Schedule & Course Descriptions

The four-year, full-time program is offered on a semester calendar beginning in August, with courses taught at USC’s University Park Campus in Los Angeles. The PhD program requires a minimum of 63 units of course work.

Sample Program Schedule

Year 1

Fall Semester

  • The Research University in the 21st Century
  • Globalization and the Nation-State:  Theories of Change
  • Social Foundations of Research
  • Directed Research

Spring Semester

  • Organizations and Policy:  Current Issues
  • Controversies in Learning and Instruction
  • Multiple Regression
  • Directed Research
  • Doctoral Screening

Summer Semester

  • Concentration Course
  • Concentration Course
  • Research Course

 Year 2

Fall Semester

  • Research Course
  • Cognate Course
  • Directed Research
  • Teaching Assistantship

Spring Semester

  • Research Course
  • Cognate Course
  • Directed Research
  • Teaching Assistantship

Summer Semester

  • Additional Research Course
  • Concentration Course
  • Directed Research

Year 3

Fall Semester

  • Cognate Course
  • Concentration Course

Spring Semester

  • Concentration Course
  • Final Research Course

Summer Semester

  • Preparation for dissertation proposal
  • Qualifying Exam
  • Dissertation proposal

Year 4

Fall Semester

  • Dissertation Course

Spring Semester

  • Dissertation Course
  • Dissertation Defense
  • Graduation!

Course Descriptions

Core Block Descriptions

EDUC-642: Controversies in Learning and Instruction
This course provides an introduction to learning research and theory and the understanding of issues in learning and educational psychology. Learning issues will be situated in the context of diverse urban settings. Reading and discussions will cover learning issues at all ages and in all contexts including K-12 education, Higher Education, at work and in the home and community. The course is structured as an intensive seminar providing the opportunity for students to master the arguments and evidence presented by major participants in current controversies in research on learning and identity.

EDUC-630: Organizations and Policy
This course introduces contemporary issues in the study of educational organizations, policy, and change in both K-12 and higher education. The curriculum begins with a brief overview of organizational theory and policy analysis paradigms in education and continues with current empirical research on important topics in educational organization and policy today with an explicit focus on the improvement of urban education. Students will build skills as emergent scholars of education by learning how to analyze and critique research, learning how to apply research knowledge to practical problems and learning how to make academic conference-style presentations.

EDUC-640: The Research University in the 21st Century
This seminar will concentrate on a series of key issues that confront academics who work in research universities. These issues will focus on the work that faculty are required to do as engaged intellectuals in the American academy in general, and in Schools of Education in particular. There will be discussion and debate regarding the tripartite role of academics: research, teaching and service. Upon completion of the course students will have a better understanding of not only what tenure-track faculty need to do to succeed in the academy, but also how to succeed. This course will provide students with the understanding that an engaged intellectual ought to develop a research agenda that is of compelling intellectual and social concern that attempts to shed light on a particular issue or problem with the intent of solving some of society’s most pressing concerns.

EDUC-650: Globalization and the Nation-State: Theories of Change
Globalization is a multidimensional phenomenon with economic, technological, political and cultural dimensions that are affecting numerous areas of society, including education. The impact of globalization on education is characterized by innovation, from the increased use of testing to the proliferation of advanced distance-education degrees. In these dynamic times, paradoxically, attention to cultural diversity, gender equity and social justice is difficult to sustain. The course provides students with an understanding of basic theoretical assumptions underlying globalization theory and research and their relationships to policies interventions related to education, and an understanding of how variables such as community poverty, ethnicity, gender, race, school safety and politics relate to notions of globalization and education.

EDUC-657: Social Foundations of Research
Foundations in social science research with exposure to broad cross-section of research methods, design, and analytical techniques.

Qualitative Methods Sequence

EDUC-651: Introduction to Qualitative Methods
Introduces qualitative methodologies, qualitative data collection and analysis techniques, support in drafting research proposals, and paradigms on how to critically think about inquiry

EDUC-653: Advanced Qualitative I
Interactive seminar that explores the theoretical underpinnings and practicalities of interviews, portraiture, focus groups, life histories, and cultural biographies.

EDUC-654: Advanced Qualitative II
Designed to follow Advanced Qualitative Research, focuses on data analysis in the qualitative research tradition, writing and publishing from qualitative data.

Quantitative Methods Sequence

EDUC-652: Multiple Regression
Multiple regression, factorial analysis of variance, path analysis.

EDUC-658: Hierarchical Linear Models
Application of two- and three-level multilevel models in educational settings, fixed and random effects, growth models.

EDUC-659: Introduction to Causal Interference in Educational Settings
An introduction to quasi- and non-experimental methods researchers use to strengthen casual linkages between educational policies and reforms, and student, teacher, and other outcomes.