Ph.D. in Education: Transforming Education in a Diverse Society

The program features include:

  • A commitment to promoting equity and social justice
  • A focus on designing solutions for pressing problems in education
  • A multi-disciplinary approach to training educational researchers focusing on close collaboration with educators, policymakers, and the community

For more details, view our virtual informational meeting.

Please complete our Ph.D. Interest Form to receive further updates.

Which is for me? Ph.D. and Ed.D. Comparison Chart

Did you miss our info session? Here are the slides 

Overview

The Ph.D. in Education is designed for students with some professional experience in teaching and learning settings as well as in research.  Our mission is to teach students to wield the tools of research to change disparities in educational experiences and student outcomes.

As part of the evolution of education research, the field of education will require Ph.D. graduates who are prepared to collaborate with policymakers, educators, families, and communities to transform current education policy and practice. The UCSD Department of Education Studies Ph.D. will provide a fresh approach to training such new researchers. Rather than train traditional faculty members to solely generate knowledge documenting outcomes and processes in education, we will cultivate future faculty and researchers to serve and partner with communities through their research in order to affect educational change in regional, national, and international settings.

With a focus on equity, equality, and justice, the program will train students to engage in research that can address problematic educational settings, practices, and policies. The program will explicitly articulate the links between university faculty, students, education practitioners, community members, policy-makers, and educational stakeholders. In addition to gaining a core foundational knowledge in theory, methods, and research in education, students in the Ph.D. program will have the opportunity to engage in interdisciplinary experiences working across UCSD divisions, departments, and research units.

Program Features

  • On-campus
  • Full time course of study*
  • Interdisciplinary approach
  • Focus on collaborative inquiry
  • Intensive research internships working with well renowned faculty
  • Rigorous training in quantitative and qualitative research methods
  • Training to generate and communicate research that transforms practices in local settings and makes an impact nationally and globally
  • The use of technology as a tool for teaching, scholarship, and supporting change in diverse communities
  • Competitive funding

* Students enroll full time. Most courses are offered in the evening to allow for engagement in educational settings during the day.

Admissions Information

Application Checklist

Application deadline is December 4, 2017 for students starting in Fall 2018.

A completed Ph.D. application will include the following components:

1) Application Form 

Fill out the application form online. 

2) Statement of Purpose

Your Statement of Purpose should address:  (1) Your research interests, (2) relevant professional experiences, (3)  area of expertise within education. 

3) Recommendation Letters

Three letters of recommendation need to be submitted via the online recommendation form available within the application or mailed to us using the downloadable form (also accessible through the online application). You may find it useful to consider in advance whom you will ask to serve as recommenders, so that you can contact these individuals and confirm their willingness. We suggest selecting recommenders who can comment on your ability be successful in a rigorous PhD program which focuses on transforming education in a diverse society. The letters might include a recommender’s knowledge and assessment of your academic preparation, your professional experiences in educational practice, and your research interests and experiences.

4) Resume

An applicant must submit a professional resume. The Ph.D. in Education is designed for students with some professional experience in teaching and learning settings as well as in research. 

5) Writing Sample

An applicant must submit a publication or a sample of academic writing.

6) Transcripts

For application review purposes (only), scan and upload copies of transcripts for all institutions attended since high school.* In the online application, you will be prompted to upload a PDF of your scanned documents. Please upload both the front and back sides of the transcript, even if the back side is blank. Uploaded transcripts should be recent and include the following: your name, the institution name, dates of attendance, grades/marks received, credits, and grading legend.  If no transcript it available, please upload a statement explaining the circumstances.

*Do not mail hard copies until provisionally admitted

Upon provisional admission UC San Diego: Official transcripts from all institutions attended after high school will be required to finalize your admission and must be submitted to the Graduate Admissions office. Official records including transcripts, evaluations, mark sheets, diplomas, certificates, translations, and study abroad work must be delivered in a sealed envelope from the administering institution or service. Documents will not be accepted if opened or sealed by the student. Certified electronic transcripts sent directly to Graduate Admissions from the issuing institution care also accepted.  Electronic transcripts should be sent to gradadmissions@ucsd.edu.

Applicants with academic work in progress who expect to complete a degree program before the intended date of enrollment at UC San Diego, must provide evidence of degree conferral and a final academic transcript as soon as they are available.

