Education (Ph.D.)

Education (Ph.D.)
Education student and professors talking

Why pursue a Ph.D. in education at UNH?

Our education Ph.D. program is designed to broaden your understanding of the field of education through scholarly inquiry grounded in the reality of educational practice across varied settings. You’ll examine educational issues in philosophical, socio-cultural and policy related contexts, preparing yourself for a variety of research, teaching and leadership roles. Our graduates hold positions at all levels of schooling, from colleges and universities to K-12 schools, and in a range of related fields.

Program Highlights

You’ll work with faculty with expertise in the areas of children and youth in communities; curriculum and instruction/teacher education; experiential/outdoor education; and leadership and policy studies. You’ll tailor your individual program of study to your interests, working in collaboration with a guidance committee to build a curriculum that includes common core courses, specialized study, electives from across areas of inquiry, and research preparation. Our program enrolls full-and part-time students.

Potential career areas

  • Academia
  • Community agencies
  • Consultation
  • K-12 education
  • Policymaking
  • Research analysis

Request Information

We use text messages to communicate important event and application information (msg and data rates may apply).

Curriculum & Requirements

The program of Education offers a Ph.D. in education with specialization in fields related to the areas of:

  1. children and youth in communities;
  2. curriculum and instruction/teacher education;
  3. experiential/outdoor education;
  4. leadership and policy studies

The doctoral program is designed to engender a broad understanding of the field of education by encouraging focused scholarly inquiry grounded in the reality of educational practice across varied formal and informal settings. Professors and students work to place educational issues in philosophical, socio-­cultural, and policy­-related contexts. The program enrolls full­- and part-­time students.

An individual program of study is planned by the student and her or his guidance committee. Each student's program includes a set of common core courses, specialized study, a number of selected electives from across areas of inquiry, and required research preparation. Students must meet specific University, department, and program requirements. Within this framework, individual programs can vary widely from student to student depending upon the student's own interests and goals.

The Ph.D. in education provides students with preparation for research, teaching, and leadership in a variety of settings. Graduates hold positions at all levels of schooling, from colleges and universities to K­-12 schools. Former students are also involved in work as policy makers, community agency directors, consultants, and research analysts.

Program information: Contact the Education Department by phone: (603) 862-­2310 or e­mail:


Students admitted to the program must have completed a master's degree in education or a related field. Entering students are generally expected to have some experience working in areas related to education, broadly conceptualized. To apply, candidates must submit a Graduate School application and transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate coursework.

In addition to the personal statement required on the Graduate School application, candidates must submit an essay on an educational issue. This essay should discuss one issue in the field of education that is of interest to the candidate. It should explore the opportunities and challenges this issue poses and explain why the applicant finds it personally compelling (1,000 to 1,500 words in length).

Prior to completing and submitting the application, it is highly recommended that the candidate contact the Director of the Division of Educational Studies, who directs the Ph.D. in Education program, to arrange a phone, skype, or on-campus appointment to discuss their interests and fit with current research of faculty in the Education Department.  Contact the EducationDepartment by phone: (603) 862-­2310 or e­mail:

Degree Requirements

Candidates for the degree must meet admission requirements, develop and complete an approved program of study in consultation with their guidance committee, complete required coursework, undergo an annual assessment review by the Doctoral Advisory Committee, develop and submit a passing qualifying paper, establish a dissertation committee, develop an approved dissertation proposal to advance to candidacy, write and present the dissertation, and pass the final oral examination.

Program of Studies

Students typically complete 52 to 64 hours in graduate coursework following their matriculation. These hours do not include (EDUC 999 Doctoral Research).

At least five of the below common core courses are required of all students:

