Social Justice Education Ph.D.

Course of Study

Foundational Core Courses: 15 credits in SJE content and research

Course Description Credits
EDUC 624 Contemporary and Historical Constructions of SJE 3
EDUC 648 Historical and Pedagogical Foundations of SJE 3
EDUC 797C Alternative Paradigms: Critical Research in Education 3
EDUC 893C SJE Doctoral Proseminar (must be taken each year the first two years) 6

Theory Courses: 6 credits required towards specialization

Course Description Credits
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 692SS Critical Theories in Social Justice Education 3
HUMDEV 660 Theories of Human Development 3
PSYC 662 Improving Group Relations 3
PSYCH 891A Prejudice, Stereotyping, and Social Identity 3
WGSS 791B Feminist Theory 3

Research Methods: Minimum of 4 courses required (2 must be quantitative)

Course Description Credits
EDUC 555 Introduction to Statistics and Computer Analysis I (Q) 3
EDUC 619 Introduction to Qualitative Research (R) 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 Quantitative 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 Modeline (Q) 3
EDUC 749 Multilingualism & Society (Q) 3
EDUC 790E Social Network Analysis/Ed Leadership (Q) 3
EDUC 794D Critical Discourse Analysis (R) 3
EDUC 797A Qualitative Data Analysis (R) 3
EDUC 797C Alternative Paradigms: Critical Research in Education (R) 3
EDUC 815 Ethnography (2 semesters) (R) 3
EDUC 819 Alternative Research Methods in International Education (R) 3
EDUC 822 Research in Special Education (Q) 3

Elective Courses

Course Description Credits
EDUC 609 Multicultural Group Processes 3
EDUC 614 Access & Equity in Higher Education 3
EDUC 615E Race, Class, and Gender in Higher Education 3
EDUC 624 Contemporary & Historical Constructions of Social Justice Education 3
EDUC 627 Curriculum Design and Facilitation in SJE 3
EDUC 646 Leadership for Curriculum and Instruction 3
EDUC 683 Women in Higher Education 3
EDUC 691E Social Justice Issues in Education 3
EDUC 717 Research in Higher Education 1 - 3
EDUC 718 Action Research in Schools 3
EDUC 722 Research on Teacher Education 3
EDUC 746 SJE with Youth 3
EDUC 755 Current Methods and Programs in Urban Education 3
EDUC 771 App Multivar Stat I 3
EDUC 772 App Multivar Stat II 3
EDUC 791M Prac College Diversity Teaching 3
EDUC 795E Theory, Research, Practice of Intergroup Dialogue 3
EDUC 797K SJE with College Students in Education Settings 3
EDUC 871 Design & Evaluation of Educational Programs 3
EDUC 888 Participatory Action Research Methods 3

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 692K Foundations & Theories of Learning

The proposed course is an in-depth survey of major psychological and socio-cultural theories of human learning as they have been developed over the last 125 years.  It is designed to provide master degree and first year doctoral students with a broad understanding of the various learning theories currently held by professional educators and educational researchers, as well as an understanding of the historical roots of these theories.  Participants will engage in readings, discussions, and individual and group projects in both face-to-face and online learning environments as a means of constructing their knowledge of this area.  The course is centered on the explication of two major theories regarding human learning; the information processing theory of cognition and the situated learning theory of cognition.

PSYCH 891A Prejudice, Stereotyping, and Social Identity

This course is designed to enhance knowledge about basic social psychological research on intergroup relations, prejudice, stereotyping, and social identity, so that you can work with diverse populations in terms of your research.  For the purpose of this course, we will use a broad definition of social groups, although particular attention will be focused on race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and age. The first part of this course will examine how people's own group membership and the culture in which they live influence their attitudes and behavior toward others who belong to the same group ("ingroup") or to different groups ("outgroups").  The second part of this course will focus on evaluating interventions that may help alleviate interindividual and intergroup conflicts that arise during social interactions among people of differing cultural backgrounds. The final part of this course will focus on the different ways in which cultural stereotypes affect members of disadvantaged groups (e.g., in terms of mental health, physical health, performance, achievement, self-esteem etc.). In this section of the course, we will also pay attention to the different ways in which individuals from various disadvantaged groups protect themselves and show psychological resilience.

EDUC 609 Multicultural Group Processes

Develops a theoretical and skill foundation for working with diverse groups in educational and work settings. Explores theories of intergroup relations, group development, and leadership that facilitate understanding of intergroup biases and conflict, multicultural dynamics in diverse groups, and conflict and cooperation in group life.

EDUC 627 Curriculum Design & Instruction For Social Justice Education

Examines and applies theories and methods of instructional design, classroom teaching, and reflective practice in social justice education in K-16 settings.  Explores critical issues in teaching and learning about diversity and social justice issues.

EDUC 691A 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 746 SJE with Youth

This course focuses on the integration of SJE as pedagogy and SJE as content to promote youth engagement and transformative education across learning environments. Its purpose is to help students develop a combination of historical, theoretical, conceptual, scientific, and pedagogical foundation for SJE in youth-based settings such as schools and community based organizations.


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