By the time enrollment begins, successful applicants must hold a bachelor's degree or the equivalent from an accredited institution in the United States or from a recognized university-level academic institution abroad. Completed coursework for both domestic and international applicants must demonstrate the equivalent of at least a B average in the United States.

7) GRE Scores

The GRE exam (general exam) must be taken prior to the admission deadline. Our program code is R4836. If you have already taken the test and did not have your scores sent to UC San Diego, contact ETS to have your scores sent to us electronically. The test scores are valid for 5 years.

8) Application Fee 

The application fee is $105 for US citizens or permanent residents; $125 for international applicants. The non-refundable fee is payable by credit card through the online application. You may also pay by check, following the instructions in the online application. If you choose to pay by check, please note that your application will not be processed until your check has been received.

* Former UC San Diego graduate students should contact Giselle Van Luit to complete the necessary re-admission process.  A new application is not required.

Graduate Funding

 

Principles of Financial Support for Continuing Doctoral Graduate Students

 Criteria for Awarding Support

Upon admissions to the PhD program, all students receive a letter that details the financial support offered by the Department of Education Studies. The letter includes financial support information for the first year and subsequent years of the PhD program. Each admitted student receives a minimum financial support package for the first year that pays all tuition and fees, along with a nine-month stipend.

Once admitted to the PhD program, eligible incoming students are nominated for appropriate recruitment fellowships, which may include but are not limited to San Diego Fellowship, Eugene Cota-Robles Fellowship, SEED Fellowship, Deans Fellowship, etc.

UCSD employees using the Employee Student Education Benefit will receive a five-year Education Studies funding package that will cover the yearly tuition and fee balance.

The department recognizes that many fellowships offer multi-year support packages that include departmental support in the form of Graduate Student Research or Teaching Assistant positions and/or department stipends. Continuing students receiving such university wide fellowships will receive departmental support following the guidelines established by each fellowship.

 Support Commitments.

For continuing students not receiving multiyear university fellowships, EDS will make every effort to provide year-long support during subsequent years in the form of appropriate Fellowships, Graduate Student Research and Teaching Assistant positions to cover tuition and provide support for living expenses. Financial support in the department is contingent upon fulltime registration (12 units/quarter), satisfactory progress toward degree completion, and campus support time limits.

 Time of notification.

All graduate students in good standing, whether presently supported or not, will be evaluated annually using department criteria for awarding support to continuing students. Continuing doctoral students will be notified early in the Spring quarter about their financial status for the following academic year. The specific amount/percentage of time and type of award will be provided in writing in the annual Spring evaluation.

 Minimum level of support.

The department of education studies will make every effort to provide all continuing doctoral students in good standing with 50% TA support or its equivalent for students receiving merit-based financial support. 

Faculty

Faculty use a wide array of research methodologies and discipline-based theoretical tools for analyzing and addressing topics. EDS faculty have expertise in quantitative methods and qualitative methods of research, with many using mixed methods research approaches. Faculty research projects range from large-scale, multi-site quantitative analyses to in-depth qualitative studies of schools, classrooms, and communities. Faculty also have expertise in historical research, theory development, and design-based approaches to research.

View a list of Ph.D. Faculty and Research Topic Areas

Curriculum

Sample Year 1 Ph.D course offerings:

Transforming Learning Environments (4 units)

This course explores formal and informal learning environments with documented records of successful student engagement. Using an array of multicultural paradigms and learning theories, students will investigate new and traditional pedagogical practices and school environments for elements of transformative practices. Students will critique the current literature on teaching for change as it applies to the independent contexts they chose to study, and identify new possibilities for teaching and learning in diverse student contexts.

Transforming Outcomes Among Racially and Socially Marginalized Groups (4 units)

This course focuses on how the socio-cultural contexts of schooling impact perceptions of education, familial connections to schools, distribution of opportunities, and relationships between students and adults in educational settings. Students will explore theories of identity formation, explanations of student success and failure, and ideological shifts in research and practice to engage students from diverse communities.

Educational Research and Evaluation Design (3 course sequence; 4 units each)

This course integrates a variety of social and behavioral science perspectives and research methodologies in examining topics of central relevance to education. Students have opportunities to design and apply to educational research questions a variety of methodologies including: survey, interview, ethnographic, case study, video data analysis, and discourse analysis methods.

