• Visit
  • Apply
  • Give

School of Education

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Education

Graduate Programs
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Education

The Ph.D. Program in the School of Education seeks to prepare scholars whose research will address critical problems in education, develop our understanding of teaching and learning in diverse contexts, and lead to improved outcomes for all learners. There is no more important goal, nationally and globally, than educating all children and youth so that they may develop to their fullest potential. However, much remains to be discovered about how best to achieve this goal, given variation in learners, contexts, and opportunities.

Our mission, to prepare the educational researchers of tomorrow, is accomplished through the implementation of a rigorous doctoral program that emphasizes high quality educational research utilizing varied methodological approaches. The program is grounded in interdisciplinary perspectives, including those from anthropological, sociological, psychological, and cognitive science traditions.

The Ph.D. program prepares students to assume leadership roles in both academic and non-academic settings. The program requires a shared first year core that provides the foundation needed to frame and begin investigating important research questions. Specializations within the program build on this foundation and offer students the opportunity to pursue individualized programs of study that capitalize on faculty expertise both within the School of Education and across the University. By engaging in ongoing research and producing evidence of their accomplishments through apprenticeship activities, graduates are well positioned to contribute to solving significant educational problems throughout their careers.

Program Coordinator: Danielle Ford


Areas of Specialization

Graduate student Dandan Chen stands next to her research poster
Evaluation, Measurement and Statistics

Evaluation, Measurement, and Statistics (EMS) offers a comprehensive range of courses designed to prepare students to develop, critically evaluate, and properly use quantitative and mixed methodologies to advance educational research.

Doctoral student engages in research activity with a child
Learning Sciences

The Learning Sciences is an interdisciplinary specialization area that focuses on the systematic study of learning and teaching, human development, and educational technology as well as the application of research to design educational innovations and interventions.

Teacher working with Student
Literacy Development and Learning Problems

The focus of the Literacy Development & Learning Problems specialization is on literacy development and instruction with particular attention to students with learning problems, including problems due to disability and to background.

Doctoral student discusses research with professor
Mathematics Education

The specialization area of Mathematics Education focuses on examining issues of teaching and learning mathematics. A distinctive feature of this specialization area is the integration of research experiences, including teaching mathematics content and methods courses for prospective K-8 teachers.

Laura Eisenman speaks with a student
Sociocultural and Community-Based Approaches

The Sociocultural and Community-Based Approaches (SCA) specialization emphasizes the development of expertise in conducting high-quality research on significant issues in sociocultural and community-centered approaches to education.

Doctoral student discusses research with professor
School Psychology

Grounded in the scientist/practitioner model, the school psychology program provides students with a strong foundation in psychological theory and research. This Ph.D. specialization is no longer accepting new students, but we continue to accept applications for the 3-year MA/EdS program in School Psychology.


Students generally complete the degree in 4-5 years of full-time study. A minimum of 55 credit hours is required to complete the Ph.D. program. Most students will take far more than this minimum in order to complete apprenticeship and specialization requirements or maintain full time status. Program requirements include:

  1. Core Content Courses: Doctoral Core coursework includes two proseminars (EDUC 805, EDUC 806) that students take in the first two semesters of their program.
  2. Research Methods Core Courses: Students take two core research methods courses (EDUC 850 and 856) while taking their core content courses. They also choose primarily a qualitative (EDUC 852, 858, 859) or quantitative (EDUC 812, 865, 874) set of three courses to fulfill the methodology core requirement. In some cases, and with the approval of their advisor, students may fulfill the methodology core by choosing courses from both tracks.
  3. Specialization Area Courses: All students are accepted into one of 6 specialization areas. These areas vary in how specialized knowledge and skills are acquired, but each requires between two and four specialization courses. All students will take at least two additional specialization core courses from one or more areas outside of their primary area. Students must choose courses carefully to ensure that this requirement is met, recognizing that most courses are offered every other year (some may be offered less frequently depending on enrollments). The six specializations are:
  4. Colloquium Series: Research colloquia expose students to some of the foremost thinkers and researchers in the field of education. Guest scholars are invited to share their research findings with doctoral students and faculty in a setting that encourages collegiality and familiarizes students with a number of scholarly presentation styles and content areas. A one-credit course (EDUC 840) is offered each semester in conjunction with the colloquium series and students must complete a minimum of 4 credits of colloquium.
  5. First Year Assessment: All students in the program are required to successfully pass the First Year Assessment, which serves as the qualifying exam for the program. This assessment occurs during finals week of the spring semester. Students critique a research article given to them one week in advance of the exam. Students have three hours to write their critique in an exam setting.
  6. Scholarly Apprenticeship Requirements: Scholarly Apprenticeship Requirements consist of the following activities and requirements: participation in an annual College of Education and Human Development Research Forum; submission of a publication to a peer-reviewed journal; presentation at a national conference in the student’s area of expertise; and supervised university teaching experience.
  7. Individual Program Plan: By the beginning of the third semester of enrollment, students will write an Individual Program Plan (IPP) that must be approved by the student’s advisor. The IPP will include a listing of the courses the student plans to take to fulfill research methods core and specialization area requirements, and it will outline a timeline of research the student intends to undertake. (Current students can find the Individual Program Plan form on Graduate Resources and Forms.)
  8. Residency Requirement: University policy requires Ph.D. students to complete one year in residence (one continuous academic year—9 credit hours per semester). Students in this cohort-based program are encouraged to complete the residency requirement during their first year in the program.
  9. Dissertation Proposal: A written proposal that is defended before one’s advisory committee.
  10. Dissertation and Defense: An original work of scholarship, meeting School, University and professional requirements, plus an oral defense of the work. Nine hours of dissertation credit (EDUC 969) are required of all Ph.D. students.

