PhD in Social and Comparative Analysis in Education

*This program is no longer accepting new students. Please consider our many other areas of study, such as Education Policy. For questions, contact our admissions team at*

The PhD in Social and Comparative Analysis of Education (SCAE) trains scholars to apply disciplinary theories and methods from the humanities and social sciences—including economics, sociology, anthropology, and philosophy—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.  The SCAE PhD program prepares students to be nationally competitive and highly qualified for research careers in both academic and non-academic institutions.  

Quick Facts

  • Program Duration: 4 or 5 academic years on average.   
  • Time Commitment: Full-time
  • Term of Enrollment: Fall 
  • Application Deadline:  December 1
  • Course Requirements: 90 post-baccalaureate credits
  • Application Requirements: GRE exam is not required

Program Details

Our full-time, research-intensive PhD programs 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.   

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, cutting-edge quantitative research, and applied mixed-methods research.   

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. 


Degree Requirements

SCAE PhD students complement their SCAE specialization courses (15 credits) with department core requirements (6 credits), supporting field (9-18 credits), research methodology (18 credits), supervised research (6 credits), and dissertation (18 credits). Subject to faculty approval, students can transfer up to 30 credits of previous graduate coursework, provided that each course grade is at a B or higher and provided that each course meets a degree requirement. PhD students complete a series of milestones as they progress: preliminary exam (proposal for an independent supervised research project), supervised research project, comprehensive examination, dissertation overview, and dissertation.  


A master’s degree is not required.

Affiliated Faculty

Career Pathways

The SCAE PhD 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 and researchers in policy settings.