Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The PhD in Science Education​ is designed to prepare professors of science to work as professors of science in research-oriented universities and to teach science courses or guide the preparation of science teachers at the elementary and secondary levels.

Quick Facts

  • Program Duration: 5 years on average
  • Time Commitment: Full-time program of study  
  • Term of Enrollment: Fall term
  • Application Deadline: December 1
  • Course Requirements: 90 credits
  • Application Requirements: GRE exam is required


Apply Now

Program Details

Our PhD program in Science Education prepares you to conduct scholarly research and development projects in science education, as well as to serve as a faculty member in a research-oriented university. The program also prepares you to teach science education courses or to instruct other teachers who teach science education.

From the beginning of the program, you will have opportunities to work with faculty in research activities, eventually developing your own lines of interest, which you will pursue through the dissertation phase and beyond. 

Potential areas of study include the following:

  • The use of curriculum resources by beginning teachers
  • Application of research in the history and philosophy of science
  • Understanding teaching and learning in secondary and tertiary educational settings
  • Use of analysis frameworks to study teacher and student talk in math and science classrooms

View Program Curriculum >>

Degree Requirements

The degree has 90 required credits.

Requirement Credits
Major Field Studies 30 - 36
Supervised Research Practica 6
Minor Field Area 9 - 18 minimum
Research Methods 12 minimum
Electives Variable
Doctoral Dissertation Research 18
   
Total Required Credits 90

Prerequisites

The Science Education faculty strongly recommend that applicants have:

  • a Master's degree in a basic science field; or
  • an undergraduate degree in a basic science field and 9 master's-level credits in a basic science field

Affiliated Faculty

Career Pathways

The PhD in Science Education prepares you for such roles as:

  • Faculty member at a research-oriented university
  • Instructor of science education at elementary or secondary levels
  • Educator of other teachers in science education

The PhD in Special Education will prepare you to assume academic faculty positions at the university level. The program is geared toward improving the educational and related service programs for children and youth with disabilities. 

The program allows you to focus on sub-disciplines of special education, including:

  • Education of Students w/ Mental & Physical Disabilities
  • Early Intervention
  • Blindness/Vision Impairments/Orientation and Mobility

Quick Facts

  • Program Duration: 4 years on average
  • Time Commitment: Full-time
  • Term of Enrollment: Fall 
  • Application Deadline:  December 1
  • Course Requirements: 90 Credits
  • Application Requirements: GRE exam is required

Apply Now

Program Details

Students may focus their studies in one or more of the following areas: 

  • Applied behavior analysis
  • Autism
  • Emotional and behavior disorders
  • Learning disabilities
  • Severe disabilities.

Special education PhD students will be mentored by Special Education faculty who will support them throughout their academic career. Students will have many opportunities to collaborate within and between programs to pursue special education topics of interest. Each student will have mentored opportunities to demonstrate all of the skills required by university level faculty which include: synthesizing current literature, submitting peer-reviewed manuscripts and grants, reviewing submissions for publication, teaching university level classes, conceiving and conducting research projects in authentic environments, and presenting at national conferences.

As a PhD student, you will teach graduate and undergraduate courses, mentor graduate students, developing a research agenda that will result in funded and published research, and translating research outcomes for the improvement of educational and related service programs for children and youth with disabilities.

The PhD program is writing and research-intensive and PhD candidates will have multiple opportunities to learn and participate in the review of research literature, the preparation and submission of research grant proposals, the design and implementation of research studies, and the preparation and dissemination of research reports. 

Degree Requirements

Students will complete a series of formal milestones to prepare then as a special education faculty member. The milestones will allow students to engage in academic writing, proposing and conducting research, and defending their work in an academic forum. In addition, students will be mentored through teaching university level classes and other faculty roles and responsibilities.

