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The PhD in Education Program is individualized, interdisciplinary, and experiential. Students may opt to specialize in educational psychology or incorporate coursework within a self-defined interdisciplinary program of study.

Have questions? Attend an information session or contact the specialization representative, Michelle Buehl.

About the Specialization

The demand for educational psychology experts continues to grow. There are many opportunities with government and private research organizations, as well as corporations who want to maximize the effectiveness of their employee training.

To accomplish self-defined goals, students engage in a variety of intensive courses, independent studies, seminars, and internships of a highly practical nature. Success in the program requires a high degree of personal initiative, self-directed learning, and commitment to inquiry as a style of personal and professional growth.

What Will You Learn?

The specialization features coursework and applied internships that enable you to learn:

  • Theory and research in educational psychology
  • Foundational knowledge about educational psychology
  • Research methodologies to address a variety of educational psychology topics
  • Specialized knowledge in educational psychology related to your area of interest

Our Graduates

Laura Dallman, PhD 2022

  • Dissertation Title: The Role of Teacher Emotional Intelligence and Cultural Intelligence in Establishing Positive Social-Emotional Dynamics with Diverse Student Groups
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Anastasia Kitsantas

Maxwell Gocala-Nguyen, PhD 2022

  • Dissertation Title: Examing the Motivation of Non-traditional Students and Their Lived Experience Attending/Returning to a Four-year Degree Program
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Michelle Buehl

Andrew Porter, PhD 2022

  • Dissertation Title: Investigating the Impact of the Self-Regulatory Instructional Planning Approach on the Lesson Planning and Self-Regulatory Development of Pre-Service Secondary
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Erin Peters-Burton

Jennifer Crewalk, PhD 2021

  • Dissertation Title: Undocually Trainers' Risk, Resilience and Resistance: A Descriptive Case Study
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Kimberly Sheridan

Anthony Arciero, PhD 2020

  • Dissertation Title: Life Purpose in College Undergraduate Students: Structure, Measurement, and a Proposed Model of Thriving
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Angela Miller

Jordan Goffena, PhD 2020

  • Dissertation Title: The Development and Transfer of Self-Regulation during Motor Skill Acquisition: A Social Cognitive Perspective
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Anastasia Kitsantas

Hyle Daley, PhD 2020

  • Dissertation Title: Teachers, Play, and Narrative Sandboxes: A Collective Case Study of Teachers’ Perceptions of Narrative-Based Educational Gameplay
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Kimberly Sheridan

Swati Mehta, PhD 2019

  • Dissertation Title: Negotiation of Motherhood with Self, Family, and Cultural Communities Among First-Generation Indian Immigrant Mothers of Toddlers
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Michelle Buehl

Jerusalem Merkebu, PhD 2019

  • Dissertation Title: A Mixed-Methods Investigation of Metacognitive Reflection, Emotional Regulation, and Career Decision-Making in Undergraduate Students
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Anastasia Kitsantas

Maryam Saroughi, PhD 2019

  • Dissertation Title: Examining Relationships among Self-Efficacy, Self-Regulation, Stereotype Threat, Sense of Belonging, and Well-Being in Immigrant Language-Minority Undergraduate Students
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Anastasia Kitsantas

Aubrey Whitehead, PhD 2019

  • Dissertation Title: Examining Relationships among Undergraduates' Social Group Influences, Motivation, and STEM Degree Persistence
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Anastasia Kitsantas

Missy Coffey, PhD 2018

  • Dissertation Title: A Case Study of Part C Coordinators' Use of Data through Implementation of Results Driven Accountability
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Michelle Buehl

Holly Klee, PhD 2018

  • Dissertation Title: A Multilevel Mediation Model of Control-Value Theory to Predict College Students' Mathematics Anxiety
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Michelle Buehl

Lily Lopez-McGee, PhD 2018

  • Dissertation Title: Examining Undergraduate Students' Goals and Self-Efficacy Beliefs in Study Abroad Programs
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Anastasia Kitsantas


Each student in the PhD in Education Program is mentored by faculty in the development of their own personalized program of study that fosters their ability to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of significant theories, developments, and practices in one's chosen area of study
  • Understand, utilize, and interpret basic principles, ethical practice, and methodologies of educational research design and data analysis
  • Effectively communicate both orally and in writing to a variety of professional audiences

Supported professional experiences and internships beyond required coursework support mastery of these competencies, including:

  • Attending and/or presenting your scholarly work at professional conferences to researchers, policymakers, and practitioners
  • University teaching and/or co-teaching experiences in professional areas of expertise
  • Supervising pre-service teachers
  • Writing, editing, and reviewing for scholarly journals
  • Research apprenticeships and assistantships
  • Supported independent research in an area of professional interest
  • Internships unique to the individual’s area of study
  • Building a professional portfolio

The PhD in Education is awarded after the successful completion of:

  • Coursework
  • A comprehensive portfolio assessment
  • A written dissertation
  • An oral dissertation defense

Why This Program?

Are you ready to expand your impact in the field of education?

A PhD in Education from GMU can help you reach that goal! Our accomplished faculty can help you leverage your existing expertise in the field of education and deepen your toolkit of professional knowledge and skills that will take your career to the next level of influence. 
Our graduates have attained consequential professional positions such as:

  • Academic faculty at post-secondary institutions
  • Leadership and research positions in federal and state government, post-secondary institutions, research organizations, and non-government agencies
  • Analysts and consultants with private companies, political advocacy groups, education or research think tanks, and professional associations
  • School, district, and statewide leadership positions in major preK-12 school districts, technical assistance centers, and other informal educational agencies
  • Curriculum and instructional materials developers

Our flexible student-centered program structure allows each student to design a personalized, interdisciplinary program of study that helps them to become outstanding educational researchers, practitioners, and leaders in their respective fields. Our faculty have strengths in:

Theoretical & Applied Research

  • Choose from a wide range of advanced quantitative and qualitative research methods coursework options
  • Have the opportunity to gain research experience on projects funded by federal agencies, including the Institute for Education Sciences and the National Science Foundation 

Advanced Teacher Preparation

  • Choose from a wide range of teaching and teacher preparation coursework and internship options, including opportunities to co-teach university courses with faculty and supervise teacher internships
  • Receive advanced training in online teaching and learning

Education Leadership & Policy

  • Choose from a wide range of coursework and internship opportunities in leadership and policy fields, both national and international
  • Have unique opportunities for experiential learning due to proximity to Washington DC and several of the largest school systems in the country

Movement & Sport Sciences

  • Choose an intensive Kinesiology program with opportunities for experiential learning in state-of-the-art movement labs.
  • Or, create a custom program of study in fields related to movement and sport sciences, including teaching in physical education and sport management

How Can I Learn More?

Visit our Frequently Asked Questions and Answer Page

Frequently Asked Questions

Attend an Information Session

The PhD in Education Program periodically conducts information sessions to acquaint applicants with our program and the admissions process. Information sessions include an overview of the PhD in Education Program followed by breakout sessions with faculty who can answer questions about professional specialization areas. Scheduled sessions are listed at the top of this page.