Social Justice Education Ph.D.

Course of Study

Course Description Credits
  Foundational Core Courses: SJE Content & Theory - 5 Courses  
EDUC 624 Critical Histories, Ideas, and Praxis in SJE 3
EDUC 648 Liberatory Pedagogies for Social Transformation 3
EDUC 691E Social Justice Issues in Education 3
EDUC 797C Alternative Paradigms: Critical Research in Education 3
EDUC 893C SJE Doctoral Seminar (taken yrs 1 and 2) 6
  Theory Courses: 6 Credits Required Towards Specialization  
EDUC 601 College Student Development Theory 3
EDUC 622 Theories of Educational Equity 3
EDUC 626 Social Theories in Education 3
EDUC 692K Foundations & Theories of Learning 3
EDUC 746 Social Justice Education in Schools 3
PSYCH 662 Improving Group Relations 3
PSYCH 891A Prejudice, Stereotyping, and Social Identity 3
WGSS 791B Feminist Theory 3
ANTHRO 597CR Critical Race Theory 3
AFROAM 630 Critical Race Theories 3
WGSS 692G Gender and the US Empire 3
WGSS 692F/492E Trans & Queer of Color Thought 3
  Research Methods: Minimum of Four Courses Required, Two Must Be Quantitative (Q), One Must Not  
EDUC 555 Introduction to Statistics and Computer Analysis I (Q) 3
EDUC 619 Introduction to Qualitative Research  3
EDUC 637 Nonparametric Statistical Analysis in Ed & Psych (Q) 3
EDUC 650 Regression Analysis (Q) 3
EDUC 652 Mixed Methods Research (Q) 3
EDUC 656 Introduction to Statistics and Computer Analysis II (Q) 3
EDUC 661 Educational Research Methods (Q) 3
EDUC 663 Single Subject Research Design in School Psych (Q) 3
EDUC 664 Res Methods:Quasi-Experimental & Group Designs (Q) 3
EDUC 671 Survey Research Methods (Q) 3
EDUC 676 Secondary Data Analysis (Q) 3
EDUC 686 Making Sense of School Data (Q) 3
EDUC 727 Scale and Instrument Development (Q) 3
EDUC 731 Structural Equation Modeling (Q) 3
EDUC 749 Multilingualism & Society  3
EDUC 785 Social Network Analysis (Q) 3
EDUC 794D Critical Discourse Analysis  3
EDUC 797A Qualitative Data Analysis  3
EDUC 815 Researching Language, Literacy & Culture in Education (2 semesters)  6
EDUC 819 Alternative Research Methods in International Education  3
EDUC 822 Research in Special Education (Q) 3
EDUC 888 Youth Participatory Action Research Methods  
  Elective Courses - Two Courses Required Towards Specialization  
EDUC 614 College Access & Equity 3
EDUC 615E Race & Class in Higher Education 3
EDUC 627 Curriculum Design and Instruction in SJE 4
EDUC 646 Leadership for Curriculum and Instruction 3
EDUC 683 Women in Higher Education 3
EDUC 717 Research in Higher Education 3
EDUC 718 Action Research in Schools 3
EDUC 722 Research on Teacher Education 3
EDUC 746 Social Justice Education in Schools 3
EDUC 755 Current Methods and Programs in Urban Education 3
EDUC 771 Applied Multivariate Statistics I 3
EDUC 772 Applied Multivariate Statistics II 3
EDUC 786 SJE with College Students in Education Settings 3
EDUC 871 Design & Evaluation of Educational Programs 3
  Dissertation Credits 10

The Ph.D. in Social Justice Education is 52 credits. All candidates are expected to have a Masters degree prior to starting the Ph.D. To be considered a full-time student, you must be taking at least 6 credits a semester, though some on-campus jobs require you to be taking 9 credits. The program is designed for students to take 3-5 courses each semester. Courses listed in the program of study are all in-person and on-campus. 18 of these credits are required foundational coursework for all students. EDUC 797C does not count towards the four research methods courses that are required. Individual students can choose to follow the Youth Specialization or College Specialization track, with 6 required theory credits, 12 research credits, 6 elective credits, and 10 dissertation credits to meet the minimum 52 credits required for degree conferral.

