Skip site navigation and jump to page content

Program Outline: Doctor of Philosophy
in Education (PhD)

SPU’s PhD in Education program begins in early summer, when students are grouped as a cohort and move together throughout the required courses. Students may also be admitted to the program in other quarters in order to begin prerequisites, foundations, and elective courses.

Program Components

Foundation Courses

All doctoral students in the School of Education, regardless of their terminal degree, take the same foundation courses. These core classes are designed to develop leadership by focusing on knowledge applicable to all fields and levels of education. Students then begin their individual course sequence and specialization through the Leadership Colloquium, Comprehensive Exams, and Dissertation.

Leadership Colloquium

The EDU 7990 Leadership Colloquium requires you to write a scholarly paper and present that paper in a formal setting to the educational community. Following the presentation, School of Education doctoral-level faculty members conduct an evaluation of your Colloquium paper.

You may register for the Leadership Colloquium after you have completed 24 credits of coursework (approximately one year). You must pass the Colloquium paper requirement before you can take Comprehensive Exams.

Comprehensive Exams

Upon completion of core courses, students are required to pass three Comprehensive Exams. These exams cover the foundations and research components of the curriculum, and your area of specialization. Successful completion of the examinations will advance you to doctoral candidacy.

Practicum/Internships

One valuable aspect of doctoral studies are opportunities to engage in practical applications of teaching and research. This may be accomplished through the university teaching practicum and internship courses. Both may be taken for variable credit and applied to the degree specialization component.

Dissertation

The doctoral dissertation is the culminating experience of the PhD in Education program. It is a scholarly, highly individualized inquiry into an area of professional and intellectual interest. The dissertation process has three stages:

  1. Proposal: In conjunction with a dissertation advisor and other faculty members, you will develop a research question and proposal.
  2. Research/Writing: Using the expertise and knowledge developed in the research sequence, you will conduct research and report it in a formalized written document.
  3. Defense: You will then conduct an oral presentation and defense of the written component of the dissertation.

While it is expected that the dissertation will follow accepted research methodologies and format, the research topic may vary depending on each student's professional goals and the expertise of his or her faculty members.

Program Schedule

This program is designed to be completed within three or four years, including Summer Sessions. You must complete all requirements for the degree within six years. All students will have an opportunity to co-teach a school counseling graduate class as well as to supervise a practicum and interns. Student competency evaluations are conducted at several places in the program.

Course Requirements

The PhD in Education is a rigorous, 90-plus-credit, post-master’s degree program.

As a PhD student, you will be required to:

  • Pass three comprehensive exams: research, foundations, and specialization.
  • Produce a professional educational theory paper.
  • Demonstrate supervision competency.
  • Show instructional competency.
  • Complete a dissertation and receive passing marks.
  • Pass the oral defense of the dissertation.

Suggested Course Sequence

Your Three-Plus-Year Plan course plan may be customized to meet your needs.

Prerequisite Coursework

Depending on your experience and background, you may be required to take the following classes as your elective credits:

  • EDU 6655 Human Development and Principles of Learning (3)
  • EDU 6524 Approaches to Curriculum Design (3)
  • EDU 6526 Survey of Instructional Strategies (3)
  • EDU 6613 Standards-Based Assessment (3)

Find information about this Program Overview, Program Outline, Suggested Course Sequence, and Admission Information.

Did You Know?

You can now earn your EdD and Superintendent Certification at SPU in just three years — instead of the typical four to five years. The new program combines best leadership practices with effective use of educational policy and research.

close(X)