Educational Culture, Policy and Society – PhD

The Educational Culture, Policy and Society (ECPS) program at the University at Buffalo focuses on the role that education, including but not limited to P-16+, plays in the larger society. We pay special attention to institutions, policies and practices that facilitate individuals’ well-being and social and economic outcomes, as well as those that limit them. We focus on the links between educational institutions and broader social, cultural, political and economic forces.

Our faculty members have expertise in areas including the social psychology and sociology of education, global studies and policy studies. We focus much of our research on underserved populations, including historically marginalized racial/ethnic groups in the United States such as African Americans, and Latino/a, and others who may not be proficient in English. We additionally direct our attention towards gender disparities in educational, social and economic opportunities, as well as among populations with limited financial resources.

Educational Culture, Policy and Society additionally focuses on cross-national comparisons of educational policies and practices central to policymakers and school leaders around the world. These include reforms related to the teaching profession, teaching and learning, as well as key policy issues such as accountability, high-stakes testing, school choice, government support of education, and access to higher education for underrepresented groups.

Admitted PhD students receive individualized attention from a core group of highly accomplished faculty members. Learning how to conceptualize, conduct and write-up research is a key component of Educational Culture, Policy and Society, and a notable number of current and past students present their research at national and international conferences and publish their findings in top academic venues.

Who is this program for?

Educational Culture, Policy, and Society is for anyone who is interested in the relationship between schooling (P-16+) and social and economic forces and consequences in national and/or global context. Prospective students include anyone interested in the social and economic context of education in the U.S. and around the world. In this interdisciplinary PhD program, prospective students have the opportunity to take a variety of courses in Educational Administration, Higher Education, and the Science of Learning, as relevant. Applicants typically have a master's degree before applying to the ECPS doctoral program.

Successful graduates typically take jobs in:

  • Colleges/Universities—as faculty/scholars of educational policy studies, global studies and related areas;
  • Colleges/Universities—as administrators and staff at programs such as Upward Bound, Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), McNair Scholars, among others;
  • Schools—as teachers or administrators;
  • Ministries—as policy makers and analysts;
  • International development or human service agencies—as analysts, program officers, or administrators.

Specific areas of focus include, but are not limited to:

  • Differentiated curricula for students related to socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, second language, gender, or national origin;
    • Academic tracking that leads to differential access to knowledge and subsequent opportunities among student groups
    • Differential access to rigorous course content, especially in the areas of mathematics and science
    • Grade retention
  • Dropout and push-out patterns in secondary school that contribute to pipeline constriction;
  • Discipline practices, accompanied by security measures in schools, that exclude student groups disproportionately, beyond that explained by students’ misbehavior or threat to others;
  • Academic achievement, academic attainment, and school opportunity structures for varying groups in the population;
  • Educational policies, practice and outcomes in cross-national perspective;
  • Transitions from high school to college and beyond, including matriculation, persistence and graduation rates, occupational status and income;
  • Schooling and socioeconomic structures in new global circumstances.

Educational Culture, Policy and Society students can simultaneously pursue an advanced certificate in statistical analysis. This certificate is offered through the Graduate School of Education. Coursework leading to the certificate can be taken as part of the regular Educational Culture, Policy and Society program requirements.
Learn more about CASA - Advanced Certificate in Applied Statistical Analysis

The program in Educational Culture, Policy and Society values mixed methods research in the service of broad based research projects that attack significant educational issues. As an integral part of their studies, PhD students gain expertise in one major methodology (quantitative or qualitative) while gaining fluency in the other major methodology (qualitative or quantitative). In so doing, our students are well positioned for a changing global job market that values diversity of research methods in the service of broad-based research, and the practical applications of such research (such as embedded in NGO’s, Ministries of Education and so forth).

Learn more about Mixed Methods here:

Contact Us

For questions regarding Admissions:

Office of Graduate Admissions and Student Services
Graduate School of Education
University at Buffalo
366 Baldy Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260-1000
Phone: (716) 645-2110

For questions regarding ECPS focus area:

Dr. Lois Weis
Department of Educational Leadership and Policy
Graduate School of Education
University at Buffalo
430 Baldy Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260-1000
Phone: (716) 645-1079