  • Special Education Coursework: 24 credits
  • Cognate courses: 0-18 credits either taken or transferred from outside the School of Education
  • Required research methodology courses: 15 credits
  • Supervised Research/teaching practicum: 6 credits
  • First-Year School-wide seminars: 3 credits
  • Writing workshops: 6-8 credits
  • Electives: Variable credits
  • Dissertation: 18 credits

Prerequisites

  • Master's degree in a Special Education related area
  • 3 years teaching children with disabilities or similar experience

Career Pathways

  • University faculty (research and/or teaching)
  • School administration
  • Leadership in not-for-profit organizations

The PhD program in Urban Education is geared toward training highly qualified scholars in K-16 urban education with emphasis in supporting students’ deeper understanding and application of law, policy, the social and cultural contexts of education, and evaluation and research methods within the urban context. The program is built around an innovative, experiential, research-focused curriculum that prepares scholars to address the multifaceted issues facing urban education, and will prepare students to be nationally competitive for research careers in both academic and non-academic institutions.

Quick Facts

  • Program Duration: 5 years
  • Time Commitment: Full-time
  • Term of Enrollment: Fall Term
  • Application Deadline: December 1
  • Course Requirements: 90 credits 
  • Application Requirements: GRE exam is required


Apply Now

Program Details

Students will engage and work with active researchers who integrate research, theory, and practice as they develop expertise in urban education. They will engage in critical scholarship on diversity, equity, and social justice, as well as with coursework that scaffolds their scientific writing and research methodology skills. Each cohort will be socialized in professional skills (e.g., collaboration with research teams, school and community partners; oral and written presentations). Coursework, immersion into research methodology, experiential learning experiences, and exposure to diverse theoretical perspectives will comprehensively equip students to examine and research real-world, complex educational issues. In turn, students will be expected to produce dissertations that address the scope of issues confronting stakeholders in urban schools and contexts.

We are confident that through engagement in coursework, intensive research, and hands-on experiential engagement with the broader urban context, the PhD in Urban Education program will produce the next generation of urban education scholars. 

View Program Curriculum >>

Degree Requirements

A minimum of 90 credits are required for graduation:

  • Required core courses: 24 credits
  • Cognate courses: 0-18 credits either taken or transferred from outside the SOE 
  • Required research methodology courses: 18 credits 
  • Field placement/teaching practicum: 6 credits 
  • Proseminars/Writing workshops: 6-8 credits 
  • Electives: 0-9 credits 
  • Dissertation: 18 credits 

Field Placement/Teaching Practicum (2 courses, 6 credits): Two semesters spent in supervised field placement in areas relevant to the Urban Education PhD Program. Potential sites for field placement include local non-profit institutions, RAND Corporation, (through application through their summer internship program), and the Center for Urban Education. Students may also fulfill one semester in a field placement and one spent developing instructional skills for teaching at the university level (as an instructor or co-instructor with a faculty member) or developing a course under the supervision of a faculty member (e.g., an online course in an area relevant to Urban Education).

Comprehensive Exam (Year 3): A topical paper or response to at least two essay questions (requirement of one or both options at ARCO discretion). Students will either write a topical, comprehensive paper or respond to (a minimum of) 2 essay questions that address (a) a theory and content question drawn from their reading list (agreed upon with committee chair); and (b) a design question, also created by ARCO faculty (e.g., designing a study appropriate for their dissertation, or responding to a hypothetical scenario in which the student designs a study appropriate to their field on an enduring, central question in the field).

Prerequisites

For students who do not have bachelor degrees in appropriate academic disciplines, 18 credits must be taken outside of the Pitt School of Education in the appropriate academic disciplines. Students with a master’s degree in an appropriate academic discipline do not have to take any courses outside of the Pitt School of Education and 18 credits from their masters will count here for cognate courses. Students with a bachelor’s degree in an appropriate academic discipline are only required to take 9 credits outside of the Pitt School of Education in appropriate academic disciplines.  

Affiliated Faculty

Career Pathways

Upon completion of the PhD in Urban Education program, graduates may pursue higher education faculty and administration positions, as well as public and/or private, for-profit and nonprofit sector research positions.

