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University of Massachusetts
College of Education
Graduate School


Contact Information:

159 Hills South
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003

Student Development Department Office:
413-545-2231, 413-545-3610

Ximena Zúñiga, Concentration Chair


College of Education
Department of Student Development (SD)
Social Justice Education Concentration

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Social Justice Education
60 credits

Social Justice Education is an interdisciplinary concentration of study with a focus on social diversity and social justice as they apply to formal and non-formal educational systems. It uses and generates research and theory to understand the sociocultural and historical contexts and dynamics of specific manifestations of oppression (e.g., ableism, classism, heterosexism, racism, religious oppression, transgender oppression and sexism) in social systems. It brings together faculty and students with interests in issues of social diversity and social oppression, inclusion, equity, social justice, critical theories, critical pedagogies, dialogues across differences, individual and collective empowerment, liberatory consciousness and practice, and research and for social justice.

The goal of the SJE doctoral concentration is to prepare scholars and educational leaders that can promote social diversity and justice in educational settings through the development of theoretical and practical knowledge, empirical research, and the use of effective social justice education practices. The concentration engages candidates in the study, interrogation and further theorizing of social justice issues and social justice education practices for the purpose of developing knowledge capable of fostering educational environments that are socially just, diverse, inclusive, equitable, and accessible to all members within given communities and contexts. Candidates are experienced educational professionals – classroom teachers, school counselors, staff development professional, education administrators, student affairs programmers, special educators, youth workers, or college residential educators – who work closely with a faculty guidance committee to plan a course of study which balances academic and professional experiences relevant to successfully completing doctoral work. Graduates are employed in various roles including faculty and leadership and administration roles in a variety of educational settings including private and public schools, non-governmental organizations, university and college settings.

Doctoral concentration of study - 60 credits (42 semester hour credits minimum plus 18
dissertation credits)

Required Courses:

SJE Doctoral Core (18 cr.)

EDUC 691E Social Issues in Education

EDUC 624   Contemporary and Historical Constructions of SJE

EDUC 648   Historical and Pedagogical Foundations of SJE

EDUC 615b SJE Doctoral Proseminar I

EDUC 615b SJE Doctoral Proseminar II


EDUC 691E includes a minimum of three social justice issues selected from among the following seven choices: Ableism, Religious Oppression, Classism, Transgender Oppression, Heterosexism, Racism and Sexism. Students are expected to take three social justice weekend seminars in the first semester and demonstrate knowledge in a fourth one. This course can be taken twice.

Two Theory Courses (6 cr.) toward specialization, one of which should be taken outside the College of Education. Student regularly take related graduate level theory courses in Anthropology, Education, Women Gender and Sexuality studies, Political Science, Sociology, Psychology, and Sociology.

Four Research Methods Courses (12 cr.) to develop competency in qualitative, quantitative research methods and critical research methodologies.

Elective Courses (9 cr.)
Ed.D. candidates are required to take 3 graduate level electives (12 cr., inside or outside the College of Education), related to scholarly interests and area of specialization selected in conjunction with graduate advisor and/or guidance committee. Students take courses in Afro-American Studies, Anthropology, Education (teacher education, higher education, educational policy), Women, Gender and Sexuality studies, Sociology, Political Science, Public Health, Psychology, and Sociology.

Additional College of Education Requirements:
In addition to the SJE doctoral program requirements listed above, the College of Education requires course work (or equivalent) in human development, social justice, historical foundations, research and pedagogy. These requirements can be filled by courses already listed within the SJE core, research, and elective areas.
Core, theory, research and elective courses, together account for a minimum of 42 semester hour credits. No credits are attached to the Comprehensive Papers, which typically follow the completion of all course work and enable the doctoral student to explore in depth one or two specific areas of social justice. These areas usually enable the student to become familiar with a field for dissertation inquiry. The dissertation (18 cr.) follows the comprehensives. Most doctoral students take assistantships for financial support and professional experience, thereby extending doctoral work into a fifth year.

The required and elective courses that are eligible to fulfill the doctoral requirements can be found at the following link: Social Justice Education Doctoral Graduate Program Curriculum Outline

While the faculty on the doctoral guidance committee directs individual doctoral programs of study, a typical doctoral program of studies in the SJE doctoral program might be as follows:

Semester 1 (Fall of the first year)

EDUC 691E: Social Issues in Education  
EDUC 624: Contemporary and Historical Constructions of SJE
EDUC 615b: Doctoral Proseminar I

Semester 2 (Spring of the first year)

TBD: Elective 1
TBD: Theory Course 1
TBD: Research Course 1

Semester 3 (Fall of the second year)

EDUC 648: Historical and Pedagogical Foundations of SJE
TBD Research Course 2
TBD Elective 2 or Theory Course 2
TBD Research Course 3

Semester 4 (Spring of the second year)

EDUC 615b Doctoral Proseminar II
TBD Research Course 4 or Elective 3
TBD Elective 2 or Theory Course 2

Semesters 5 and Semester 6 (third year)

TBD Research Course 4 or Elective 3
Propose and write comprehensive papers
Write dissertation proposal

Semesters 7 and 8 (fourth year)

Write and defend dissertation


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