Vanderbilt Kennedy Center

Erik Carter, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Special Education

Contact Info

(615) 322-8150


302A One Magnolia Circle

Erik Carter, Ph.D.


Erik Carter’s research goal is to identify those skills, supports, and experiences that enable adolescents with significant disabilities (e.g., intellectual disabilities, autism, and multiple disabilities) to live rich and personally satisfying lives during and after high school. His research has followed three primary strands. The first strand focuses on interventions to support youth with significant disabilities socially and academically within inclusive schools. Carter’s research in this area has focused most heavily on the processes and outcomes associated with peer-mediated support strategies, along with careful examination of the student, classroom, and other school factors that may influence students’ success. The second strand focuses on equipping middle and high school students with significant intellectual disabilities to transition successfully to life after high school. In this area, his research has focused on (a) assessing the transition-related needs (e.g., social, vocational, self-determination, educational) of youth, and (b) identifying feasible and effective avenues for increasing students’ access to career development and early work experiences. The third strand focuses on increasing the capacity and commitment of communities to meaningfully include children and adults with significant disabilities, as well as engaging new partners in these efforts. Here, he has focused his work on interventions that engage new partners (e.g., employers, parents, community leaders, congregations) in community change efforts.


View Biographical Sketch (.pdf)


  • Peer Support & Peer Network Interventions to Improve Peer Relationships & School Management
  • Spirituality, Supports, and Well-Being of Youth and Adults With Significant Disabilities (Nicholas Hobbs Discovery Grant)


Erik Carter, Ph.D. is recruiting participants for research studies (4/19/201)

Much of the research completed at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center is made possible by the generous contributions of the people and families who participate in research studies. This researcher needs research subjects to complete the studies listed below.

Follow these links to learn more:

In the News

Podcast, Video, and Images

  • Connecting to the Future: Employment and Disabilities

    This video presented by the Tennessee Developmental Disabilities Network and produced by the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, highlights two advocates with intellectual disabilities who are meaningfully employed.

    The video was developed with the goal of raising the aspirations, expectations, and capacities of people with disabilities and their families, service systems, employers, and communities regarding competitive and meaningful work as a viable option.

    For more information on employment of people with disabilities in Tennessee, see Tennessee Works