Admissions Information

Students in SRM come primarily from undergraduate and masters programs in the social and behavioral sciences and mathematics. The SRM faculty consider the following elements in evaluating applicants for admission:

  • academic promise as evidenced by GPA, GRE scores, experience, and letters of recommendation
  • Interests and experiences consistent with the goals of SRM

Areas of Emphasis for the Ph.D. Program

Students can emphasize one or more of the following areas in the Ph.D. program:

  • Evaluation These students are typically interested in learning a variety of research methods with the goal of further developing and applying them towards evaluative settings in education, public policy, and other institutional and organizational settings.
  • Qualitative Methods These students are interested in the use of participant observation, interviewing, and narrative reporting to identify and understand everyday practices in institutional settings, with the overall aim of improvement of practice in those settings. Research focus is primarily on educational settings, formal and informal, i.e. on schools, families, and communities–but also on other fields of social service delivery and public advocacy such as nursing, public health, employment, community organizing, and the creation of new community institutions.
  • Advanced Quantitative Methods in Education Research

Ph.D. Course Requirements (19 courses)

SRM Core (13 courses)

If an applicant has already taken the equivalent of one or more of the courses, he/she can substitute other courses.

  • Ed230A: Introduction to Research Design and Statistics
  • Ed230B: Linear Stat Models in Social Science Research: Multiple Regression Analysis
  • Ed230C: Linear Stat Models in Social Science Research: Analysis of Design Experiments
  • Ed222A: Introduction to Qualitative Methods and Design Issues in Educational Research
  • Ed233A/B or Ed226: One course in professional writing series
  • Ed243: Philosophical Foundations of Research
  • Ed299A/B/C: Research Practicum in Education
  • One course in measurement (from the Ed 211 series, an Ed 255 course with a measurement focus, or a measurement course offered in the Psychology Department). Students chosing an emphasis in Qualitative Methods may substitute the measurement course for another course (for example, in evaluation) with approval from the advisor.
  • Cognate (3 courses): The cognate consists of three courses in a student’s area of interest that are taken in departments outside of the Department of Education. Typical cognate areas might be in statistics, psychology, anthropology, sociology, economics, political science, management or public policy.

Elective Courses (6 courses)

  • Students are expected to complete at least six additional courses chosen to enhance their desired area of SRM expertise (e.g. Quantitative Methods, Qualitative Methods, Measurement, Evaluation, Research Writing). Course selections are to be determined in consultation with the student’s advisor.
  • Research Apprenticeship Course (RAC, Ed 288): All students are encouraged to participate in at least one full year of a Research Apprenticeship Course (RAC). RAC counts as one course.

Doctoral Screening Exams

Students entering the Ph.D. program without an M.A. degree must take a doctoral screening exam, usually after they have completed one year in the program (9 courses). As with the Master’s Comprehensive Exam, the Doctoral Screening Examination is a three day exam; OSS distributes the exam on a Friday morning and the responses are to be turned in the following Monday morning. Students may consult any written materials they wish but must not consult other people. The exam is tailored to the program of individual students. Passing the doctoral screening exam automatically qualifies students to complete the rest of their coursework for the Ph.D. program.

Exam Format

Part I. Analysis and Reporting of a Database or Manuscript Review

Students are provided a database with documentation and asked to conduct an analysis designed to respond to a specific set of questions and issues, which the data might address. Alternatively, a student may be given a manuscript to critique.

Part II. Design:

Students are presented with materials summarizing a current issue facing the field of education and are asked to address or explore the issue from a methodological perspective. Students are expected to bring material covered in core courses to bear on this issue, including design, quantitative data analysis, qualitative data analysis, measurement, and basic issues in research methodology.

Grading

In the first sitting for this examination, students may receive a “doctoral pass,” “doctoral pass with honors,” or “fail.” Doctoral students must pass the examination to continue in the Ph.D. program. Students who received a failing grade will be given one further opportunity to retake the exam and pass. A third opportunity to take the exam is possible upon a two-thirds majority vote of all divisional faculty members. No fourth sitting for the examination is permitted. Students who fail the Doctoral Screening Examination but who have been allowed to retake the examination must do so at the next sitting.

Doctoral Qualifying Exams

The doctoral qualifying examination is taken after all course work is completed (or during the quarter in which coursework will be finished) and after the 299 project has been completed and presented.

Topical Statements and Reading Lists

1. Two months prior to the date of the comprehensive exams, students must obtain the “Approval of Topics and Reading Lists for Doctoral Written Qualifying Exam” form from the SRM Administrative Assistant. The student’s advisor and any additional faculty members involved in generating the reading list must sign the form.
2. The form will be signed when the following is accomplished:

  • Students submit one or more topical statements to each of the faculty involved with the reading list. The statement(s) define the scope and depth of an area of inquiry linked to Social Research Methodology. This statement is reviewed and revised with regard to the supervising faculty member’s (or members’) input.
  • On the basis of the topical statement(s), students generate a reading list that constitutes core knowledge in the area. This list is also reviewed and revised.
  • Each faculty member must approve the topical description and reading list for his/her topic, and the student’s advisor should review all topical descriptions and reading lists to avoid undue overlap of, or gaps in, topics/lists.

3. Part IV of the Doctoral Written Qualifying Exam will be linked to the topical description(s) and readings.
4. The Approval of Topics and Reading Lists for Doctoral Written Qualifying Exam form must be turned in to the SRM Administrative Assistant one month before the date of the exam.

