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School of Education

Ph.D. Specialization Coursework

All students are accepted into one of 6 specialization areas. These areas vary in how specialized knowledge and skills are acquired, but each requires a combination of supervised research, independent study, and two to four specialization courses. All students will take at least two additional specialization core courses from one or more areas outside of their primary area. Specialization core courses that meet this requirement are listed below and are updated as needed on the School of Education website. 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).

Evaluation, Measurement, and Statistics

Students in this specialization are prepared to develop, critically evaluate, and properly use quantitative and mixed methodologies to advance educational research. Students will develop expertise in psychometric theory, advanced statistical modeling, mixed methods, and program evaluation. In fulfilling the requirements for all Ph.D. students listed above, students in this specialization are required to take the three courses from the quantitative track (EDUC 812, 865, and 874). Three additional primary specialization courses are required (which are also available to other students as outside specialization courses):

  • EDUC 863: Principles of Program Evaluation
  • EDUC 873: Multilevel Models in Education
  • EDUC 826: Mixed Methods in Social Science Research

Students must take one additional methodology course as an elective; this elective must be approved as part of the student’s Individual Program Plan.

Learning Sciences

Students in this specialization are prepared to understand the cognitive and social processes that undergird learning and to use that knowledge to design effective learning environments. Students develop an interdisciplinary focus encompassing study of instruction and learning as products of the interplay of contextual, developmental, cognitive, and technological influences. In addition to the requirements for all Ph.D. students listed above, three specialization courses are required (which are also available to other students as outside specialization courses):

  • EDUC 804: Foundation of the Learning Sciences
  • EDUC 815: Design of Learning Environments
  • EDUC 819: Disciplinary Knowledge in Learning Sciences

Literacy Development and Learning Problems

Students in this specialization focus on literacy development and instruction with particular attention to students with learning problems, including problems due to disability and to background. There is a balanced emphasis on reading and writing, including developing these skills in digital environments. In addition to the requirements for all Ph.D. students listed above, three specialization courses are required (which are also available to other students as outside specialization courses):

  • EDUC 802: Reading Development and Instruction
  • EDUC 807: Writing Development and Instruction
  • EDUC 822: Critical Issues in Literacy Development and Learning Problems

Mathematics Education

Students in this specialization focus on critically examining issues of teaching and learning mathematics. A distinctive feature is the integration of teaching and research experiences. Opportunities include conducting research studies on a variety of issues related to teaching, learning, and teacher education; teaching sections of mathematics content and methods courses for prospective K-8 teachers; and participating in course instructor groups to study and revise components of these courses. In addition to the requirements for all Ph.D. students listed above, four specialization courses are required (which are also available to other students as outside specialization courses):

  • EDUC 833: Research and Theory of Mathematics Learning
  • EDUC 834: Research and Theory of Mathematics Teaching
  • EDUC 835: Research and Theory of Mathematics Curriculum
  • EDUC 836: Research and Theory of Mathematics Teacher Education and School Improvement

Note: the fourth course fits into the curriculum as a course needed for the specialization (please see the “required coursework” chart on the Required Coursework page).

School Psychology

Students in this specialization are provided with a strong foundation in psychological theory and research and are prepared to use a collaborative, data based problem solving approach when applying this foundation to help solve social, emotional, and academic problems faced by children, families, teachers, and schools. This specialization area is somewhat different from the others in that students complete all requirements for the Educational Specialist degree simultaneously with the requirements for the Ph.D. There is a substantial amount of coursework associated with the Ed.S. degree; students should consult the School Psychology Handbook for more details. Ph.D. students also complete an additional practicum course. The following courses are required for both Ed.S. students and Ph.D. students in the specialization; these are also available to Ph.D. students in other specialization areas:

  • EDUC 618: Introduction to School Psychology
  • EDUC 651: Diversity and Family-School Collaboration
  • EDUC 813: Childhood Psychopathology
  • EDUC 830: Consultation and Intervention – School Discipline

Sociocultural and Community-Based Approaches to Education

Students in this specialization focus on the theoretical and conceptual principles related to the study of equity and the science of diversity. Students develop expertise on contextual and cultural foundations of education and on community-centered approaches to educational issues that are responsive to the needs of local communities and promote equitable educational outcomes for students. Particular attention is given to populations and communities historically under-served by schooling institutions.  In addition to the requirements for all Ph.D. students above, students in this specialization complete a community-based practicum (EDUC 732) and an elective course from a related discipline, usually in another department. Two specialization courses are required (which are also available to other students as outside specialization courses):

  • EDUC 854: Topics in Equity in Education
  • EDUC 855: Topics in Sociocultural Theories of Education

Note: EDUC 732 fits into the curriculum in lieu of a third specialization course (in the “required coursework” chart on the Required Coursework page).