Research Apprenticeship Course (variable unit, ongoing 1-8 credits). The Research Apprenticeship Course (RAC) will be led by individual Education Studies faculty members and designed around the current academic needs of his/her research team and student advisees introducing them to transformational research and practice in education at the local and/or national level. The RAC provides a formal process for faculty/student mentoring and includes engagement in team research. Each RAC may conceptualize and conduct research that may result in presentations at key educational conferences and meetings and published papers. The RAC also provides support for dissertation writing.

Sample Year 2 Ph.D. Course Offerings

Transforming Educational Systems and Policy (4 units)

This course exposes students to systemic policies that influence the practices and efficiency of the P-20 system.  Attention is given to each segment of the educational continuum, exposing students to strategies for transforming the educational system to ensure equitable opportunities to learn and achieve

Advanced Research and Evaluation Methods (3 course sequence; 4 units each)

This course addresses more advanced topics in research design and methodology. Students hone the requisite research skills to conduct dissertation research. Students gain varied hands-on experiences in collecting and analyzing data relevant to schooling, as well as learn how to develop, manage and analyze large data files. Students create a research agenda and develop skills needed in proposal writing: development, organization and coherence, conceptualization of research design, and attention to audience and writing style

Sample elective course options (3 courses – 12 units)

Developmental Theory and Culture

Equitable Educational Research and Practice

Leadership and Equity in Educational Reform  

Education and Culture

Talking Culture: Voices of Diversity

Distributed Learning

Designing Communications for Equity in Education

Accountability and Data Use in Education

Social Network Theory in Education

Introduction to Critical Race Theory in Education

Contemporary Reform Policy in P-20 Education

Organizational Theory

Research Apprenticeship Course (variable unit, ongoing 1-8 credits). The Research Apprenticeship Course (RAC) will be led by individual Education Studies faculty members and designed around the current academic needs of his/her research team and student advisees introducing them to transformational research and practice in education at the local and/or national level.. The RAC provides a formal process for faculty/student mentoring and includes engagement in team research. Each RAC may conceptualize and conduct research that may result in presentations at key educational conferences and meetings and published papers. The RAC also provides support for dissertation writing.

Sample Year 3 Ph.D. Course Offerings

Research Methods Specialization Courses (3 courses; 4 units each)

Sample quantitative methods specialization courses

Advanced Social Network Analysis

Social network data has become more readily available for researches.

This course focuses on advanced network theory and methods, with an emphasis on specialized approaches for analyzing network data, focusing on testing hypotheses about structure and the formation of ties.

Program and Policy Evaluation

This course provides students with a better understanding of evaluation and assessment principles and their application in education settings and policy contexts.  Students examine key components of evaluation design, and develop competencies for implementing planning and assessment principals to institutions.

Hierarchical Linear Models
Examination of conceptual, substantive, and methodological issues in analyzing multilevel data (i.e., on individuals in organizational settings such as schools, classrooms, communities); consideration of alternative analytical models. 

Latent Class Analysis in Mplus

Introduction to Latent Class Analysis (LCA) for identifying unmeasured class membership among subjects using categorical and/or continuous observed variables. Examples will be shown using Mplus.

Structural Equation Modeling

Introduction to structural equation modeling details structural equation modeling, from the statistical underpinnings of SEM, combining theoretical and practical perspectives, on how to run many various types of structural equation analyses.

Sample qualitative methods specialization courses

Advanced Ethnographic Methods and Analysis

This course immerses students in the core qualitative methods that combine into fieldwork: learning while participating in educational settings. We learn to study everyday life in complex educational settings via observation and participation (fieldwork, fieldnote-taking, fieldnote analysis), and formal/informal interviews.

Collecting and Analyzing Video Data

Across many disciplines, video and audio tools provide an exceptional way to capture qualitative data for use in research. The data collection and analysis process has advanced with high quality media and tools that allow for in-depth analysis of the data. This course will provide guidelines and practice in the planning needed to capture the data, selecting the elements for analysis, analyzing the data, and reporting findings from video and audio analysis. The course addressed the technical considerations and analysis methods required for video and audio data analysis.

Case Study Research

This course will guide doctoral students in conducting rigorous case study research in the social sciences, and the field of education in particular. The course will address case study design, data collection, data analysis, and reporting. This will be accomplished through training on these stages of case study research. The course will also provide hands-on experience designing a case studies and analyzing case study data. The course will equip students with all the necessary tools to conduct independent case studies.

Netnography

The growth and complexity of online communities necessitates different methodological approaches.  Netnography blends existing qualitative and quantitative methods to better examine data in online spaces. This approach allows researchers to develop nuanced understanding and access knowledge about online cultural phenomena.

