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Educational Studies

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Educational Studies is geared toward the rigorous preparation of educational researchers who have the knowledge and skills needed to design, conduct, and disseminate high-quality scholarship, and who have a strong foundation in one or more high-demand areas of specialization. The Ph.D. degree emphasizes the scholarly pursuit of the theoretical underpinning and methodological advancement of educational research. Courses provide critical training in the intellectual pursuit of advanced knowledge in educational, social, and behavioral sciences.  A distinguishing feature of the program includes research apprenticeships with Graduate Faculty in the School of Education.  Through faculty mentoring, students author and/or co-author publications and presentations at national and international conferences. Working for a Ph.D. degree prepares the graduate for academic and administrative positions in educational institutions and social service agencies. Graduates of the Ph.D. program typically become university faculty members, higher education administrators, and research scientists, or assume other leadership roles.  Drawing upon multiple theoretical perspectives and research paradigms, the program represents the breadth of knowledge that leads to deeper understanding in the following areas of concentration:

  • Curriculum Studies and Teacher Education
  • Developmental and Learning Sciences 
  • Educational and Community-Based Action Research 
  • Educational Policy and Higher Education
  • Instructional Design and Technology
  • Literacy
  • Quantitative and Mixed Methods Research Methodologies
  • Second Language Studies
  • Special Education 

If you are interested in the kinds of research our doctoral students are engaged in, click here.


Quick Info

Program Code




Admission Criteria

Highly competitive


Main Campus


Educational Studies
College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services


PO BOX 210014
Cincinnati,OH  45221
Amy Hoerst
Phone: 513-556-6399

Career Possibilities

Additional career options are listed on the Center for Exploratory Studies website.

Major Details

Curriculum Studies and Teacher Education

Curriculum Studies and Teacher Education offers two pathways for developing, examining, implementing, and assessing curriculum.  Curriculum Studies, which employs theory and research in curriculum as a broadly construed discipline, and Teacher Education, which engages school curriculum issues, especially the teaching of particular subject areas in classroom settings.  This Ph.D. concentration provides students with a general introduction to the study of curriculum, while allowing students to specialize in either Curriculum Studies or Teacher Education in ways that are flexible for meeting their needs.

Curriculum Studies aims to make sense of the teaching and learning by inquiring into the purposes of curriculum, questioning whose interests are served by curriculum, and considering research in successful teaching approaches. To do so, Curriculum Studies is not narrowly technical in application; rather, it employs a historically-informed and critical theoretical perspective.  Moreover, it views curriculum as more than just a list of content to be taught by also taking into account the sociopolitical contexts of education, the organization of the school, and the hidden or unintended implications of what is taught and learned in schools.  Curriculum Studies is interdisciplinary in nature, bringing together work in the foundations of education (including the history, philosophy, anthropology, and sociology of education) and educational policy analysis.

The teacher education emphasis develops candidate’s knowledge of teacher development across the life and learning span of teachers, including pre-service teacher preparation, the induction years, and teacher professional development. Within this wide construct, individual candidates may choose to focus on areas such as policies that impact teachers’ work; the development of teachers’ content knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors; the role of student knowledge and learning in a content area, or the social and political environment in which teachers work.

Developmental and Learning Sciences

The Developmental and Learning Sciences area of concentration focuses on an interdisciplinary approach to understanding development and learning that includes theory and research from the fields of developmental psychology, cognitive science, neuroscience, and education. Students may choose courses in life span human development, cognitive development, and early childhood education. The courses in this area of study provide graduates with a broad-based foundation for understanding human development specific to phases of the human life span and a deeper appreciation of the diversity and similarity of human behaviors. Course work in the Developmental and Learning Sciences offers an overall theoretical and practical examination of age-related and individual differences that emerge in factors affecting physical, behavioral, social-emotional, cross-cultural, biological, cognitive, and personality development and learning. The influences of family, community, and social environments are also examined. Examples of research opportunities for students available through the Developmental and Learning Sciences Research Center and the Arlitt Child and Family Research and Education Center include working with faculty on projects investigating math cognition and learning difficulties, motivation, nature play and science learning, preschool education, and reading disabilities. Work in the discipline of Developmental and Learning Sciences is geared toward improving developmental and learning outcomes for individuals. Graduates are prepared to assume a myriad of responsibilities but, most commonly, work as faculty members in higher education teaching or administrative settings, and in community service agencies, or in positions where they conduct research related to development and learning. 

