University of Pittsburgh School of Education

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The University of Pittsburgh School of Education’s Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programs prepare students to be nationally competitive and highly qualified for research careers in both academic and non-academic institutions. Our full-time, research-intensive PhDs produce scholars who demonstrate excellent writing and research skills, independent scholarship and productivity, and proficiency in teaching. Under the guidance of our distinguished graduate faculty, students will have the opportunity to produce peer-reviewed publications, present at professional conferences, and collaborate on grant-writing and review, positioning them to excel in their careers as researchers and faculty. Because the PhDs are full-time, students can be fully immersed in their coursework and research in preparation for an impactful scholarly career.

Social and Comparative Analysis in Education - Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in SCAE trains scholars to apply disciplinary theories and methods from economics, sociology, and anthropology to the study of educational productivity and inequality. In addition to classic theories of how organizations and actors interact within educational systems, we also focus on understanding the effects of contemporary educational policies, trends, and reforms. An emphasis on theories and methods in the social sciences and humanities is coupled with an empirical focus on real-world studies of instructional and organizational processes. The PhD program considers education holistically, including formal and non-formal settings across the lifespan, and has a special strength in comparative, international, and development education.

Innovation in research methodology preparation is a hallmark of the SCAE program. Faculty expertise spans both qualitative and quantitative research and draws deeply from disciplinary perspectives, professional expertise, and program evaluation. Students benefit from methodological depth and breadth, including:

  • Interpretive qualitative research. Our qualitative methods training is informed by anthropological and sociological research traditions, humanistic and aesthetic movements, and continuing philosophical inquiry. Students are encouraged to break new ground in their research; our graduates have won awards for outstanding and creative dissertations, employing emerging methodological approaches.
  • Cutting-edge quantitative research. SCAE students specializing in quantitative research take a two-course introductory sequence, followed by a choice of advanced topics courses, including experimental design, general linear models, structural equation modeling, meta-analysis, and hierarchical linear modeling. Beyond formal coursework, students are involved in ongoing research projects with world-class faculty.
  • Applied mixed-methods research. Students have the opportunity to work with real-world data alongside departmental experts in client-based assessment and evaluation projects. Mixed-methods preparation in varied research designs enable students to bridge research and practice, work with practitioners to identify educational problems and generate creative solutions.

The Doctor of Philosophy degree provides varied opportunities for graduate students to build their knowledge and expertise to take on various roles of leadership in their chosen fields or specializations, such as faculty members in higher education, researchers in policy settings, leaders of educational agencies, and officials of educational and cultural ministries. Coursework in units outside the School of Education is required so that doctoral candidates develop expertise in academic disciplines to inform their development. Internships are available as opportunities for integrating theory and practice.

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
Apply Online

Department Contact

Sean Kelly
University of Pittsburgh
School of Education
5527 Wesley W. Posvar Hall
PHONE: 412-648-7165