MEd, Educational Foundations

Typical Length 2 years

Delivery Campus-Based

Nationally Accredited

If you are interested in examining education in relation to power, culture, and societal transformation, the M.Ed. in Educational Foundations is for you. Faculty and students in the Department of Educational Foundations explore these relationships by drawing on the fields of history, sociology, and philosophy as well interdisciplinary concepts, frameworks, and theories in the humanities and social sciences such as globalization and internationalization; critical theory; postcolonialism; feminism; and cultural studies. By drawing on these perspectives and more, students are able to build capacities for understanding essential questions about how education–within and beyond schools–is affected by historical, cultural, and political conditions and the larger systems in which it is embedded, as well as how education contributes to social change at various levels, from the local to the global. 

The faculty and courses in the M.Ed. in Educational Foundations prepare students to think critically about the purposes of education and, in so doing, draw attention to the transformational potential of education. At the same, analyses of how education can help to create a more just and equitable world are grounded in an understanding of the multiple ways that education has been, and continues to be, implicated in the reproduction of inequalities. Importantly, in preparing students to analyze educational practices, pedagogies, and policies, issues of worldview are explicitly addressed. Critical questions include: Whose perspectives inform educational policy and practice? How do different histories, worldviews, discourses, and ideologies in education benefit or disadvantage different individuals and groups across the lines of class, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and ability? What are the implications of different perspectives for equality, sustainability, democracy, and the future? And how do we conceive ethical practice when different perspectives are seemingly irreconcilable? Engaging with such questions has always been essential; this is all the more true in the context of the 21st century, where a variety of narratives and agendas compete for influence in an attempt to shape education at every level from classroom pedagogy, to school leadership practices, to system policies and beyond.

Because this program focuses on educational transformation, social change, and empowerment of individuals, groups, and communities, it is ideal for students and professionals working in a range of institutional and non-formal contexts. This is furthermore the case because the cumulative project for this program is designed in conjunction with feedback from the student’s advisor. In other words, the final project responds to the student’s interests. Through this project, students are encouraged to draw on the content, resources, and lessons from their classes as they deepen their understanding of key issues, acquire new skills, or create resources (e.g., curriculum units, program evaluations, service projects, etc.) that will serve them after the completion of the program. See here for more about the various forms that the final project can take.

To learn more about some of the students who have completed this program in the past, see here and here.

Information session recording: Please click here to access the recording of an information session detailing our degree programs.

Virtual Information Sessions
Join us for sessions on 10/16/23, 11/13/23, 1/22/24, or 2/19/24 at 3-4pm. A recording will be posted for those who missed the session!
View Announcement
Who should consider this program

This degree program is appropriate for a range of professionals whose work connects with education in both formal and informal settings. Teachers, school leaders, analysts and those working in community organizations, non-governmental organizations, informal education, adult education, and in state education agencies find great value in this program for its ability to broaden horizons, to inform professional practice, and to make visible many of the often imperceptible connections between education and social change.

Common Careers

Graduates of the M.Ed. in Educational Foundations use their degree for professional enhancement and advancement in different ways. Many teachers pursue this master’s degree to inform their practice at the school and classroom levels, while others are interested in this degree because it can help them make a career transition to a position of leadership within school systems or in other education-related organizations. This degree is also valuable for preparing candidates for doctoral study in education and beyond. Given the broadly applicable nature of the courses in this master’s program, there are many possibilities. This degree prepares you for teaching positions in K-12 education and community colleges, for advocacy positions and program officer positions with community organizations, for policy-related functions in schools and school systems, and for employment in various governmental agencies.

Admission Requirements

Must have graduated from an accredited, four-year institution of higher education recognized by the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (UHM), prior to beginning the MEd, Educational Foundations program.

An Undergraduate Cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.

A transcript from each post-secondary institution attended.

A written statement of objectives as part of your application.

Your resumé or CV.

You may also include a sample of scholarly writing for consideration with your application to this program.

Two (2) letters of recommendation

Applicants who are not native English speakers may need to take the TOEFL or IELTS (Academic) tests. For more information view the Graduate Division website.

International students that have been admitted are required to submit a copy of their Identification documents (i.e. Passport or Identification Card)

International applicants need to show proof of sufficient funding to cover all educational and living expenses

How to Apply
Application Deadlines
Starting Semester dEADLINE
Regular Fall Admission March 1
International Students Fall Admission January 15
Regular Spring Admission September 1
International Students Spring Admission August 1

How to Apply
Tuition & Funding

Tuition for the Graduate General & Post-Baccalaureate Unclassified program for the Fall 2023 semester:

  • $1,101/credit – Resident ($650 tuition + $451 fees)
  • $1,853/credit – Non-resident ($1,402 tuition + $451 fees)

Note: 8 credits is full time, most courses are 3 credits

There are many resources available to help graduate students pay for college, including College of Education scholarships. There are also several scholarships listed generally through the STAR website (please note that this is only accessible to students with a valid UH ID number – must be admitted as a student prior to looking for scholarships on this site) and the Financial Support section of the Graduate Division website. For more information on financial aid and additional resources, please visit the UH Manoa Financial Aid Office (

It should also be noted that many full-time students are able to find graduate assistant positions across the university. These positions come with tuition remission, a stipend, and health insurance.

Delivery Format

Courses are offered primarily in the fall and spring semesters. To accommodate those with full-time jobs, most courses are offered in the evenings, usually from 4:30 to 7 PM. Some courses are offered online.


Culminating Project “Plan A” (Thesis Option): 30 Credits

Department Courses: 12 credits

  • EDEF 651—History of Education in America
  • EDEF 660—Philosophy of Education
  • EDEF 669—Introduction to Comparative/International Education
  • EDEF 630—Cultural Diversity & Education or EDEF 683—Social and Cultural Contexts of Education

Additional Coursework: 18 credits

  • One Research Methods Course; EDEF 678 or other approved research course (3 credits)
  • One Seminar (3 credits)
  • Two electives in area of emphasis (6 credits)
  • Thesis: EDEF 700 (6 credits – 5 credits of directed reading, convertible to 700 thesis, if desired)


Chair (full graduate faculty), member (graduate faculty), and outside member (full graduate faculty).

Culminating Experience

Oral defense of Thesis.

Culminating Project “Plan B” (Practitioner Inquiry): 30 Credits

see here for more about the options for the final masters project

Department Courses = 12 credits

  • EDEF 651—History of Education in America
  • EDEF 660—Philosophy of Education
  • EDEF 669—Introduction to Comparative/International Education
  • EDEF 683—Social and Cultural Contexts of Education

One Research Methods Course

EDEF 678 or other approved research course.

Additional Coursework

  • One Seminar (3 credits)
  • Two electives in area of emphasis (6 credits)
  • Plan B Paper: EDEF 649 (6 credits)


Chair (graduate faculty), second reader

Culminating Experience

Public presentation of Plan B paper

Advising & Faculty
Photo of Alexander Means

Alexander Means

Associate Professor

Request More Info