Department of Educational Studies

Educational Theory & Social Foundations Program

Ph.D. Degree in Educational Theory and Social Foundations

Educational Theory and Social Foundations is a graduate-level program in the department of Educational Foundations and Leadership at the Judith Herb College of Education (JHCOE).

The program offers a Ph.D. Degree within four concentrations: the philosophy of education, history of education, educational sociology, and interdisciplinary foundations of education.  Additionally, the program offers an online certificate in peace pedagogy.



Program Philosophy

The Educational Theory and Social Foundations area offers concentrations in the philosophy of education, history of education, educational sociology, and interdisciplinary foundations of education.  The strength of the faculty and thus the current organizing focus of these concentrations is social justice. We seek to critically examine the multidimensional nature of justice and education in a way that explores the basic assumptions, policies, and practices of our educational institutions in order to contribute to the creation of a more just, peaceful, and democratic society and world.  We believe that at the core of an education for democracy and justice is the capacity for critical reflection.  Reflection is a process of examination and analysis that is significantly informed by an understanding of the phenomena that underlie and contextualize educational ideas, practices and problems.  We seek to understand education as it is shaped by social, cultural, and ideological forces in order to enhance the reflective practice and thus decision making of educators, leaders, and scholars.

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Areas of Concentration

Philosophy of Education: This concentration seeks to provide students with a rigorous methodological and theoretical training in philosophical research. The general purposes of the program are to foster the understanding and development of educational theory in the context of the broader questions of philosophy and to develop the capacity to engage in effective discussion of theoretical problems pertaining to education, especially educational justice, peace, and democracy. 

History of Education: This concentration seeks to provide students with a rigorous methodological and theoretical training in historical research, so that they acquire and are able to advance a deep understanding of the origins and development of American education within the context of American social and intellectual history. This concentration involves an understanding of the history of social injustice and the political and economic history of the social and educational reproduction of inequality.

Educational Sociology: This concentration seeks to provide students with a rigorous methodological and theoretical training in sociological research.  Sociology of education explores the school-society/educational-cultural interface – how socio-cultural forces define the limits and possibilities of schooling and how education impacts society.  Of particular interest is an understanding of how social institutions produce injustice/justice, the nature and dynamics of social stratification, an understanding of the dynamics of racial, gendered, and ethnic discrimination, and the nature and development of a pluralistic democratic culture.

Foundations of Education: This concentration seeks to provide students with a rigorous methodological and theoretical training in interdisciplinary research involving sociology, philosophy and history of education.

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Modes of Inquiry

The following are the three modes of inquiry cultivated within the program:

Interpretive Inquiry
"The interpretive perspectives use concepts and theories developed within the humanities and the social sciences to assist studnts in examining, understanding, and explaining education within different contexts. Foundational studies promote analysis of the intent, meaning, and effects of educational institutions, including schools. Such studies attend particularly to the diverse contexts within which educational phenomena occur, and how interpretation can vary with different historical, philosophical, and cultural perspectives." (source: Council for Social Foundations of Education at http://www.

Normative Inquiry
"The normative perspectives assist students in examining and explaining education in light of value orientations. Foundational studies promote understanding of normative and ethical behavior in educational development and recognition of the inevitable presence of normative influences in educational thought and practice. Foundational studies probe the nature of assumptions about education and schooling. They examine the relation of policy analysis to values and the extent to which educational policymaking reflects values. Finally, they encourage students to develop their own value positions regarding education on the basis of critical study and their own reflections." (source: Council for Social Foundations of Education at http://www.

Critical Inquiry
"The critical perspectives employ normative interpretations to assist students to develop inquiry skills, to question educational assumptions and arrangements, and to identify contradictions and inconsistencies among social and educational values, policies, and practices. In particular, the critical perspectives engage students in employing democratic values to asses educational beliefs, policies, and practices in light of their origins, influences, and consequences." (source: Council for Social Foundations of Education at http://www.

