Javascript is currently not supported, or is disabled by this browser. Please enable Javascript for full functionality.

Skip to Main Content
University of Pittsburgh    
2017-2018 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  Jun 13, 2024
2017-2018 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Social and Comparative Analysis in Education, EdD

Return to Academic Programs Return to: Academic Programs

Responding to the needs of individuals looking to advance their careers, the University of Pittsburgh School of Education offers a Doctor of Education (EdD) program that prepares you to be a leader in pre-K-12 schools, institutions of higher education, community-based organizations, research institutes, government agencies, or health and human services agencies. The EdD is structured as a three-year cohort-based program for working professionals, enabling them to balance life, work, and school through the use of an executive format schedule and a hybrid course delivery model. The cohort of students admitted complete a 90-credit program (30 credits transferred from a relevant master’s degree and 60 credits completed in the EdD program).

While the vast majority of EdD experiences will be shared, students will choose an area of concentration (ARCO). The Social and Comparative Analysis in Education ARCO prepares creative and innovative professionals to take leadership of their chosen professional fields. As scholars, practitioners, and citizens, EdD students in this ARCO conduct research related to their professional practice while expanding the support of students in pre-K-16 education and nonformal educational settings. This is in addition to creating structures, practices, and policies that reflect a commitment to equity and social justice, critical deliberation, and collaborative links between educational institutions and local and national communities.

Doctor of Edcuation (EdD) Curriculum

The Doctor of Education (EdD) program is intended for mid-career practitioners in higher education who desire the skills and credentials needed to advance their careers. It offers a rigorous theoretical and practical orientation for scholar practitioners aspiring to senior administrative careers in post-secondary education in the United States and internationally. It also prepares students to undertake applied research and develop careers in governmental agencies and policy research centers.

Degree Requirements: The Doctor of Education program (EdD) is a three-year structured program, built on a cohort model and goal driven. By cohort model we mean that the program is built on the premise that students are admitted as a group, have shared courses and go through the program on a shared timeline. The cohort of students admitted complete a three-year 90 credit program, which includes 30 credits transferred from a relevant master’s degree. The ideal EdD candidate enters the program with a master’s degree in a related field as well as relevant professional experience. Therefore, the program is built to guide students towards achieving these goals through targeted milestone projects and core foundation courses. The program is designed to support working professionals meet their professional goals.


The curriculum merges several types of learning environments, including a one-day orientation, a week long intensive on-ramp experience, hybrid seminars, and an internship.

Year 1: Summer Year 1: Fall Year 1: Spring Year 1: Summer

Foundation 1: Framing, Identifying, and Investigating Problems of Practice (3 credits)

Practitioner Inquiry 1 (3 credits)

Foundation 2: Leadership in Groups and Organizations (3 credits

ARCO: Course 1 (3 credits)

Foundation 3: Education Contexts (3 credits)

ARCO: Course 2 (3 credits)

Foundation 4: Investigating Policy as a Lever for Change (3 credits)

Practitioner Inquiry 2 (3 credits)

Year 2: Fall Year 2: Spring Year 2: Summer

Supervised Practitioner Inquiry (3 credits)

ARCO: Course 3 (3 credits)

Practitioner Inquiry 3 (3 credits)

ARCO: Course 4 (3 credits)

Inquiry Practicum (3 credits)

Supervised Internship (3 credits)

Year 3: Fall Year 3: Spring Year 3: Summer

Dissertation of Practice (6 credits)

Dissertation of Practice (6 credits)

Dissertation of Practice (6 credits)



90 credits total:

Transfer credits from graduate work in the candidate’s specialized area of concentration: 30 credits

Core Courses: 24 credits (12 credits in Foundations and 12 credits in Practitioner Inquiry courses)

  • Students take eight core courses that are collaboratively designed by faculty members from throughout the School of Education, allowing them to gain an interdisciplinary perspective.

Supervised Practitioner Inquiry: 3 credits / Supervised Internship: 3 credits

  • Supervised Practitioner Inquiry: The doctoral inquiry seminar is led by a group of faculty members with focus on developing deep knowledge in particular areas of interest.
  • Supervised Internship: Students choose from three types of internship experiences: a job-embedded internship, an aspirant internship, or a global studies experience.

Area of Concentration (ARCO) Courses: 12 credits

  • Students take four ARCO courses that help them to develop specialized knowledge in their area of concentration.

Dissertation of Practice: 18 credits

  • The dissertation of practice project addresses a problem or dilemma directly related to the student’s academic and professional fields.

