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The PhD in Education Program is individualized, interdisciplinary, and experiential. Students may opt to specialize in learning technologies design research (LTDR) or incorporate coursework within a self-defined interdisciplinary program of study.

Have questions? Attend an information session or contact the specialization representative, Dawn Hathaway.

About the Specialization

This PhD specialization in learning technologies design research is the first of its kind with an innovative approach that engages doctoral students in real-world, integrated, design and research.

What Will You Learn?

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

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

What Our Students Are Saying

"Studying Ph.D. in Education in the specialization of LTDR was an amazing experience. I became skillful in several expertise areas, including design-based research, UX design, design thinking, learning theories (particularly constructivism), and designing meaningful online learning experiences. Also, I became an expert in conducting research using a variety of methods beyond regular instruments. I graduated with confidence, unique experience, and full of expertise. These skills and knowledge helped me to achieve my goals."
~ Maimoona Humaid Al Abri, 2020 graduate
"The LTDR specialization at GMU prepared me to do a lot, and see the need to think in new ways. Even though I had worked in a 'high needs' middle school for some time, this program helped me truly see the issues anew, reflect on them critically, and design new ways the students could be supported. In addition, working as a GRA allowed me to learn how to conduct research and write about it in a way that was more authentic than just working in classes. It was like I was an apprentice. All of this continues my drive to look into what is happening in schools, study it formally, and share what is found to help others, whether they be scholars, teachers, or students."
~ Mark A. Stevens, 2018 graduate

Our Graduates

Angela Low, PhD 2021

  • Dissertation Title: An Exploration of Emergenetics® Training in the Federal Workplace
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Shahron Williams Van Rooij

Shea Walters, PhD 2021

  • Dissertation Title: The Influence of Epistemological Beliefs, Pedagogical Approaches, and Course Delivery Modes on Faculty Use of Learning Management Systems in Higher Education
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Nada Dabbagh

Maimoona Al-Abri, PhD 2020

  • Dissertation Title: Exploring the Pedagogical Impact of Integrating Open Educational Resources in a College Course: A Design-Based Research Study
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Nada Dabbagh

Falah Amro, PhD 2019

  • Dissertation Title: Scaffolding Students' Problem-Solving Skills in a Computer-Based Adaptive Learning Program: An Analysis of Scaffolding Types and Strategies
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Jered Borup & Dr. Nada Dabbagh

Laura McConnaughey, PhD 2019

  • Dissertation Title: A Design Research Project: Investigating an Integrated Mathematics Instructional System (IMIST) Focused on Inquiry Learning and Proficiencies in Symbolic Literacy, Conceptual Literacy, and Problem-Solving for High School Mathematics
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Dawn Hathaway & Dr. Priscilla Norton
  • Employment on Graduation: Business Owner/Consultant/Math Tutor, McMath Academy

Boshra Zawawi, PhD 2019

  • Dissertation Title: Designing & Evaluating the Effects of a Technology-Mediated Learning Environment That Integrates Formal & Informal Learning Activities to Advance Students' Knowledge & Skills of Instructional Design: A Design-Based Research Study
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Nada Dabbagh

Ahmad Almufarreh, PhD 2018

  • Dissertation Title: Examining Factors that Impact Students and Faculty Acceptance and Adoption of MLearning in Saudi Arabia
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Nada Dabbagh

Amy Ansong, PhD 2018

  • Dissertation Title: Examining the Role of Toys in Undergraduate Women's Decision to Major in Engineering
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Frederick Brigham

Michelle Dunham, PhD 2018

  • Dissertation Title: A Design-Based Research Study of Aspiring Leaders' Individual Development, Self-Efficacy and Self-Directed Learning Following Participation in an Autobiographical Leadership Development Program
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Brenda Bannan

Helen Fake, PhD 2018

  • Dissertation Title: A Delphi Study on the Dimensions of Personalized Learning in Workforce Training and Development Programs
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Nada Dabbagh

Rose Kraus, PhD 2018

  • Dissertation Title: Considering the Blend: The Impact on the Learner's Experience of an Activity/Affordance Blending Strategy Applied to Graduate Course Design
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Priscilla Norton
  • Employment on Graduation: Functional Applications Specialist, Fairfax County Public Schools

Mark A. Stevens, PhD 2018

  • Dissertation Title: Technology-Enhanced Learning for English Language Learners
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Priscilla Norton
  • Employment on Graduation: Social Studies Teacher, Fairfax County Public Schools

Ying Wu, PhD 2018

  • Dissertation Title: Perspectives of Graduate Students with Visual Impairments on Their Learning Experience in Online Education
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Priscilla Norton


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.