Required Common Core Courses
EDUC 902Doctoral Pro-seminar4
EDUC 904Qualitative Inquiry in Research4
EDUC 905Critical Inquiry in Education4
EDUC 906The Literature Review in Educational Research: Interdisciplinary Perspectives4
EDUC 981Quantitative Inquiry: Methods and Techniques of Educational Research4
Pre-requisites for EDUC 981:
EDUC 881Introduction to Statistics: Inquiry, Analysis, and Decision Making4
EDUC 978Applied Regression Analysis in Educational Research4
Specialization Areas and Requirements:
Children and Youth in Communities
Childhood Focus required courses: 1
HDFS 930
Child Development in Context
EDUC #948
Leadership and Advocacy in Early Childhood Education
EDUC 950
Understanding Culture in Research on Learning and Development
RMP 970
Teaching Practicum
Adolescent Focus required courses*: 1
EDUC 950
Understanding Culture in Research on Learning and Development
HDFS #950
Contemporary Issues in Adolescent Development
RMP 970
Teaching Practicum
Curriculum and Instruction/Teacher Education
Select five courses from the following:
EDUC 950
Understanding Culture in Research on Learning and Development
EDUC 958
Analysis of Teaching and Learning
EDUC 959
Issues in Education
EDUC 960
Curriculum Development
EDUC 986
Philosophy of Education
EDUC 991
Curriculum Theory I
EDUC #992
Curriculum Theory II
Experiential/Outdoor Education
Select five courses from the following:
EDUC 986
Philosophy of Education
KIN 882
Therapeutic Applications of Adventure Programming
KIN 883
Psych Factors of Adventure Ed
KIN 884
Historical Foundations of Outdoor Experiential Education
KIN #885
Program Models and Evaluation in Outdoor Education
KIN #886
Organization and Administration of Outdoor Education Programs
KIN 895
Advanced Studies
KIN 897
Advanced Topics in Outdoor Education
Leadership and Policy Studies
EDUC 964
Human Resources in Education
P-12 Focus required courses:
EDUC 973
Policy, Politics, and Planning in Education
EDUC 977
Leadership: The District Level Administrator
Higher Education Focus required courses:
EDUC 970
Foundations for Leadership in Higher Education
EDUC 976
Policy and Governance in Higher Education
Select a minimum of eight credits of elective coursework from the following:
EDUC 897
Special Topics in Education (Topics: Students, the Law & Higher Education, and Faculty & Higher Education Law)
EDUC 959
Issues in Education
EDUC 962
Educational Finance and Business Management
EDUC 967
School Law
EDUC 968
Collective Bargaining in Public Education
EDUC 995
Independent Study (School Facilities)

Additional required electives chosen in consultation with student's Guidance Committee. Students complete a minimum of five courses (20 credits) within, or directly related to, their chosen area of inquiry.

Integrative Coursework

Select two advanced inquiry education courses (e.g., EDUC 979 Applied Multilevel Modeling), courses in a different specialization, or courses taken in another department (e.g., psychology, sociology, economics, family studies).

Qualifying Paper

As a step toward Ph.D. candidacy, students must satisfactorily complete a qualifying paper as well as all other program requirements. After completing most of their coursework, and under advice of the student’s guidance committee, students may formally undertake the qualifying paper. The student formally proposes a qualifying paper concept to the guidance committee and undertakes writing the paper once the proposal is approved. The paper is evaluated by the student's guidance committee. The qualifying paper is used to evaluate the student's general knowledge in relevant areas of inquiry, and their fitness for engaging in research, particularly in the subject proposed for the dissertation.


To complete the degree, the student must present and defend a dissertation of original research and publishable quality.

  • Students will demonstrate general knowledge of the field of educational research, including types of research questions and methods of inquiry used in the field.
  • Students will learn to critique and design qualitative and quantitative educational research, and they will be able to identify and craft good argumentation in educational scholarship.
  • Students will demonstrate expertise in at least one form of data analysis or a non-empirical form of inquiry (e.g., historical, philosophical, literary).
  • Students will gain expertise in one or more substantive areas of inquiry in educational research.

Apply now


Deadlines: Applications must be completed by the following deadlines in order to be reviewed for admission:

  • Fall: Recommended Deadline 12/15; Final Deadline 1/15. Applications received after the recommended deadline will be reviewed only if space available.
  • Spring: N/A
  • Summer: N/A
  • Special: N/A

Application fee: $65

Campus: Durham

New England Regional: RI VT

Accelerated Masters Eligible: No

New Hampshire Residents

Students claiming in-state residency must also submit a Proof of Residence Form. This form is not required to complete your application, but you will need to submit it after you are offered admission or you will not be able to register for classes.


If you attended UNH or Granite State College (GSC) after September 1, 1991, and have indicated so on your online application, we will retrieve your transcript internally; this includes UNH-Durham, UNH-Manchester, UNH Non-Degree work and GSC. 

If you did not attend UNH, or attended prior to September 1, 1991, then you must upload a copy (PDF) of your transcript in the application form. International transcripts must be translated into English.

