Effective Fall 2023, the Multicultural Studies specialization has suspended admission. 

Specialization Overview

Note that while Multicultural Studies is cross-disciplinary, for the purposes of initial advising and ongoing support the departmental home for a student in this specialization is Educational Policy and Community Studies. Students in this program will be supervised jointly by the Department of Educational Policy and Community Studies and by the Urban Education Doctoral Committee, who will assign an advisor for the particular focus area the student has chosen.

For course descriptions in this area, visit the Cultural Foundations of Education section of this catalog.

Degree Overview

The School of Education offers an interdepartmental program of study leading to the PhD. Students must choose a specialization in either Adult, Continuing, and Higher Education Leadership, Art Education, Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Administration, Exceptional Education, Mathematics Education, Multicultural Studies, or Social Foundations of Education.

The program is designed to permit students to integrate their particular curricular areas of interest and specialization with a broader field of education, including urban education. Each specialization, with the exception of Multicultural Studies, is departmentally focused, and students must satisfy the admissions and curriculum requirements indicated for their particular specialization. Recognition of the specialization is acknowledged by official designation on the student’s transcript.

Each of the specializations offers the doctoral student an opportunity to pursue study in a specific program area. For example, Adult, Continuing, and Higher Education Leadership emphasizes governance and leadership issues within urban adult education organizations. Educational Administration explores governance and Leadership issues of urban schools. Curriculum and Instruction provides program emphasis in a content area (e.g., reading), education level (e.g., early childhood), a general area (e.g., curriculum theory) or special area (e.g., guiding instructional improvement). Exceptional Education provides program emphasis in departmental interest areas (e.g., handicapping condition), or a cross-disciplinary interest.

A separate PhD with specialization in Counseling Psychology, Learning and Development, Research Methodology, and School Psychology is offered through the Department of Educational Psychology. Multicultural Studies is a cross-department program allowing students to develop their own area of focus in collaboration with faculty in multicultural urban education. The Social Foundations of Education specialization provides students with the conceptual tools with which to examine the complex interrelationships between school and society, education and culture.

All graduates should have a broad understanding of the issues, problems and trends related to education, including urban education, and the application of these to their major.

The program requires each participant to develop research skills ranging from logic in inquiry to development of specific methodological skills in qualitative and quantitative methods. The PhD is a research degree and not only a professional preparation degree. Therefore research is an integral part of the program. Mastery of these skills is demonstrated through coursework, research projects and the dissertation. Graduates apply their skills, in institutions of higher education, public or private school settings, federal, state, or local governmental agencies, community organizations, and the private sector.

Cooperating Departments

  • Administrative Leadership
  • Educational Policy and Community Studies
  • Educational Psychology
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Information Studies (School of)

Admission Requirements 

Effective Fall 2023, the Multicultural Studies specialization has suspended admission. 

Application Deadlines

Application deadlines vary by program, please review the application deadline chart for specific programs. Other important dates and deadlines can be found by using the One Stop calendars.


An applicant must meet Graduate School requirements plus the following program requirements to be considered for admission. Applicants must also complete the reason statement in the application.

Graduate Record Examination

GRE scores are not required for admission to program.

Grade Point Average

Applicants must have an undergraduate GPA of 2.75. 

Check with specializations that might have additional requirements.

Writing Sample

Applicants must submit a writing sample completed within the last five years. The writing sample must be single authored, at least 1500 words, and must be selected from one of the following options:

  1. Master’s Thesis
  2. Undergraduate Senior Thesis
  3. Technical Report
  4. Term Paper
  5. Publication
  6. Written Description of a Project
  7. Action Research Project
  8. Writing sample or written response showing evidence of analytical and argumentative writing and reasoning. The response should address the following: How would you conceptualize and analyze issues in urban education? The response to this question must show evidence of appropriate references to a knowledge base.

The writing sample must be submitted with the application.

Reasons Statement

A Reasons Statement is used to determine the appropriateness of your educational and professional goals and serves as an example of your ability to express yourself in writing. In the statement:

  • Explain your reasons for pursuing graduate study.
  • Describe specific interests and your background in the field.
  • List any relevant skills or training you have acquired.
  • List relevant academic awards or honors you have received.

Curriculum Vitae/Resume

All UEDP applicants are required to submit a current Curriculum Vitae/Resume.


The program requires 3 letters of recommendation. These letters must be submitted through the application’s electronic recommendation feature by the recommenders themselves. Letters uploaded or sent by the applicant will not be accepted. If possible, please provide your recommenders with a summary of your application materials. Feel free to encourage your recommenders to provide illustrations linking your experiences and abilities with the aims of the doctoral specialization.  


Applicants are required to articulate their urban and research interests and goals in application materials. An intended concentration within the PhD must be specified at time of application.

  1. Applicants who fail to satisfy these admission requirements will not be recommended for admission. However, satisfying these minima does not guarantee admission.
  2. Applicants who are not recommended for admission will be provided an opportunity to request a reconsideration.

Individual specializations may expect prior coursework in that area. Applicants may contact the Director for specific information. Openings in the program are limited.

Students should apply by December 1st of the year prior to entry, or earlier, if they plan to apply for University-wide fellowships. Applications completed after the priority deadline will be reviewed on a rolling basis up until April 1st for Fall admission of that calendar year.

Application materials MUST be submitted by April 1st in order to be admitted for the fall semester. 

Credits and Courses

Minimum degree requirement is 54 credits beyond the bachelor’s degree (although students ordinarily take more than 54), at least 27 of which must be earned in residence at UWM (i.e., on the UWM campus).