Research Apprenticeship Course (variable unit, ongoing 1-8 credits). The Research Apprenticeship Course (RAC) will be led by individual Education Studies faculty members and designed around the current academic needs of his/her research team and student advisees introducing them to transformational research and practice in education at the local and/or national level.. The RAC provides a formal process for faculty/student mentoring and includes engagement in team research. Each RAC may conceptualize and conduct research that may result in presentations at key educational conferences and meetings and published papers. The RAC also provides support for dissertation writing.

Sample Year 4 Ph.D. Course Offerings

Dissertation Research. Directed research on dissertation topic for students who have been admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree.

Communicating Research (2 units). An important departure from traditional graduate programs is the 2-credit course to instruct students on how to communicate their scholarship to audiences beyond the Academy. In the age of Open Access debates, Universities are exploring new ways to demonstrate the relevance of research directly to non-academic audiences. However, merely giving non-academic audiences the opportunity to access academic scholarship does not resolve the challenges of understanding the literature. As part of the EDS commitment to education reform and change, the students will learn different avenues and tools for communicating their scholarship to education stakeholders, actively participate in discussion of education equity and access, and co-construct meaningful partnerships with educational stakeholders.

Research Apprenticeship Course (variable unit, ongoing 2-4 credits). The Research Apprenticeship Course (RAC) will be led by individual Education Studies faculty members and designed around the current academic needs of his/her research team and student advisees introducing them to transformational research and practice in education at the local and/or national level.. The RAC provides a formal process for faculty/student mentoring and includes engagement in team research. Each RAC may conceptualize and conduct research that may result in presentations at key educational conferences and meetings and published papers. The RAC also provides support for dissertation writing.

Courses

EDS 251 Transforming Learning Environments (4)

This course explores formal and informal learning environments with documented records of successful student engagement. Using an array of curriculum and learning theories, students investigate new and traditional pedagogical practices, curricula, and learning environments for elements of transformative practices. Students critique current literature on teaching for change as it applies to the contexts they chose to study, and identify new possibilities for teaching and learning in diverse student contexts.  Prerequisite: ED82 major or consent of instructor.

EDS 252 Transforming Inequities in Student Outcomes(4)

The course focuses on factors that shape the unequal distribution of educational opportunities for marginalized groups. Students will interrogate societal and school structures, and underlying socio-cultural processes that impact engagement and outcomes for marginalized groups or students. Students will explore theories on student success and failure, family and community connections, and identity formation in relation to transforming outcomes. Prerequisite: ED82 major or consent of instructor.

EDS 253  Transforming Educational Systems and Policy (4)

This course exposes students to past and present systemic policies that influence the practices and efficiency of the P-20 system. Students will explore the barriers and facilitators of successful policy interventions at the local, state, and federal levels of education policy. Attention is given to each segment of the educational continuum, exposing students to strategies for transforming the educational system to ensure equitable opportunities to learn and achieve. Prerequisite: ED82 major or consent of instructo

EDS 254  Introduction to Research Design and Quantitative Data Analysis (4)

Introduction to quantitative concepts, descriptive statistics, and fundamentals of statistical inference in social science. Emphasis on applying statistical concepts--how to select the appropriate statistical techniques, execute those techniques, examine assumptions necessary for the techniques to work appropriately, interpret analytic results; and summarize findings in a professional manner. Hands-on computer-based practice of quantitative analyses will be an integral part of the course.  Prerequisite: ED82 major or consent of instructor.

EDS 255  Advanced Quantitative Data Analysis (4)

In this course, students will extend their knowledge of statistical methods based on the general linear model, including correlation, regression, analysis of variance, and analysis of covariance to address questions that emerge in educational and social science research. Students will address a variety of substantive research questions by analyzing data and fitting increasingly sophisticated analytic models.  Prerequisite: ED82 major or consent of instructor.

EDS 256 Introduction to Mixed Methods Research Design and Analysis (4)

Introduction to Mixed Methods Research Design and Analysis offers an introduction to mixed methods research in education studies. Participants will learn how qualitative and quantitative data can be integrated to capture the perspectives of individuals and organizations to answer complex research questions. The course will cover formulating research questions, collecting and analyzing different types of data, choosing appropriate mixed methods designs, and interpreting mixed method results.  Prerequisite: ED82 major or consent of instructor.

