PhD Degree Requirements

Course Requirements

Since Fall 2013, all doctoral students entering the PhD Program fulfill the same basic course requirements. This ensures that all students have substantive expertise in research methods and a broad grounding in major areas of educational research. To fulfill the basic requirements, all students are required to take 1 proseminar for new students, 5 research methodology courses, 3 breadth courses, and 5 elective courses. Except for the required proseminar, students can choose courses from menus as described below.

Proseminar: All new PhD students must take the Education Proseminar: ED 200A.

Research Methodology Courses: All students are required to take 5 research methodology courses. These include 2 introductory courses and then 3 more advanced courses selected from either or both quantitative methodology and qualitative methodology.

Breadth Requirement Courses: All students must take one course from 3 of the 4 breadth menus below.

Language, Culture and Society

ED 202A Bilingual Language Development 4.0
ED 205 Anthropological Studies in Education 4.0
ED 210E Foundations of Sociocultural Learning Theory 4.0
ED 210F Cultural Psychology:  Contemporary Sociocultural Learning Theory 4.0
ED 270H Language, Culture, and Learning 4.0
ED 271 Cultural Studies in Education 4.0

Learning and Teaching

ED 210A Advances in the Learning Sciences and Education 4.0
ED 219B Research on Classroom Teaching 4.0
ED 256 Technology and Learning Contexts 4.0
ED 258J Seminar in Curriculum:  Development and Analysis 4.0
ED 282 Research Along the Learning to Teach Continuum: Teacher Education, Induction, and Professional Development 4.0

Policy, Organization, and Leadership

ED 240A Education Policy 4.0
ED 241 Economics of Education 4.0
ED 242A Organizational Theories 4.0
ED 247A Educational Leadership 4.0


ED 211B Development: Infancy and Early Childhood 4.0
ED 211C Development: Middle Childhood to Adolescence 4.0
ED 211G Theories in Human Development 4.0
ED 210B Children’s Thinking 4.0
ED 222A Introduction to Exceptional Children 4.0
ED 228E Families and Disabilities 4.0

Elective Courses: All students are required to take 5 elective courses that will prepare them for doctoral dissertation research. These courses can be chosen from any area within the department, as well as from courses in other departments. The student’s advisor must approve the choice of electives.

Milestone Requirements

PLEASE NOTE: Food is allowed at milestone meetings, but it is not provided by students.

Research Apprenticeship: During the first year, each student is required to participate in a research apprenticeship under the guidance of his or her faculty advisor or another qualified faculty member. The purpose of the apprenticeship is to acquaint students with the hands-on conduct of research by having them participate in the research activities of a faculty mentor.

Independent Research Project: The Independent Research Project should involve a topic of interest to the student.  The student should assume major responsibility for all aspects of the project, from the review of research, through data collection, to analysis. Completion of the project should result in a paper that is appropriate for submission for publication. There is an oral defense of the project.

Qualifying Exam: The Qualifying Exam has both a written component and an oral component. The student chooses substantive topics and develops a reading list for each of these topics that is approved by the doctoral committee. The written component of the exam can consist of either a literature review based upon the reading lists or essays written in response to questions posed by the doctoral committee. The oral component takes place after the written exam has been reviewed by the committee.

Dissertation Proposal: The dissertation proposal is a detailed proposal for the dissertation research, including a description of the problem or issue to be addressed, a review of the relevant literature, and a description of the procedures by which the study will be conducted. There is an oral defense of the proposal with the doctoral committee.

Dissertation Defense: A dissertation defense involves a formal oral presentation of the dissertation project by the student and a series of questions by the doctoral committee.  The oral presentation can include a public component if the student wishes.  The dissertation is considered complete once it has been approved by the faculty and filed with the Graduate Division.

Program Learning Outcomes

The program learning outcomes for doctoral students in Education are listed in the Student Handbook as well below.

PLO Area: Core Knowledge

1.  Demonstrate general knowledge of educational research and theory consistent with that of a faculty member in a department of education at a research university.

2.  Demonstrate extensive specialized knowledge of a sub-field (e.g., mathematics education, educational leadership, special education, language and literacy education, etc.) of educational research and theory sufficient to carry out substantive independent research in that sub-field.

PLO Area: Research Methods and Analysis

3.  Identify and demonstrate knowledge of a select range of qualitative and quantitative methodologies typically used in education research and their underlying epistemology, and critically read research that uses these methods.

4.  Systematically analyze and critically evaluate data to come up with appropriate findings and interpretations.

PLO Area: Independent Research

5.  Frame an empirical research study guided by theory and prior research. 

6.  Design and implement a study using appropriate research questions, methods, and techniques.

PLO Area: Academic Communication

7.  Review and cogently synthesize relevant literature. 

8.  Structure a coherent academic argument that presents and evaluates evidence to support claims.

9.  Prepare proposals (e.g., conferences, fellowships, and grants) and manuscripts that meet the standards of the profession and respond appropriately to recommendations for revision.

10.  Prepare and deliver presentations that meet the standards of professional conferences.

PLO Area: Professionalism

11.  Demonstrate the ability to identify pressing educational questions and problems, and communicate relevant aspects of them to the general public.

12.  Demonstrate knowledge of and adherence to the ethical standards of the American Educational Research Association, and the Institutional Review Board.


Additional Resources

All degree requirements are listed on the PhD Degree Sheet.

See just the milestone requirements, which are described in greater detail in the Student Handbook as well.

See the entire Department of Education Student Handbook 2022-2023.