Doctoral Degree Requirements

Degree requirements that are common across all doctoral programs in the Department of Teaching and Learning are described below. Please note that additional degree requirements vary according to the specific program or focus area. Prospective applications should also consult the specific program descriptions (see links to the right) or contact particular program faculty to learn about program-specific requirements.

Coursework Requirements

Minimum credit requirements and some specific coursework requirements range from 48 to 60 credits, depending on program, focus area, and prior coursework completed. Nonetheless, all doctoral students in Teaching and Learning must complete the following common, core minimum requirements (which count toward those credit totals). Please note that these fulfill the Steinhardt-wide coursework requirements.

  1. Pro-Seminar for Department of Teaching and Learning, to be taken in student's first year of enrollment. This course will introduce students to doctoral-level study and will assist in acclimating students to the department, scholarship, and the professional world of research studies. (This requirement may be waived by the student's program advisor to accommodate extenuating circumstances.)
  2. Two Cognate Courses, to be selected by student with approval of advisor. Cognate courses constitute those taken in an area outside of the program/focus area that are supportive to the student's research.
  3. Foundations Requirements: All students are required to complete 6 credits (two courses) of course work in the foundations of education during the first 24 credits of doctoral study. Graduate courses qualify for the foundations requirement when they are upper division courses (Steinhardt 2000 level courses or their equivalent in other schools) and designed to broaden students' access to knowledge beyond the areas of specialization. To this end, courses are considered foundational when they: (1) provide broad basic content not limited to a single profession, are outside the student's specialization, and do not require prerequisites; (2) are based on current scholarship in the arts, humanities, sciences and/or social sciences; and (3) have wide applicability to common issues of the student's specialization and profession.
  4. 15 credits of research methodology courses, of which one must be a qualitative methods course and one must be a quantitative methods course. Per Department of Teaching and Learning requirements, students should complete one qualitative and one quantitative course in their first year of enrollment.
  5. Three credits of specialized methodology. This advanced, specialized methodology course should directly support the student's area of research and be linked to his or her planned dissertation work.

Dissertation Proposal Seminar for Department of Teaching and Learning. (In some cases, this requirement can be fulfilled through an independent study, with approval of the advisor.) 

Additional Requirements

1. Doctoral Research Experience Requirement

Overview: In each of the fall and spring semesters of Years 1, 2, and 3 of PhD study, all full-time students are required to enroll in a 0-credit research experience course. 

Purpose: The purpose of this pass/fail course is for students to gain research skills that prepare them for independent scholarship. This course plays a central role in providing students with the foundational skills of various aspects of the research process, so that they are well prepared to meet the subsequent benchmarks for the PhD including the written and oral candidacy requirements (which may be undertaken concurrently with this course), the dissertation proposal, and the dissertation study. Providing students with this research experience in each of the first six semesters of PhD study prepares students to complete candidacy requirements in a timely manner.

Scope: To fulfill the purpose above, students should expect this to be a substantial investment of time. Completing the course will typically involve on average 20 hours per week of research experiences. When applicable, a Research Assistantship can be an appropriate context for the scholarly activities to fulfill the requirements of this course, when the purposes of the RAship and this course align, with approval from the advisor, RA supervisor (if different from the advisor), and the department chair. 

Instructor: The instructor for the course will serve as a mentor for the student's research experience. In most cases, the instructor will be the student's advisor or (with advisor approval) another faculty member with appropriate expertise and opportunities.

2. The written candidacy requirement consists of either a qualifying paper or a written exam. If a paper, it should be an original, article-length paper, of one of the following types, as negotiated with the faculty advisor.

  • Empirical study (e.g. pilot study, paper based on analysis of faculty mentor’s data)
  • Conceptual Paper (paper based on theory)
  • Review of literature on a specific topic

Individual programs or focus areas may set specific requirements within this range of possibilities (e.g. by requiring a certain type of paper). The qualifying paper should be in addition to work completed for courses. It may be based on a project that a student begins in a course, but if so, it should be substantially revised and expanded upon. If the written candidacy requirement is a written exam, it will consist of several questions that assess different areas of competence and will be administered in a take-home format, with students having 2-3 months to complete the questions.

Whether a qualifying paper or a written exam, the students’ work on the written candidacy requirement must be approved by two readers; the first reader will typically be the student's advisor. The paper or exam will be submitted to the two readers preferably no later than the end of Spring semester of their second year. Once the student submits the qualifying paper or exam, the readers will respond in one of three ways: acceptance, rejection, or request for revision. In the event of a request for revision, the paper must be resubmitted according to a schedule agreed on by the student and the two readers. Revisions must be approved by the end of the Fall of the student’s third year. If the qualifying paper is ultimately rejected, either at first or after revision, the student is not permitted to continue in the PhD program. 

3.  The oral candidacy requirement will consist of a comprehensive exam scheduled after coursework has been completed and preferably no later than the Fall semester of the third year. Ordinarily two hours in length, the oral is a comprehensive exam covering between 25-30 readings (books or articles). Depending on the program, this reading list will be either a standard list for all students in the program, or a list that is drawn up by the candidate in consultation with an examining committee of two faculty members. Some, but not all, of the readings on this list may have been covered in coursework they take. Readings will cover subfields that reflect program/departmental expertise. The exam is conducted by an examining committee of two faculty members, and is graded Pass, Fail, or Pass with Distinction using a rubric common across all programs (see rubric below). On passing the oral examination, the student is admitted to candidacy. A failed oral exam may be retaken once, at a time agreed on by the student and the examining committee but within the time constraints described above. If the student fails the oral again, s/he is not permitted to continue in the PhD program.

4.  After successful completion of the written and oral candidacy requirements, students will complete and file the Application to Doctoral Candidacy. 

5.  Once advanced to candidacy, students then form their dissertation committees and proceed to develop a dissertation proposal.  Committees will consist of at least three members: a chair from Teaching and Learning and two additional members from within or outside of Teaching and Learning. At least one member should be in the student’s program area.

6. The dissertation proposal should not exceed 40 pages, and should include:

     a) Statement of problem and research question(s)

     b) Review of research literature/theory related to the question(s)/topic

     c) Research methodology section

     d) Statement of significance/expected contributions of the study

     e) Timeline of stages of research and expected completion date

7.  Upon the completion of the proposal, the dissertation committee must meet as a group to discuss and formally approve or recommend revisions to the proposal. Once the proposal has been approved, the committee must sign the appropriate forms and submit them to the appropriate Steinhardt offices. 

8. Once the proposal has been approved by the dissertation committee, it must be reviewed and approved by two additional faculty members. Possible recommendations of these two reviewers are: Pass, Deferred Pass, or Not Approved. If the proposal receives a recommendation of Not Approved, the student must rewrite and resubmit the proposal to the dissertation committee and the reviewers. 

9. Upon completion of the dissertation and its approval by dissertation committee members, a defense will be held with the student, chair, committee members, and at least two additional faculty members who did not serve on the dissertation committee, one of whom must come from outside the program. The defense, which will last for approximately two hours, will serve as the final stage of the doctoral process.

See the Steinhardt doctoral webpage for school-wide policies regarding matriculation, advisement, minimum residency requirements, candidacy, dissertation committees, and other policies and procedures.