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The UAB School of Education and Human Sciences is pleased to announce a new doctoral program—the Ph.D. in Educational Studies in Diverse Populations (ESDP). This program prepares you to conduct research and lead innovation that enhances educational and life outcomes for diverse populations in P-12, post-secondary, and community settings. Such diverse populations include culturally and linguistically diverse individuals, those with disabilities, those from high-poverty backgrounds, those impacted by gender bias or bias related to sexual orientation, and those with other learning or behavioral differences.

Students can choose from one of three concentrations: Pedagogical Studies, Health Disparities within Diverse Populations, or Context, Culture, and Policy.

Pedagogical Studies Concentration

The Pedagogical Studies concentration examines educational policies, curriculum, and instruction that support the needs of diverse learners in P-12 schools, language institutes, and teacher education settings.

Health Disparities within Diverse Populations Concentration

The Health Disparities within Diverse Populations concentration examines cultural, psychological, behavioral, social, and environmental influences that impact health and education.

Context, Culture, and Policy

The Context, Culture, and Policy concentration provides an analysis of educational institutions and initiatives through the lens of geopolitical space, sociocultural studies, and global justice in relation to the experiences of diverse populations.


The Ph.D. in Educational Studies in Diverse Populations is approximately 60-90 credit hours. In addition to prerequisite requirements, the program is comprised of four essential parts: core courses, research courses, concentration courses, and a dissertation. After completing any required prerequisites and a series of core and research courses, you will select either Pedagogical Studies, Context, Culture, and Policy, or Health Disparities as your concentration. Through coursework in your concentration area along with up 12 hours of interdisciplinary courses, you will gain an in-depth, research-based understanding of your specified concentration that will prepare you for your dissertation work.


The background experiences of ESDP doctoral students vary significantly. Consequently, the program requires specific prerequisite courses before you can proceed with doctoral-level work. Suppose you have completed prerequisite coursework and some concentration coursework during a previous graduate degree. In that case, your committee may allow you to complete this Ph.D. program with a minimum of 60 hours of graduate work. Prerequisites are often taken at the Bachelor's, Master's, or Education Specialist (Ed.S.) degree levels. Suppose a Ph.D. applicant has not taken all of the prerequisite courses. In that case, they can be admitted into the Ph.D. program because they complete most of their prerequisite coursework before enrolling in more advanced coursework.

Application Deadlines

Cohorts begin every other year (in even-numbered years). Degree-seeking applications are due March 1 in even-numbered years for admission to cohorts starting in August.

  • Core Courses

    12 Credits

    The core consists of four courses: an introductory course to the program plus one course in each of the three concentrations. These courses will acquaint students with how diversity can be conceived and studied. The core is taken as a cohort, and courses are taught by full time faculty from the three concentrations. These courses are as follows:

    • EDF 755 Educational Studies in Diverse Populations: Theories of Inquiry: 3 credit hours
    • EDC 750 Critical Pedagogical Studies in Diverse Populations: 3 credits
    • EDF 765 Context, Culture, and Policy Proseminar: 3 credits
    • CHHS 742 Health Disparities in Diverse Populations: 3 credits
  • Research Courses

    15 credits

    Research Courses (to be taken after research prerequisite courses and with or after core courses)

    • EPR 596 Introduction to Qualitative Methods in Education Research: 3 credits
    • EPR 609 Statistical Methods and Research in Education: 3 credits
    • EPR 696 Qualitative Research: Inquiry and Analysis: 3 credits
    • EPR 710 Computer Applications and Advanced Statistical Methods: 3 credits
    • EPR 792 Mixed Methods Approaches to Educational Research: 3 credits
    • GRD 717 Principles of Scientific Integrity: 3 credits
  • Concentration Courses

    12-36 Credits

    Once the prerequisite coursework has been satisfied, you will follow an interdisciplinary program of study in one of the three concentrations:

    • Pedagogical Studies
    • Context, Culture, and Policy
    • Health Disparities

    Individual student-appropriate coursework will be selected in Early Childhood and Elementary Education, Secondary Education, Reading, Health Education, Kinesiology, Special Education, English as a Second Language, Educational Foundations, Counselor Education, and Educational Psychology and Research.

    Upon receiving approval from their Advisors in a given concentration, you may take up to 12 credits in interdisciplinary courses in related fields, e.g., sociology, anthropology, history, English, philosophy, cultural studies, women’s studies, American studies, African American studies, etc.

  • Dissertation

    24 Credits

    Approval of the dissertation proposal and admission to candidacy must be recommended by your Advisor and approved by the Program Director, and the Graduate School Dean.