Doctoral Degree Requirements

The requirements presented in this section are school-wide requirements that have been established in addition to the University-wide requirements detailed under general academic regulations. Students should review the general academic regulations section in addition to the specific school information detailed below.

Doctoral Programs

Doctor of Education (EdD) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree programs are offered by the School of Education to provide advanced graduate study and professional specialization in education. Each recipient must show evidence of superior scholarship, mastery of a special field of knowledge, and ability to do significant and relevant research. In doctoral study in the School of Education, a distinction is made between the preparation of education professionals resulting in the EdD degree and the preparation of education professionals resulting in the PhD degree. While EdD and PhD degrees produce experts in critical inquiry, the School of Education distinguishes the degrees according to, among other factors, the focus of the area of inquiry, the type of knowledge advanced, and the career path chosen by the individual student.

PhD research focuses on the study of basic problems arising primarily from behavioral and social science theory with the goal of advancing such theory and knowledge. Individuals pursuing this degree often seek academic positions in universities or research institutes. EdD research focuses on the study of applied, practical problems with the goal of contributing to solutions. Careers for these individuals often center on professional positions as administrators, curriculum developers, or specialists in schools and clinical settings.

Credit Requirements

Doctoral degrees require a minimum of 90 credits in a degree program beyond the baccalaureate, distributed as follows: a minimum of 72 course credits (including transfer credits) and a minimum of 18 dissertation credits. Doctoral-level courses are numbered in the 3000 series, but courses numbered in the 2000 series may also be appropriate for doctoral study. Generally, courses numbered below 2000 do not meet the minimum requirements for doctoral study. Exceptions require the approval of the program or department. No lower-level undergraduate course (numbered 0001-0999) may be applied toward a doctoral degree.

Grade Point Average/Academic Probation

All students enrolled in doctoral degree programs are required to maintain a grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.300. The cumulative GPA is based on all course work taken after enrollment in the appropriate doctoral program. A student is automatically placed on academic probation when the cumulative GPA after 9 credits or more, exclusive of transfer credits, falls below 3.300. Although the credits allowed for acceptable work completed elsewhere by students enrolled in the School of Education count toward the total number of credits required for the graduate degree, the grades earned in such courses are not included in GPA computations.

While on probation students are limited to registering only for courses in which a letter grade is given.  To be removed from probation status, a student must achieve a 3.500 GPA in 6 credits or more.  A student can only be placed on academic probation status once during their program of study.  Students placed on academic probation status will receive notification in the form of a letter from the School of Education, and they will be recommended to seek guidance from their academic advisor.

Ordinarily, students are required to terminate graduate study after two terms on probation.  A student who does not meet the GPA or credit requirements will be dismissed from the School of Education, unless serious extenuating circumstances exist. The request for continuation must include a recommendation made by the Department Chair (or designated faculty member) and the academic advisor, with the recommendation approved by the Dean of the school.

Leave of Absence

Under special conditions, graduate students may be granted one leave of absence. A maximum leave of two years may be granted to doctoral students. The length and rationale for the leave of absence must be stated in advance, recommended to the dean by the department, and approved by the dean. If approved, the time of the leave shall not count against the total time allowed for the degree being sought by the student. Readmission following an approved leave of absence is a formality.

Academic Integrity Policy

Students have the right to be treated by faculty in a fair and conscientious manner in accordance with the ethical standards generally recognized within the academic community (as well as those recognized within the profession). Students have the responsibility to be honest and to conduct themselves in an ethical manner while pursuing academic studies. Should a student be accused of a breach of academic integrity or have questions regarding faculty responsibilities, procedural safeguards including provisions of due process have been designed to protect student rights. These general procedures may be found in Guidelines on Academic Integrity: Student and Faculty Obligations and Hearing Procedures at The School of Education has its own academic integrity policies, posted on the School of Education website.  Students are encouraged to review these school-specific guidelines as well.

Doctor of Education (EdD) Degree Requirements

The three-year structured EdD program is built on a cohort model and is goal driven. The cohort of students admitted complete a three-year 90-credit program, which includes 30 credits transferred from a relevant master’s degree.

