Skip Navigation

Educational Studies

Educational Studies

Educational Studies Ph.D.

The Educational Studies program offers graduate students in the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education an option for academically rigorous interdisciplinary learning, pragmatically designed to suit their own individual gifts, backgrounds, and goals as educators. The doctoral program in Educational Studies offers practitioners of education professional, as well as others working in various fields, preparation for the professoriate in Educational Studies and other fields of Education, Humanities, and Social Sciences, for educational innovation in other fields, or for intellectual and leadership in other educative roles. Distinctively grounded in arts, humanities, and social sciences, the Educational Studies program prepares students to interpret, criticize, and construct educational ideas and arguments. This preparation examines the history of educational thought, institutions, and policies in their cultural and philosophical contexts, all critically grounded in social justice, whether your community or education is locally or globally.



Working initially with an assigned adviser, each doctoral student appoints an advisory committee of four graduate faculty members, chaired by one from Educational Studies, to assist with formation of an individualized doctoral curriculum plan. Educational Studies Ph.D. requirements include core courses in philosophy, history, and sociology of education; a program of coursework that includes both a major emphasis and a minor emphasis as well as specific research tools tailored to each student’s professional purposes and talents; a residency program that includes relevant professional teaching, research, and service activities; a general examination and a dissertation.

In lieu of a minor emphasis, a doctoral student may work with an advisory committee co-chair from another field to design a second major emphasis to construct an applied scholarly specialty in Educational Studies (e.g., educational disability studies, bilingual educational studies, philosophy of STEM education, sociology of educational athletics, history of educational psychology, biographical studies of educational leadership, Native American educational studies, etc.). Also, the doctoral program of study may include coursework that meets requirements for a graduate certificate offered by another academic unit (e.g., for principals or superintendents, or in Women’s & Gender Studies), to sharpen the focus of a student’s Educational Studies scholarship.

Student sitting in the Great Reading Room at Bizzell Library


Educational Studies is the perfect space for students, practitioners, and community members interested in in-depth and transformative conversations on schools/schooling, contemporary issues affecting our communities, as well the history of intellectual thought. Our students are engaging in conversations about education’s problems and possibilities and our own roles in society. Similarly, some Educational Studies students are experienced and concerned professional educators who think both critically and imaginatively not just about methods and techniques, but also especially about the purposes, meanings, and values of their work. These educators are interested in understanding their own positionalities and in engaging in transformative work within their schools. While other Educational Studies are interested in careers in non-profit organizations or government agencies where knowledge supported by course work grounded in the history, sociology, and philosophy of education will best prepare them. In any of these cases, Educational Studies may be well suited to develop your own insights and capacities for intellectual and leadership in education and your local community. Faculty in OU’s Educational Studies program are also uniquely grounded in interdisciplinary fields such as Latina/o/x Studies, African American/Black Studies, Indigenous Studies, and Queer and Gender Studies. Our students benefit a great deal from engaging in scholarship and conversations within these traditions.


As the oldest field in the modern education profession, scholars in the Educational Studies tradition analyze, evaluate, and construct educational narratives, artifacts, archives, concepts, values, purposes, theories, policies, pedagogies, and curricula as well as experimental institutions of learning. The contemporary fields educational inquiry claims its sources and standards of evidence, conceptual frameworks, analytic techniques, evaluative tools, rules of critical engagement, and pedagogical protocols directly from the arts, humanities, cultural studies, and social sciences—rather than from the behavioral sciences that now frame other fields’ methods of educational research and standards of educational expertise. Such interpretive, critical, and normative inquiries on education may concern any age group or the whole human lifespan, any or all subjects, many aims, diverse cultural contexts, various institutional settings, and even different historical periods.


Most Educational Studies graduate students work professionally as teachers, professors, community educators, and educational administrators—and engage in scholarly self-examination of such work—while pursuing the Ph.D. A monthly colloquium brings Educational Studies graduate students and faculty together informally for discussion of challenging issues and readings as a professional community of learning and inquiry led by students or invited speakers. Graduate students in Educational Studies practice statewide stewardship of the field and participate in professional development activities. All are encouraged also to become professionally active as scholars in the American Educational Studies Association, as well as in other relevant groups, such as the History of Education Society, International Standing Conference on the History of Education (ISCHE), Philosophy of Education Society, Association for Moral Education,  Society of Philosophy & History of Education, International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in Higher Education, and Gender and Education Association