Doctor of Philosophy in Education
Sociocultural and Community-Based Approaches to Research and Education
The Sociocultural and Community-Based Approaches to Research and Education (SCA) specialization views education as contextual, dialogic, and relational. This interdisciplinary specialization draws from the social sciences, situated cognition, critical pedagogy, critical race theory, feminist theory, and disabilities studies to examine sociocultural, community-based, and equity issues in education. We recognize that learning is shaped by institutions, cultures, communities (including online communities), practices, technology, and histories, and we strive to prepare graduates who will engage teachers, educational leaders, policy makers, families, and students in the work of examining and developing equitable educational communities.
Students in this specialization
- Gain a rich understanding of the complex contextual, dialogic, and relational aspects of education and sociocultural issues affecting children, families, and communities.
- Develop equity literacy and learn how research related to race, ethnicity, gender, and disability can help create equitable models of education in diverse schools and communities.
- Conduct qualitative and mixed-methods research on contemporary educational issues of educational interventions.
In addition to the Doctoral Core Courses, the following specialization courses are required of all SCA students:
- EDUC 854: Topics in Equity in Education
- EDUC 855: Topics in Sociocultural Theories of Education
Note: EDUC 732: Community Based Practicum fits into the curriculum in lieu of a third specialization course.
Sample Course Schedules
Sample SCA course schedules for students who enter the PhD program in the following semesters are available through the links below.
All PhD students in SCA must complete the following additional requirements.
Methods Core Courses
Students in SCA must chose the following three qualitative methodology courses to satisfy the research Methods Core requirement.
- EDUC 852: Critical and Interpretive Methods in Education Research
- EDUC 858: Advanced Qualitative Research Methods
- EDUC 859: Ethnographic Research
Specialization Area Exam
The Specialization Area Exam in SCA is designed to transition doctoral students from coursework to dissertation research. Although the exam has both formative and summative functions, we view this assessment more as formative, preparing for dissertation research, rather than summative, considering whether the student should stay in the program or not.
Students usually take the exam upon completion of their coursework and when they have developed ideas for their dissertation topic. We encourage but do not require students to enroll in a 3 credit Independent Study with their advisor in the semester when they will undertake the exam. Along with their advisor, the student will select the members of the specialization area exam committee. The committee will consist of three faculty members, including the student’s advisor and one additional faculty member from the SCA specialization area. The committee members may also serve on the student’s dissertation committee, but it is not required.
Please see the SCA Specialization Area Exam guidelines for complete information.
Our graduates accept academic positions in research universities, departments of education, and school districts, as well as positions in educational organizations, nonprofits, and community-based organizations.
For example, recent PhD in Education graduates with a SCA specialization have accepted positions at East Carolina University, Neumann University, Montessori Works, Delaware, and information technology companies (as educational content developers).
“Pursuing a doctoral degree in sociocultural and community-based (SCA) education has allowed me to conceptualize ways to center my interests in both theory and practice. My advisors have taught me how to collect and analyze community-based interview data as well as how to maintain the integrity of participant stories/voice in publications. I’ve also had the opportunity to co-author and co-present with each of them. Not only do my advisors support me academically but they also offer personal mentorship beyond the academics of graduate school.”
Our faculty hold grants from the National Science Foundation, the Institute of Education Sciences, and private foundations.
“I chose to pursue my Ph.D. at the University of Delaware because of the support offered by the College of Education and Human Development to their candidates. It was clear that I would have significant social support from older students, previous graduates, and my cohort members, but I was also drawn to the professional support provided by the faculty. I was offered so many opportunities because the faculty members in my specialization were pursuing their own important research and they always sought to include us in that work.”