While a vast majority of EdD experiences are shared (common coursework, internship experiences, and common outcome metrics) students pick one of the following areas of concentration:

  1. Education Leadership
  2. Health & Physical Activity
  3. Higher Education Management
  4. Language, Literacy & Culture
  5. Out of School Learning
  6. Science, Technology, Engineering & Math
  7. Social and Comparative Analysis in Education
  8. Special Education

EdD students take eight core courses (24 credits). This includes four courses (12 credits) focused on building foundational knowledge and four courses (12 credits) specifically focused on research and methodology. Candidates will also develop specialized knowledge in their area of concentration through course projects, relevant internships, and four 3000 level courses (12 credits). Students take six credits each term, making them part time students throughout the duration of the program.

Coursework will be offered by alternative delivery models. Week-long intensive on-ramp experiences, hybrid seminars, week-long intensive institutes, cross-disciplinary research seminars, and aspirant internships are available. Integrating diverse learning environments offers a range of structures and opportunities for doctoral students and faculty to form and access “communities of practice” face-to-face in a classroom or via CourseWeb (discussion boards, wikis, blogs, Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, etc.). Communities of practice are intentionally created collaborative learning environments that extend and enrich intellectual discourse within a socially constructed space. This flexible structure is especially important for part time doctoral students to thrive as scholarly practitioners.

A school-wide EdD admissions Committee reviews all applications for the EdD degree program.  The prospective concentration advisor also reviews the application to affirm the match between student and faculty interests. A 3.5 master’s GPA is recommended and GRE scores are not required.  For international students a TOEFL score of 100 on the internet-based test with a minimum of 21 on each subtest, 240 on the computer-based test, or 600 on the paper-based test. Interviews will be conducted.

Plan of Studies

Prior to advancement to the formal stage called Doctoral Study, the student, in consultation with the academic advisor, must complete a plan of studies that conforms to program requirements. The plan of studies, approved by the academic advisor, the program coordinator, and department is filed in the Office of Admissions and Enrollment Services.

The EdD program requires that students file a Plan of Studies during the fall semester of their first year in the program.  In formulating the doctoral Plan of Studies, both the student and the academic advisor must pay close attention to these School of Education requirements as well as requirements specific to the particular program or department in which the degree specialization is taken. It is the responsibility of the student to learn particular requirements from the academic advisor. The completion of requirements for the doctorate must be satisfied through registration at the University of Pittsburgh.

Course Requirements

A doctoral Plan of Studies should include the following degree requirements:

  • EdD Foundations Courses (12 credits)
  • EdD Practitioner Inquiry Courses (12 credits)
  • Area of Concentration Courses (12 credits)
  • Additional Area of Concentration Courses (21 transfer credits)
  • Supporting Field (9 transfer credits)
  • Supervised Practitioner Inquiry and Internship (6 credits)
  • Dissertation in Practice (18 credits)

All EdD students will complete eight common core courses: four EdD Foundations Courses (12 credits) and four EdD Practitioner Inquiry Courses (12 credits) designed specifically for EdD students and aligned with the milestones and requirements of the program.  In addition to the eight common courses, students take four courses in their area of concentration.  Each area of concentration has specified the courses which fulfill this requirement. 

Courses approved for transfer credit must be listed individually on the plan of studies. Any changes in the plan of studies must be approved by the academic advisor and the program coordinator, conform to program requirements, and be filed with the Office of Admissions and Enrollment Services. At the time of graduation, completed courses must comply with the approved plan of studies.

Supervised Practitioner Inquiry and Internship

EdD students are required to complete 3 credits of Supervised Practitioner Inquiry and 3 credits of Supervised Internship. 

Students in enroll in Supervised Practitioner Inquiry in order to prepare a critical review of literature related to a problem of practice that students identify in consultation with their advisors.  Successful completion of this course constitutes completion of the comprehensive examination (as explained below).  Supervised Practitioner Inquiry is designed to evaluate students’ strengths, weaknesses, motivations, and potential for acquiring in-depth knowledge of education issues in the declared area of study and to assess students’ ability to write clearly.  The Supervised Inquiry requirement is designed to assure that each doctoral student successfully completes a review of literature on a problem of practice that builds on the content in the foundations and area of concentration courses.  Students work directly with their advisors to complete the review of literature.

There are three types of Supervised Internship experiences that students may complete:

  1. Job-embedded internship. Students already working in their field of choice may elect to have their current responsibilities reviewed for eligibility for a “full-time job-embedded internship.” If the advisor and student agree that the students’ current responsibilities represent a relevant and meaningful internship experience, then a plan will be developed that will engage the student in analysis of practice and leadership activities.
  2. Aspirant internship. Students will have an apprenticeship experience in which they shadow and collaborate with a trained mentor in their discipline.
  3. Global studies experience: Students will have the opportunity to design an international experience that provides direct observation or experience with practice or policy in another country.

