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.

Next on campus program start date: August 26, 2019

Sample Program Schedule

Year 1

Fall Semester

  • Research, Policy and Practice in Urban Education
  • Introduction to Quantitative Methods
  • Social Foundations of Research
  • Proseminar in Urban Education Policy

Spring Semester

  • Organizations and Policy: Current Issues
  • Controversies in Learning and Instruction
  • Introduction to Qualitative Methods
  • Proseminar in Urban Education Policy
  • Doctoral Screening

Summer Semester

  • Ways of Seeing: Applying Social Science and Critical Theories to Education
  • Proseminar in Urban Education Policy
  • Directed Research
  • 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
  • Teaching Assistantship*

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!

* Non-course milestones


Course Descriptions

Core Block Descriptions

EDUC-683: Proseminar in Urban Education Policy
This course provides an introduction to various topics, issues, and approaches that are core to education research with the aid of faculty guest speakers in each session. In these sessions, faculty will engage reading about topics, theory, research and methodology each from their own perspective.

EDUC-681: Research, Policy, and Practice in Urban Education
This course explores the development of urban education through the social, historical and political lens as it shapes and impacts education research and policy in Los Angeles and in the broader context of the United States. It relies on a combination of scholarly reflection, research design and deconstruction research practice, often using Los Angeles as a focal point of for our inquiry and analysis. The course considers questions to ask to understand what makes schools and schooling in urban centers unique. What is urban education? Who is educated in urban schools? What is the effect of schooling in urban centers? Is everyone educated equitably? Current issues in urban education such as school choice, school closure, standardized testing and equity initiatives, developing the ability to analyze the multiple and contested factors that influence urban education in the US are all examined.

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-650: Ways of Seeing: Applying Social Science and Critical Theories to Education
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-682: Introduction to Quantitative Methods
This class introduces the basic concepts of quantitative methods and the statistical methods most commonly used in education research, with an emphasis on application of methods to real data. The first half of the course introduces sampling, descriptive statistics and the inferential statistical methods of confidence intervals and significance tests, applied to means and proportions. The second half introduces bivariate methods (emphasizing contingency table analysis, correlation, bivariate regression, and analysis of variance) and experimental methods for supporting causal inference.

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-705: Survey Design and Analysis
Design, collection, and analysis of survey data; survey analysis techniques including classical test theory, item response theory, differential item functioning, scaling, linking.