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Programs in International and Comparative Education
Teachers College, Columbia University
Teachers College
Columbia University
Prospective Student Information > Program Description

Program Description

In 1899, Teachers College became the first graduate institution in the United States to develop a program in comparative education. The Program faculty were co-founders of the Comparative and International Education Society in 1956 and edited the Society's journal, Comparative Education Review, for many years.

In the 1960s, Teachers College also became instrumental in the study of the international development of education, founding the program in International Educational Development.

The faculty of the programs continue to be active in conducting research and participating in educational activities around the world.

Graduates of the programs are found in numerous positions, including academic research and teaching, educational planning, project design and evaluation, program management in foundations, non-governmental organizations, governmental organizations, businesses and corporations, and private and public educational institutions.

The primary distinction between the two programs is the area of concentration leading at the doctoral level to the Ph.D. for Comparative and International Education students and to the Ed.D. for International Educational Development students: Students applying for Comparative and International Education need to select a discipline focus (anthropology, economics, history, sociology, philosophy, or political science), whereas students in International Educational Development select a concentration within the field of education (for example, African Education, Bilingual/Bicultural Education, Finance and Planning, International Education Policy Studies, etc.). Approximately one-third of the courses are to be taken in the area of concentration. The courses offered in concentrations vary each academic year. A few concentrations are not available at the doctoral level, as noted in their description below.

Students in both international education programs are encouraged to select a geographical area of specialty. Geographical areas currently represented by faculty in the Department of International and Transcultural Studies are: Africa, the Caribbean, Central Asia, East Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, South Asia, and the U.S. (for a transcultural/immigration focus). Most area studies courses are available at the School of International and Public Affairs and in discipline-based departments at Columbia University to which students in international education have access.

Applications are reviewed once a year to begin in the fall semester only. The deadlines for applications are in December or January depending on the degree program.

The following presents a description of concentrations in Comparative and International Education offered in the department.
The concentration in Anthropology offers a disciplinary approach that carefully explores and contributes to the analysis and understanding of educational processes in schools and classrooms, in families, on street corners, in community centers, in churches and in all settings where education may proceed. In addition, the concentration offers coursework in the application of anthropological knowledge and approaches to matters of policy concern in ecological and environmental change, economic and community development, education, immigration, institutional programs, literacy, psychiatry, and psychoanalysis.
Economics is a powerful tool for scholars and educational practitioners who wish to develop a better understanding of educational institutions and decisions. Students in the program develop an array of skills in the application of economic concepts and theory, in benefit-cost analysis and other evaluative procedures, and in the statistical treatment of mass data.
The list of courses offered in anthropology and economics can be found under the respective degree programs, listed in this section of the catalog.
Areas of concentrations offered outside the Department of International and Transcultural Studies:
-'ó History
-'ó Philosophy
-'ó Political Science
-'ó Sociology
The courses for these areas of concentration in the Comparative and International Education program-'"offered outside the department-'"can be found under the respective degree programs, listed in other sections of the catalog.
The Ph.D. program in Comparative and International Education includes a foreign language requirement as well as comprehensive training in research methods and data analysis. Ph.D. students are expected to take some of the courses in their discipline at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Columbia University.

Areas of concentrations offered inside the Department of International and Transcultural Studies:
-'ó African Education
-'ó Bilingual/Bicultural Education
-'ó Family and Community Education
-'ó Finance and Planning
-'ó International Education Policy Studies
-'ó International Humanitarian Issues
-'ó Language, Literacy and Technology
-'ó Latin American and Latino Education
-'ó Peace Education
The following presents a description of concentrations in International Educational Development offered in the department.
African Education
The concentration in African Education reflects the growing demand within schools and other public agencies for persons knowledgeable about the diverse institutions and historical processes that have shaped the African continent and its educational systems. There is also an unprecedented need for educators and policy makers who understand the fundamental changes in African education stemming from decentralization, democratization, and privatization as well as religious and political movements on the continent. The concentration provides students with a foundation in African studies through courses on cultural and social relations in African communities, demographic changes on the continent, and comparative studies of education in specific African countries. Those who select this concentration will be prepared for further academic studies as well as for professional careers in teaching, policy-making, and international development. Through courses offered at Teachers College, the School of International and Public Affairs, the Mailman School of Public Health, and other Columbia-affiliated institutions, students will examine the multiple dimensions of African studies as they relate to the cultural, economic, social, and political dimensions of education in Africa and the African Diaspora. Coursework in these different departments and programs will allow students to explore from an interdisciplinary perspective the role of formal and non-formal education in a broad range of development issues affecting people of African descent. Students should consult with one of the faculty members affiliated with the concentration to select courses from appropriate departments at Teachers College as well as from other programs at Columbia University.
Faculty affiliated with the concentration: TBA

