Program Requirements: ECPS PhD

To fulfill our ECPS program goals, we have designed the program requirements below.

The first experiential block is comprised of substantive courses designed to introduce students to relevant bodies of scholarly literature.

The second experiential block is comprised of courses in research methods. Students learn the methods, quantitative and qualitative, which scholars use to actually produce research in the field.

The third experiential block is comprised of courses specifically designed to further strengthen academic writing.

For the fourth experiential block, ECPS offers a Professional Development Brown Bag series for Graduate Students.

The fifth experiential block is related to the preliminary examination, dissertation proposal and the dissertation itself.

On this page:
↓  I. Curriculum
↓  II. Qualifying Examination
↓  III. Application to Candidacy
↓  IV. Dissertation Research


All classes are chosen in consultation with the student’s advisor. A minimum of 72 hours is required to complete the PhD program, 12 of which can be dissertation credits.

The following courses are required, unless specifically waived by the advisor:

  • ELP 585 Sociological Bases in Education (3 credits)
  • ELP 593 Qualitative Research Methods Part I (3 credits)
  • ELP 594 Qualitative Research Methods Part II (3 credits)
  • ELP 589 Education and Socialization (3 credits)
  • ELP 566 Comparative and Global Studies in Education (3 credits)
  • ELP 590 Education and Social Stratification (3 credits)
  • ELP 575 Education & Globalization (3 credits)
  • ELP 700 Guidance of the Project (2 credits during the Preliminary Examination Paper year; 1 per semester)
  • ELP 599 Writing Dissertation Proposals (3 credits)

A minimum of 6 credits quantitative/statistical methods (one full year). This requirement may be met through a combination of the below listed courses, pending advisor approval.

  • CEP 500 Fundamentals of Educational Research (3 credits) (This can be coupled with CEP 522 to meet the full year requirement.)
  • CEP 532 Understanding Statistical Research (3 credits)
  • CEP 522-523 Statistical Methods: Inference I and II (4 credits each course)
  • CEP 528 Hierarchical Linear Modeling: Multilevel & Longitudinal Data Analysis (3 credits)
  • CEP 527 Large Database Analysis (3 credits)
  • CEP 529 Applied Regression Analysis (3 credits)
  • CEP 512 Seminar in Survival Analysis (3 credits)
  • CEP 526 Linear Structural Models (SEM) (3 credits)

Recommended Electives:

  • ELP 574 Education in Asia (3 credits)
  • ELP 592 American Education for International Students (3 credits) (as appropriate)
  • ELP 624 Problems and Paradigms in Educational Administration
  • ELP 643 Reforming Teacher Compensation
  • CEP 533 Topical Doctoral Seminar on Current Policy Issues in Education (3 credits)
  • ELP 686 Educational Transitions P-20 (3 credits)
  • ELP 687 Sociology of Higher Education (3 credits)
  • ELP 586 Reading Urban Ethnographies (3 credits)
  • ELP 511 Comparative Higher Education (3 credits)
  • ELP 510 College Access and Choice in US (3 credits)
  • ELP 580 Contemporary Social Theory & Education (3 credits)
  • ELP 629 Case Study Research Methods (3 credits)


The ECPS preliminary examination is comprised of a scholarly empirical paper undertaken over the course of one year. In most cases, students will continue to take coursework during this time period. The Preliminary Examination Paper in ECPS is designed to help PhD students to transition from student to researcher. As such, the paper is intended to assess the PhD student’s ability to identify a research question in education that is rooted in ongoing scholarly debate, apply an appropriate method to the question at hand, collect additional data (as relevant), analyze data pertinent to their research question, and write up the results of the study in compelling and appropriately scholarly manner. The purpose of the Preliminary Examination Paper is to demonstrate that the student can conduct a rigorous, independent empirical study that employs the techniques of qualitative and/or quantitative methodology to answer a question embedded in the contemporary research literature.

This examination paper is expected to be based on or be an extension of a required final paper for a course, but substantial additional work is required towards this end. As the dissertation follows the preliminary examination, the dissertation topic may be either linked to or substantially different from the question posed in the examination paper. In either case, skills developed in coursework are expected to scaffold the Preliminary Examination Paper. In subsequent manner, the Preliminary Examination Paper can usefully scaffold dissertation projects. Data and analysis embedded within the Preliminary Examination Paper cannot necessarily be folded into the dissertation research itself, although such pilot data and analysis can set the stage for one’s dissertation proposal.

During the full year experience, PhD students will be part of a collective writing workshop with core faculty. Workshop sessions will be held once per semester for a full year, during which time participating faculty and students provide specific and constructive verbal feedback on student drafts. Such feedback is designed to make the paper stronger. Students are expected to substantially revise their paper in light of feedback from each of the two sessions. Students may not contact faculty about these papers outside of these two sessions, although participating students are encouraged to read one another’s work and provide ongoing feedback throughout the year. Students must sign up for 1 credit hour each semester under the course number ELP 700.

The Preliminary Examination Paper will normally be undertaken during Year 3 of the equivalent of full time course work, after the student completes enough relevant methodology course requirements (qualitative and/or quantitative) as well as substantive courses that cover the knowledge and skills necessary to understand the social issues that impact education (formal and informal) on the national and/or international level. We anticipate that the first draft of the Preliminary Examination Paper will be linked to a paper completed in a course. The final examination paper, however, must go well beyond original coursework papers and represent substantial revision. The final Preliminary Examination Paper must be an original scholarly paper that is judged to be suitable for presentation at a high impact peer-reviewed national conference (e.g., AERA, ASA, CIES, AAA) and is expected to be the basis for an article that is potentially publishable in a peer-reviewed scholarly journal. Manuscripts should run between 30-35 pages, including all tables, figures, notes, and references, typed on 8½" x 11" paper with 1" margins on all sides, double-spaced using 12-point type.

A student must receive a “Pass” in order to advance to candidacy. If a student receives an unsatisfactory evaluation, that student should revise and resubmit the paper to the qualifying examination committee within 6 weeks from the date of receiving notification that the exam must be revised. Students have one chance to revise the examination paper.


Upon completion of most of the course work, students will file a PhD Application to Candidacy. The advisor, tentative dissertation committee, and the department chair must approve the application. AS NOTED ABOVE, STUDENTS ADVANCE TO CANDIDACY ONLY UPON SATISFACTORY COMPLETION OF THE PRELIMINARY EXAM PAPER.


A minimum of 9 credit hours of ELP 702 Dissertation Guidance is required. Students are encouraged to seek external support for their dissertation research. Information is available about a variety of prestigious fellowships and granting agencies.
Information for Funding Your Dissertation