Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Education 

The doctoral program in the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development is a research-intensive program that leads to a Ph.D. in Education. Graduates of our program are prepared for academic and research careers, and our program offers the following:

  • Apprenticeships with top scholars across fields of study in education and human development

  • Career mentoring in the professional work of publishing, teaching, presenting, and grant-writing

  • Disciplinary research concentrations in teaching & learning, education policy & leadership, and the applied physiology content areas of metabolic energy expenditure & performance, autonomic function and thermoregulation, and global health innovations.

  • Opportunities for professional enhancement and experiences collaborating across disciplines and on community-, school-, and agency-based projects (Center on Research and Evaluation, Center on Communities and Education, Research in Mathematics Education, and the Bush Institute)

Program Structure

Doctoral students must complete a minimum of 54 credit hours during a three-year full-time program prior to the dissertation year. Students must enroll in a minimum of 9 credit hours of coursework per term and be full-time residents in the Dallas area for the first three academic years of the program. In addition to coursework, students apprentice for 20 hours each week on research projects during the academic calendar year, for which they typically receive fellowship stipends, benefits, and waived tuition.

The program is a model in which students complete a core set of courses as a cohort and a unique set of electives and research experiences. The core curriculum includes the following courses:

  • Quantitative Statistics for Educational Research (with lab)
  • Intermediate Quantitative Statistics in Education (with lab)
  • Assessment Methods I
  • Quantitative Research Methods I
  • Quantitative Research Methods II
  • Introduction to Qualitative Research in Education
  • Synthesis and Integration
  • Foundations of Educational Research
  • Seminar in Educational Research
  • Program Evaluation
  • Advanced Methods (as determined by the student and advisor)

Degree Requirements

Degree requirements include the following milestones:

  • 60 hours of coursework (up to 6 credit hours can be transferred)
  • Qualifying exams
  • Major area paper
  • Conference presentation
  • Manuscript submission
  • Dissertation with an oral defense
  • Teaching competency

Career Paths Available with a Ph.D. in Education

It is common to confuse a Ph.D. in Education and an Ed.D. as synonymous programs. While this guide will focus exclusively on the Ph.D., it is important to discuss the differences between the two graduate degrees, as the intent of the two programs and available career paths differ greatly. The purpose of attending a Ph.D. in Education program is to develop skills as a researcher, to continue to further the collective understanding of education through scientific research, and to position yourself for a career in a role that will allow you to disseminate that research. In short, a Ph.D. is about one main thing — research.

Those who pursue a Ph.D. in Education are serious about science, about performing research, and about making unique contributions to the existing body of knowledge. Upon graduation, these highly proficient researchers tend to seek employment in one of three areas: academia, public organizations or large school districts, or private for-profit companies. The types of research that can be performed by those who hold a Ph.D. in Education are quite different and vary depending on the profession they choose to enter. In academia, externally funded research focuses on intervention development using experimental research designs. Research in large school districts and for-profit companies tends to center on program evaluation and summarizing existing data.

On the other hand, an Ed.D. program has an administrative focus and explores the practical applications of research and study. An Ed.D. program is grounded in fieldwork and hands-on study, as opposed to theory and philosophical exercises. The goal of an Ed.D. program is to prepare practitioners for roles within administrations, translating and implementing the research that is performed by Ph.D. students.