Teaching of Social Studies PhD

Doctor of Philosophy in the Teaching of Social Studies


Prepare to be a leader in social studies educational research.  Our graduates take up research careers often in universities or other educational institutions.  

Students in the Doctor of Philosophy program take coursework that offer them a depth of knowing the field of social studies education and prepare them as experts in their area of focus and their research.  The program supports the development of students’ scholarly identities. Throughout the program, students consider where and how they situate themselves in the field as a researcher of/in contemporary social studies issues.  They also do the things that scholars do – engage in research with faculty, present at conferences, publish papers, mentor students, explore college teaching, and find their intellectual community.  Students select courses as Teachers College, Columbia University, and in the Doctoral Consortium in NYC to develop a focus area of study – historical understanding, memory studies, activism and civics, peace studies, global education.  Students take introductory and advanced coursework in specific research paradigms so they are prepared for the independent work of the dissertation. This coursework is determined with an advisor and the entire program faculty.  

Our location in New York City makes us unique, whether students conduct their research here or elsewhere.  The city is a wonderful educational laboratory for an array of student interests. Here, so many different kinds of educational institutions exist within the NYCDOE and in the multitude of non-profit entities that educate.  We are also a significant place in the global flow of intellectual, cultural, and civic discourse and possibility.



Two students in conversation outside of Teachers College

Admissions Information

Doctor of Philosophy

  • Points/Credits: 75
  • Entry Terms: Fall Only

Application Deadlines

  • Spring: N/A
  • Summer/Fall (Priority): December 15
  • Summer/Fall (Final): December 15

Supplemental Application Requirements/Comments

  • Academic Writing Sample

Requirements from the TC Catalog

View Full Catalog Listing

The Doctor of Philosophy in Social Studies requires 75 points of graduate study and a dissertation. The Ph.D. degree program in Social Studies leads to a strongly research-oriented degree designed for individuals preparing for a career in teaching, conducting research, and working in teacher education in a university setting or a private or public policy organization.

Courses in the major field (15 points minimum):

  • A&HW 5011 Contemporary Literature in Social Studies Research and Education I
  • A&HW 5021 Contemporary Literature in Social Studies Research and Education II
  • A&HW 6011 The Citizen and Society
  • A&HW 6521 History of Inequality and Social Justice.
  • A course from Philosophy and Education

Content courses in the major field (21 points minimum):

Soon after beginning the program, students must select an area of specialization. Students should select courses with an advisor, taking care to include courses relevant to the area of dissertation research. These courses may be taken at either Teachers College or the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Columbia University.

Research Courses (23 points minimum):

Required Courses:

  • A&HW 5503 Research paper in social studies (done in conjunction with the fourth round of doctoral seminar)
  • A&HW 6503 Doctoral seminar in social studies (taken four times consecutively during the first two years of the program)
  • A&HW 7503 Dissertation seminar in social studies (taken at the time of presentation of the doctoral proposal)
  • A&HW 8903 Dissertation advisement in the teaching of social studies

 Other offerings:

  • A&HW 6030 Research in social studies education
  • A&HW 6203 Advanced fieldwork in social studies
  • A&HW 6903 Research and independent study in social studies
  • A&HW 6935 Studies in history and in the teaching of history and social studies

Broad and basic areas of professional scholarship (15 points minimum):

All students must pursue work in broad and basic areas of professional scholarship outside of the Program in Social Studies in order to help inform and contextualize their more specialized work in social studies. The selection of non-major courses will depend on the student’s research interests and plans, as well as previous academic work in various areas of the education field.  In consultation with advisors, students will select courses that contribute to their professional development by filling gaps in some areas and by securing greater depth in others (this may require additional study beyond the minimum point requirement).

Further requirements:

In addition to the dissertation, students must satisfy the foreign language requirements equivalent to those of the department of the Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences with which their work is most closely identified. For Ph.D. students in Social Studies, the usual cognate department in the Graduate School is History or Political Science, though courses should be selected that support the student’s scholarly interest and in close consultation with an academic advisor. Students should read the Requirements for Doctor of Philosophy obtainable from the Office of Doctoral Studies at Teachers College.

Back to skip to quick links