Schedule of Courses

Policy Statement

Student Handbook

To apply to the Ph.D. in Education program, complete the steps of the UD online graduate application process. Additional information about the graduate application process can be found on our “How to Apply” page. For information about graduate tuition, visit UD’s graduate tuition page for CEHD programs.

Application Requirements

Some application items specific to the Ph.D. in Education program include:

  • Transcripts of all previous academic work at the undergraduate and graduate (if applicable) level. Please note that the Mathematics Education Ph.D. specialization requires the applicant to hold a master’s degree in mathematics or a related field. Applicants may upload unofficial copies of their transcripts and if admitted, all transcripts will be verified by the Office of Graduate and Professional Education. Applicants who previously attended the University of Delaware still need to upload an unofficial transcript, but do not need to provide official transcripts for verification. Please do not send any transcripts to the School of Education.
  • GRE scores are required. Students typically are expected to have minimum scores of 150 on the verbal and quantitative sections and a 4.0 on the analytic writing section. Most admitted students have far higher than the minimum scores.
  • Three letters of recommendation are required. Applicants should select recommenders who can comment on their potential to succeed in doctoral work.
  • A personal statement in the essay section of the application is required.
    • Applicants should introduce themselves and discuss educational and career goals related to the Ph.D. in Education program and how this program is a good match for their interests. Applicants should identify their area of specialization and potential research interest.
    • While there are no requirements set by the School of Education, personal statements are generally 2-5 pages in length.
  • A resume is required.
  • No writing samples or supplemental documents are required.
  • International applicants must submit scores from either the TOEFL or IELTS. Scores more than two years old cannot be validated or considered official. Required minimum
    scores for the TOEFL are 100 (internet-based test -iBT), 600 (paper-based test), or 250 (computer-based test). IELTS minimum score is 7.0.

Application Deadline

The deadline for all applications to the Ph.D. in Education program is December 15 for study beginning the following fall term. In general, it is not possible to take required core courses before becoming admitted. The required core courses are generally restricted to students already admitted into the program.

Our full-time Ph.D. in Education students receive financial support for four years through a variety of sources, including assistantships and tuition scholarships. Students with assistantships receive 100% tuition scholarship and a 9-month stipend, plus health insurance. Merit-based supplemental funding is available.

Graduate student assistants work 20 hours a week, engaged closely with their faculty mentors in research and teaching activities. Prospective students can learn more about PhD assistantship experiences through our PhD student spotlights and our PhD student directory.

We also have conference travel funding available through the Office of Graduate and Professional Education. For more information on the SOE’s graduate travel policy, contact Tierney Walton, Administrative Assistant in the SOE.


How to Apply

Applications for all graduate programs at the University of Delaware are done online through the Office of Graduate and Professional Education. To apply to the Ph.D. in Education program, complete the steps of the UD online graduate application process. For information about graduate tuition, visit UD’s graduate tuition page for CEHD programs.


Student and Alumni Spotlights

John Strong

After teaching high school English language arts for five years, I chose to pursue a Ph.D. in Education at UD to learn how to conduct intervention research focused on improving students’ reading and writing achievement.

As a PhD student specializing in literacy development and learning problems, I have collaborated extensively with my doctoral advisor, Dr. Sharon Walpole and several other UD faculty members…


Featured Research

From fractions struggle to fractions success

For many elementary and middle school children, fractions are the scariest topic in their mathematics classroom. How can a fraction represent something larger than the number one? How can three-fifths be smaller than three-fourths when five is bigger than four? Without these foundational skills in fractions, students struggle in later mathematics courses, such as algebra, and begin to lose interest in math. They believe that math is simply “not for them” and turn away from career paths in science, technology…

Read More

Spencer grant to improve assessment of students’ writing skills

Over the past three years, Joshua Wilson, assistant professor in the University of Delaware’s School of Education (SOE), has studied how computer software could be used to evaluate and improve student writing, and his research continues to…

Read More

CADRE Fellow will broaden instructional math research

Jenifer Hummer, a doctoral student in the University of Delaware School of Education, has been awarded one of 10 highly competitive Community for Advancing Discovery in Research in Education (CADRE) Fellowships, funded by the National Science…

Read More

NSF grants support community-based computer science programs to expand participation

Teach kids how to program a toylike robot or a computer game and suddenly computer science looks like great fun. Coding – the letters and numbers that govern the robot’s every motion – is worth learning. The concepts and math behind all of…

Read More