University of Pittsburgh School of Education

Social & Comparative Analysis in Education

Social & Comparative Analysis in Education

The Social and Comparative Analysis in Education (SCAE) program applies disciplinary perspectives from the social sciences to the study of educational problems and solutions. We look at education holistically, including formal and non-formal settings across the lifespan, and have a special emphasis on comparative, international, and development education.

The SCAE program faculty have rich disciplinary expertise from economics, sociology, and anthropology, as well as the philosophical foundations of education. We apply social science theories and methods to understanding how organizations, processes, and actors interact within educational systems. We also focus on understanding how contemporary educational policies, trends, and reforms affect educational productivity and inequality. Fundamental questions within SCAE include: How do social relationships within and beyond the school affect instruction and learning? How do markets and incentives affect educational organizations and actors? How does culture, and the inter-generational transmission of culture affect educational processes and outcomes?

Our graduates apply a diverse repertoire of analytic skills to a broad range of academic and professional fields, including policy analysis, comparative education, teacher education and professional development, and higher education. The SCAE program of study prepares our graduates for leadership roles in international and development organizations, education policy-making bodies, consulting and evaluation firms, non-profit organizations, and innovative schools.

The following sections highlight the distinguishing features of SCAE:

Individually Designed Program

The SCAE program offers highly motivated and capable students the opportunity to create an individually-tailored program at both the master's (MA or MEd) and doctoral (PhD, EdD) level, while meeting the requirements of their degree programs. In all programs, students work closely with faculty advisors to build on their strengths to select courses, to enhance their range of applied experiences, and to better hone their expertise. In addition to core courses in SCAE, students have an opportunity to take supporting field courses outside of the school of education in the social sciences, humanities, and beyond. Students focusing on international and comparative education have the option to earn a certificate from one or more of the area studies programs coordinated by the University Center for International Studies (African, Asian, Latin American, Russian and East European, and West European).

Diverse Student Body

We take pride in our heterogeneous and highly-qualified student body, which come from different regions of the US and virtually every part of the world. Our students come to SCAE from many different undergraduate majors and master's degree programs. Our students include teachers from a variety of subject matter backgrounds, as well as school leaders. Others work in non-formal education such as after-school, community-based, or museum settings. Many bring professional experience gained through such organizations as Jumpstart, the Peace Corps, City Year, JET, AmeriCorps, VISTA, or Bonner Scholars. Others have extensive leadership experience in domestic or international agencies involved in educational development and policy, and in higher education in the U.S. and abroad. SCAE students enjoy a dynamic exchange of diverse perspectives and experiences in our classes, and in many classes, exposure to other graduate students from throughout the school.

Experiential, Research-based Preparation

In addition to a rigorous set of disciplinary core courses, SCAE students receive credit for original research, experiential learning, and other applied educational experiences. These include individualized directed studies with professors doing cutting-edge research, internships and field research conducted locally and abroad, and study groups on advanced topics. Many also take part in a well-established international service-learning sequence. All SCAE graduate students complete an original research paper, thesis, or dissertation. Additionally, all SCAE doctoral students complete a research apprenticeship to learn the methods, ethics, and standards of researching and generating products under the direct supervision of a graduate faculty member.

Degree and Certification Options


  • Master of Education (MEd) - professional degree for the graduate student who wishes to pursue advanced study in at least one field of educational effort and to demonstrate a superior level of expertise and capacity for leadership in that field. 
  • Master of Arts (MA) - professional degree for the graduate student who wishes to pursue advanced study in education and to demonstrate through the master's thesis their capacity for planning and arranging original research related to professional practice.
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - designed for those seeking a career in research and university teaching, the PhD degree offers methodological rigor in qualitative and quantitative research methods and close collaboration with faculty on ongoing research projects. 
  • Doctor of Education (EdD) – designed for those seeking to enhance their professional careers with scholarship, the EdD degree offers an intensive cohort experience and preparation for rigorous, applied research.

Contact Information

Admissions Inquiries and General Information

School of Education
Admissions and Enrollment Services
5500 Wesley W. Posvar Hall
230 South Bouquet Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
PHONE: 412-648-2230
FAX: 412-648-1899
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