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MA/PhD Program

Our faculty’s interests span a range of critical topics and issues that are crucial for the attainment of educational equity and greater impact in schools and communities. The broad clusters of our faculty’s expertise are listed below. Click on any of the titles to see faculty who are engaged in this research.

Critical Studies of Race, Class, and Gender
  • Critical Social and Cultural Theories
  • Globalization, Immigration, and Migration
  • Race & Social Inequality in Urban Education
  • Social Identities in Educational Contexts
Learning Sciences & Human Development
  • Cognitive, Cultural, and Social Processes
  • Language and Literacy
  • Mathematics and Science Education
  • Teacher Learning and Education
  • Technology and Digital Media
Policy, Politics, and Leadership
  • Leadership in Educational Organizations
  • Policy Analysis and Implementation
  • Politics of School Governance and Reform
  • School Improvement
Social Research Methodologies
  • Data Science
  • Evaluation
  • Measurement
  • Mixed Methods
  • Qualitative Research Methods
  • Quantitative Research Methods


For the 2017-18 academic year, we also offer additional programs in which students can specialize in one of these specific areas:

Graduate Studies in Science and Mathematics Education
  • Informally known as SESAME, this interdisciplinary graduate program is for students who seek advanced expertise in a scientific discipline as well as in educational theory and research methodologies. The course of study leads to a doctoral degree in science, mathematics, or engineering education. Learn more.
Intersection of Sport and Education
  • We investigate the ways in which institutionalized sport both conflicts with and complements the educational missions of American secondary and post-secondary schools. Learn more.
School Psychology
  • Our School Psychology program is based on the assumption that school psychologists, through the skilled application of their knowledge, can work together with teachers and other education professionals to clarify and resolve problems regarding the educational and mental health needs of children in classrooms. Learn more.
Special Education (Joint Doctoral Program with SF State University)
  • This program prepares leaders in research, teaching, administration, and supervision for the variety of professional needs facing children, youth, and adults with disabilities. It integrates the resources of Berkeley and SFSU, allowing students to combine theoretical interests with applied practices in a broad spectrum of specializations within Special Education. Learn more.
Designated Emphasis in Indigenous Language Revitalization
  • The designated emphasis (DE) in Indigenous Language Revitalization creates an interdisciplinary course of study, drawing together an intellectual cohort that will equip graduate students from various departments with knowledge of the methods, histories, and goals of indigenous language revitalization and reclamation. The DE emphasizes interdisciplinary coursework and hands-on experience (through practicum or fieldwork credits) that center on the critical methods and histories of the attempted eradication, the persistence, and the revitalization of indigenous languages in the context of colonization. While the content of the DE primarily focuses on indigenous contexts in the Americas, it is relevant to indigenous settings elsewhere. Learn more.

About Our MA/PhD

Earning a master’s degree or doctorate from Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education often leads to a career as an educational scholar and researcher in schools, colleges, and universities; non-profits and think tanks; and corporations.

In your application, we encourage you to describe your research interests as well as your desire to study with particular faculty in their application materials. If you wish to study educational topics outside those framed in the list above, we still encourage you to apply to earn your MA or PhD because we want innovative thinkers among us.

During the first semester, all students build a plan of study in consultation with their advisor(s). This plan is revisited, updated, and revised yearly thereafter.

What Doctoral Students Can Expect

During the first two years of study, the Berkeley PhD in Education introduces you to research on current issues in education, theories of learning, human development, and inequality, educational policy, and research methods. Students proceed through the program during the first two years in a cohort, taking core courses together.

The degree program’s structure ensures that you have a broad understanding of important topics in education and that you begin developing the research expertise needed to carry out independent research projects. You will also begin to take elective courses within and outside the GSE in your expected areas of expertise.

By the third and fourth years of study, you are expected to develop greater expertise in your research specialties in close consultation with your faculty advisors. You also take advanced seminars; engage in independent studies and research apprenticeships; and complete an oral exam.

The concluding part of your doctoral studies is preparation of your dissertation proposal and the research and writing of your dissertation.