School of Education - George Mason University

PhD Secondary Specialization

PhD students are often more interested in driving change by contributing their knowledge and understanding in some of the following ways: conducting research that reshapes their field of expertise, altering political agendas or simply training the next generation of teachers to approach their craft from a new angle.

All students in the PhD in Education and Human Development program in the School of Education at George Mason University are required to have a secondary specialization area of scholarship in addition to a major or professional specialization area of study in education. The purpose of the PhD secondary specialization requirement is to ensure that each student has adequate exposure to the concepts and research methods of a specialty or a coherent interdisciplinary field of study which is relevant to the field of specialization in education.

Secondary specialization areas normally consist of 12 semester hours of credit. The secondary specialization area of study provides an opportunity for advanced, intensive, and purposeful study in a particular specialty or a coherent interdisciplinary field of study. Accordingly, the requirements for the secondary specialization area require rigorous inquiry and involvement in scholarly activities. Through this area of study, students may explore and become familiar with the analytical concepts and assumptions that distinguish a particular specialty from other areas of study. The student may also develop proficiency in the methods by which specialists develop and test knowledge.

Students generally achieve the goals of the secondary specialization area of scholarship in one of the following ways:

  • Secondary Specialization in a Non-SOE Department

    Students may select a secondary specialization from any of the George Mason University departments or schools offering graduate programs in specific areas of study. The requirements for these secondary emphases are set and monitored by faculty in the administering department. A faculty member in the designated department serves as the student's secondary specialization area advisor.

  • Discipline-Based Secondary Specialization

    Secondary specialization areas may be selected from any of the academic specializations within the School of Education. However, the secondary specialization must be in a different program area than the student's major area of study. The course requirements for these secondary specialization areas are established by program area committees and monitored by individual faculty members. Generally, the course requirements for discipline-based secondary specialization areas include work both within SOE and other Mason schools, departments, and institutes. A faculty member in the designated program area serves as the student's secondary specialization area adviser.

  • Interdisciplinary Secondary Specialization

    Secondary specialization areas can be individually designed across SOE program areas and other Mason departments. Such secondary specialization areas should include a coherent rationale for the choice of specific coursework which meets the student's professional goals. The requirements for these secondary specialization areas must have the approval of a SOE faculty member who serves as the student's secondary specialization area advisor.

  • Master's Degree as a Designated Secondary Specialization

    Students who have earned a master's degree in a discipline other than the major area of program specialization may request using the master's degree for a reduction in credit of nine credit hours of the SOE secondary specialization area requirement. Credits used in reduction of credits are not subject to time limits, must have been applied to a previously earned post-baccalaureate degree, and must have received a minimum grade of B. Approval of such waivers and any additional requirements will be determined by the PhD in Education and Human Development Committee. A faculty member with expertise in the designated area should serve on the student's program advisory committee.