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We live in a time of pitched political battles over the content, meaning, and place of history in today’s world. For those committed to educational justice, historical understanding is crucial to plan a just path forward. The History and Education Program explores broad questions in education by looking at them through a historical lens. This academically rigorous graduate degree stretches students intellectually as they pursue answers to the questions that are important to them. While they engage in their studies, they are immersed in a dynamic community of learners from all over the world who are diverse in both their research interests and their backgrounds. They delve into lively discussions and cutting-edge research methods, with an eye on history. Their graduate studies at TC prepare them to advance their careers as historians and leaders, whether in higher education, government, nonprofits, social service agencies, or any number of other settings.

The Program is open to students of diverse backgrounds who can give evidence of academic competence and personal qualities suggesting high probability of professional success. Each student in the Program is expected to take courses in the history of education, as well as in the more generalized fields of social, political, and cultural history. Students can also take subject matter courses in cognate areas aimed at complementing and supporting their specialized areas of interest within the history of education. In addition, most students engage in continuous independent research under the supervision of a faculty member. Students in the Program are encouraged, with their advisor’s guidance, to make full use of resources offered by other Programs at Teachers College, Columbia University, the Jewish Theological Seminary, and Union Theological Seminary.

The History and Education Program is currently making a transition from the Department of Arts and Humanities to the Department of Education Policy and Social Analysis, where it will be located starting in September 2023. We welcome students at the masters and doctoral levels. The M.A. and Ed.M. programs develop broad historical knowledge and historical research skills of value to educators in a variety of settings or for employment in the non-profit or public history sectors. The Ph.D. program prepares professionals and scholars to teach in graduate schools of education, undergraduate departments of education, departments of history, theological seminaries, or other academic institutions, and to work as research scholars in institutes, government bureaus, or social service agencies where a deep understanding of education in historical perspective is essential.

While students may craft projects in any geographic area or time period, current faculty expertise is strongest in the history of education, again broadly defined, in the United States during the 19th and 20th centuries. Topics of interest for faculty and student research include the historical roots of educational inequality by race and other social categories, the history of educational practices and education policy (e.g., racial segregation, curriculum, standards and testing, vocational education, education for immigrant children), the history of institutions of higher education, the experiences of diverse communities in the process of schooling, and the interactions between educational institutions and practices with the broader social, political, and economic landscape.

This is a research-intensive program led by award-winning faculty who attend closely to the learning goals and aspirations of their students. The highly individualized program of study for each student provides access to a wide range of courses in history within the university and through the Interuniversity Doctoral Consortium, as well as opportunities for paid research positions in ongoing projects, including Harlem Education History Project, New York City Civil Rights History Project, and New Histories of Teachers College. Faculty and doctoral students are active in the History of Education Society and the American Educational Research Association Division F for History and Historiography. Faculty and students have enjoyed research support from the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation doctoral dissertation and post-doctoral fellowship programs.

Historical understanding is essential in the quest to create just societies and a better world. The History and Education Program is dedicated to creating such understanding through disciplined inquiry and the deep learning that comes with historical perspective.

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