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Doctor of Philosophy in Education (Ph.D.)


PhD in Education
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Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)

Peterson Hall | 206-281-2091


The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Education program is a 90-quarter credit, post-master's, interdepartmental degree offered by the SPU School of Education. The aim of this program is to educate and prepare scholars to serve as college and university-level educators who can effectively prepare teachers and conduct publishable research and other scholarly work. The PhD program will emphasize teaching and learning theory, research, teacher preparation, and university teaching.


Using the educational benefits of collaborative and cooperative learning combined with continued professional association, the program uses a cohort approach for core doctoral classes. Once admitted to the program, students proceed through these cohort courses as part of a group, following a defined schedule and sequence.

Because this is an interdepartmental degree, students select courses and learning experiences with the assistance of the director of doctoral studies from a variety of areas and opportunities in the School of Education, or from other schools within Seattle Pacific University (subject to approval by the School of Education Doctoral Committee).


The specialization/elective component provides students with the opportunity to develop an area of expertise appropriate to individual professional and academic goals. Areas of specialization include the following:

  • Curriculum and instruction
  • Teacher education
  • Global education
  • Literacy education
  • Educational technology
  • Educational leadership
  • Ethnomusicology
  • Special education
  • Program administrator certification
  • Self-designed specialization


Depending on your educational background, the following prerequisites may be required for the doctoral degree:

  • EDU 7300 Introduction to Educational Research and Statistics
  • EDU 6975 Interpreting and Applying Educational Research I
  • EDU 6976 Interpreting and Applying Educational Research II
  • EDU 6655 Human Development & Principles of Learning
  • EDU 6524 Curriculum Design
  • EDU 6526 Survey of Instructional Strategies
  • EDU 6613 Standards-Based Assessment


After approximately one year of coursework, or 24 credits, students may register for EDU 7990 Leadership Colloquium. This requires students to write a scholarly paper and present that paper in a formal setting to the educational community.

Graduate faculty of the School of Education conduct an evaluation of the scholarship and Colloquium. The Leadership Colloquium must be taken before students can take the comprehensive exams.

Upon completion of all courses, students must pass three written comprehensive examinations. These examinations will cover the foundations, professional and research components of the core courses, and the student's area of specialization. Successful completion of the comprehensive examination advances students to doctoral candidacy.


The doctoral dissertation is the culminating experience in the PhD in Education degree. It is a scholarly inquiry into an area of professional and intellectual interest, and it is a highly individualized experience.

Working with faculty throughout the coursework and with a dissertation advisor, students will develop a research question and proposal. Using the expertise and knowledge developed in the research courses and under the direction of a faculty dissertation advisor and committee, students will conduct the research and produce a quality report of the findings. As a final demonstration of scholarly competence, students will conduct an oral presentation and defense of the research.

While it is expected that the dissertation will follow standard accepted research methodologies and format, the topic of the research may vary depending on individual professional goals, area of specialization, and the expertise of the faculty.


Because the doctoral program requires considerable faculty time and resources, a limited number of students will be admitted to the program each year. It is expected that all applicants will have at least a bachelor's degree (requires 135 credits for the doctorate), or a master's degree (requires 90 credits for the doctorate) from a regionally accredited college or university.

To apply, submit the following items to be considered for admissions:

  • A doctoral online application.
  • A $50 processing fee. Make checks payable to Seattle Pacific University.
  • Official transcripts documenting excellent undergraduate and graduate GPAs.
  • Academic degree(s) in education or related field from an accredited university.
  • Minimum of three years successful experience as an educator.
  • GRE-Revised Test score taken within five years of application. Preferred minimum combined score of 303/60th percentile on verbal + quantitative or 1200 on former GRE test.
  • Four letters of recommendation (two academic and two professional).
  • Personal statement — including goals and proposed area of study (no more than 500 words).
  • A writing sample demonstrating graduate-level writing skills. The sample could include, but not be limited to, papers from graduate courses, master's thesis, professional blog, policy statement, white paper/report, etc. Please limit submission to seven pages total.
  • Personal interview with at least two SPU core doctoral faculty members.

Cohort classes begin each summer. Screening applicants for admission is an ongoing process and students may be admitted to the program throughout the year in order to begin needed prerequisites, foundations, and elective courses.


At the time of admission, students may transfer up to 15 post-master's degree credits into the doctoral program with the approval of the director of doctoral studies. Courses transferred must be graduate level, from a regionally accredited institution, and relevant to the course of doctoral study.

The courses must have been taken within the three years prior to admission and must have been part of a planned program leading to a graduate degree or a professional certificate. Courses with grades below a 3.0 ("B"), or those receiving "pass" or "satisfactory" grades cannot transfer into the program.

Finally, transferred classes may be substituted for degree requirements if students can document in writing that the courses are comparable to required courses offered through SPU. Modifications to these transfer policies may be made at the discretion of the director of doctoral studies in consultation with the Doctoral Admissions Committee.


Students must be continuously enrolled (all four terms) in required SPU courses to earn the doctoral degree or until the student is officially withdrawn from the program. Exceptions to continuous enrollment must be approved by the director of doctoral studies.

A student who decides to no longer pursue a doctoral degree may officially withdraw from the program and the university by notifying the director of doctoral studies and the graduate programs manager.

A student may be granted a leave of absence for up to four quarters by the school dean or director of doctoral studies. Once the leave of absence has expired, the student will either enroll in doctoral coursework or be dropped from the program.

The university office of Student Academic Services (SAS) requires continuous enrollment to remain admitted in a doctoral program. After four quarters of non-enrollment, students will be placed in “inactive status” and will need to reapply for admission.

During dissertation work, students must enroll in dissertation credits every quarter until the degree is completed.


A minimum 3.2 overall GPA is required for graduation.


All requirements for the doctoral degree must be completed within five years from the quarter the first post-admission course was taken. Students needing more than five years to complete the degree must file a time-extension petition with the director of doctoral studies.


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Seattle Pacific University
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Seattle, WA 98119-1922


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