This is an archived copy of the 2017-2018 catalog. To access the most recent version of the catalog, please visit

Note: As of catalog publication in April, the title for this program (formerly known as Education, PhD) has been approved by the Board of Visitors and sent to the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia. Check the college/school website for current program title status.

This program is designed to advance professional study to develop research-informed expertise in a selected field of professional education. As a program of doctoral study, it emphasizes theory and research as much as it does practice, breadth of study as much as depth, and process as well as knowledge. It seeks to develop both knowledge and the skills useful in educational roles as well as the abilities to analyze and respond to problems in their relationships to various educational concerns.


Applicants to all graduate programs at George Mason University must meet the admission standards and application requirements for graduate study. See Graduate Admissions Policies.

Eligibility and Application Requirements

Admission is highly-selective and applicants must fulfill all admission requirements: a minimum of three years of successful experience as a practitioner in an educational setting, baccalaureate and master's (or equivalent) degrees from accredited institutions, demonstrated high intellectual capability and leadership potential, three letters of recommendation and GRE general test scores including the writing assessment.

For more information, call the PhD Office at 703-993-2011. Completed applications must be submitted by January 15 for fall admission, or by October 1 for spring admission. To apply, see Graduate Admissions.


For policies governing all doctoral degrees, see AP.6.10 Requirements for Doctoral Degrees.

Program of Study

A written program of study which lists all courses required to complete the program is used to verify that students have met all requirements at graduation. If changes are made in the program of study after its approval, the changes must be made in writing and submitted to the Office of the University Registrar with the Advancement to Candidacy paperwork.

Reduction of Credit

Students must have a master's degree before being admitted to the PhD. As such, admitted students will receive a reduction of 9 credits.

Banner Code: E1-PHD-EDUC

Degree Requirements

Total credits: 75

 Program Advisory Committee

Students choose a program advisory committee of three George Mason University faculty members prior to the end of their second semester. It is chaired by the student's major advisor who represents the student's primary specialization. One member must represent the student's secondary emphasis. The major functions of this committee include assessing the student's goals, interests and academic needs, approving the program of study, monitoring the student's progress through the program and evaluating the student's three portfolio reviews.

Core Requirements

General Culture

EDUC 800Ways of Knowing3
Total Credits3

Research Methods

EDRS 810Problems and Methods in Education Research3
EDRS 811Quantitative Methods in Educational Research3
EDRS 812Qualitative Methods in Educational Research3
Select two from the following:6
Critical Discourse Analysis in Education Research
Evaluation Methods for Educational Programs and Curricula
Advanced Applications of Quantitative Methods
Advanced Applications of Qualitative Methods
Advanced Research Methods in Single Subject/Case Design
Mixed Methods Research: Integrating Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches
Advanced Research Methods in Self-Study of Professional Practice
Qualitative Case Study Methods
Introduction to Measurement and Survey Development
Item Response Theory
Hierarchical Linear Modeling
Structural Equation Modeling
Document Analysis and Archival Research
Special Topics in Research Methods
Total Credits15

 Reduction of Credits

Students receive a reduction of 9 credits based on their earned Master's degree.9
Total Credits9

Portfolio Review

All students are required to create electronic portfolios to define academic and professional goals; formulate specific plans to achieve those goals through coursework, research experiences, and field-based activities; demonstrate growth in understanding the specializations and how knowledge in them is advanced through inquiry; synthesize and reflect upon the process and results of learning activities; modify goals and plans as needed based on academic and reflective self-evaluation as well as feedback from the student's Program Advisory Committee and demonstrate readiness to proceed to the dissertation phase of the program.

The first portfolio review must be completed when 18 credits have been completed or before the end of the third semester. The second portfolio review must be scheduled at the completion of 36 credit hours. When students complete the coursework phase of the program, a final meeting is held with the Program Advisory Committee. This meeting is the context for conducting the comprehensive portfolio assessment, a formal evaluation of a student's readiness to proceed to the dissertation phase of the program which is analogous to the traditional doctoral comprehensive exam.

Primary Specialization

Professional specializations include: early childhood education, education leadership, education policy, educational psychology, exercise, fitness and health promotion, higher education, international education, learning technologies design research, literacy and reading, mathematics or science education leadership, multilingual/multicultural education, research methodology, science education research, special education, and teaching and teacher education.

Students select course work based on their area of specialization. They may choose EDUC 994 and EDUC 890 to broaden their professional expertise. These internships must be taken in a setting that differs from the student's work setting, and includes 100 clock hours of work.18-24
Total Credits18-24

 Secondary Specialization

Students may develop a secondary specialization from coursework offered within CEHD or coursework offered within other Mason units, in consultation with their advisor. 13-18
Total Credits3-18

In some situations, students can receive a reduction of 9 additional credits from their master's toward fulfillment of the  secondary specialization requirement if their master's degree area of study is not the same as their doctoral specialization area and it aligns with their program of study. Students make this decision in consultation with their program advisory committee members. Students who do not receive this additional credit reduction must take at least 12 credits in the secondary specialization area.

Dissertation Proposal and Research

Advancement to Candidacy

Upon successful completion of all coursework and the comprehensive portfolio assessment, students are advanced to candidacy and enroll in EDUC 998 Doctoral Dissertation Proposal.


Once enrolled in EDUC 998 Doctoral Dissertation Proposal, students must maintain continuous registration in at least 1 credit; once enrolled in EDUC 999 Doctoral Dissertation Research, students must follow the university continuous registration policy as specified in AP.6.10.6 Dissertation Registration.

Minimum 12 credits of12
Doctoral Dissertation Proposal 1
Doctoral Dissertation Research 2
Total Credits12

Students must register for 3 credits the first semester enrolled in EDUC 998 Doctoral Dissertation Proposal. Students preparing their proposal must register for 1 credit each semester thereafter until the proposal has been successfully defended.


Students must register for 3 or 6 credits the first semester enrolled in EDUC 999 Doctoral Dissertation Research and must register for at least 1 credit thereafter until all work has been completed including the semester in which the degree is conferred.