Educational and Community-Based Action Research (ECAR)

The Educational and Community-Based Action Research (ECAR) Area of Concentration reflects the interdisciplinary, community-engaged, and problem-focused nature of action research with a mission to “promote social justice and strengthen communities, locally and globally, by advancing research, education, and action through participatory and reflective practices.”1  The ECAR area of concentration in association with the Action Research Center is recognized internationally for its contributions to the theory and practice of action research in a variety of education, health, community services, and organizational settings. Students interested in the ECAR Area of Concentration can focus on practitioner inquiry in educational and organizational settings or community-based action research and are encouraged to take courses that reflect the broad interdisciplinary nature of action research. Courses focus on integrating theory and practice and on building strong collaborative relationships among students, interdisciplinary faculty and with our partners in the community. 

Educational Policy and Higher Education 

The Educational Policy & Higher Education (EPHE) concentration within the Educational Studies (EDST) PhD program is a platform for students seeking advanced degrees to work within both education and policy settings within the PK-20 spectrum.  While each student’s course of study is highly individualized, most typically fall into one or more of the following areas:

  • Higher education leadership and policy
  • K-12 policy and administration
  • Education policy and governance

Our mission is to develop graduates who have a thorough grounding in current policy and research relevant to PK-20 education. One of the many benefits of pursuing doctoral study at the University of Cincinnati is conducting applied research in an urban environment, while also taking advantage of the many opportunities at one the nation’s leading public research universities.

Instructional Design and Technology (IDT) 

The Instructional Design and Technology (IDT) Area of Concentration is an interdisciplinary program drawing from fields, such as cognitive science, education, and computer science. The objective of this concentration is to prepare professionals for leadership roles in the design, evaluation, and use of media and technology for education. By focusing on design, students will learn how to design and research instructional technology for a variety of content areas, type of learners, or settings. For example, graduates of the IDT concentration could work in settings such as museums, publishing companies, higher-education institutions, corporate training centers, health institutions, non-profit research organizations, and educational media production companies. Within these work environments, graduates may work as administrators, directors, faculty members, researchers, or evaluators. Students may complete an internship that would provide them with the opportunity to conduct research or assessment within one of these real-world settings. Students will be prepared to do research and development with a variety of new media and technology such as online telecommunications, gaming and simulations, interactive videos, and other computer tools to support learning.  The central focus of this concentration is to study the underlying learning theories and their implications for the design and use of educational media and new technologies. Students will study what is known about how people learn in order to more effectively design and assess learning environments. This area of concentration provides opportunities for graduate students to specialize in the study of research methodologies, theories, and issues surrounding the use of instructional technology. This will be accomplished through the delivery of relevant coursework, research apprenticeship, and carefully guided dissertation study.


The purpose and mission of the Concentration in Literacy is to prepare literacy professionals who will hold research and literacy education positions in universities across the country as well as for roles in local, regional, state, or national educational agencies and corporations. The program of study engages doctoral students in a theoretical and research-based examination of the cognitive, linguistic, social, cultural, political, and economic factors that impact literacy teaching and learning at all levels of development, from early childhood through adult, and emphasizes social opportunity and educational access for all learners. The Concentration in Literacy is designed to provide doctoral students with the knowledge and skills essential for reading and interpreting scholarship in the field, as well as conceptualizing, designing, implementing, and disseminating original research. To that end, students engage in a variety of mentored and guided experiences that integrate theory, research, and practice. The program faculty expects doctoral candidates to provide leadership locally as well as contribute to a national research community. The Concentration in Literacy also offers doctoral students the opportunity to engage in mentored and guided university teaching experiences. Through a combination of required courses and electives, doctoral students, together with their mentors, design a program of study uniquely fitted to their individual interests, expertise, and professional goals. The degree program requires a minimum of 90 semester credit hours, as described below. At least one year of the program of study must be completed through full time study.

Quantitative and Mixed Methods Research Methodologies 

The mission of the Quantitative and Mixed Methods Research Methodologies concentration is to provide training with both breadth and depth in the understanding, application and development of quantitative methodologies and/or mixed research as tools to gather evidence in the field of education and other social and behavioral sciences. Students interested in the Quantitative and Mixed Methods Research Methodologies concentration may pursue coursework that prepare them to be a methodologist or a researcher. A methodologist studies the advancement of research methods, where as a researcher studies the application of research methods. The Quantitative and Mixed Methods Research Methodologies concentration includes course work in study design, data collection, and data analysis of empirical human research. Students in this concentration obtain an introduction to diverse approaches to empirical research. Students who focus on quantitative methodologies complete coursework and research experiences that enable them to advance understanding and application of quantitative research designs, quantitative data collection procedures, and statistical data analysis techniques. Students who focus on mixed methods research complete coursework and research experiences that enable them to advance understanding and application of research that combines and integrates quantitative and qualitative approaches. Prospective students applying for the Quantitative and Mixed Methods Research Methodologies concentration should have had at least 9 credit hours of graduate-level research methods training. Students are required to earn at least 9 credit hours from the elective courses or a preliminary hearing approved substitution.

