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

Have questions? Attend an information session or contact the specialization representative, Sujin Kim.

About the Specialization

The Multilingual/Multicultural Education (MME) Specialization prepares education researchers and practitioners across local, national, and international contexts to serve as advocates and change agents who support the empowerment of linguistically, culturally, and racially diverse students, families, and communities.

Doctoral students in this program apply cutting-edge theories and bring critical perspectives to educational inequities, embrace language as a resource, and place bilingual and multilingual students at the center of advocacy and social justice. Through rigorous scholarly training, students prepare to engage with interdisciplinary research that informs education policy and practice.

Coursework is designed to appeal to applicants from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds. We offer students from various specializations (such as education leadership, education policy, STEM education, special education, and teaching and teacher education) opportunities to explore the impact of cultural and linguistic diversity in their own fields.

What Will You Learn?

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

  • Theory and research in multilingual/multicultural education across the developmental spectrum
  • Foundational knowledge about multilingual/multicultural teaching and learning at all levels
  • Research methodologies to address a variety of multilingual/multicultural education topics
  • Specialized knowledge in multilingual/multicultural education related to your area of interest

What Our Students Are Saying

"The most impactful aspect of the Multilingual/Multicultural doctoral program was my growth in learning. I transitioned from a well-intended, informed, good ESOL teacher to an expert in my field. No other learning experience has changed my frame of reference and developed my understandings like this program. Starting the PhD program gave me confidence to advocate stronger and push harder. Completing my PhD has allowed me to successfully transition into division leadership positions where I can affect change on a larger scale and support all students having positive experiences in order to develop a positive self-identity."
~ Jennifer Santiago, 2018 graduate
"I pursued the Multilingual/Multicultural (MME) doctoral program as a social studies educator interested in exploring the civic actions of culturally and linguistically diverse students. The Multilingual/Multicultural doctoral program provided me with an opportunity to grapple with critical theories, research methodologies and pedagogies that advance anti-bias/racist education. More importantly, the brilliant scholars in the program cultivate an intellectual community rooted in caring and justice. The professors in this program truly believe and live what they teach. I am on my way as budding critical scholar and teacher educator because of the academic rigor, support and community I gained in the MME program. This program has prepared me to stand on the shoulders of the giants in the field."
~ Tiffany Mitchell Patterson, 2017 graduate
"The program has strengthened my 30-year experience in education as I utilized my learning to research best practices in teaching foreign languages. Part of my job as a consultant is to provide answers to educational institutes’ existing issues. The research skills I gained during my study have helped me address them in a methodical manner."
~ Faridah Turkistani, 2019 graduate

Our Graduates

Elisabeth Chan, PhD 2022

  • Dissertation Title: Critiquing Community in “Community” College: Critical Event Narrative Inquiry into Subtractive Schooling and Culture Loss with Immigrant ESL Students
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Meagan Call-Cummings

Nasim Khawaja, PhD 2022

  • Dissertation Title: The History of English as a Second Language (ESL) Testing at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA): A Critical Analysis
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Shelley Wong

Diana Meza, PhD 2022

  • Dissertation Title: Latinx Immigrant Parents and Their Children’s Teacher: Family Engagement Experiences
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Marjorie Haley

Laura Tokarczyk, PhD 2022

  • Dissertation Title: Exploring the Complexity of U.S. Language Teachers’ Identity Development Through the Lenses of Marginalization, Privilege, Empowerment, and Immunity
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Marjorie Haley

Asia Williams, PhD 2022

  • Dissertation Title: Using an Assets-Based Approach to Explore Black Womens' Pursuit and Persistence in Undergraduate Stem Majors
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Shelley Wong

Jeremy Aldrich, PhD 2021

  • Dissertation Title: Characteristics and Careers Decisions of Secondary Dual Language Teachers in the United States
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Rebecca Fox

Maria Soledad Alva, PhD 2021

  • Dissertation Title: Teachers' Literacy Perspectives and Practices with Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students: From Theory to Classroom
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Shelly Wong & Dr. Betsy DeMulder

Aseel Almubaddel, PhD 2020

  • Dissertation Title: Culturally Responsive Teaching in the Eyes of Saudi University Faculty: A Mixed Methods Study
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Marjorie Haley

Chelseann Christopher, PhD 2020 

  • Specialization: Multilingual/Multicultural Education and At-Risk Populations 
  • Dissertation Title: A Vocabulary Intervention Utilizing Multimedia and Native Language Supports for Dual Language Learners 
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Marjorie Haley  
  • Employment on Graduation: Adjunct Professor, George Mason University 

Tiffany Williams, PhD 2020

  • Dissertation Title: Mapping the Institutionalization of Evaluation in the U.S. Federal Government
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Marjorie Haley
  • Employment on Graduation: Family Engagement Director, Texas

Tiah McKinney, PhD 2019

  • Dissertation Title: Closing the Gap(s): A School-based Health Center Partnership Improving Health and Educational Outcomes for Low Socioeconomic Status African American Youth in an Urban Public School Academy
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Shelley Wong

Faridah Turkistani, PhD 2019

  • Dissertation Title: Toward a Better Understanding of Arabic as a Heritage Language: A Case Study of a High School Arabic Language Teacher
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Marjorie Haley
  • Employment on Graduation: Educational Consultant, Saudi Arabia

Dalal Al-Kandil, PhD 2018

  • Dissertation Title: Thinking Beyond the Given: Case Study on Saudi Graduate Students' Reflective Learning
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Marjorie Haley

Jennifer Santiago, PhD 2018

  • Dissertation Title: Newcomer ELs: How Experiences Shape Self-Identity
  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Marjorie Haley
  • Employment on Graduation: Director of Equity and Excellence, Falls Church City 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.