May 18, 2024  
2022/2023 University Catalog 
2022/2023 University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Education, Ph.D

(Major Code: 08011) (SIMS Code 331901)

Admission to the Degree Curriculum

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program in education is offered jointly by the faculty in the College of Education at San Diego State University (SDSU) and the faculty in the School of Educational Studies at Claremont Graduate University (CGU). The mission of the Ph.D. program in education is to develop scholars who are committed to research on democratic schooling, social justice, and equal educational outcomes for all students, and the improvement of educational systems serving diverse communities.

How can we develop schools and colleges that are more responsive to such communities? How can we make sense of the complexity of educational organizations, the communities they serve, and the environments in which they operate? If you are anxious to contribute to the knowledge base that supports creation of educational systems that are more democratic and more effective, the SDSU/CGU joint doctoral program in education offers the benefits of a large, comprehensive, public university and a small private university with a transdisciplinary emphasis. Students in the program may choose from the following topic areas in their program of study: educational policy; evaluation and reform (PER); higher education/student affairs (HE); or teaching learning and culture (TLC).

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In addition to meeting the general requirements for admission to both institutions with classified graduate standing as outlined in their current bulletins, students must be recommended for admission by the program’s admissions committee on the basis of excellence as evidenced in the following materials:

  1. Program application;
  2. An earned master’s degree in education or a related field from an accredited institution with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above;
  3. Sufficient experience pertinent to the mission of the program to benefit from the program;
  4. Acceptable scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE);
  5. Three recommendation letters attesting to the academic and professional skills necessary for doctoral studies;
  6. A personal statement of purpose reflecting the skills, experiences, and dispositions appropriate for the program;
  7. Curriculum vitae or resume.

Students seeking admission to the SDSU/CGU Ph.D. program in education must apply online at Any questions about the program should be directed to Dr. Rafaela M. Santa Cruz, director of the program.

Advancement to Candidacy

Advancement to candidacy occurs when the institutional form signed by the dissertation committee approving the dissertation proposal is processed. It is CGU policy that the oral defense of the dissertation not be scheduled sooner than six months after advancement to candidacy.

Specific Degree Requirements for the Ph.D. Degree in Education

  • 72 semester units (minimum) of coursework (24 units at San Diego State University, 24 units at Claremont Graduate University, and 24 units transferred from master’s degree);
  • Three research tools (one at each institution);
  • Two written qualifying examinations;
  • Three oral qualifying examination;
  • A dissertation proposal;
  • A written dissertation;
  • The dissertation defense.

A minimum of 48 semester units of residency, 24 at each institution, is required before a student is eligible to schedule the oral qualifying examination. In the interest of establishing an effective working relationship with faculty at both SDSU and CGU, 12 of the student’s first 24 units must be taken at CGU.

Research Tools

Three research tools are required. Their purpose is to assure proficiency in research methodologies including those most likely to be used in the dissertation project. One research tool in intermediate quantitative methods is satisfied by receiving a grade of B or better in ED 850 at SDSU. The second research tool may be completed through course work in advanced quantitative methods or in other research methods with a grade of B+ or better, by proving competency in a second language relevant to your doctoral research, or by special arrangement with a faculty member at CGU.

Written Qualifying Examinations

Three written qualifying examinations are required. The first two qualifying examinations are usually written as research papers, a literature review on a research interest, or an examination. Students are eligible to sit for a qualifying examination after completing 46 units in the program (cumulative of SDSU courses, CGU courses, and master’s transfer units). Examinations are to be co-supervised by a faculty member from each institution. Students must enroll in the capstone doctoral research seminar after completion of 62 cumulative units. The final qualifying examination will take the form of a mock dissertation proposal and will come out of the capstone seminar. The mock proposal may also serve as the framework for the final dissertation proposal that will be co-supervised by a faculty member from each institution.

Oral Qualifying Examination

The oral qualifying examination is scheduled when all coursework, including research tools, has been completed and two written qualifying examinations have been approved. Through the oral qualifying examination the student is called upon to demonstrate a range and depth of understanding of the field of education. The examination serves to determine whether or not the student has made satisfactory progress in developing capacities for understanding diversity, critical analysis, systemic change for performance improvement, community transformation, effective educational practice, and original research to be advanced to candidacy for the doctorate. The oral is a discussion and examination of the work completed in the Ph.D. program to this point, including but not limited to the work demonstrated in written qualifying examinations.


All doctoral students will complete a research-based dissertation. The dissertation will typically focus on (a) understanding diversity and its implications for education, (b) critically analyzing and developing educational policy, (c) engaging in systemic organizational change that improves performance and quality of life for all, (d) applying theory and research-based knowledge in transforming communities, or (e) using effective educational practices, including tools available through technology, to transform organizations. The primary goal of the dissertation is contributing to the knowledge base in education.

Dissertation Defense

The program coordinator schedules the dissertation defense upon notification by the dissertation committee that the dissertation draft is approved. The dissertation committee conducts the defense and may request revisions to the final dissertation manuscript during the oral defense.

Performance Expectations

Joint doctoral students must maintain a 3.0 GPA to be in good academic standing. Students must be continuously enrolled for the duration of their program by taking classes at either institution. Once required coursework at both SDSU and CGU has been completed, the student is required to maintain continuing registration at CGU through completion of all degree requirements.


The faculty bring diverse research and teaching interests to the study of democratic schooling, social justice, and diversity in education. Among the members of the faculty, the student will find rich resources of expertise in such areas as public policy, organizational theory and leadership, curriculum and instruction, higher education, counseling and school psychology, language development, qualitative and quantitative analysis, bilingual and crosscultural education, and educational technology.

San Diego State University:
Director: Marva G. Cappello
Faculty: Alfaro, Aquino-Sterling, Black, Branch, Bresciani Ludvik, Butler-Byrd, Cappello, A. Chizhik, E. Chizhik, Degeneffe, Duesbery, Esquinca, Estrada, Evans, Fisher, Frey, Garrity, Geist-Martin, Green, Hall, Hampton, Harris, Hernandez, Herrera Villarreal, Ingraham, Johnson, Kraemer, Lamb, Lazarevic, Linder, Machado-Casas, Maldonado, Marshall, Monk, Moss, Myers-Brown, O’Donnell, Pang, C. Park, V. Park, Philipp, Pumpian, Qian, Ross, Santa Cruz, Sax, Sciurba, Shapiro, Soto, Suhrheinrich, Tran, Tucker, Vasquez-Urias, Vaughn, Wood, Wright
Claremont Graduate University:
DeLacy Ganley
Faculty: Carter, Cohn, Drew, Ganley, Luschei, Maramba, Paik, Perkins, Poplin, Santibañez, Smith