University of Pittsburgh School of Education

Admission Requirements for Urban Education - Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

  • Completed School of Education Admissions Application (link
  • A non-refundable application fee of $50 (USD) by credit card, paid through the application system. Please note that all application fees for Urban Education programs will be waived until Jan. 18, 2019, with fee waiver code "CUE2019."
  • Complete individual transcripts of work done in all undergraduate and graduate study (an overall minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in undergraduate work for students without a master’s degree and a 3.0 in previous graduate work for students with a master’s is required). Students who do not have a 3.0 may wish to petition the faculty for application consideration.  
  • Official, third-party evaluation of all international transcripts for applicants who have not received a master’s degree within the United States. We strongly recommend using World Education Services (WES) to complete this service. 
  • GRE General Test section scores are required for all international and domestic students. 
  • Minimum TOEFL score of 600 (paper-based test), or 100 (internet-based test), with no lower than a score of 21 in all of the four sections. The minimum acceptable IELTS score is 7.0, with no lower than 6.0 in any of the four sections. 
  • At least 3 letters of recommendation that speak to the applicant’s potential for research and prior professional experience. No personal acquaintance recommendations will be accepted. 
  • Students are expected to commit to full-time enrollment (except in circumstances where the applicant works in a setting where research opportunities are available such as a research assistant on a funded project). 
  • Applicants should include a narrative statement (750-1250 words) that explains  
    • the applicant’s specific area of research interest;
    • the alignment of research interests with at least 1 or 2 School of Education faculty;  
    • the supporting field outside of education that the applicant plans to include as part of the degree plan;  
    • how the applicant’s professional experience and academic background have prepared them for graduate study; 
    • how the PhD program, area of concentration, and supporting field will allow them to pursue their research interests and contribute to their professional goals. 
  • A current resume or curriculum vita 
  • A sample of the applicant’s professional writing in the form of a previously completed term paper, master’s thesis, article, etc. Interviews are required (in-person, via video conference, or by phone) for short-list of top applicants under consideration for admissions. 

  • Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit responses to the School of Education optional diversity question. 
  • Applicants should identify potential primary and secondary faculty advisors to mentor research project(s). 

Support for PhD Student Funding

The Urban Education PhD program is designed to be an inclusive space, and as such we strive to remove economic barriers to study.  Several funding options are available for full-time PhD students to varying degrees. These options include tuition remission and monthly stipend: 
  • Dean’s Scholars provide academic and financial foundations for exceptional students and support diversity within the School of Education.  For more information, email Dr. Leigh Patel at   
  • K. Leroy Irvis Fellowship provides financial support and academic guidance in an effort to increase the number of doctoral candidates from traditionally underrepresented racial and ethnic groups pursuing academic research and teaching careers in postsecondary education. For more information, email Dr. Leigh Patel at 
  • The School of Education offers some departmental aid options to students pursuing advanced degrees. Financial assistance is available to a limited number of graduate students through Graduate Student Assistantships (GSA), Teaching Assistantships (TA), Teaching Fellowships (TF), Graduate Student Researchers (GSR), and Tuition Remission.
  • In addition to department aid, the School of Education has numerous scholarships and fellowships available that were established through gifts or grants, which are listed on the School and Departmental Financial Aid site
  • Additionally, the University of Pittsburgh’s Guide to Graduate Financial Aid provides detailed information about the financial aid process, help you understand your options, and get the aid that you need. 
For questions about PhD student funding, please contact Dr. Lori Delale-O’Connor at or call 412-624-1332.

Applications are reviewed once a year and must be received by January 18 for enrollment in the fall semester to avoid the application fee. 

Additional Questions
Dr. T. Elon Dancy II – or 412-624-6071
Dr. Dana Thompson Dorsey - or 412-383-4484
Dr. Lori Delale-O’Connor - or 412-624-1332
Dr. Alvin Pearman - or 412-383-4485