While many students complete doctoral work in Social and Cultural Foundations in order to become professors in a college or university, others pursue new careers or enrich existing ones in a variety of other educational contexts, including P-12 policy advocacy, teaching in P-12 schools, and work in educational foundations and social justice movements.  In any case, doctoral students in Social and Cultural Foundations at the University of Washington ground their work in the disciplines of either History or Philosophy. 

History: At the Ph.D. level, students in the history of education investigate educational ideas, experiences, policies, or practices of education in a particular historical time and context.  Successful Ph.D. applicants will have a strong background in history (i.e., an undergraduate major or minor in history or related discipline and/or a Masters degree in history or related field).  They also expect to complete at least one or two graduate courses in the Department of History and/or related fields at the University of Washington. 

Examples of Ph.D. dissertations undertaken by students in history of education:

  • Learning Place: Education and Planning in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, 1934-1955
  • Girls’ Vocational Education at Chemawa Indian School 1900-1930
  • The Imagined Schoolhouse: A Mass Cultural History of Education in America
  • The Critical Turn in Education: The Rise of An Academic Left From the 1960s to the 1980s
  • Education for a New Race: American Schools, Child Labor, and Constructing the Mexican in Wyoming, 1917-1943

Philosophy: At the Ph.D. level, philosophy describes not only the kinds of question and topics one pursues: philosophy also is a method for systematically developing and defending normative and conceptual arguments.  Successful Ph.D. applicants will have a strong background in philosophy (i.e., an undergraduate major or minor in philosophy or related discipline and/or a Masters degree in philosophy).

Examples of Ph.D. dissertations undertaken by students in philosophy of education:

• Conversations That Matter: De-colonizing the Inclusive Discourse of Indigenous Education
• A Philosophical Consideration of School Bullying
• A Philosophical Inquiry into the Promise to Close the Achievement Gap: Rhetoric or Resolution?

While many students complete graduate work in Social and Cultural Foundations in order to become professors in a college or university, others often pursue new careers or enrich existing ones in a variety of other educational contexts, including P-12 policy advocacy, teaching in P-12 schools, and work in educational foundations and social justice movements.

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