Interdisciplinary Programs

Education and Social Policy - Ph.D.

How do changes in safety net policies affect low-income families’ social and economic trajectories? How do charter schools differ in how they deliver instruction, and to what extent does this improve or detract from student learning? How well do early intervention programs support student learning in and out of school? How do neighborhood factors influence schooling, safety, well-being and employment? How does financial aid influence equity and access in higher education?

The University of Delaware’s interdisciplinary Ph.D. in education and social policy program, a collaboration between the College of Education and Human Development and the Joseph R. Biden, Jr. School of Public Policy and Administration, prepares students to address these complex education and social policy questions. This program grounds students in an understanding of how education, social and public policy systems work. It offers a rigorous, integrative, collaborative approach to research that includes the use of sophisticated research designs and methods to understand causes, context, implementation and relationships, leverages interdisciplinary perspectives, and utilizes meaningful collaborations with stakeholders.

Doctoral students specialize in one of five interest areas, present research at conferences, collaborate with nationally recognized faculty on peer-reviewed publications, engage in the work of interdisciplinary research centers through graduate assistantships, and learn in an environment with small class sizes and supportive faculty.

Specialization Areas

  • Early Childhood Policy: This area focuses on policies related to early care and education (encompassing both education and human services), such as family engagement, teacher preparation and professional development, and the quality and outcomes of early learning experiences.
  • K-12 Education Policy: This area includes the study of policies related to leadership, teacher preparation, instruction, curriculum, evaluation, school improvement and other similar areas.
  • Higher Education Policy: This area includes policies related to equity, access, retention, learning and instruction in higher education.
  • Human Development and Family Sciences: This area includes policies related to housing, homelessness, welfare, adoption and other social and human services.
  • Social Policy This area focuses on policies that address a wide range of social issues including poverty, social and economic inequality, and well-being.
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