A minimum grade of B or better is required for all courses counting toward the Urban Education doctoral degree.  Students earning a B- or lower must consult with their advisor to fulfill the requirement within one semester.

In consultation with the major professor, the student designs a program of studies that enables the student to gain the knowledge and skills appropriate to the student’s goals.

The program of studies includes the following:

The Doctoral Seminars

All doctoral students must take three 3-credit seminar courses devoted to content involving education in an urban environment. 

EDUC 701Critical Issues in Urban Education3
EDUC 801Seminar in Urban Education3
EDUC 901Advanced Seminar in Urban Education3

Research Requirement

Department specialization requirements may exceed those specified here.

Choose one: 3-4
Educational Statistical Methods II (prerequisite is ED PSY 624)
Techniques of Educational Research (prerequisite is ED PSY 624)
CURRINS/AD LDSP 729Qualitative Research and Field Studies in Educational Settings3
Additional advanced-level (600 or above) coursework from either a qualitative track or quantitative track6
Approved research design course3
Total Credits15-16

All students must demonstrate knowledge in this area by completing the specialization equivalent to the preliminary exam and successfully defending a dissertation.

Designated Specialization

Students indicate a specific area of specialization by applying for one of the transcript-designated specializations in either Adult, Continuing, and Higher Education Leadership, Curriculum and Instruction, Exceptional Education, Mathematics Education, Multicultural Studies, or Social Foundations of Education. Students may be required to meet the specific admissions and program requirements for their intended specialization in addition to meeting the PhD admissions and program requirements. (Please see the accompanying explanation and requirements for each specialization.)


Residence requirements cannot be met at the master’s level, and must be fulfilled before you can achieve dissertator status. There are two types of doctoral residency that must be met:

Academic Year Requirement

You must complete 8 to 12 graduate credits in each of two consecutive semesters, or 6 or more graduate credits in each of three consecutive semesters, including summer sessions. This requirement is intended to provide immersion in the chosen discipline and foster participation in the community of scholars.

50% Requirement

At least 50% of the graduate credits required for your PhD program must be completed at UWM in doctoral status.

Multicultural Specialization

  1. Students seeking admission to the doctoral program must indicate their intended area of specialization. The application will be reviewed by the Admissions Committee of the Urban Education Doctoral Program as well as the interdisciplinary graduate faculty of the Multicultural Studies Area.
  2. Students must write a brief statement explaining why they feel an interdisciplinary program is more relevant to their studies than one of the other discipline-specific specializations.
  3. Subsequent to admission, the student must submit a program of concentration in Multicultural Studies developed in conjunction with the student’s advisor.
  4. When the student’s course of studies in Multicultural Studies is approved by the Multicultural Studies interdisciplinary faculty, the student must submit a program of study to the Office of the Doctoral Studies for review and approval by the Director.
  5. Prior to admission, or within the first 30 graduate credits after admittance to the Multicultural Studies specialization, the student must complete a research project, e.g., thesis or publishable paper.
Urban Seminar Requirements
EDUC 701Critical Issues in Urban Education3
EDUC 801Seminar in Urban Education3
EDUC 901Advanced Seminar in Urban Education3
Major Concentration
ED POL 805Sociology of Education: Seminar3
ED POL 840Seminar in Educational Theory3
Electives in Multicultural Specialization
Select 15 graduate credits 115
Research Design and Methodology
ED PSY 624Educational Statistical Methods I (or equivalent statistical methods) 23
ED PSY 724Educational Statistical Methods II4
CURRINS 729Qualitative Research and Field Studies in Educational Settings3
ED POL 837Emergent Methods in Qualitative Research for Social Foundations3
Select 3 elective credits3
Total Credits46

Chosen under the guidance of advisor or committee chair. Six credits must be 800 level or above. Up to 6 relevant credits may be counted from student’s master’s program transcript, as determined by of a student’s advisor. The SOE specialization includes a tailored professional area with multicultural studies.


Students who meet this requirement upon admission will be asked to take another research methods class in consultation with student’s academic advisor.

Additional Requirements

Students must be admitted first to the PhD Program in Urban Education, then specialize in Multicultural Studies. The course requirements for Multicultural Studies are outlined below.

  1. Students must meet all the requirements of the Urban Education Doctoral Program.
  2. Students not having a graduate degree in a field recognized by the specialization faculty may be required to take master’s level coursework as a prerequisite to admission

Recommended Conference Submissions/Participation

The specialization strongly recommends all students submit and present their original work at two academic conferences during the course of their studies. Conferences may be local, regional, national, or international in scope. Additionally, students are highly encouraged to contribute to papers submitted to peer-reviewed academic journals prior to graduation.

Other Requirements

All students must adhere to all other general requirements of the Urban Educational Doctoral Program pertaining to such issues as residency, preliminary examinations, dissertation proposals and defense, and time limits.

Doctoral Preliminary Examination

The preliminary qualifying exam will include a section covering the student’s focus area as developed with an advisor or committee chair.


A dissertation with the appropriate area of emphasis is required. The dissertation committee must be composed of a minimum of four members of the graduate faculty. The dissertation advisor will be an approved doctoral advisor and a member of the School of Education. One other member must be from the School of Education, and one or two members must be from the student developed focus area.

Exit Requirements

Contingent upon the satisfactory completion of program requirements, including the passing of the prelim/proposal defense, and the successful oral defense of the dissertation, the Urban Education Doctoral Committee Chair will give final approval for the inclusion of “Urban Education: Multicultural Foundations” on your transcript.