EDS 259 Communicating Research (2)

Universities are exploring new ways to convey the relevance of research directly to interested stakeholders beyond the Academy. In this course, students will learn and practice a variety of strategies and tools for communicating their scholarship to a range of audiences, actively participate in discussion of education equity and access, and co-construct meaningful partnerships with education stakeholders. Prerequisite: ED82 major or consent of instructor.

EDS 264  Introduction to Qualitative Analysis (4)

This course provides an introduction to qualitative approaches in education research. Students explore various qualitative methods and analytic strategies and gain hands-on experiences analyzing qualitative data collected on topics relevant to the study of education. The assigned readings include scholarship on the philosophical underpinnings and practice of qualitative research and varied examples of published qualitative research studies. Prerequisite: ED82 major or consent of instructor.

EDS 265  Special Topics in Qualitative Methods (4)

This course series addresses special topics in education research and data analysis. Students explore a faculty-specified qualitative research method and analytic approach. Approaches may include case studies, video analysis, mixed methods, naturalistic observations, ethnography, and netnography. The assigned readings include scholarship on the practice and philosophical underpinnings of the specified qualitative research approach and examples of published qualitative studies. Prerequisite: ED82 major or consent of instructor.

EDS 266  Special Topics in Quantitative Methods (4)


This course series addresses special topics in quantitative education research and data analysis. Students explore a faculty-specified quantitative research method and analytic approach. Approaches may include social network analysis, hierarchical linear modeling, latent class analysis, and structural equation modeling. The readings include scholarship on the practice and philosophical underpinnings of the specified quantitative research approach and examples of published quantitative studies. Prerequisite: ED82 major or consent of instructor.

EDS 288B. Advanced Research and Evaluation Methods (4) 

Second course in a three-course series. Focuses on student’s skill development in qualitative research with emphasis on designing qualitative studies with a strong focus on case study method and second level statistics. Students will learn and practice a variety of qualitative data collection approaches such as observing, interview, and documenting analysis.  In addition, students will develop competence in evaluation using Appreciative Inquiry and active research tools that can assist organizations (schools, districts) in evaluating programs. Prerequisites: Joint EdD in Educational Leadership student status or consent of instructor.

EDS 296 Research Apprenticeship Course  (2-4)

The RAC will introduce students to transformational research and practice in education through involvement in faculty-led research teams. The RAC will provide a structured environment for mentoring through engagement in collaborative research activities. Each RAC will conceptualize and conduct research that is likely to result in student presentations at educational conferences and in student publications. The RAC also provides support for the analysis and write up of dissertation research.

EDS 297 Directed Group Study (1-6)

Study and analysis of specific topics under the guidance of a faculty member. Offered for repeated registration. Prerequisites: Consent of instructor.

EDS 299. Dissertation Research (1–12)

Directed research on dissertation topic for students who have been admitted to candidacy for the EdD or Ph.D. degree.  May be repeated for credit. Prerequisites: admission into the PhD or EdD program.

EDS 500. Apprentice Teaching in Education (2-4)   

The course, designed for graduate students serving as teaching assistants in teacher education courses, includes discussion of teaching theory and practice, instructional materials, organization of discussion sections, liaison with participating schools, and methods of evaluation/grading under the supervision of the instructor of the course.

Degree Benchmarks

Our signature pedagogy is problem immersion -- we ask students to read research and learn theories and methodologies in the service of understanding existing real-world education situations and contexts. 

During the first two years of the program, students will take required courses in foundational areas and in rigorous research methods. Students will also take Research Apprenticeship Courses (RAC) in which students are immersed in faculty research with faculty supporting students’ development as researchers.

At the end of the first year, and with faculty guidance, students will choose their particular area of focus and select elective courses in education and in other departments accordingly. Students will continue their research immersion experiences and take courses as part of an interdisciplinary cognate strand.

Students will present their dissertation proposal at the end of the third year. 

During the fourth and fifth years students will work with their dissertation advisor and other faculty committee members to complete their dissertation research and writing.

Resources

Contact


Walk-In Advising:
9:00am-3:00pm
Monday and Wednesday

3rd Floor - Pepper Canyon Hall
edsinfo@ucsd.edu
858-534-1680

Student Affairs

Ph.D. Faculty Graduate Advisor
Alison Wishard Guerra

Ph.D. Graduate Administrative Coordinator
Giselle Van Luit