Ph.D. in Education - Social Studies Ed

Close student-faculty mentorship and an emphasis on applied research prepare graduates of the Ph.D. in Social Studies Education program for careers in university settings or at research organizations. This is a research-based, full-time program that is offered in Charlottesville only.

“I chose Curry for the internationally-recognized faculty, opportunity for collaboration with my peers and professors as well as the freedom to explore my research interests.”

– John Broome, Ph.D. Candidate, Social Studies Education

This program is designed to prepare graduates for college or university positions in teacher education or for positions within research organizations with specific areas of curricular expertise. Program requirements include coursework, a research apprenticeship, and practical experiences that prepare graduates to:

  1. Produce original research that contributes to the knowledge base in social studies education and/or to teacher education in general
  2. Become experts in the content of their curricular area and in the evidence-based practices that inform that area
  3. effective leadership roles in one or more of the areas of emphasis

The emphasis in social studies education is designed to prepare students for social studies education positions in academia (i.e., beginning tenure-track assistant professor positions in teacher education programs at either major research institutions or smaller colleges) and/or social studies leadership positions in school divisions (i.e., curriculum development, supervisory positions).

Program Details

  • Prerequisites and Admission Requirements

    The GRE is required for applicants applying to begin in 2023.

    Admission to this program requires an undergraduate bachelors degree in one or more of the social sciences (history, political science, sociology, geography, economics, anthropology, and/or psychology) and at least two years of social studies teaching experience at the K-12 level. Applicants must meet the School of Education and Human Development’s minimum GRE entrance requirements and provide both a goal statement (2 pages) and a writing sample (10-15 pages). (Students for whom English is not their first language must also submit official TOEFL or IELTS scores.)

    Applicants may submit unofficial test scores and transcripts with their application. However, official test scores (taken with 5 years) and official transcripts showing degree conferral are required prior to matriculation.

    Applicants are responsible for ensuring that all required materials are submitted by the deadline. Incomplete applications will not be read and may be cancelled if left incomplete. Materials should be tracked using the checklist in the application.

  • Application Due Date

    December 1

    Decisions will be released by February 15th.

    Applicants are responsible for ensuring that all required materials are submitted by the deadline. Incomplete applications will not be read and may be cancelled if left incomplete. Materials should be tracked using the checklist in the application.

  • Degree Requirements

    General Coursework
    This program requires a minimum of 72 credits, at least 54 of which must be coursework.  Course work includes concentration-area courses, research methodology courses, and up to 3 credits of research apprenticeship per semester; it does not include internship and dissertation credits. At least 36 course and apprenticeship credits must be completed after admission to the program. Students can apply up to 12 credits of dissertation work towards the total of 72.

    Research Methodology Coursework
    Students will take Research Foundations, an introductory course in educational research common to all School of Education and Human Development doctoral students. Additionally, students are required to take a minimum of three courses in quantitative methods (generally Stats I, II, and III) and two courses in qualitative research methodology (generally Qual I and II).  Advisors may suggest additional research methodology courses, depending on the focus of a student’s individual program and research.

    Students with advanced knowledge in methodology may petition to enroll in courses appropriate to their knowledge.

    Research Apprenticeship
    Students will participate in a research apprenticeship with his/her research mentors. A mentor will be assigned based on the student’s research interests. This apprenticeship will occupy approximately 10 hours of each student’s week during the first and second years of study and may increase during the third and fourth years, depending on the student’s specific duties. During this apprenticeship, the student will assist with the mentor’s research and scholarship, which may include data collection, data analysis, library research, presentations, writing for publication, and other related activities.

    Education of Teachers Internship 
    Students are expected to participate in internships that enable them to understand the workings of university-level teacher preparation. These internships consist of, but are not limited to, the following: supervising student teachers, serving as a graduate teaching assistant, serving as the instructor of a preservice or master’s-level course, assisting the Director of Teacher Education, working with the novice teachers network, designing and evaluating curriculum for P-12 programs, working with clinical instructors and cooperating teachers, supervising early field experiences, and/or serving as a connection between the schools and university in developing early field experiences, serving as a graduate clinician at the McGuffey Reading Center, etc.

    Internships will be determined in consultation with faculty advisors, the Department Chair and the Program Coordinator.

    Assessment of student progress through the program is multifaceted and includes components of assessment conducted both by faculty and by students themselves.

    Student Annual Report
    Each student will complete an annual report describing his or her growth and accomplishments.

    Preliminary Exam 
    At the end of the first semester of the first year of study, all students will complete a preliminary exam, which is designed to determine the likelihood of the student’s continued success in Ph.D. studies. This exam consists of two parts. The first is a paper on a topic of significance in the field. The second is an oral exam in which students present the paper and a critique of a research article they have been given one week prior to the exam.

    Pre-dissertation Research Manuscript
    Prior to their third year of study, students will complete a pre-dissertation research project that results in a manuscript submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. There is no requirement that the paper be accepted for publication, but students are strongly encouraged to revise manuscripts where resubmission is likely to result in publication. Research mentors will work with students to shape these papers toward eventual publication; co-authored papers are acceptable.

    Qualifying Comprehensive Examination
    Students will complete a written comprehensive examination to demonstrate (1) understanding of the knowledge base and methodology in a concentration area of LLCS and (2) readiness to undertake doctoral dissertation research. The examination will be graded independently by at least two faculty members. With approval of the graduate program, a research manuscript accepted for publication may be used to satisfy part of the qualifying examination.

    Students will complete a dissertation proposal and a dissertation following either the traditional model or the three-paper option described in the School of Education and Human Development Dissertation Manual; either option must meet the expectations set forth in the Manual’s dissertation guidelines.

  • Funding Opportunities

    A typical funding package includes (a) a minimum of $13,000 for 9 months in a combination of wages/fellowships, (b) tuition, and (c) a health insurance voucher. Although not guaranteed, there is also frequently some funding available for summers.

  • Typical Length of Study

    Students will typically complete the program in 4 years of full-time study.  In certain cases, students may be able to complete their work in a shorter time period or may require a longer time period.

    Semester of Entry:


    Full or Part Time:


  • Course Overview

    For sample courses please contact Stephanie van Hover.

The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only. The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record represent the official repository for academic program requirements. These publications may be found at