Doctor of Philosophy in Education

The full-time PhD program provides rigorous interdisciplinary training that develops students’ abilities to conduct evidence-based research on real-world educational challenges. The training emphasizes the development and evaluation of educational policies and practices that address the outcomes of historically underserved students and schools. Programmatically, students receive a balance of one-to-one apprenticeship model that pairs exceptional interdisciplinary candidates with nationally acclaimed faculty mentors on the one hand, with engaging coursework, sophisticated methodological training, and cohort-based learning on the other. The cutting-edge research skills students acquire position them for faculty careers, leadership positions in educational research organizations, and policymaking roles.

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Hunter Gehlbach

Faculty Lead
Hunter Gehlbach, PhD

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Sr. Academic Program Administrator
Raven Minervino

Doctor of Philosophy

At A Glance

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Application Deadline

DECEMBER 15, 2022

Application requirements and deadlines
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Enrollment:Full-Time; This program requires in-person residential study at the JHU School of Education located in Baltimore, MD.
Start Terms:Fall only
Application Deadline: The application for the fall 2023 cohort is closed, and is no longer accepting applications for this term. We anticipate the application will re-open in July 2023 to begin accepting applications for our next entry term, fall 2024. Please complete our Request For Information form to receive updates on the application opening.
Prerequisite:Earned bachelor’s (four year) and master’s degree from a regionally or nationally- accredited college or university. Previous degrees must document outstanding academic achievement in an area of study closely associated with the objectives of this PhD program.
Application Requirements:Online application form
$80.00 application fee
Essay:A personal statement of professional goals (not to exceed 750 words) including responses to the following questions:
1) How will participating in the program advance your career?
2) What experiences have you had that relate to school improvement?
3) What do you hope to learn as a result of being a student in the doctoral program?
Writing sample: a sample of an applicant's most professional writing that demonstrates analytic and critical writing skills (average 10-20 pages).
Three Letters of Recommendation:At least three letters of recommendation - two submitted by faculty members who are familiar with the student's previous academic work, and one submitted by a supervisor or administrator who has been in a position to evaluate the student’s professional development.
Official GRE scores
Official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended
An interview may be required
International Applicants:Please reference the International Student Admission Instructions for additional requirements.
Tuition and fees

All PhD students at the School of Education are eligible for a fellowship for up to four years. The fellowship includes a yearly stipend and will cover tuition and fees.


Admissions Information

We recognize that it can be financially burdensome to relocate to a new city to attend a PhD program. Students who are admitted to PhD programs at JHU can apply to receive a $1,500 need-based grant to offset the costs of relocating to JHU. These grants provide funding to a portion of incoming students who, without this money, may otherwise not be able to afford to relocate to JHU for their PhD program. This is not a merit-based grant. Applications will be evaluated solely based on financial need. More information can be found on the Office of the Provost website.

Amanda Inns Portrait

What set my experience apart was the chance to work with remarkable mentors who are not only impactful researchers in the field, but also genuinely care about me as a person.


Amanda Inns, PhD ’18 
Deputy Director, Consortium for School-Based Health Solutions 

Doctor of Philosophy

Program Description

With its goal of pursuing big ideas and sharing knowledge to address real-world challenges, Johns Hopkins University takes pride in its founding mission as the United States’ first research university. The full-time Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD) at the Johns Hopkins School of Education embraces that tradition. We offer a world-class, research-focused program that prepares exceptional scholars to investigate and develop policies and practices that improve educational outcomes from pre-K through secondary school and beyond. Students draw insights from different disciplines (e.g., educational psychology, learning sciences, sociology of education), synthesizing their knowledge to craft multidisciplinary, evidence-based approaches to address educational policies and practices—particularly those that can improve outcomes for historically underserved populations. Immersion in modern research methods—advanced statistical techniques, open science approaches, and data science—facilitates students’ capacities to argue for research-based educational reforms. Students benefit from the mentorship of nationally acclaimed researchers in an apprenticeship model as well as collaborative learning opportunities from courses, research groups, and their cohort. Our graduates go on to careers in higher education as professors, as policymakers, and influential scholars at research-intensive universities, institutes, and centers.