Second Language Studies

The Second Language Studies concentration within the School of Education Ph.D. Program prepares professionals for research and second/foreign language education positions in universities regionally, nationally, and internationally or other educational institutions and corporations. The program of study engages Ph.D. students in rigorous theory- and research-based exploration of sociolinguistic, psycholinguistic, sociocultural, and socioeconomic contributors/factors that impact second/foreign language learning and teaching, from early childhood through adulthood, with emphasis on cognitive development, social opportunities, and educational access.

Ph.D. students in the Second Language Studies concentration receive rigorous training through coursework, individualized mentored research experience, and other professional development activities such as conference presentations and scholarly publications. Through intensive scientific training, students acquire and consolidate knowledge and skills essential for critical evaluation of existing knowledge and development of new knowledge in second language studies. Ph.D. students are expected to be active members of scholarly communities at regional, national, and international levels through their contribution to and leadership in the field.

The Second Language Studies Ph.D. students also have opportunities to gain research experience through various programs and research centers in the School of Education and across the University. There are also ample opportunities for them to gain teaching experience through the Center for English as a Second Language, ELS, and several other English language institutes, schools, and programs in the region.

Special Education

The purpose Special Education area of concentration is to prepare students to engage in research, teaching, and service that positively influences the lives of individuals with disabilities. Graduates are prepared to work as faculty members in higher education, including administrative positions in colleges and universities or other community agencies, or for positions where they conduct special education related research. Through coursework and mentored teaching and research experiences, students develop specialized skills in the research and practices in their chosen area. The courses in the special education concentration provide students with the foundation for researching and teaching related to the current issues in the field, and reflect faculty commitment to preparing high quality teacher educators and researchers, collaboration as the foundation for our work in the field, and rigorous standards for students. Upon admission to the program, the student is assigned an advisor with whom the student will work. All course work decisions are made collaboratively between the student, his/her mentor, and the committee, and will be individualized depending on previous graduate course work, areas of interest, and professional goals.


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UC Advantages and Special Opportunities

Doctoral students may elect to add graduate certificates to their area of concentration.  Options include:

Adult/International TESL

Assessment and Evaluation

Autism Spectrum Disorders

Developmental and Learning Sciences

Jewish Education

Post Secondary Literacy Instruction

Teacher Leader

TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages)

Other graduate certificates may be available.  Please contact your Faculty Advisor.



Special Programs

Full and part-time graduate students in Educational Studies may apply for financial aid after they are admitted to the program and may reapply every year for a maximum of three years. Additional support beyond the third year may be requested and subsequently awarded depending on availability. Graduate students are ineligible for financial aid from University funds if they (1) have accumulated more than the number of credit hours specified by The Graduate School, (2) have cumulative GPA of less than 3.0, (3) have more than two C grades or three or more incompletes (I), no grades (N and NG), or (4) have one or more failing F grades on their graduate transcripts.

Application forms for University Graduate Scholarships and Graduate Assistantships will be sent to students after they have been officially accepted into a program. Decisions of these two types of financial support are made at the school level. Other types of financial aid are also available but the decisions are made at the University level.

  • University Graduate Scholarships(UGS). The University Graduate Scholarship is for full- and part-time graduate students and includes full or partial tuition minus general and other fees for one to three academic terms and no services required.
  • Graduate Assistantship (GA). A Graduate Assistantship in Educational Studies is a work appointment for full-time graduate students that includes a living stipend, full tuition for 2 semesters, and waiver of all fees. All GA appointments are for a period of one academic year (nine months) beginning September and terminating with the fulfillment of normal academic responsibilities for the Spring Semester. Students must reapply for GA positions annually. 