The Exam

The qualifying examination is a take-home examination that consists of 4 questions and an oral examination that is scheduled during the first two weeks of the quarter following the written examination. The take-home examination is organized in four sections. Each section may have more than one question, but students are to choose only one question per section. The 4 questions are to be answered in no more than 20 single-spaced pages with a recommended length of 5 pages per question for the exam (excluding references).
The written take-home examination is scheduled for 4 days (4 nights). OSS distributes the exam on a Thursday morning, and the responses are to be turned in the following Monday morning. While completing the exam, students are allowed to consult any written material they wish, including course notes and assignments, textbooks, and published reports.
Once students receive exams, they are not allowed to consult with other students or faculty (or anyone else orally). When they submit their answers, they are asked to sign a statement that they did not collaborate or communicate with anyone regarding the substance of the exam during the examination period.

Written Exam Format

Part I. Critique of Manuscript Submitted for Publication

Students are provided a specific manuscript or a choice of a manuscript and requested to prepare a methodological critique. The context for the critique is either as a reviewer for a journal considering the manuscript for publication or, alternatively, as a researcher considering whether the design, analysis, and interpretations from the article are sound and warranted and how they might have been done otherwise.

Part II. Analysis and Reporting of a Database

Students can select either a quantitative or qualitative database. Those selecting the quantitative option are provided a database with documentation and asked to conduct an analysis designed to respond to a specific set of questions and issues, which the data might address. Students selecting the qualitative option will provide a set of qualitative data they have collected, or in some cases, be provided with a database. They will be asked to generate two or three competing lines of interpretation of these data–differing assertions–and then show how one of these lines of interpretation/assertion is best warranted by the data, i.e., they will marshal evidence to rule out one or more plausible alternative lines of interpretation/assertion.

Part III. Core Coursework

Students are presented with materials summarizing a current issue facing the field of education and are asked to address or explore the issues from a methodological perspective. Students are expected to bring material covered in core courses to bear on this issue, including design, quantitative data analysis, qualitative data analysis, measurement, and basic issues in research methodology.

Part IV. Questions Based on Students Individual Reading Lists

This section provides two questions tailored to each student’s background and training. Students select one question to answer. The process to determine these questions will be as follows:

  • Students prepare reading lists for three areas (e.g., evaluation theory, qualitative analysis, item response theory, multilevel analysis, structural equation modeling, generalizability theory). The areas and reading lists must be selected in consultation with the student’s advisor and approved by the latter.
  • Faculty will prepare two student-specific questions from these reading lists and the student must answer one of the two questions.
    Oral ExaminationThe length of the oral exam is 30-45 minutes and is conducted by two to three SRM faculty (including the student’s advisor). The exam covers student training and deals with specific questions and concerns raised by student performance on the written portion of the examination. Faculty may ask more general questions to determine student ability to provide articulate and reasoned discussion of points and issues pertinent to their training.
    The recommendation regarding student performance is based on the whole examination, both written and oral portions. In some cases, further work (additional coursework, brief papers) is required before the final decision is reached. However, a specific determination to advance a student to candidacy is made during the quarter following the written examination (i.e., if the written exam was taken in Fall quarter, the determination is made in Winter Quarter.) 

Grading

Students may receive grades of “pass,” “pass with honors,” or “fail” on this examination. Students who fail this examination will be given a second opportunity to take the examination and a third opportunity upon a two-thirds majority vote of all divisional faculty members. No fourth sitting for the examination is permitted. Students who fail the doctoral written qualifying examination but who have been allowed to re-take it must do so at the next scheduled sitting.

Qualifying Papers

Students in the Ph.D. program have the option of submiting two qualifying papers in place of the qualifying exam.

Qualifying papers allow for in-depth assessment of both core and specialized division knowledge, while also providing valuable training and experience in the production of research, and helping build the student’s professional record. Students will submit two sole-authored papers (typically the student’s 299 paper and one additional finished piece) in the same Fall or Spring date scheduled for the qualifying exams. The papers will be evaluated by at least two members of the SRM faculty familiar with the student’s work (typically including the student’s advisor). As with exams, the qualifying papers also involve an oral component where students will be prompted to discuss details of their work. If the work presented is part of a collaborative effort, students will be asked to describe their role leading to first-authorship. While the student may or may not have been involved in the original conceptualization of the study, sole authorship implies a substantial or leading role in the methodological and development phase, a leading role in the analytic phase work, and lead responsibility for writing the final piece submitted.

After the oral component students will be assigned a /pass with honors/, /pass/, or /insufficient/ grade. A /pass/ grade indicates that the readers consider that the qualifying papers can be submitted for publication to relevant journals in the field with a realistic chance of being published, and that the student has demonstrated in depth knowledge of the material during the oral phase. A Journal is defined for the purposes of this assignment as an established academic outlet that evaluates submissions under blind peer review. Students will submit approved papers for publication to a journal determined in consultation with the student’s advisor (papers submitted for publication may involve additional authors to reflect collaborative efforts as appropriate; however, in each piece the student should be listed as first or lead author). Papers already published in peer reviewed journals can be submitted as qualifying papers provided they reflect work conducted after the student enrolled in the program.

At the discretion of the faculty readers, papers assigned an insufficient grade may be resubmitted in the next scheduled seating in Fall or Spring, or the student may decide to take the written qualifying examination at that time. Students may be offered a third and final attempt to satisfy the requirement with the approval of a two-thirds majority of the division faculty.

Dissertation

The final requirement of the Ph.D. program is the dissertation. The dissertation is an independent study, conducted under the supervision of the dissertation committee chair, that makes a contribution to the field of education.