If admitted, you must then request an official transcript be sent directly to our office from the Registrar's Office of each college/university attended. We accept transcripts both electronically and in hard copy:

  • Electronic Transcripts: Please have your institution send the transcript directly to Please note that we can only accept copies sent directly from the institution.
  • Paper Transcripts: Please send hard copies of transcripts to: UNH Graduate School, Thompson Hall- 105 Main Street, Durham, NH 03824. You may request transcripts be sent to us directly from the institution or you may send them yourself as long as they remain sealed in the original university envelope.

Transcripts from all previous post-secondary institutions must be submitted and applicants must disclose any previous academic or disciplinary sanctions that resulted in their temporary or permanent separation from a previous post-secondary institution. If it is found that previous academic or disciplinary separations were not disclosed, applicants may face denial and admitted students may face dismissal from their academic program.

Letters of recommendation: 3 required

Recommendation letters submitted by relatives or friends, as well as letters older than one year, will not be accepted.

Personal Statement/Essay Questions

Prepare a brief but careful statement regarding:

1) reasons you wish to do graduate work in this field, including your immediate and long-range objectives, and 2) your specific research or professional interest and experiences in this field. A second essay is required. It must discuss one issue in the field of education that is of interest to you. Explore the opportunities and challenges this issue poses and explain why you find it personally compelling. It should be 1000 to 1500 words in length.

Statements must be included with your submitted application.

Important Notes

All applicants are encouraged to contact programs directly to discuss program-specific application questions.

International Applicants

Prospective international students are required to submit TOEFL, IELTS, or equivalent examination scores. English Language Exams may be waived if English is your first language. If you wish to request a waiver, then please visit our Test Scores webpage for more information.

Explore Program Details

The Children and Youth in Communities option is concerned with the support of positive child and youth development in community-based settings, and focuses on the ways in which societal and cultural institutions – including schools – shape developmental pathways, as well as the ways identities are formed as children and youth interpret their own academic, social, community, sexual, and political experiences. The program emphasizes an ecological and strengths-based view of children and youth, and sees individual learning and development as reciprocal with community growth and cultural transformation.

The Children and Youth in Communities option is a joint effort between the College of Liberal Arts and College of Health and Human Services faculty.  This approach provides students with a comprehensive scholarly and professional understanding of the social, cultural, psychological, physical, emotional and academic experiences of children and youth in local, national, and global contexts.

In the Curriculum and Instruction/Teacher Education program students study curriculum understanding and teacher development at all levels of schooling, ranging from early childhood to adulthood.  Students integrate theory and classroom practice in preparation for a future in teaching.

Curriculum and Instruction/Teacher Education are combined here because these two areas have considerable overlap, both in subject matter and in the career patterns of graduates, and as such have considerable overlap in course selection.

Experiential/Outdoor Education area of inquiry is selected by those interested in the fields of adventure programming and experiential education in schools and other educational settings.  It is a collaborative area of inquiry, in which doctoral students work with faculty from the Education Department in the College of Liberal Arts and from the College of Health and Human Services.   Foci of doctoral studies in this area of inquiry have included the following topics:

  • Moral development changes in outdoor education majors at universities
  • Integrating experiential learning in K-12 classrooms
  • Experiential teacher training models
  • The use of rites of passage and rituals in educational settings
  • The effects of adventure orientation programs on incoming and continuing students at university settings
  • Adventure therapy as an evidenced-based practice
  • Social skill development of middle school children in adventure programs

This specialization draws from such fields as educational administration, school law, collective bargaining, policy analysis, leadership, and higher education. Individuals who seek faculty positions in educational administration, higher education, and policy analysis often select this strand for specialization. Similarly, individuals who seek leadership positions in elementary and secondary schools as well as in higher education select this strand for their concentration. Graduates of this doctoral strand have assumed positions in higher education both as faculty members and as administrators. Our graduates have also used their preparation in leadership and policy to assume such positions as superintendent, director, and principal.

Our doctoral students have written quality dissertations on such subjects as school finance, supervision of employees in K-12 settings, as well as higher education cooperative extension, the role of chief information officers in higher education, and sexual harassment.

More to Explore

Take the Next Step

student in doorway of UNH campus building
Learn How to Apply
thompson hall in summer
Schedule a Visit
student at Career Event
Talk With Us