Applications for UGS and GA positions will be available during the Spring semester each year. They will be sent to all graduate students via the listserv. An applicant must confirm in writing her/his acceptance of the award within 10 days of the date of the award letter. If acceptance of the award is not confirmed within this period of time, the offer will be withdrawn unless a specified extension has been granted by the SOE Graduate Program Director. Appointment decisions will be based on the anticipated ability of the applicant to (1) meet the programmatic needs associated with the specified position and (2) gain professionally as an individual from the assistantship experience. Reappointment decisions also will be based upon an evaluation of the applicant’s prior work-related performance as a graduate assistant. Job responsibilities associated with each assistantship are determined by the SOE Director and include no more than 20 hours of work-related activities per week every semester. The required academic load for Graduate Assistants is 12 credit hours per semester. A maximum of 3 additional hours of workload may be assigned with the approval of the academic advisor. This additional workload cannot be extended to international students.

Admission Requirements

Criteria for Admission

Minimum admission criteria for all areas of concentration are consistent; however, additional concentration level criteria may be applied. The program is selective. There will be limits on the number of students a faculty member can mentor at one time.

Degrees. Earned Bachelor’s degree or Master’s degree in areas of concentration or closely related area from an accredited college or university.  Students with bachelor’s or master’s degrees in unrelated areas, but with clear evidence of experiences and/or credentials appropriate to the degree and a specific area of concentration may be accepted. All applicants must submit official undergraduate and graduate transcripts.

Minimum Grade Point Average (GPA). Successful applicants must have cumulative GPAs of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) from their undergraduate coursework and 3.2 (on a 4.0 scale) from previous graduate work.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Applicants must take the GRE. The recommended minimum GRE scores for tests taken prior to August 1, 2011 are 482 (55th percentile) for Verbal Reasoning, 620 (55th percentile) for Quantitative Reasoning, and 4.5 for Analytical Writing. For tests taken after August 1, 2011, the recommended minimum scores are 152 (56th percentile) for Verbal Reasoning, 151 (56th percentile) for Quantitative Reasoning, and 4.5 for Analytical Writing. The GRE must be taken within the five years prior to application to the program. To register for the GRE, you can contact UC Testing Services.

Speakers of English as Second Language. If an applicant’s first language is not English, he or she must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or another comparable test unless he/she has previous degrees from higher education institutions in the United States. The recommended test scores are: 92-93 for Internet-based TOEFL; 237 for Computer-based TOEFL; 580 Paper-based TOEFL; 6.5 for IELTS; and 62-63 for PTE. The test must be taken within two years prior to application to the program.

Letters of Recommendation. Applicants must have a minimum of three current letters of recommendation that address their academic background and accomplishments submitted by college or university faculty, graduate advisors or other individuals who can address applicants’ accomplishments or potential as educational researchers.

Goal and Research Interests Statement. A typewritten statement about research interests and academic and professional goals should be submitted that includes brief narratives about: a) previous research and academic and professional experiences; b) immediate and long-range aspirations; and c) how the Educational Studies Program will help you to meet your goals. When applying to the doctoral program, the applicant should explain specifically which area of concentration he or she would like to study. Those who are undecided about their area of concentration are strongly encouraged to indicate potential interest in one of the areas of concentration. More specific goal statement requirements will be established.

Curriculum Vitae. A copy of a curriculum vitae or resume that indicates the applicant’s name, address, phone number, e-mail address, colleges attended with degrees and dates, employment history, professional experiences, any publications, or conference presentations, and names of references who will be sending letters.

Interview. Applicants may be selected for participation in a face-to-face, internet, or phone interview.

Application Deadlines

Doctoral Program: Prospective students will complete the on-line application for the EDST Ph.D. degree by December 1st , at which time they will select a concentration from among the options available. Please note that incomplete applications will not be processed or reviewed. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that all required materials and support documents are successfully submitted. Applicants will be notified of acceptance or rejection by February 15th.

Application Guidelines

The required documents for application to Educational Studies PhD are noted in the Criteria for Admission. Application to all graduate studies at the University of Cincinnati is fully online and all application materials. Please go to the Graduate School website to submit your application.

Application Deadline and Procedures

Prospective students will complete the on-line application for their requested program by the posted application deadline.  It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that all required materials and support documents are successfully submitted.  Incomplete applications will not be processed or reviewed.


Providing academic records during the application process. All applicants are required to upload their unofficial transcripts during the application process. The university defines “unofficial” transcripts as transcripts that have been in the hands of students, are typically printed on plain paper, and do not have a college seal or registrar's signature. Applicants should NOT send official transcripts as part of the application process.