Program graduates that choose to seek employment in higher education may apply for faculty or postdoctoral fellowship positions at any one of the national universities that recruit urban educational scholars for their doctorate level Urban Education program.

In addition, there are numerous schools of educations and programs nationally that also employ scholars who specialize in urban education. 

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 required


Apply Now

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. 

View Program Curriculum >>

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.  

Prerequisites

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.   

The PhD in Mathematics Education emphasizes the development of scholarly attainment in the theory, research, and practice of mathematics education. Graduates of this program are prepared to be faculty members in research-focused colleges or universities, researchers in non-academic institutions, or leaders in schools, universities, research facilities or other settings in which mathematics education takes place

Quick Facts

  • Program Duration: 5 years on average
  • Time Commitment: Full-time
  • Term of Enrollment: Fall term
  • Application Deadline: December 1
  • Course Requirements: 90 credits
  • Application Requirements: GRE exam is required


Apply Now

Program Details

From the beginning of the program, you will have the opportunity to work with faculty in research activities. You will develop your own corresponding lines of interest and will pursue them through the dissertation phase and beyond. 

Potential areas of work include studying student and teacher learning, particularly in urban settings, with respect to race and other issues of equity.

Topics of study include the following issues:

  • Identifying mathematics instructional practices that provide high-quality learning opportunities to all students
  • Studying how teachers can be supported to develop high-quality and equitable forms of practice
  • Understanding how students’ and teachers’ learning is influenced by the larger institutional settings in which they study and work

View Program Curriculum >>

Prerequisites

There are no specific prerequisites for this degree/certification, but interested students should verify that they fulfill the admissions requirements.

Affiliated Faculty

Career Pathways

Graduates of this program pursue different educational opportunities, including as:

  • Faculty members in research-focused colleges or universities
  • Researchers in non-academic institutions
  • Leaders in schools, universities, research facilities or other settings in which mathematics education takes place

The PhD in Learning Sciences and Policy (LSAP) program produces nationally competitive research scholars who have the training, track record, and vision to become leaders in understanding and promoting educational change. ​Our students work at the intersection of research and practice, collaborating with faculty mentors on research programs that explore education in real-world learning environments such as K-12 classrooms, museums, community organizations, online and cyber environments, and university classrooms.

We believe that understanding learning, teaching, and organizations is best undertaken as an interactive system, and that an integrated and coordinated interdisciplinary approach is best suited to understand, design, and implement educational change.  

Quick Facts

  • Program Duration: On average, 5 years 
  • Time Commitment: Full-time 
  • Term of Enrollment: Fall 
  • Application Deadline: December 1 
  • Course Requirements: 90 credits of LSAP Courses + SoE CORE + Advanced Seminars
  • Application Requirements: GRE exam is required


Apply Now

Program Details

Our training follows a professional mentorship model where students work closely with a faculty advisor. Most students are supported by faculty research grants and most work as part of dynamic and collaborative research groups that include multiple faculty, graduate students, post-docs, undergraduates, and research staff. LSAP students are immersed in the fundamentals of being a research scholar, including presenting their work at national research conferences, publishing peer-reviewed research articles, developing and testing educational innovations, participating in writing research grants, and peer reviewing. Our students go on to pursue research careers in both university and non-university settings. 

Key features of the LSAP student experience include: 

  • Immersion in rigorous interdisciplinary research and training experiences from their first day in the program 
  • Integrated coursework that covers the fields of learning sciences, policy and organizations, and learning in the disciplines (e.g., mathematics, science or literacy) 
  • Full funding through research assistantships that will allow students to work alongside active researchers on funded research programs. 
  • Rigorous training in quantitative, qualitative, and mixed research methods 
  • Access to Pittsburgh's rich talent pool of analysts and research in education policy and learning including research scientists at Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC), policy specialists at the RAND Corporation, scholars at Carnegie Mellon University, and education reform specialists at the Institute for Learning 

Our program brings together three kinds of faculty expertise into a collaborative research and training environment: 

  1. Learning sciences across PreK-16 and informal learning environments
  2. Learning in the disciplines (e.g., mathematics, science or literacy)
  3. Education policy and organizational change.

