Ph.D. Concentration in Theory, Organization & Policy

Program Details

Area(s) of Study:
  • Education, Culture, and Society
  • Educational Policy
  • History of Education
  • Leadership
Associated Degree:
  • Ph.D.
  • On-Campus
Program Level:
  • Doctoral
Program Type:
  • Degree


The concentration in Theory, Organization, and Policy within the Ph.D. in Education prepares students for research in higher education, policy organizations, and governmental/nongovernmental organizations concerned with education, broadly defined.

Over the past three decades, political leaders have increasingly recognized the critical importance of education to economic, political, social, and cultural improvement. Their decisions have implications for the well-being of families, communities, and the United States’ place in the world. Unfortunately, decision makers often pursue educational goals without a clear understanding of their own philosophical assumptions, the needs for change, the possible results of change, or the social forces that affect actions that legislatures and governments take. This program prepares scholars who can help find answers to these questions and, in the process, inform policymakers, educators, and the public about the progress and challenges of education.

Our faculty conduct research in organizational leadership, policy, and international and comparative education as well as in the social science and humanities disciplines of education. Our students specialize in one area of study but learn about others, allowing them to develop stronger educational analyses and research designs. Following an apprenticeship model and working closely with their academic adviser, students design their own course of study, taking courses offered at the GSE and across Rutgers.



1. Personal statement.
2. Three letters of recommendation.
3. Official undergraduate transcripts.
4. Curriculum Vitae/Resume (optional).
5. Sample of Academic Writing (optional).

No decision of admission can be processed less than 2 weeks before the beginning of the semester.



GRE General (optional)



Please submit a personal statement that describes why you are interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in Education at Rutgers, what you would like to study and research, and what qualities and experiences you would bring to the Rutgers GSE.

In no more than 1,000 words total, we ask you to address the following questions:

  • Why do you want to earn a Ph.D. in Education, and what are your long-term goals?
  • What are your research interests within the field of education?
  • What do you bring to the program that will help you succeed as a researcher and professional colleague?
  • Why is the Rutgers GSE an appropriate doctoral program in which to pursue your research interests? Please describe your interest in specific concentrations/areas of study and/or your interest in working with a certain faculty member(s).

Please refer to the GSE website for details about programs, faculty, admissions criteria, financial aid, and tuition. Questions about admissions procedures are answered by Graduate and Professional Admissions at the website listed above.


Proseminars (6 credits)
Required Research (6 credits)
Methodology (12 credits) Concentration (18 Credits)
Cognate Courses (6 Credits) Dissertation (24 credits)

Program Requirements

The Ph.D. in Education requires 48 credits of coursework and 24 credits of dissertation research. All students in the Theory, Organization, and Policy concentration take a common set of courses, accumulating 18 credits within the concentration, of which 6 credits must be classes within the concentration but outside the faculty advisor’s specialty.

The pre-thesis courses are independent study courses that are designed to enhance a student’s ability to conduct scholarly research. The faculty advisor, or other Ph.D. in Education faculty member as appropriate, will typically provide greater support and guidance for the first course than for the second course. Each course should result in some type of product (e.g., a research paper, literature review, etc.). The exact nature of the research that the student will engage with is to be decided with the advisor or other faculty member serving as the course instructor. The pre-thesis plan, including expected outcome(s), should be shared with Ph.D. in Education Program upon course registration. Prior to receiving a special permission number from the Administrative Assistant for the Ph.D. in Education Program, students and advisors/instructors are asked to complete and submit the Pre-thesis Research Form. The form simply asks for a brief explanation of the focus of the pre-thesis course along with anticipated outcomes.

A complete listing of degree requirements is available for download or at the Office of Student and Academic Services.

If you have more specific questions about this concentration, please contact W. Steven Barnett.