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Social Studies Education: Ph.D. - Doctor of Philosophy in Education

Close student-faculty mentorship and an emphasis on applied research prepare graduates of the Ph.D. in education with a concentration in social studies education program for careers in university settings or at research organizations.

At a Glance

Program Results

Ph.D. - Doctor of Philosophy in Education

–Social Studies Education

Career Objective

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 Type

  • Full Time


  • In-Person

Estimated Length

4 years

Application Deadline

December 1



About This Program

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).

Admission Requirements

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements that apply specifically to this program are listed below:

  • Admission to this program requires an undergraduate bachelor's 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 provide both a goal statement (2 pages) and a writing sample (10-15 pages) as part of their online application.

Visit our Graduate Admission page for the full admission process.

Graduate Admission

Application for admission is made to the School of Education and Human Development Office of Admission & Enrollment. For more information about the graduate admission process, please visit our Graduate Admission page.


To learn more about specific courses taken as part of the completion of this degree, visit the graduate record website. These webpages represent the official repository for academic program requirements. 

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: 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.

Dissertation: 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.

Course Descriptions

Information on courses that are part of the Ph.D. in Education-Social Studies Education curriculum can be found on the UVA graduate record website.


Departmental fellowships and assistantships are provided to a select number of applicants each year. A typical funding package includes funding for nine months in a combination of wages and stipends, tuition and all mandatory fees, and funds to cover student health insurance costs. The University also offers a limited number of competitive fellowships for which students enrolled in Ph.D. programs may apply.

Visit the Fellowships, Scholarships, and Awards page for additional funding opportunities.

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