Bilingual/Bicultural Education
This concentration enables students to develop the understanding necessary to educate language minorities throughout the world. It focuses on individual and societal bi/multilingualism as well as the influence of cultural and linguistic diversity in the design of educational systems and classroom instruction. For more information, please see the section titled Bilingual/Bicultural Education.
Faculty affiliated with the concentration: Maria Torres Guzman (liaison).

Family and Community Education
Teachers College continues its long history of groundbreaking work through the concentration in Family and Community Education. In all societies, individuals learn from many others in their social networks, e.g., parents, siblings, grandparents, peers, clergy, as well as teachers, and other professionals. What is more, education takes place through many institutions, e.g., families, day-care centers, businesses, the media, museums, libraries, community agencies, religious institutions, as well as the schools.
Since the configurations of these educational networks and institutions are subject to change -'"sometimes drastically-'"as in the case of new technological enterprises, studies in Family and Community Education examine the changing linkages among educative institutions in the community. Fundamental changes in education also stem from the extensive transnational migration and immigration taking place in many areas of the world today. Given increasing geographic mobility, together with new forms of communication, an understanding of the connections between local and global cultures, and the resources families and communities bring from one area to another is essential for educators and policy makers. Thus, another focus of study is family migration, immigration, and education.
Courses examine basic processes of education within families, for example, the social construction of family memories, the mediation of television and other forms of technology by families, as well as the changing configurations of education in community settings, for example, linkages among museums, families, and schools.
Faculty affiliated with the concentration: Hope Jensen Leichter (liaison).

Finance and Planning
The Finance and Planning concentration is devoted to the preparation of researchers, policy analysts, as well as managers and leaders in the financing and planning of education. The courses are designed to examine issues and topics central to the financing and planning of education at various levels across countries today and in the new century. These issues and topics include financing quality basic education for all, equity and efficiency in financing, higher-education finance, privatization and educational choice, international aid and education, decision analysis and planning in education, as well as the international and transcultural contexts of educational financing and planning.
The concentration is intended for students who will pursue a career dealing with financial and planning aspects in a variety of education settings, including schools and universities, government education departments and ministries, international development organizations, as well as non-profit and community organizations. In addition to required courses, students can select relevant courses from departments such as Organization and Leadership, Arts and Humanities, as well as from the larger university.
Faculty affiliated with the concentration: Mun C. Tsang (liaison), Henry M. Levin, and Francisco Rivera-Batiz.

International Humanitarian Issues
The International Humanitarian Issues (IHI) concentration is an interdisciplinary specialization. It is designed for students interested in conducting research on humanitarian issues or in providing humanitarian assistance in regions experiencing conflict, post-conflict recovery, or natural disasters. Through courses offered at Teachers College, the School of International and Public Affairs, the School of Social Work, the Earth Institute, and the Mailman School of Public Health, students will examine the social, political, environmental, and economic dimensions of humanitarian emergencies and the impact of these emergencies on the education sector. Coursework in these different departments and programs will allow students to explore from an interdisciplinary perspective the role of formal and non-formal education in periods of conflict and crisis, and to consider the limitations of education in resolving different kinds of humanitarian emergencies.
Students in the IHI concentration will plan an appropriate course of study with their advisors, but they are required to take at least six credits within the Department of International and Transcultural Studies at the master's level and nine credits at the doctoral level. They are also strongly advised to take courses from at least two of the institutions listed above. Additionally, at the doctoral level, students are recommended to complete an internship with an organization involved in humanitarian issues.
Faculty affiliated with the concentration: TBA.