Providing academic records after admission. Once an applicant has been extended an offer of admission to the University of Cincinnati and has accepted the offer, s/he must submit an official transcript showing conferral of a baccalaureate degree or higher as soon as possible to the address below. The university defines “official” transcripts as transcripts that have been received from a secure, authenticated issuing institution and bears validation (e.g., a seal, logo, or watermark), including a date, and an appropriate signature. Official transcripts MUST be sent forward in their original, sealed envelope. The absolute final deadline for submission of official transcripts is one week before the start of the student’s first semester. Students will NOT be allowed to complete a full semester without providing verification of an earned baccalaureate degree or higher. Any discrepancy later found between student-provided unofficial transcripts and official transcripts will be grounds for dismissal. Official Transcripts should be sent to one of the following addresses:


Regular U.S. postal mail:               Delivery via parcel delivery service (FedEx, DHL, UPS, etc.):

Graduate School                             Graduate School

University of Cincinnati                 University of Cincinnati

110 Van Wormer Hall                    2614 McMicken Circle

P.O. Box 210627                            110 Van Wormer Hall

Cincinnati, Ohio 45221-0627         Cincinnati, Ohio 45221-0627


UC Alumni

Students who have received degrees from the University of Cincinnati do not need to submit official paper copies of their UC transcripts.


Students with degrees received in China

Applicants who have received degrees in China will upload their unofficial transcripts during the application process. The university defines “unofficial” transcripts as transcripts that have been in the hands of students, are typically printed on plain paper, and do not have a college seal or registrar's signature. Unofficial transcripts do NOT need to be verified at this stage of the application process.


After being accepted to join a graduate program

Applicants who have earned a degree in China must submit an English-version verification report from the China Academic Degrees and Graduate Education Development Center (CDGDC) of their final transcripts and degree certificates.  All verification reports must be sent to the University of Cincinnati directly by the CDGDC to be considered official. No other verification will be accepted. Applicants with Chinese transcripts must contact the CDGDC after their degree is completed and request that their degree verification report be submitted directly to the University of Cincinnati. Students who request a verification report prior to degree conferral will be required to submit a second report after conferral.

Verification reports can be ordered at the following websites:


Verification reports are due to the Graduate School one week prior to the start of the student’s first semester. Failure to submit verification reports on time will result in a student being placed in non-matriculated status and loss of his/her student visa status. Verification reports should be sent to one of the following addresses:

Regular U.S. postal mail:               Delivery via parcel delivery service (FedEx, DHL, UPS, etc.):

Graduate School                             Graduate School

University of Cincinnati                 University of Cincinnati

110 Van Wormer Hall                    2614 McMicken Circle

P.O. Box 210627                            110 Van Wormer Hall

Cincinnati, Ohio 45221-0627         Cincinnati, Ohio 45221-0627


Graduation Requirements

Minimum Required GPA: To be eligible for graduation, the student must maintain a minimum of 3.25 grade point average.

Maintaining Active Status: In order to maintain active status in the graduate program, the student must register for at least 1 graduate credit in any semester during every academic year. If a student fails to maintain active status, he or she must complete a Graduate School Petition for Reinstatement. This request must be received in the Office of Research and Advanced Studies no later than three weeks prior to graduation in order for the candidate to be certified for graduation in that semester. Students who have not been enrolled in classes for more than three years are not eligible for reinstatement and must reapply for readmission to the University. Reapplication does not change the candidate’s original entry date. Time to degree will be calculated from his or her first entry date. To reapply, the candidate must submit a completed Application for Readmission to Graduate School Form.

Graduation: Students must formally apply for graduation in accordance with established Graduate School graduation deadlines. Complete information can be found on the Graduate School website.  They must maintain active status (i.e., enrolled for at least one credit hour) during the year they plan to graduate and all NG, N, I, UP, SP and F grades must be removed for degree courses.

Application Deadlines

Prospective students will complete the on-line application for the EDST Ph.D. degree by December 1st, at which time they will select a concentration from among the options available. Please note that incomplete applications will not be processed or reviewed. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that all required materials and support documents are successfully submitted. The Ph.D. Council will conduct an initial review of the applications in all concentrations; however, the interviews and final admission decisions will reside with the faculty for each area of concentration.  A minimum of two faculty affiliated with a concentration must review each application. One round of admissions will be conducted in the Spring semester of each year for Fall semester entry into the program the following academic year.  

If you would like to submit an electronic application for the Educational Studies program, please visit our On-Line Graduate School Application and complete the form.

Make sure to visit the Educational Studies website or contact the program directly for information about application requirements or to inquire about materials that need to be submitted when applying to this program.


The University of Cincinnati and all regional campuses are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.