Doctor of Philosophy

Core Faculty

Robert Balfanz

Rebecca Cruz professional headshot

Rebecca Cruz

Hunter Gehlbach

Hunter Gehlbach

Martha MacIver

Martha Mac Iver

Stephen L. Morgan, PhD

Stephen Morgan

Alexandra Shelton professional headshot

Alexandra Shelton

Ashley Berner

Ashley Berner

Norma L. Day-Vines

Norma Day-Vines

Richard Lofton

Richard Lofton

Matthew Makel headshot

Matthew Makel

Jonathan Plucker

Jonathan Plucker

Amy Shelton professional headshot

Amy Shelton

Julia Burdick-Will

Julia Burdick-Will

Marcia Davis, PhD

Marcia Davis

Douglas Mac Iver professional headshot

Douglas J. Mac Iver

Olivia Marcucci headshot

Olivia Marcucci

Eric Rice headshot

Eric Rice

Marc L. Stein professional headshot

Marc Stein

Doctor of Philosophy


Program outline and requirements

Program requirements include earning a minimum of 72 graduate credits taken at the doctoral level at Johns Hopkins University. While the program will be tailored to the specific learning needs of each student, it includes the following coursework components:

  • Research Methods and Statistics courses (minimum 18 credit hours)
  • Core Seminars (15 credit hours)
  • Major and/or minor area electives and readings (minimum 21 credit hours)
  • Dissertation Research (18 credit hours)

In addition to successfully completing the coursework requirements, candidates must satisfy the following program benchmarks:

  • Research progress
  • Written and oral comprehensive examinations
  • Dissertation proposal oral examination
  • Graduate Board oral examination
  • Final dissertation exam

All School of Education PhD students will devote at least four years to full-time study and research as a resident student. Students are expected to maintain enrollment as full-time graduate students over the course of the program. With the approval of their adviser and PhD program director, students may petition to transfer up to 12 credit hours of previously completed graduate-level coursework to substitute for selected courses.


The program is designed as an apprenticeship model leading to a traditional research dissertation. The expectation is that students will develop the skills and knowledge throughout the program required to pursue a traditional research dissertation. Although the dissertation is not part of the formal coursework, the program is designed to put a student on track to develop an area of expertise as the foundation for an independent research project directed by the adviser. Students are expected to complete and defend a dissertation proposal by the end of the third year and use the final year to complete and defend the dissertation. The dissertation is expected to demonstrate mastery of the relevant literature and scholarship in the collection and interpretation of data. The work should be appropriate for publication in high-impact journals in the student’s area of expertise. The dissertation will be presented at a final oral defense before the student’s Dissertation Advisory Committee.


All PhD students at the School of Education are eligible for a Fellowship for up to four years. The Fellowship includes a yearly stipend and will cover tuition and fees. The Fellowship will also cover individual health, dental, and vision insurance. All PhD students must be registered full-time and be in good academic standing every semester to continue to be eligible for their Fellowship.

Course Information

Course descriptions, locations, and availability

Doctor of Philosophy


Program Goals

Upon successful program completion, graduates will have the capacity to:

  • Translate disciplinary knowledge into multidisciplinary applications and solutions.
  • Draw upon a suite of cutting-edge research skills based on their personalized interests/needs—including:
    • Employing sophisticated statistical/data science approaches,
    • Linking educational practices with student outcomes in complex databases,
    • Employing open science strategies,
    • Designing survey measures,
    • Conducting innovative program evaluations, and
    • Navigating research-practice partnerships.
  • Conduct and use evidence-based research to inform and assess educational policies and practices that improve outcomes for historically underserved populations.


Doctor of Philosophy


What educational backgrounds do most students in the program come from (as in, their experiences in education)?

Students in the program come in with a range of experiences. Most, but not all, have been in the K–12 space as teachers. All have master’s degrees, and about two-thirds of those are in education. We have stressed strong graduate GPA and GRE scores, but we also look at the whole package. We look for students who have some understanding of what it means to really dig in to research. Students in this program are full time, and the program is designed to develop the independent scholar for academic and other research settings.

What are the research interests of students in the program?

As to the research interests of our students, they mirror the interests of our faculty. We ask that applicants research our faculty/advisers and reach out to the ones that mirror their own interests.

How long is this program and is it funded?

All School of Education PhD students will devote at least four years to full-time study and research as a resident student. All PhD students at the School of Education are eligible for a fellowship for up to four years. The fellowship includes a yearly stipend and will cover tuition and fees.

Doctor of Philosophy

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