Degree Requirements

View Program Curriculum >>

Students complete a series of milestones aimed at preparing them for a career as an education researcher. The milestones engage them in authentic research activities including writing a proposal for a research study, writing manuscripts for submission to journals, and reviewing scholarly literature to establish the contribution of a research study. 

Prerequisites

Preference is given to candidates with a Bachelor's degree plus work experience and/or an advanced degree.

Affiliated Faculty

Career Pathways

Our program produces nationally competitive research scholars who are leaders in understanding and promoting educational change. Our graduates typically work in the following areas:

  • University faculty
  • Researchers at research firms
  • Leadership in not-for-profit organizations 

The PhD program in Language, Literacy, and Culture (LLC) is for students who aim to conduct research on the interconnection of culture, language, and literacy in both formal and informal educational settings. The goal of the LLC program is to develop interdisciplinary knowledge that is complemented by specialized knowledge of teaching and learning in foreign and second language, literacy, social studies, and early childhood education. We frame the exploration of teaching and learning within perspectives that promote equity, social justice, and democratic values.

Quick Facts

  • Program Duration: 3 to 5 years
  • Time Commitment: Full time
  • Term of Enrollment: Fall
  • Application Deadline: December 1
  • Course Requirements: 90 credits
  • Application Requirements: GRE exam is required


Apply Now

Program Details

Students engage closely with and learn from faculty who conduct research in the field and have a strong commitment to high-quality teaching. We are actively involved in collaborations within the University of Pittsburgh World History Center; Center for Urban Education; Women’s Studies; College of Arts and Sciences; Center for Race and Social Problems; and with University Prep, a 6-12 partnership school; and Falk School, a K-8 laboratory school.

 Faculty and students in our program study issues such as:

  • Civic education and racial identity among disenfranchised populations
  • Critical historiography in secondary social studies classrooms
  • Sociocultural approaches to foreign and second language acquisition
  • Comprehension instruction in the context of text-based discussions of informational texts
  • Writing, language, and grammar instruction in high school English classrooms
  • New and multiple literacies in urban classrooms
  • Representations in children’s literature
  • Immigrant families’ home literacy practices

View Program Curriculum >>

Degree Requirements

The PhD program in Language, Literacy, and Culture includes a core set of courses designed to engage students in an exploration of teaching and learning from a variety of perspectives, including the linguistic, critical, psychological, historical, and sociocultural. View the PhD program in Language, Literacy, and Culture handbook for full information on degree requirements.

Prerequisites

There are no specific prerequisites for this degree/certification, but interested students should verify that they fulfill the admissions requirements.

Affiliated Faculty

Career Pathways

Through a combination of coursework, research collaborations with faculty, and teaching and supervision practicum experiences, students are prepared for careers at a wide variety of institutional environments, including:

  • Research and teaching universities
  • Research institutes
  • Educational non-profits
  • Educational consulting

The PhD in Higher Education Management program is committed to advancing scholarship, research, and practice in the field of higher education. Students have research interests ranging from student access to student outcomes, diversity and equity, international and comparative education, administration and management, and policy studies.

Quick Facts

  • Program Duration: Three to five years
  • Time Commitment: Full time
  • Term of Enrollment: Fall Term
  • Application Deadline: December 1
  • Course Requirements: 90 credits
  • Application Requirements: GRE exam is required


Apply Now

Program Details

The PhD degree program in higher education includes a core set of courses designed for students to gain an understanding of historical, political, philosophical, and social elements that shape and continue to reshape higher education. These courses include Higher Education Administration, the Politics and History of Higher Education, Higher Education Research Frameworks and Theory, and Higher Education Policy and Issues.

