Educational Foundations and Policy

Degree: Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Studies

David Cohen

David Cohen understands the gaps between educational policies and programs, on the one hand, and the real-world practices that they attempted to change on the other. In addition to teaching in the educational studies program, Cohen is a leading education researcher and was co-director of the Study of Instructional Improvement.

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The concentration in Educational Foundations and Policy brings various disciplinary perspectives to bear on the analysis of educational theories and practices. Among these perspectives are history, philosophy, political science, and sociology. These disciplinary foci can be pursued in depth, as when one seeks to become a historian or philosopher of education, or they can be pursued in an effort to develop scholarly strength in the cross-disciplinary areas of cultural studies, policy studies, or teaching and teacher education.

The concentration also includes a strong educational policy studies component, permitting students to analyze and appraise current educational policies, as well as support the formation of future educational policy. In addition, our concentration is one of several within the school where students can focus on cultural studies in education. We maintain strong links to the graduate program in teacher education, with faculty and students in both programs sharing courses, student committees, and research initiatives.

This degree concentration is housed within the Educational Studies program, which fosters links among students and faculty in a number of specializations sharing a commitment to the integration of theory and research on teaching, learning, and educational access in P-12 settings.

One of the advantages of graduate study at the School of Education is the programmatic flexibility offered to our students. While there are guidelines and procedures for each degree concentration, it is the student and his or her adviser who together determine the student's program of study. In addition to centering academic authority (and responsibility) on the adviser and student, the university takes considerable pride in the "soft" and permeable boundaries that separate the various departments, schools, and colleges on campus. Thus, our students can be found taking courses in such places as the Business School; the Ford School of Public Policy; the School of Information; the departments of philosophy, history, political science, sociology, anthropology, the School of Social Work, the Institute for Social Research, and others.

Doctoral study at the University of Michigan focuses on the preparation of scholars who are highly skilled at advancing knowledge and understanding in their respective fields. The concentration in Educational Foundations and Policy offers applicants a broad array of choices for scholarly concentration, from history or philosophy of education, sociology of education or cultural studies, to the politics of education or educational policy studies, as well as the disciplinary study of teaching and teacher education.

Doctoral students work very closely with their academic advisers, and are typically engaged in a research project with other students and faculty. Students with master's degrees closely allied with their area of doctoral studies may complete course work in two years, advancing to candidacy upon successful completion of a preliminary examination. Absent a relevant master's degree, advancement to candidacy may take place at the conclusion of the third year of study. Only students prepared to devote full time to doctoral study are considered for admission. Completion of the dissertation and awarding of the doctoral degree within five years of matriculation is considered appropriate progress (but longer times are the norm, due to students becoming more fully engaged in teaching classes or in their research projects).

Plan of Study

Course planning sheets outline the School of Education course requirements. 

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