If selected, meet with Project SPIDERS advisor and begin planning your program of studies 

 Project SPIDERS grant application


 Contact Us

University of Oklahoma 

Brittany Hott, Ph.D., BCBA-D,

University of Louisville

Ginevra Courtade, Ph.D., 

University of North Florida 

David Hoppey, Ph.D.,