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Categories of Inquiry

The following questions constitute broad categories of inquiry that frame the inquiry-based model of graduate education in the field of Educational Theory and Social Foundations.  

Social Justice

    • What is the nature of social justice?
    • What constitutes educational and social justice in a democracy?
    • In what ways and to what degree are American (and other) educational systems just or unjust?
    • How is educational and social justice enacted?
    • What is the relationship between justice, education, and peace?
    • What is the impact of our knowledge of justice and foundations on educational theory, policy, and practice?


    • What is the nature of power?
    • What is the current and historical distribution of power in American society?  
    • How should power be distributed in a democratic society?
    • What implications does a particular distribution of power have on education and other social institutions?
    • What are the power dynamics in schools and classrooms?
    • Is there are a relationship between school and classroom power dynamics and those of the larger society?
    • How is power exercised in society and in educational institutions?
    • What is the relationship between power and justice?
    • What is the source(s) of power?
    • What is the relationship between power and wealth?


    • What is the nature of knowledge?
    • What does it mean to know something?
    • What is the difference between belief and knowledge?
    • Is there a relationship between knowledge and power?
    • Are there various ways of knowing and forms of knowledge?
    • Is knowledge socially and culturally constructed?
    • What knowledge is most valuable?
    • In what ways does knowledge define teaching and learning?
    • Do race, gender, and ethnicity influence what and how we know?


    • What is culture?
    • Is reality culturally constructed?
    • What is the relationship between power, knowledge, and culture?
    • Do schools reflect the culture of the society within which they are situated?
    • What constitutes a just response to cultural diversity?
    • What is the nature of multicultural education?
    • Is justice culturally relative?
    • Is there a cultural mismatch between the school and the student’s home life?


    • What is the nature of ideology?
    • Do all societies have an ideology?
    • Is justice defined by ideology?
    • What is the relationship between power and ideology?
    • Do schools promote ideological hegemony – a dominant ideology?
    • What is the relationship between knowledge and ideology?
    • Does ideology drive politics?
    • Is the curriculum shaped by the dominant ideology?
    • Does ideology justify a particular distribution of power and wealth in society?  What role does schooling play in this distribution?
    • What is the relationship between ideology and religion?
    • Is there a relationship between American democracy and imperialism?


    • What is the nature of society?
    • What is the relationship between social structures and forces and social institutions?
    • What is the relationship between power and social structure?
    • What is the nature of the school-society interface?  Does schooling reflect the nature of the society’s structures?
    • What is the nature of the “good” society?
    • Are schools social institutions?
    • What is the relationship between dominant social institutions (government, economy, media, military-industrial complex, etc.) and educational institutions?
    • In what ways are power, knowledge, and ideology institutionalized? 

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Ph.D. Degree Requirements (for Majors in Social Foundations of Education)

Ph.D. Program Credit Hours (post-masters)* 
Foundations Competency 6 hrs. 
Research Tools 12 hrs. 
Major Course Work 24 hrs. 
Minor Course Work 9 hrs. 
Dissertation 10 hrs. (Minimum) 
Total 61 hrs. 

*A student admitted to the Ph.D. program without a Master's Degree is required to 
complete an additional 30 credit hours. 

The Plan of Study is individually designed by the student and the Doctoral Program 
Committee or the Master's Degree advisor

Major Comprehensive Exam: 

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Ph.D. Degree Requirements (for Minors in Social Foundations of Education)

 Minor Comprehensive Exams:

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Course Descriptions

Seminar in Educational Theory/Social Foundations (TSOC: 8190): The collaborative study of a specific topic in educational theory and social foundations by a group of advanced students under the direction of one or more professors. 

Sociological Foundations of Education (TSOC: 7200): Critical examination of the socio-cultural foundations of schooling in the United States, including purposes of schooling in a multicultural society and the resulting nature of teacher work.

History of Schooling and Teaching in the US (TSOC: 7400): Evolving role of schooling and teaching in the US, using history to reflect on the relationship of schooling to other social institutions, groups of people and the process of social change. 