The Supervised Internship experience allows students to integrate learning that has occurred across multiple experiences and courses throughout the program as well as previous professional expertise. 

Acceptance of Transfer Credits

EdD students apply a maximum of 30 post-baccalaureate credits for transfer from other institutions in keeping with University-wide requirements (see Acceptance of Transfer Credits).  Both applicants for admission and continuing University of Pittsburgh doctoral students seeking acceptance of transfer credits toward a doctoral degree must submit their transcripts with a completed “Course Credits Accepted” form, available on the School of Education website. When approved, transfer credits must appear on the student’s Plan of Studies. The registrar, after notification of acceptance of transfer credits, will enter the individual transfer credits on the student’s transcript. Grades (and quality points) are not recorded for credits accepted by transfer.

Each course transferred must meet the following conditions:

  • The course grade must be at least B (GPA=3.0) or its equivalent.
  • The course must be judged relevant to a student’s doctoral Plan of Studies by the program or department.
  • The course must be approved for equivalent graduate degrees at the accredited institution, extension, or off-campus center of other institutions at which the course was taken.


The EdD program has no residency requirement.

Statute of Limitations

From the student’s initial registration for doctoral study at the University of Pittsburgh, all requirements for the EdD must be completed within a period of 12 years (or 10 years if the student has received credit for a master’s degree appropriate to the field of study).

Under certain conditions, the dean/associate dean may grant an extension of a student’s statute of limitations. The request for extension must include a recommendation made by the academic advisor, with the recommendation approved by the Dean of the school.  The statute of limitations can only be extended once.

Doctoral Preliminary Evaluation

Each doctoral student is required to take a preliminary evaluation designed to assess the breadth of the student’s knowledge of the discipline, the student’s achievement during the initial phase of graduate study, and the student’s potential to apply research methods independently.  The EdD preliminary examination is designed to assess and support the student’s continued success in doctoral study. The exam consists of a written statement of a defensible problem of practice. The statement articulates the proposed topic, the significance of the problem, scope of inquiry, and questions that will be asked of the literature. This initial assessment is structured to achieve two purposes: (a) to evaluate the student’s strengths, weakness, motivation, and potential for acquiring in-depth knowledge of education issues in the student’s declared area of study and (b) to assess the student’s ability to write clearly.

Advancement to Doctoral Study

To advance to doctoral study, a student must:

  • be admitted to full graduate status;
  • have completed at least 15 post-master’s graduate credits at the University of Pittsburgh;
  • have earned a GPA of at least 3.30 (transfer credits not considered) in post-master’s graduate study at the University of Pittsburgh;
  • have a Plan of Studies approved by the academic advisor and the program coordinator on file in the Office of Admissions and Enrollment Services; and
  • have passed the doctoral preliminary evaluation.

Comprehensive Examination

The EdD Comprehensive Exam is a review of supporting scholarship and professional knowledge related to the problem of practice.  The review of supporting scholarship and professional knowledge related to the problem of practice is an integrated conceptual synthesis across sources that addresses these questions:  What has been done to address the problem? What has been learned about this problem? What theories, practices, policies, and contested ideas have emerged?

The review of supporting scholarship and professional knowledge is the final project for EDUC 3009 Supervised Practitioner Inquiry in the fall term of the second year of the EdD program.  The advisor approves the review of supporting scholarship and professional knowledge. Evidence of advisor approval is a passing grade in EDUC 3009.

A student must be registered in the term during which the comprehensive examination is taken. In no case may the student be graduated in the same term in which the comprehensive examination is taken. After the comprehensive examination is passed, the student has the remaining time specified by the statute of limitations to complete all remaining doctoral degree requirements.

Ordinarily, students do not register for dissertation credits until they have passed the comprehensive examination.

Doctoral Competency

Each doctoral student is required to demonstrate doctoral competency by satisfactorily completing the supervised inquiry and internship and doctoral comprehensive examination. The form certifying that a student has demonstrated doctoral competency is initiated by the student’s academic advisor, signed by the academic advisor, the program coordinator, and the department chairperson, and then sent to the Office of Admissions and Enrollment Services. The dean/associate dean notifies the student that doctoral competency has been demonstrated.

Dissertation in Practice

The EdD program requires a Dissertation in Practice that contributes to the improvement of practice in the student’s area of specialization and reflects the application of relevant theory and knowledge.

