Ph.D. Programs

Graduate programs at the Rutgers Graduate School of Education (GSE) are administered in conjunction with the School of Graduate Studies. Students wishing to pursue a graduate program at the GSE must apply to the School of Graduate Studies.

Ph.D. in Education

The Ph.D. in Education prepares you to become a researcher in academia, government, and the private sector. Our program prepares you to:

  • create new knowledge about educational processes and policies;
  • lead development of research-based instructional, professional, and outreach programs; and
  • promote effective and equitable educational practices for all learners.

Graduates of the program are expected to influence educational practice in the United States and abroad through original research efforts, thereby contributing to the advancement of knowledge in education, discovering exemplary educational practices, and contributing to local and national educational policy. The Ph.D. in Education offers two concentrations: Theory, Organization, and Policy (TOP) and Learning, Cognition, Instruction, and Development (LCID). If you are interested in applying or would like to learn more detailed information about the two concentrations and related specializations, please explore each of these pages.

Goals of the Ph.D. in Education Program

Learning Goals for Ph.D. Students

Our core mission in the Ph.D. in Education Program is to produce scholars who can and will use research to contribute to understanding and improving education. Listed below are six broad areas that students in the Ph.D. in Education Program should develop through their coursework, research, and participation in the GSE and broader scholarly community. Methods for evaluating progress with respect to these goals are described under each goal.

1. Broad Theories. Students will understand and think critically about a wide range of the central theories on learning. These include what types of environments support learning; what the goals of education are and should be; how policy and social structures influence learning opportunities; how education can support goals related to social justice; and how the role of education continues to evolve in our society. In particular, students should be aware of the different disciplines upon which these theories draw, understand that these disciplinary lenses fundamentally influence how education and educational research is perceived, and be able to use these theories and lenses to interpret and synthesize bodies of research.

Assessment: Evaluation will be based on performance in core coursework (pro-seminars or other core course program specifications) and on successful completion of the breadth question as part of the qualifying examination.


2. Knowledge and Understanding. Students will develop deep understanding and expertise in a particular domain. They should have a broad and deep knowledge of the literature in the field and an understanding and appreciation of the range of research methods that have been used to advance the field.

Assessment: Evaluation will be based on performance in courses within the student’s area of specialization, performance on two independent research studies (Pre-thesis I and II), successful completion of the qualifying examination, and successful completion of the dissertation proposal and thesis.


3. Conducting Original Research. Students will actively engage in research from the beginning of their program. As they gain experience and autonomy, they should gain an understanding and ability to design and carry out research employing appropriate research methods.

Assessment: Evaluation will be based on performance in the two independent research courses (Pre-thesis I and II), their dissertation proposal, and a review of other research efforts described in annual progress reports.


4. Communicating and Disseminating Research. Students will successfully communicate and disseminate their research. They should present their work in the GSE (brown bags, research poster sessions) as well as at regional, national and international conferences. They should publish their work in scholarly outlets as well as report their research, if appropriate, in ways that will be valuable to practitioners and policymakers. They should also successfully communicate their dissertation research.

Assessment: Evaluation will be based on the number of student presentations within the GSE (brown bags, poster session, other talks) as well as talks and publications. Authorship (senior or secondary) will also be monitored. These data will be available in the annual student progress reports.


5. Teaching. Students will develop expertise in teaching university-level courses. This is considered to be an especially important goal because it is expected that many graduates will obtain employment at academic institutions where teaching will be part of their responsibilities. All students are expected to be observed by a faculty member as well as to complete a teaching portfolio.

Assessment: Evaluation will be based on an annual survey of courses taught by students as well as a report of the number of students who have met their teaching requirement and completed their observations and teaching portfolios.


6. Service. Students will participate in their respective scholarly and professional communities, including service within the GSE as well as service to professional organizations, including scholarly reviews, serving on committees, etc.

Assessment: Evaluation will be based on annual review of student progress reports.


For more information about the Ph.D. program, please refer to the Ph.D. student handbook or visit the Ph.D. in Education Portal.


Ph.D. in Higher Education

The Ph.D. in Higher Education prepares higher education researchers who will take their scholarship, knowledge, and research skills into a range of higher education settings such as universities and colleges, state or federal governing and coordinating boards, independent research and policy organizations, and foundations. Explore the Ph.D. in Higher Education page for detailed information about that program.


For a listing of useful student resources within the university, visit Information for Current Students.