These courses are complemented by core courses within the department of Administrative and Policy Studies designed to ground students in the study education as a discipline. Students develop an area of research specialization within the field of higher education and take other courses at the School of Education as well as courses outside of the school that complement their specialization. In addition, through a strong focus within the program on rigorous methodological training, students gain competency in both quantitative and qualitative research methods and take advanced courses in the methodological approaches they plan to utilize in their research.

View Program Curriculum >>

Degree Requirements

View the official PhD program handbook for full details on the degree requirements.

Prerequisites

There are no specific prerequisites for this degree, but interested students should verify that they fulfill the admissions requirements.

Affiliated Faculty

Career Pathways

  • Faculty at institutions of higher education
  • Researchers at educational think tanks and major policy institutes
  • Leaders of administrative units with teaching and research responsibilities.

The PhD in Education Leadership program will prepare you to understand the implications of education policy and practice. You will pursue scholarship as it relates to education reform, educational inequality, comparative education, and research methods. 

Quick Facts

  • Program Duration: 5 years on average
  • Time Commitment: Full time
  • Term of Enrollment: Fall term
  • Application Deadline: December 1
  • Course Requirements: 90 credits
  • Application Requirements: GRE exam is required


Apply Now

Program Details

The PhD program in Education Leadership will prepare you to understand the context of education systems from a policy and comparative education standpoint. You will complete courses in the department core, specialization area, research methodology, supporting field, supervised research, and your dissertation. 

Milestones in the program include your preliminary evaluation, pre-disseration research project, comprehensive exam, dissertation overview, and dissertation defense. 

View Program Curriculum >>

Degree Requirements

The plan of studies can be found in Appendix B of the PhD Handbook for Administrative and Policy Studies

Education Leadership students will follow the plan of studies for Social and Comparative Education Studies, with an emphasis on leadership courses in order to fulfill the specialization credits. 

Prerequisites

There are no specific prerequisites for this degree/certification, but interested students should verify that they fulfill the admissions requirements.

Affiliated Faculty

Career Pathways

The PhD in Education Leadership provides varied opportunities for you to build knowledge and expertise. 

Our graduates have taken on various roles of leadership in their chosen fields or specializations, such as faculty members in higher education and researchers in policy settings.   

The PhD in Applied Developmental Psychology (ADP) program trains students to become world-class research scientists studying human development. ADP faculty and students engage in applied research using a variety of methods and approaches, including in-depth observation, longitudinal modeling, and experimental designs.  ​

Quick Facts

  • Program Duration: 5 years on average
  • Time Commitment: Full-time program of study  
  • Term of Enrollment: Fall term
  • Application Deadline: December 1
  • Course Requirements: 90 credits
  • Application Requirements: GRE exam is required


Apply Now

Program Details

Our PhD program in Applied Developmental Psychology prepares you for research careers answering meaningful practice and policy questions relevant to improving the lives of children, youth, and families.

You will study the following subjects in depth:

  • The influence of individual, interpersonal, and contextual factors on learning and well-being outcomes for children and youth in school and out-of-school settings  
  • How human development and context interact to generate dynamic patterns of child and youth behavior  
  • The effectiveness of interventions to promote learning and wellbeing outcomes for children and youth 

Students complete coursework in a diverse set of topics to learn academic writing skills, real-world applied research design, data analytic tools that match the complexities of the context under study, and authentic assessment strategies.

View Program Curriculum >> 

Degree Requirements

The degree requirements can be found in the official PhD in Applied Developmental Psychology Handbook

Prerequisites

There are no specific prerequisite requirements. However, prior research and/or professional experience working with children and families in community or school settings preferred. Our most successful students have a few post-baccalaureate years of child- and youth-serving work experience to develop first-hand knowledge of child development in context.

Affiliated Faculty

Career Pathways

Our graduates go on to have successful research careers in a variety of settings including institutions of higher education and research centers.