Doctoral Committee

The EdD doctoral committee will consist of the research advisor and at least two other members, including one member from an area of concentration other than the student’s primary area. This member may be from another department in the School of Education, from another department in the University of Pittsburgh, or from an appropriate graduate program at another academic institution. At least two committee members shall be full-time faculty of the School of Education (tenured, tenure stream, or non-tenure-stream), and at least one member shall be an experienced practitioner or former practitioner possessing a doctorate and having significant experience in the area of the proposed project. In general, it is expected that all committee members will have earned a doctoral degree (PhD or EdD).

The doctoral committee will decide on the acceptability of the final dissertation project submission, with each committee member signing an appropriate form and indicating whether he/she deems the project to be a pass or a failure. Students can appeal that decision only with respect to issues of academic integrity, as is the case for all course grades. Appeals shall be done informally first, through the associate dean for student affairs, with the current School policy on such appeals being followed for any further steps.

The program faculty, the department chairperson, and the dean/associate dean must approve membership on and subsequent changes in the doctoral committee. After the program has approved the doctoral committee, the research advisor initiates the “Proposed Doctoral Committee” form to obtain the signatures of the program coordinator, the department chairperson, and the dean/associate dean. The dean/associate dean must give final approval of the doctoral committee before the overview examination may be scheduled.

Dissertation Overview

The dissertation overview is a written proposal and must be presented to the doctoral committee for approval after doctoral competency has been demonstrated.  The dissertation overview includes three components:  the final version of the statement of problem of practice, review of supporting scholarship and professional knowledge, and applied inquiry plan. The Applied Inquiry Plan guides the development of the Dissertation in Practice.  Students develop a potential solution to their problem of practice, such as an intervention or policy change and a plan to study the implementation and predicted outcomes OR collect and analyze data to identify underlying causes and associated factors related to their problem of practice.

The Overview Examination

The overview examination is conducted by the doctoral committee in September of the third year of the EdD program, is chaired by the research advisor, and is open to any faculty member of the graduate faculty of the University wishing to attend. Although any faculty member may participate in the examination, only members of the doctoral committee may be present during the final deliberation and vote on approving the overview. Each member of the doctoral committee must sign the overview form and vote on approving the overview. The committee must unanimously approve the overview in order for the student to be advanced to doctoral candidacy.

Dissertation in Practice


The Dissertation in Practice has two sections.  The first section is a report that includes the following parts:

  1. Statement of Problem of Practice
  2. Review of Supporting Scholarship and Professional Knowledge
  3. Applied Inquiry Plan
  4. Summary of major findings from the enactment of the applied inquiry plan.
  5. Summary of conclusions and recommendations.
  6. Dissemination Plan - How will student’s research impact practice?The dissemination plan frames the Demonstration of Scholarly Practice

The second section of the Dissertation in Practice is a Demonstration of Scholarly Practice, a public product that supports the advancement of students’ profession, including but not limited to, publishable article in a practitioner journal, white paper, book chapter, presentation to a Board of an organization or agency, policy analysis report, policy brief, video, performance, curriculum resources, professional development plan, professional development resources, program guide, intervention manual, evaluation report, research report, and other products that further students’ professional goals.

Students should review the information detailed under Dissertation and Abstract and Final Oral Examination for University-wide regulations regarding dissertations and dissertation defenses.

The Dissertation Defense

The same rules apply here as detailed under The Overview Examination above.

Vote on the Dissertation Defense

Each member of the doctoral committee must sign the dissertation defense form and vote to pass or fail the student on the dissertation defense. If the decision of the committee is not unanimous, the case is referred to the dean/associate dean for resolution.

Submission Requirements and Fees

For general information concerning preparation of the dissertation, refer to the ETD website.

At least one week prior to the end of the term, the dissertation is submitted in final form to the Office of Admissions and Enrollment Services along with the following materials:

  • Signed dissertation defense form
  • Signed ETD approval form
  • Two copies of the dissertation abstract initialed by the research advisor
  • Completed Proquest Agreement forms
  • Completed Survey of Earned Doctorate form
  • Receipt from the Student Payment Center for payment of the dissertation processing fee
  • Two copies of the title page

Information concerning requirements for preparing the abstract, the forms to be completed, and the amount of the fees to be paid is available in the Office of Admissions and Enrollment Services. The dissertation and abstract will be examined there to see that they are prepared in an acceptable form and style. For dissertation preparation style information refer to the ETD Format Guidelines. Questions not answered in these documents regarding form and/or style will be referred to the dean/associate dean for review and final decision.

Return to Academic Programs Return to: Academic Programs

Catalog Navigation