Sep 26, 2023  
USC Catalogue 2023-2024 
USC Catalogue 2023-2024

Education (PhD)

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Program Requirements

The PhD program requires a minimum of 63 units of course work, comprising the following elements: Core Block (16 units), Education Block (15 units), Research Block (15 units), Cognate Block (12 units) and Dissertation Proposal and Dissertation Block (5 units).

Core Block

The core represents the essential knowledge that serves as the groundwork for later course work and for other research and scholarly activities within the program and beyond with a particular focus on educational equity. This work is completed in the first year.

Additional Requirements

Education Block

Engage in directed readings, research and USC Rossier School of Education elective courses. You also have the opportunity to collaborate with educational practitioners in our EdD program during this block.

Research Block

Courses in this block provide the basic tools to pursue systematic, programmatic, empirical investigation. It includes qualitative and quantitative elements with the understanding that complex educational problems require a variety of investigative approaches. Areas include research design, analysis of variance/multiple regression, qualitative methods, measurement, advanced qualitative or quantitative analysis, or other related areas. Courses may be taken inside or outside the Rossier School of Education.

Cognate Block

Develop an interdisciplinary perspective on educational issues with courses taken at the University of Southern California outside of the Rossier School of Education.

Dissertation Block

Prepare for your dissertation research. This block continues through dissertation writing and defense.  

Transfer of Course Work

The maximum number of transfer credits that can be applied toward the degree is 20 units. The faculty of the student’s degree program determines whether transfer credit is applicable toward a specific graduate degree.

Faculty Adviser

A designated faculty member provides the academic advisement for entering graduate students at the point of admission. 

Screening Process

After you have completed 24 units of course work, the doctoral screening committee will assess your performance and determine your readiness to continue in the program.

Additionally, students will be assessed each year based on adviser input, course work and research progress. If student progress is not satisfactory as determined by the student’s faculty adviser, warnings will be issued in accordance with USC Graduate School policies.

Qualifying Exam Committee

The qualifying exam committee is composed of five members. The committee chair and at least two additional members must have an appointment in the student’s program. One member must be from outside of Rossier, whether internal to USC (outside member) or external to USC (external member). The fifth member can be from Rossier, USC or outside of USC.

Qualifying Examinations

As a prerequisite to candidacy for the PhD, students must pass written and oral qualifying examinations. The qualifying examination is designed to assess a student’s readiness to undertake dissertation research and to assess the student’s ability to critically analyze and synthesize theoretical and methodological knowledge. Please see The Graduate School  page for policies regarding committees and pass/fail results. 

Admission to Candidacy

Admission to candidacy is a formal action taken by the faculty that is based upon passing the qualifying examination and completing all PhD course requirements (with the exception of EDUC 794a,  EDUC 794b,  EDUC 794d,  EDUC 794z  Doctoral Dissertation). Notification of admission or denial of admission to candidacy is by letter from the associate vice provost for graduate programs.

Dissertation Committee

The dissertation committee is composed of at least three and no more than five members. The committee chair must have an appointment in the student’s program. All committees must have a majority of members from the student’s home program. One member must be from outside of Rossier, whether internal to USC (outside member) or external to USC (external member).

Doctoral Dissertation

After the qualifying examination is passed, students must enroll in EDUC 794a,  EDUC 794b,  EDUC 794d,  EDUC 794z  Doctoral Dissertation each semester, except summer session, after admission to candidacy until all degree requirements have been completed. A minimum of two semesters (4 units) is required. A maximum of 4 dissertation units may be applied to satisfy the degree requirement. While enrolled in EDUC 794a , students will develop a dissertation proposal in collaboration with the adviser. The dissertation committee grants final approval for the proposal. Credit for EDUC 794a  and permission to enroll in EDUC 794b  will only be given after the dissertation proposal is approved. IRB (Human Subjects Institutional Review Board) approval is required for all dissertation studies.

Teaching Skills Development

All doctoral students must teach for at least one semester before they graduate. This program requirement may be fulfilled by co-­teaching, serving as a teaching  assistant, or solo teaching. International students must meet the English proficiency standards set forth by the American Language Institute. Proposals for meeting this requirement must be reviewed and approved by the PhD Governance Committee.

Graduate School Policies and Requirements

The PhD is administered by the Graduate School so PhD students must also consult with The Graduate School  sections of the catalogue for regulations and requirements pertaining to the PhD degree. Students should also refer to Graduate and Professional Education  and The Graduate School , Academic and University Policies  and other sections of this catalogue for general regulations and policies including but not limited to time limits, leave of absence, scholarship standing, academic warning, and other issues not directly addressed in this section.

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