Suggested Course Sequence

Year 1 - Fall

EDUC 893C - SJE Doctoral Seminar (3 credits)

EDUC 691E - Social Justice Issues in Education (3 credits)

Theory Course (1 of 2) - (3 credits)

Elective Course (1 of 2) - (3 credits)

Year 1 - Spring

EDUC 624 - Critical Histories, Ideas, and Praxis in SJE (3 credits)

EDUC 797C - Alternative Paradigms: Critical Research in Education (3 credits)

Elective Course (2 of 2) - (3 credits)

Research Course (1 of 4) - (3 credits)

Year 2 - Fall


EDUC 893C - SJE Doctoral Seminar (3 credits)

Research Course (2 of 4) - (3 credits)

Theory Course (2 of 2) - (3 credits)

Year 2 - Spring

Research Course (3 of 4) - (3 credits)

Research Course (4 of 4) - (3 credits)

Year 3+

10 Dissertation Credits

EDUC 624: Critical Histories, Ideas, and Praxis in SJE

Theoretical issues related to manifestations of oppression with focus on social constructions of race,gender and sexuality, and disability.

EDUC 648: Liberatory Pedagogies for Social Transformation

Theory, practice, and manifestations of oppression.  Various educational methods and techniques of combating oppression.

EDUC 691E: Social Justice Issues in Education

Introductory vocabulary and definitions, descriptions of the dynamics of oppression at the individual, institutional, and cultural levels.  Focus on developing personal awareness of social group memberships in relationship to two specific forms of oppression.  Introduction to selected literature on two specific forms of oppression.

EDUC 797C: Alternative Paradigms: Critical Research in Education

This course will focus on social justice-oriented research methodologies in support of students as they create and carry out research projects with/for historically marginalized communities. Students will explore various traditions that cohere under the umbrella of critical research to further develop their work. Doctoral students in Social Justice Education and other areas of study that emphasize critical social inquiry are most welcome. Prerequisites: basic experience with qualitative research.

EDUC 893: SJE Doctoral Seminar

This seminar is designed for incoming doctoral students in social justice education. It examines different  epistemological orientations and inquiry methods used in conducting research by scholars in the field. The course explores the boundaries between theory, research, policy and practice in social justice education; examine personal, practical, epistemological and political dilemmas in producing scholarly work, and review and apply inquiry methods and tools that support critical, systematic scholarship and evidence based practices in social justice education.


The Social Justice Education admissions committee wants to know about your interest in social justice education and to understand how your prior personal, educational, and professional experiences have prepared you for graduate work in social justice education. Our goal is to admit outstanding groups of students who can contribute to the development of a learning community in which all members grow personally and professionally.

Application Timeline

January 2; Applications due.  Incomplete applications, those missing any part of the required application materials listed below, are reviewed at the discretion of the admissions committee.

Late February/Early March; Applicants considered for admission are invited on-campus to interview with current faculty and doctoral students.

March; Recommendations for admission are submitted by the program to the Graduate School.  

April 15; Students offered admission by the Graduate School must enter a decision by this date.

There are no mid-year/off-cycle admissions.


Applicants are expected to have completed a Master's degree that is related to social justice education, and have prior professional experience in related areas of teaching, counseling, youth development, civic engagement, social work, professional development of teachers and staff, education administration,student affairs, special education, and college residential programs.  Applicants may also have certification in teaching, school counseling, and special education or school administration. Evidence of at least one full year's work experience in a social justice-related area beyond the bachelor's degree is strongly preferred.

Application Materials

  • Online Application
  • Personal statement that describes the applicant's prior experience with social justice education, professional objectives relevant to social just education, and a description of what they hope to achieve through completion of the Doctoral Program of Study.  As part of the personal statement, applicants are also expected to clearly indicate their interest and background to conduct doctoral level research in social justice education in alignment with faculty interests.
  • Writing sample (i.e., published or unpublished article, chapter from a master's thesis, paper written for a graduate level class) that demonstrates advanced writing on theory, research, and/or practice appropriate to doctoral level scholarship.
  • Official transcripts: Admissions materials not submitted electronically should be mailed to the following address: Graduate Student Service Center, 534 Goodell Building, University of Massachusetts, 140 Hicks Way, Amherst, MA 01003-9333.
  • Full résumé/CV
  • 3 letters of recommendation, at least two from a faculty member who has taught the applicant at the undergraduate or graduate level.

GRE scores are not required for completion of our application but scores can be submitted optionally and will be considered along with the rest of your application materials.

For more information, please contact the program