Philosophy and Education (TSOC: 7300): Exploring the nature of philosophic inquiry in education and examining competing traditions in the West, particularly in the United States. A distinction between education and schooling will be drawn.

Anthropology and Education (TSOC: 7500): Examination of cross-cultural, comparative and other studies directed toward understanding processes of cultural transmission and transformation, and implications of anthropological research for contemporary issues in education. 

Methods of Conceptual Analysis and Textual Interpretation (RESM and TSOC: 8390): The purpose of this research methods course is to explore prominent methods of and approaches to Conceptual Analysis and Textual Interpretation. These methods and approaches constitute the research tools in the field of educational theory and social foundations, among other fields of inquiry. The central goal of the course is to equip doctoral students in the field of educational theory and social foundations, among other students whose fields engage in theoretical research, the understanding and skill necessary to engage in theoretical research.

Methods of Normative Theory Construction (RESM and TSOC: 8380): The purpose of this course is to explore methods of and approaches to normative theory construction. The central goal of the course is to equip doctoral students in the field of educational theory and social foundations, among other students whose fields engage in normative theory, the understanding and skill necessary to engage in normative theory construction. Normative theory refers to systematic moral, political, social, and educational conceptions that rationally account for adjust what ought to be (rather than empirical theory that accounts for what is). In the discipline of normative theorizing a number of methods of and approaches to theory construction have been developed as a means to the development and analysis of normative theory. There are two main approaches to theory construction in this field: deontological and teleological approaches. 

International Education (TSOC: 8120): Complex interrelationships between global issues and education systems will be examined. Emphasis will be on how education can be used to build a more global society. Some sections of the course will include an international field trip.

Intergroup and Intercultural Education (TSOC: 7230): In-depth history of America's racial and ethnic minorities and the role of schooling in assisting their adaptation to and assimilation into American society.  

Multicultural and Non-Sexist Education (TSOC: 7210): Examines how race, class, gender, ethnicity and disability intersect with power, culture, knowledge and ideology in American schools to influence the lives of students and teachers in a multicultural society. 

Modern Educational Controversies (TSOC: 7110): Examines controversial contemporary educational issues, the forces that perpetuate them and the socio-cultural contexts in which they exist. Teachers' work and ethical tenets shaping practice are also examined. 

Modern Educational Theorists (TSOC: 8310): An examination of selected educational philosophers who have addressed themselves to the problem of the ends and means of education from Classical Hellenic Times to the present.  

Education and the Democratic Ethic (TSOC: 8320): Examination of the interdependence among education, democracy and ethics in the context of civic life. Applications made to the practice of schooling as cultural production in a democratic society. 

Human Rights Education (TSOC: 8340): The purpose of this seminar is to explore the nature of human rights and human rights education. The origin, definition, content, scope, foundation, and correlative duties of human rights, as well as, the theory of human rights education will be explored. 

Theories of Justice and Educational Policy (TSOC: 8360): The purpose of this class is to explore prominent theories of distributive justice in a liberal democratic republic and to analyze key educational policy issues from the perspective of those theories.

Environmental Ethics and Education (TSOC: 8350): The purpose of this seminar is to explore the nature of environmental ethics and its implications for educational theory, in particular moral and civic education.

Foundations of Peace Pedagogy (TSOC: 7600): The purpose of this course is to introduce the basic concepts, theories, and approaches to peace education.  The course explores the theories of peace education, including pedagogical approaches to peace-learning.  The course also introduces the substantive areas of peace education. 

The Ethics of War and Peace Education (TSOC: 8330): The purpose of this seminar is to explore the ethics of war and peace and its implications for the moral and civic education of democratic citizens. 


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Application Process 

The new Admissions Application Requirements for all PhD programs in TSOC are:

  1. Undergraduate and graduate transcripts, with GPAs
  2. Statement of purpose--see detailed instructions on TSOC webpage
  3. Three letters of recommendation
  4. Interview with faculty, via face to face or internet, to be scheduled by TSOC faculty after review of file submitted
  5. No GRE score is required, but students may submit as optional.

