School of Education Announces Innovative Doctoral Programs Starting in 2014

by John Conroy

In an attempt to strengthen and develop leaders within educational establishments as well as among those conducting research at academic and non-academic institutions, the School of Education will launch a newly redesigned Doctor of Education (EdD) program as well as a revised Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program, which will begin in summer 2014 and fall 2014 respectively. Faculty committees appointed by Dean Alan Lesgold developed the program in response to the needs of students as well as part of a national emphasis on distinguishing PhD programs, which prepare researchers, from EdD programs, which train professional educators for higher level positions.

“The goals of these changes is to position the school to be a competitive, world‐class research institution focused on preparing professionals and researchers to be leaders in a wide variety of settings,” said Dean Alan Lesgold.

Why a New EdD Program?

A specific intent of the EdD committee was to redesign the program to make it a stronger and more relevant degree for the advanced preparation of individuals committed to improving outcomes for children, families, and communities. The program will be a three‐year, cohort-based degree model featuring: very clear timelines and milestones; coherence in courses, including specifically designed research methods courses; and executive and hybrid course delivery structures to accommodate the needs of the working professional. According to Lesgold, “We went to a cohort model, in which a group of students complete the program on the same schedule, because this arrangement results in far more students completing their degrees as they originally planned.”

The new, executive-style EdD allows for professionals to balance their personal lives with work and school.

In addition, there’s an interdisciplinary aspect to the program allowing students in various areas of focus to work together and bring in different ways of thinking. Pitt EdD graduates will be prepared to be leaders in K‐12 schools and institutions of higher education in the U.S. and abroad, ministries of education and health, international non‐governmental agencies, community based organizations, research and development institutes, health care organizations, health and human service agencies, and the government.




Students in the EdD program can choose one of the following areas of concentration (ARCO):

  • Special Education
  • Language, Literacy & Culture (LLC)
  • Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM)
  • Education Leadership
  • Higher Education Management
  • Social and Comparative Analysis in Education
  • Health & Physical Activity (HPA)
  • Applied Developmental Psychology

What Changes Have Been Made to the PhD Program?

The PhD is a full-time program and focuses on research-based careers. Special characteristics of the program include students participating in research apprenticeships, assisting their faculty advisors in activities such as conceptualizing research projects, collecting and analyzing data, and writing for grants as well as publication in peer-reviewed journals. Many training experiences occur during the day, such as required courses, brown bag and colloquia meetings, research meetings with advisors and project teams, and collecting and analyzing research, making it possible only as a full-time degree. Lesgold noted that, “It is virtually impossible to be a top quality researcher without an extended period of full-time immersion in research alongside strong faculty, so we designed the program to reflect this knowledge.”

In addition, faculty members who serve as advisors will provide assistance for PhD students throughout their time in the program, including: providing mentored research project experience, co-publishing with their students in peer-reviewed journals as well as helping students prepare conference presentations based on joint research projects, and being available for regular advising throughout the entirety of the program. This attention will also include faculty assisting with students’ professional experiences and scholarship to increase their competitiveness in the job market.

The PhD is offered, like the EdD, through distinct ARCOs:

  • Language, Literacy, and Culture
  • Mathematics Education
  • Science Education
  • Special Education - Education of Students with Mental and Physical Disabilities
  • Special Education - Early Intervention
  • Vision Studies
  • School Leadership
  • Higher Education Management
  • Social and Comparative Analysis in Education
  • Research Methodology
  • Applied Developmental Psychology
  • Learning Sciences and Policy
  • Health & Physical Activity

Further questions about the EdD and PhD programs can be submitted to the new Doctoral Program Coordinator, Monique Davis at