PhD in Education

Typical Length Varies

Delivery Campus-Based

Nationally Accredited

If you are interested in thinking deeply about, researching, and theorizing education in relation to power, culture, and societal transformation, the Ph.D. 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 as interdisciplinary concepts, frameworks, and theories in the humanities and social sciences such as political-economy; international relations; 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 Ph.D. 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 time, analysis of how education can help to create a more just and equitable world is 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. Students who complete this doctoral program are poised to address key issues at the intersection of education, society, and inequity. Our graduates not only go on to assume positions as faculty and researchers but also as organizational leaders, higher education professionals, community advocates, school administrators, educational specialists working with school systems (e.g., the Hawaii Department of Education), and teacher leaders.

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

See here and here for profiles of some of our current doctoral students.

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!
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Who should consider this program

This program is appropriate for individuals who seek to pursue impactful careers in academia, educational leadership, and research. If you have questions about your suitability for this program, we welcome your inquiry. Reach out to the program contact listed below.

Common Careers

This PhD program can lead to a wide variety of leadership, academic, and research positions in the government, private, and non-profit sector.

Graduates with the PhD degree are expected to be able to analyze, research, and implement alternatives in educational thought, policy and practice related to the social and ethical problems faced by schools and other educational agencies at the state, national and international levels.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must have graduated, or will graduate, from a UHM recognized, accredited, master’s degree program prior to beginning the PhD, Education: Educational Foundations program.

A transcript from each post-secondary institution attended.

A written statement of objectives as part of your application.

Your resumé or CV.

A sample of scholarly writing as part of your application.

Three (3) 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

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Application Deadlines
Starting Semester dEADLINE
Regular Fall Admission February 1st
International Students Fall Admission January 15th

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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. Most courses are offered in the evenings, usually from 4:30 to 7 P.M.  Some courses are offered online. It is also possible to take courses during the summer months.


Minimum credits required = 40 credits

College PhD Core = 12 credits

  • Multiple Perspectives
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Advanced Methods

Department Core = 15 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
  • EDEF xxx—Seminar, Educational Foundations course

Additional Coursework

  • Area of Emphasis = 9-12 credits
  • Field Study or Internship: EDUC 740 or EDUC 799 = 3 credits
  • Dissertation credits: EDEF 800 = 1+ credits
Advising & Faculty
Photo of Alexander Means

Alexander Means

Associate Professor

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