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

Have questions? Attend an information session or contact the specialization representative, Beverly Shaklee.

About the Specialization

The International Education Specialization is designed to help you develop the skills needed to be an effective educator in a global society. You will explore concepts and theories of education systems around the world, including the cultural and historical bases of these systems and the spread of educational trends across the globe. 

What Will You Learn?

The specialization features coursework and applied internships.

  • Focus on social justice and equity 
  • Designed for policymakers and practitioners  
  • Interdisciplinary curriculum combines core study in international education with coursework in economic, social, and political development, conflict resolution, institutional development, language and culture, and history.  
  • All courses are taught by highly qualified graduate faculty with expertise in international education, research, and development.

Our Graduates

Mainlehwon Vonhm, PhD 2021  

  • Dissertation Title: “A Family Tree Can Bend, But It Can Never Be Broken”: Teachers Affected by Civil War Understanding of Social Cohesion in Post-Conflict Liberia 
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Supriya Baily 
  • Employment on Graduation: Founder, Center for Peace Education (CPE) 

Rebecca Eisenberg, PhD 2022 

  • Dissertation Title: Intercultural Competence in Secondary Education: An Examination of Practice 
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. April Mattix Foster 
  • Employment on Graduation: Social Studies Teacher and Department Chair, Portland Public Schools (OR) 

Heba Elsherbeeny, PhD 2022 

  • Dissertation Title: Examining Elementary Students' Development of Intercultural Competence through Self-Regulatory Prompts  
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Anastasia Kitsantas 
  • Employment on Graduation: Co-Founder, Medina Montessori 

Kelley E. Webb, PhD 2022 

  • Dissertation Title: World Language Teachers' Understandings and Integration of Intercultural Competence: "More Than..." Language and Beyond  
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Rebecca Fox 
  • Employment on Graduation: ESOL Curriculum Specialist & Welcome Center Liaison, Hanover County Public Schools (VA) 

Woomee Kim, PhD 2022 

  • Dissertation Title: Perceived Impact of Global Online Teacher Professional Development for English as a Foreign Language Educators of Young Learners 
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Joan Shin 

Peng Zhang, PhD 2022 

  • Dissertation Title: Examining the Moderating Role of Home Culture Connectedness in Chinese International Students’ Acculturation in U.S. Universities  
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. April Mattix Foster 
  • Employment on Graduation: Coordinator, Global Academic Partnerships, Missouri State University 

Ahmed Atef, PhD 2021  

  • Dissertation Title: Leading Work-Based Learning Programs: How Administrators and Teachers Support Learning for Exceptional Female Immigrant High School Students- A Case Study 
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Supriya Baily 

Melissa Hauber, PhD 2021  

  • Dissertation Title: “We Must Not Stop Now”: Advocacy Ethnography with Syrian Refugees in Turkish Higher Education 
  • Dissertation Chairs: Dr. Meagan Call-Cummings & Dr. Rebecca Fox 
  • Employment on Graduation: Assistant Professor, University of Missouri 

Gina Amenta, PhD 2020 

  • Dissertation Title: Intercultural Competence in Elementary Educators in a Diverse School Setting 
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Beverly Shaklee 
  • Employment on Graduation: Instructional Coach, Fairfax County Public Schools 

Shannon Merriweather, PhD 2018 

  • Dissertation Title: Neighborhood Identity Examined through a Lens of Poverty: An Exploration of One Community 
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Beverly Shaklee 
  • Employment on Graduation: Equity Specialist, Fairfax County Public Schools 


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.