Teacher Education & School Improvement Ph.D.

The mission of the Teacher Education and School Improvement (TESI) doctoral concentration is to prepare reflective, informed, and research-oriented scholars and practitioners in the fields of teacher education, teacher development, and school improvement. The TESI concentration is committed to supporting research and practice that advance the aims of educational equity and social justice.

Course of Study

Course Description Credits
  Core Courses  
EDUC 791A Review & Retrieval of Research 3
EDUC 790C Historical and Social Foundations 3
  Content Area #1 Sociopolitcal Context of Education: at least 1 course  
EDUC 726 Introduction to School Leadership 3
EDUC 755 Urban Education 3
EDUC 837 Social Contexts of Schools and Politics of Reform 3
EDUC TBD African-American Literacies 3
  Content Area #2 Teacher Education Research and Practice: at least 1 course  
EDUC 722 Research on Teacher Education 3
EDUC 851 Principles of Supervision 3
  Content Area #3 Curriculum Teaching and Learning: at least 1 course  
EDUC 665 Curriculum Development 3
EDUC 692K Foundations & Theories of Learning 3
EDUC 694G Theories of Interest and Motivation 3
EDUC 730 Research on Teaching/Theories of Critical Pedagogy 3
EDUC 797M Children's Thinking and Learning 3
  Content Area #4 Conducting Original Research: 4 courses (2 quantitative*)  
EDUC 555 Introduction to Statistics I* 3
EDUC 619 Qualitative Research Methods 3
EDUC 652 Mixed Methods Research* 3
EDUC 656 Introduction to Statistics II* 3
EDUC 661 Education Research Methods I* 3
EDUC 718 Action Research 3
EDUC 794D Critical Discourse Analysis 3
EDUC 797A Qualitative Data Analysis 3
EDUC 815 Ethnography (2 semesters) 3
  Electives and Dissertation  
Elective Courses Non-Thesis Writing 9
Dissertation   18

EDUC 790C Historical & Social Foundations of Education

This course introduces doctoral students to key historical and philosophical legacies and debates in American public education, with particular attention to those relevant to current issues in the fields of curriculum, instruction, and teacher education.

EDUC 726 Introduction to School Leadership

An introduction to basic concepts, skills, strategies, and research related to leading and managing schools.  Topics include organizational culture, and models of decision making, leadership, learning, and instruction.

EDUC 755 Urban Education

Survey of curriculum techniques, methods, materials, and programs related to teaching urban children.  Students develop innovative methods and curricula for urban schools.

EDUC 722 Research on Teacher Education

Research and overviews of initial and inservice education of novice and veteran teachers.  Typical topics include induction programs, peer coaching, mentoring, programs for new teachers, programs for experienced teachers, and evaluation of pre- and inservice programs.

EDUC 851 Principles of Supervision

Entry-level course for anyone involved in supervision of students for prepracticum, practicum, microteaching or administrative internships.  Emphasis on introduction, examination, and practice of various models of supervision.

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.

EDUC 694G Theories of Interest and Motivation

In-depth treatment of theories of motivation and interest in- and out-of-classrooms.  Historical treatments of the subject, psychological models of motivation and interest, and contemporary socio-cultural theories of engaged participation in cultural practices.

EDUC 730 Research on Teaching

Examination of the ecology of the classroom.  Typical topics include a historical perspective of research on teaching, research on effects of teaching, teachers' knowledge, research on teaching specific subjects and grade levels, and responding to students' alternative conceptions of subject matter.


TESI will not be accepting any applications for Fall 2023.

Application Timeline

The application deadline for fall admission is January 2.


  • Master's degree
  • Minimum of 3 years experience as an educator (classroom teacher or other teaching experience)

Students who demonstrate intellectual curiously, desire to conduct original research, and demonstrated academic preparation or potential to conduct original research are encouraged to apply.

Required Materials

  • 2 letters of reference
  • Personal statement
  • Résumé/CV
  • Transcripts
  • A writing sample of scholarly work (thesis, course paper, etc.)
  • Online application 
  • GRE is not required

For more information about the Teacher Education and School Improvement program, please contact Torrey Trust at torrey@umass.edu or 413-545-1574.