International Education Policy Studies
The International Education Policy Studies concentration is interdisciplinary and encompasses a wide range of local and global perspectives in the field of international educational development. Courses are taught with attention to multiple paradigms and worldviews to prepare future scholars to engage in the work of policy analysis, formation, and study. Faculty who teach education policy courses come from a variety of academic disciplines across the College, such as anthropology, economics, law, political science, psychology, and sociology. There are also faculty who work in interdisciplinary areas, such as early childhood education, family and community education, public health, education leadership, and international educational development. The International Education policy concentration follows the same approach to policy studies as the College-wide Policy Studies courses: students learn about the craft of policy making and analysis, acquire content and historical background information, enroll in content-driven policy courses, and take research methodology courses. Policy methods courses are offered throughout TC, and students are required to take a combination of both qualitative and quantitative courses. Most courses in this concentration focus on school reform in the United States and abroad.
Students must meet with their advisors to select appropriate policy related courses from across the College or at one of the other Columbia schools. Many courses are offered by the departments of International and Transcultural Studies, Organization and Leadership, and Human Development at Teachers College.
Faculty affiliated with the concentration: Gita Steiner-Khamsi (liaison), Hope Jensen Leichter and Henry M. Levin.

Concentration in Latin American and Latino Education
Latin American and Latino Education (LALE) is an interdisciplinary concentration focused on education across the Americas. Responding to the importance of the Latin American and Caribbean region as well as the growing number of immigrants from that region to the United States, this concentration provides students with a foundation in Latin American/Latino studies through courses that consider topics such as: the impact of economic processes on education in the region; language policy in schools; the social, cultural, and political dimensions of education, ethnicity, and academic achievement; gender and social change; educational access and quality; teacher preparation and curricular development; patterns of migration within and between countries in the Western hemisphere; intercultural education; and the impact of international and bilateral educational policies and institutions on educational policy and practice in the region. Students are also encouraged to pursue relevant coursework at the School of International and Public Affairs, the Mailman School of Public Health, and other Columbia-affiliated institutions to examine the variety of linguistic, cultural, social, political, and economic processes that shape education across the Americas.
Faculty affiliated with the concentration: Regina Cortina (liaison), Lambros Comitas, Hope Leichter, and Francisco Rivera-Batiz.

Language, Literacy and Technology
This concentration systematically brings together social studies of language from three interrelated vantage points:
-'ó Discourse Studies
-'ó Literacy Studies
-'ó Multimodal Discourse and Literacies
We are concerned with educational problems faced by immigrant families and by speakers of minority languages and varieties; with the development of cross-national computer-mediated-communication skills; with the design of computer-supported learning materials for language and literacy; and with bringing knowledge about human communication to bear on problems of understanding within and across groups such as families, community, workplace, national, and international entities.
Students specializing in this field may focus on areas such as the teaching of English in international settings, the education of speakers of minority languages and language varieties, literacy practices around the world, the development of literacy in the first and second language, and language policy and planning in the U.S. and abroad. Those interested in the relationship between language and technology may focus on areas such as language and the Internet, multimodal discourses and literacies, and the design and evaluation of multimedia materials.
In addition to the courses listed under this concentration, students can select relevant courses from Bilingual/Bicultural Education and Anthropology within this department, from other departments such as Mathematics, Science and Technology, and Arts and Humanities as well as from the larger university.
Faculty affiliated with the concentration: Maria Torres-Guzman.

Peace Education
In recognition of the unprecedented dimensions of issues of security, war and peace, human rights and global justice, and sustainable development in a world of violent conflict, the department has developed a concentration in Peace Education. Peace Education is primarily concerned with addressing direct and structural violence through the transformation of pedagogy, curriculum, and policy related to education in both formal and non-formal contexts. Through the concentration, students are provided with a conceptual understanding of issues related to peace and human rights as well as practical skills in curriculum development. Students are required to take two core courses in Peace Education and, in addition, can select courses related to peace, security, conflict resolution, human rights, and global justice offered throughout the College and within other programs at Columbia University, Jewish Theological Seminary, and Union Theological Seminary.
Faculty affiliated with the program: TBA

Areas of concentrations offered outside the Department of International and Transcultural Studies:
-'ó Adult Education
-'ó Conflict Resolution
-'ó Curriculum and Teaching
-'ó Educational Leadership
-'ó Higher Education
-'ó Organizational and Social Psychology (only at M.A. and Ed.M. level)
The courses for these areas of concentrations in the International Educational Development program-'"offered outside the department-'"can be found under the respective degree programs, listed in the catalog. Note that any program offered at Teachers College qualifies, in principle, as an area of concentration for the International Educational Development program.