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The ECT doctoral program coordinator is Xavier Ochoa.

The doctoral program is interested in the design of rich, technology-based multimedia learning environments and in conducting research on factors that influence learning, as individuals engage with these environments, and as groups interact with them and each other. ECT doctoral courses and research focus on those representational features and structural characteristics of technology-based learning environments and media that may, in a particular set of circumstances, have cognitive, affective, motivational and socio-cultural significance for learners who interact with them. 

ECT faculty and doctoral students represent widely differing areas of inquiry in the field of educational technology, from the design of features in games that support problem solving to the effects of narrative structure in linear video dramas on the exercise of critical thinking; from the role of prior knowledge on learning from different forms of representation in simulations of science principles to the design of technology-based environments that support the social construction of knowledge to strengthen collaborative and negotiation skills; from the design of electronic portfolio environments that scaffolds metacognition to the comparative effects of fictional reality and testimonial reality on attitude change.

ECT students and faculty draw implications for design and develop frameworks for research from a robust interdisciplinary understanding of human learning, comprised of perspectives from the cognitive sciences, the learning sciences, developmental models of learning, constructivist and constructionist philosophies of learning, humanistic and literary studies, and social learning theory. Other fields that inform ECT doctoral study include communication design, information design, multimedia learning theory, human-computer interaction, human symbolization and aesthetics.

Students should select their classes in conjunction with their academic adviser. Please use the Course registration worksheet (advising form), and once your adviser has approved it, turn it in to the department staff in 700 Pless Hall. After the department enters your adviser clearance (typically within 1-2 business days), you can sign up for courses online in Albert. All PhD students should register for the doctoral colloquium course each semester.


Doctoral Requirements

The Ph.D. in ECT is a 54 credit program, comprised of two major categories of course work: ECT coursework (18 credits); and "School-wide doctoral requirements" (36 credits), research- and dissertation-related coursework required of all doctoral students in The Steinhardt School. The Coordinator of the doctoral program and faculty academic advisers assist students in making course selections and planning course sequences both appropriate to general doctoral guidelines and relevant to students' individuals goals and interests (all ECT faculty serve as academic advisers to doctoral students). All courses taken must be at the graduate level which, at NYU, are numbered at the 2000- and 3000-levels (and at equivalent graduate levels in other schools at NYU, should doctoral students take their electives in NYU schools other than Steinhardt).


Course Requirements

ECT Specialization Courses  (18 credits required)


ECT Foundations
EDCT-GE 2174   Foundations of Cognitive Science  (3)
EDCT-GE 2175   Foundations of the Learning Sciences  (3)

Doctoral Seminars
EDCT-GE 3076  Advanced Seminar in Research & Practice in Instructional Technology (3)

Electives, selected remaining 9 credits from courses in these categories:

ECT Foundations
Design Foundations
Design Electives
Research Courses

Steinhardt Doctoral Requirements (36 credits required)

  • Educational Foundations (6)
  • Content Seminar, in ECT (3)
    EDCT-GE 3311   Content Seminar: Research in Instructional Technology
  • Research Electives  (15)
  • Specialized Research Method (3)
  • Dissertation Proposal Seminar (3)
  • Cognates, professional electives related to specialization (6)


Research Requirements and Benchmarks

As doctoral students advance through their course work and develop expertise in a particular area of inquiry, they begin to formulate the questions that will define their doctoral research process.  This process is comprised of a series of benchmarks, the first of which is meeting the requirements for admission to degree candidacy.

  1. The candidacy paper
  2. Candidacy approval
    Admission to degree candidacy
  3. Appointment of dissertation committee
  4. The dissertation proposal
    Application to University Committee on Activities Involving Human Subjects
    The dissertation proposal review
  5. Dissertation research and writing
    Final oral examination
    Final dissertation approval

For ECT students this step involves writing the candidacy paper, a scholarly examination of a critical issue or problem at the intersection of learning, media and technology, with the guidance and support of an ECT faculty adviser. In the candidacy paper, students review relevant theory and studies previously conducted concerning this issue or problem, with a view toward establishing important directions to pursue in their own dissertation research.

After admission to candidacy, doctoral students' next benchmarks include developing the dissertation proposal and the appointment of a dissertation committee; these steps typically interact, as students make progress on the proposal while identifying appropriate committee members who, in turn, as selected, contribute to students' progress. During this period, students have the benefit of additional support in the Dissertation Proposal Seminar required of all doctoral students. Depending on the types of studies students plan, this phase might also involve applying for approval to conduct their studies from the University Committee on Activities Involving Human Subjects.

The dissertation proposal, once approved by the students' committee, is formally reviewed by an advisory panel of faculty with relevant expertise. When approved, students begin the longer process of conducting their studies with the continued guidance and support of committee members. The last benchmark is the final oral examination of the completed dissertation, conducted by the dissertation committee and two outside readers.



A minimum of 36 credits must be taken in residency at NYU.


Advanced Standing Credit

Advanced standing (or transfer credit) is not granted at the doctoral level. However, (1) appropriate graduate level course work taken at another university may be considered for exemption from specific course requirements; and (2) Graduate level course work completed at New York University prior to official matriculation or taken in at any accredited university and not applied toward fulfillment of requirements for a previous degree (none to exceed 18 credits) may be approved toward fulfilling the 36 credit residency requirement.


Scholastic Average

Students must maintain a minimum 3.0 grade point average in ECT/DMDL and on the overall record.


Tenure of Matriculation

Full-time doctoral students are required to complete the degree within eight years of the date of matriculation; part-time doctoral students are required to complete the degree within ten years of the date of matriculation.


Maintaining Active Status

Students must maintain active status every fall and spring semester, from the semester of matriculation through the semester of graduation. This includes registering for the one-credit doctoral colloquium each semester, which is designed to ensure all doctoral students have a supportive community to further their research, whether or not they are involved in a research lab. Students conducting research away from New York should plan to videoconference in. In exceptional cases, advisers may approve alternatives to the colloquium (for example, if the student is visiting a research lab at another university for a semester, and the host lab serves as a community to support the student's continued doctoral progress.) There is no colloquium requirement for summer or intersession.

Regardless of the doctoral colloquium requirement, students must also maintain continuous registration at the university fall and spring semesters, unless on approved leave of absence (granted through student affairs, for example in the case of illness, pregnancy, etc.). Students who are pausing their graduate studies for other reasons must consult with their adviser or dissertation chair, and will be required to register for 'maintenance of matriculation' for any fall or spring term in which they are not active.