School of Education - George Mason University

Multilingual/Multicultural PhD Specialization

The Multilingual/Multicultural Education (MME) Ph.D. 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. Students enhance intended research trajectories and career pathways through internships and independent studies.

Graduates of this program will bring global perspectives to a wide range of settings, from schools and higher education to national, professional, government, non-profit, and advocacy organizations.

Celebrating our Graduates!

Sarah L. Eqab

Sarah L. Eqab, PhD 2016

Title of Dissertation: “Long-Term English Learners’ Perceptions of Academic Challenges”
Current Position/Title/Location: Instructional Support, Office of ESOL Services, Fairfax County Public Schools & Mason Adjunct Professor

How did the Multilingual/Multicultural doctoral program help you achieve your goals?
"The sole reason that I decided to pursue my doctorate was to shed light on a student population that was consistently overlooked - long-term English Learners. As a teacher, I felt actual programmatic changes were needed to better meet the needs of these students and I took it upon myself to make that change happen. This doctoral program helped me to align my research interests with actionable outcomes. In addition, this program helped to connect me with individuals who share the same interest and passion to advocate for marginalized students in our public school system."

Jennifer K. Santiago

Jennifer K. Santiago, PhD 2018

Title of Dissertation: "Newcomer English Learners: How experiences shape student identity"
Current Position/Title/Location:_Director of Equity and Excellence, Falls Church City Public Schools

How did the Multilingual/Multicultural doctoral program help you achieve your goals?
"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."

Program Structure

The program requires a minimum of 85 credits of study beyond the baccalaureate degree or a minimum of 55 credits beyond the master's degree. However, an individual's program typically requires 10 more credits depending on the person's goals, program requirements, and previous preparation. For both full-time and part-time students enrolled in doctoral programs, whether entry is post-baccalaureate or post-master's, the total time to degree will not exceed nine (9) calendar years from the time of first enrollment in the program as a doctoral student. Doctoral students are expected to progress steadily toward their degree and to advance to candidacy within no more than six (6) years. Students who do not meet published time limits because of compelling circumstances beyond their control may request an exception to this policy by petitioning their dean for a single extension of one calendar year prior to the expiration of the time limit. 

Course Work

General Culture (3 credits)

  • EDUC 800: Ways of Knowing (3 credits) ( OR EFHP860. EFHP 860 is for Kinesiology concentration students only. Other students should select EDUC 800. Course should be taken 1st semester.)

Research Methods (15 credits)

Professional Specialization (18 credits)

Doctoral studies for the Multilingual/Multicultural Education/ESL specialization in the PhD in Education and Human Development program allows for flexible academic planning and research according to participants' interests, career goals, and learning format.

Secondary Specialization (18 credits)

Students have a number of options for secondary concentrations including concentrations within the School of Education, within other George Mason University departments, interdisciplinary concentrations, or using the master's degree as part of the secondary concentration requirements.

Dissertation (12 credits)


Students complete a portfolio at several stages throughout their program. A portfolio provides a structured, selective collection of documents designed to promote reflection on coursework and provide a basis for evaluation of degree progress. The portfolio represents the scope and depth of a student's goals, plans, and accomplishments in coursework, independent study, research, internships, and other advanced learning activities. The portfolio also provides a vehicle for self-reflection and a comprehensive record of a doctoral student's experiences and ongoing progress toward academic and professional goals.

Licensure Disclosure

This program has been identified by George Mason University as one that may lead to a career requiring professional licensure/certification. Federal regulations require Mason to disclose information as to whether this program meets/does not meet the educational requirements for licensure/certification in your state, or whether such a determination has not been made. Please consult our Licensure Disclosure Tool for the disclosure statement specific to your desired state/program combination.

George Mason University will verify completion of the requirements of a Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) state-approved preparation program at the graduate or undergraduate level. Such verification does not guarantee the issuance of a Virginia Collegiate Professional, Postgraduate Professional, or Pupil Personnel license from the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is solely the student's responsibility to comply with all requirements for licensure by the Commonwealth. Under Virginia law, a social security number is required for licensure.

Contact the PhD Program for additional information.