To apply for admission into the Ph.D. Degree for the Educational Psychology program, visit the College of Graduate Studies Website.

The UT Graduate College homepage:
Admission Guidelines:
Admissions online application:

About the College of Graduate Studies: Every graduate student at The University of Toledo belongs to and is monitored by the College of Graduate Studies (COGS). Students in the Educational Psychology program must fulfill the academic requirements set forth by COGS as well as the specific requirements of the Educational Psyhology program. For this reason, current graduate students are advised to remain in contact with and use COGS as a resource throughout their studies.

Graduate Student Handbook 2012-2013:

Main Campus
University Hall, Room: 3240
Phone: 419.530.GRAD (4723) 
Fax: 419.530.4724

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About Graduate Assistantships in the Department

Graduate Assistantships are awarded to new and returning Ph.D. students, and occasionally Masters students, in the Department of Foundations of Education.  Students can first apply for an assistantship when they apply for admission to the program, or they can apply after they have become students.  There are at least three types of Assistantships:  

    1. Regular Departmental Assistantships, are allocated annually to Colleges from the University budget, and then are divided among Programs within the College
    2. Grant-funded Assistantships, are funded through specific grants and exist only for the duration of the grant (“soft money”)
    3. Minority Assistantships, are funded by the University for qualified applicants for their first year of study, with the promise that the Department will fund subsequent years from their allocation of Departmental Assistantships. 

Once a Ph.D. student receives a graduate assistantship in the Department of Foundations of Education (FOED), they can normally expect, but are not guaranteed, to receive assistantship support for 4 years maximum, unless their particular assistantship is tied to a specific grant (“soft money”) or unless the university allocation of assistantships to the department is reduced.  That is, the Faculty in the Department are committed to supporting students long enough for them to finish their degree, unless the student is not making satisfactory academic progress or is not making the research or teaching contributions expected of a Graduate Assistant. 

Full-time Graduate Assistants are expected to work 20 hours per week (part-time, 10 hours per week) during the academic year on duties that may include teaching or assisting in teaching, participating in some phase of research being conducted by FOED faculty members, and providing general assistance to FOED faculty members (e.g., preparation of materials, administering surveys, etc.).  Graduate assistants will receive a Letter of Appointment from the Department Chairperson during the first 2 weeks of Fall semester indicating their Faculty Mentor, who will be responsible for their Graduate Assistant assignments, and the nature of their teaching, research, and/or service responsibilities.  At the end of the academic year, the Mentor will write an evaluation of the Graduate Assistant to be placed in the portfolio for review.  Upon receiving their letter, a Graduate Assistant should make an appointment with their Mentor, who will have received a copy of their letter.

For more information, please contact the department secretary at 419-530-2461.

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College of Graduate Studies (COGS) Annual Fellowships, Scholarships and Awards

Each year, UT graduate students may apply for a fellowship, scholarship, or award given by the College of Graduate Studies. 

Complete descriptions and criteria are located on the College of Graduate Studies website:
Fellowships and Scholarships for Prospective Graduate Students

Scholarships and Awards for Current Graduate Students

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Ph.D. Program Alumni

Fuad Al-Daraweesh
Fuad Al-Daraweesh graduated in the fall of 2010 majoring in Philosophy of Education. His focus is on human rights, peace, and democratic education. He is working on a book which is expected to be published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2014. Currently he is the associate editor of In Factis Pax: an online journal for social justice and peace education.

Mohammad Shuibat
I am from Bethlehem, Palestine. I got my PhD from the University of Toledo in 2007 in Theory and Social Foundations of Education. My focus while being in the program was on the issues of social justice, human rights peace and democratic education and critical pedagogy. Since my graduation, I have been teaching at the college of Educational Sciences at Al Quds University in Palestine. I teach both graduate and undergraduate level courses mainly in educational administration and other areas. 

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Contact us for more information

David Grajczyk
Department Secretary
Gillham Hall 5000


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Last Updated: 7/17/19