The Ph.D. in education prepares individuals for faculty and research positions in academia, government, and the private sector. There are four areas of focus: educational policy, mathematics education, language and literacy education, and educational psychology.
In the educational policy focus, students research specific educational policy issues and examine how those policies get formulated and how they are implemented. They also look at the intended and unintended outcomes of these educational policies. Graduates of the program are prepared to seek research jobs in academia, government, or business.
Students opting for the mathematics education track learn how to conduct basic research on the ways people at all age levels learn and deal with mathematical concepts. Students research the psychology of learning mathematics and the way that individuals solve problems. A strong background in mathematics, statistics, or computer science is required for admission. The program is designed to prepare students for academic careers, as opposed to the Ed.D. program, which develops school leaders in mathematics education.
In the language and literacy focus, students investigate the range of literacies in a global, multicultural society. They look at particular curricular choices and instructional strategies that foster learning. They examine the authoritative use of language in a wide range of settings and review the history and politics of language and literacy education. Students pay particular attention to the effects of culture, social class, and status on the ways language is used, valued, and understood. The Ph.D. program is centered on basic research, in contrast to the Ed.D., which stresses applying and interpreting new discoveries.
The educational psychology focus prepares students to advance psychological theory through empirical inquiry and to apply the results to improving educational practice. The program uses the latest scientific theories to explain how people learn, how they teach others, and how they differ from one another. Students apply the results of this basic psychological research to improving the way people are taught and how they learn. A strong background in research methodology is critical to this endeavor.
Only students who have demonstrated the potential for outstanding research are selected for the program. Among the factors considered for admission are a baccalaureate degree in a relevant area; an undergraduate cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.0; a cumulative graduate grade-point average of at least 3.5 (if applicable); strong performance on the Graduate Record Examination test; a personal statement reflecting prior experience or an interest in independent scholarship; and three letters of recommendation from former professors or employers. In addition, foreign applicants must provide a TOEFL score indicative of proficiency in English. Additional criteria may be set by each focus track.
Students must complete at least 48 credits of course work, which is distributed as follows: 6 credits in prethesis research in the education concentration (policy, mathematics, literacy, educational psychology); 6 credits in the education core (educational theory, research, and practice); at least 12 credits in research methods, including courses in quantitative and qualitative methodologies; at least 18 credits in the education concentration; and at least 6 credits in the appropriate cognate disciplines. An additional 24 credits of dissertation research are required. Students must maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.25 in their doctoral course work. Students may petition the faculty of the Ph.D. in education to transfer up to 24 graduate credits from course work taken elsewhere toward these requirements.
Each Ph.D. student is assigned a research adviser. Students must complete at least two research projects before they are admitted to dissertation candidacy, and they must pass a qualifying examination that is evaluated by a faculty committee in the area of concentration. Students are admitted to dissertation candidacy by the faculty after they have completed successfully the above requirements.