    • Dissertation Seminar: 3 credit hours
    • Dissertation Research – (Prerequisite: Admission to candidacy.) 12 credit hours. Note: one semester with at least 6 credit hours is required
    • 9 credits of directed dissertation research or additional research courses specific to intended dissertation

Sample Schedule

  SemesterPart-Time: 2 courses per termFull-Time: 3 or 4 courses per term
1st Year Fall EDF 755
EDC 750
EDF 755 and EDC 750
1st Research course
[and perhaps also 2nd Research course]
Spring EDF 765
CHHS 742
EDF 765 and CHHS 742
3rd and/or 4th Research courses
Summer Admission to Concentration
1st and 2nd Research Course
Admission to Concentration
3rd and/or 4th Research course
OR 2 courses in Concentration
2nd Year Fall 3rd and 4th Research Course 3 to 4 courses in concentration
Spring 2 courses in Concentration 3 to 4 courses in concentration
Summer 2 courses in Concentration 3 courses in concentration
the Comprehensive Exam
3rd Year Fall Two courses in concentration Advance to Candidacy
Dissertation Seminar (3 credits)
Dissertation Research (6 credits)
Spring Two courses in concentration Dissertation Research (at least 6 credits with 9 credits of qualifying research courses) and Dissertation Defense
Summer 2 courses in Concentration AND Comprehensive Exam  
4th Year Fall Advance to Candidacy
Dissertation Seminar (3 credits)
Spring Dissertation Research (6 credits)  
5th Year Fall Dissertation Research (3 credits with at least 9 credits of qualifying research courses previously taken)  
Spring Dissertation Research (3 credits)
Dissertation Defense
  • Application Procedures

    Admission to the ESDP program is two-fold: Admission to the Ph.D program and admission to the concentration.

    • Prior to beginning coursework - You must have unconditional admission to the UAB Graduate School and to the ESDP program.
    • After completing core courses (and perhaps some of the research courses) - The core faculty along with the concentration faculty will discuss each student's performance and viability and will make determinations about concentration admission.

    The application deadline is March 1 for cohorts beginning the fall semester of that year.

  • Application Checklist

    Applying for admission to the ESDP program begins with completing an online application through the UAB Graduate School.

    • Complete and submit online degree-seeking application for admission to the Graduate School
    • Submit professional resume/CV and statement of research interests and professional goals (directions for the Admissions Essay is in the Admission Requirements section below)
    • Pay application fee online with credit card or debit card (mailing a check will severely delay the application process)
      • Domestic: $50
      • International: please check graduate school website for current fee
    • Ask the individuals from whom you request references to respond online to the form that they will receive via email from the Graduate School (NOTE: This form is sent automatically to your references by UAB as soon as you click submit on your degree-seeking application).
    • Request transcripts from all prior institutions to be sent to UAB including institutions where you might have taken only one course (information on how to do this is provided in Apply Yourself). The preferred email addresses for electronic submission of transcripts are as follows: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. If you have international transcripts, you should send a copy and then bring the original transcript with you.
    • Submit official GRE or MAT test score.
    • Submit official TOEFL or IELTS test score (for international applicants only) NOTE: International applicants must also meet all requirements stipulated at http://www.uab.edu/graduate/international. This includes a mailing your Financial Affidavit of Support
  • Admissions Requirements

    The following indicators are considered by the Doctoral Program Admissions Committee when determining program admission:

    • Graduate degree (minimum of a master's) in a related field
    • Professional experience - preferred at least 3 years (applicants for the Pedagogical Studies concentration must have appropriate teaching experience)
    • Professional resume/CV
    • Admission Essay - In approximately two single-spaced pages, please explain why you are applying to the ESDP. When writing this statement, you might consider some of the following questions: What life experiences led to your decision to apply and what is it about the ESDP that attracts you to this program? What are your research interests and career goals? How will the ESDP help you pursue your research interests and accomplish your career goals? As determined by your aspiring concentration area, please include citations related to diversity and education.
    • MAT or GRE scores (score at 50th percentile or higher)
    • GPA (minimum of 3.25 on previous graduate work)
    • Three recommendations/letters of reference
    • Presentations at state, regional and national conferences
    • Publications
    • Professional involvement
    • Interview with faculty

Cohort Model

As a cohort group, you will take your initial core courses and perhaps some of the required research courses. Upon admission to your concentration, you will work on an individualized course plan throughout the courses.

Comprehensive Exam

Students in all concentrations must pass a comprehensive examination during their final semester of concentration or research courses.

Career Opportunities

This doctoral program is especially suited to preparing graduates with the research acumen needed to move easily into higher education post-secondary settings, P-12 administration at all levels (local, state, and national), leadership roles within school-based settings, and non-academic positions within nonprofit organizations, specifically those with a research component.

Graduate Teaching/Research Assistants

Full-time Graduate Teaching/Research Assistantships may be available. Awardees perform teaching-related or research-related assignments to benefit the ESDP Ph.D. program. These positions require full-time enrollment (9 hours per semester, including summer for a minimum of 27 hours per calendar year) as a doctoral ESDP student in good standing. Full-time UAB employees are not eligible for these funds. The award also requires that you be available to work 20 hours per week on assigned tasks and may carry restrictions on additional employment, on and off-campus.

Applications are due by May 15.

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