Ph.D. Comparative and International Education

Admissions to the Comparative and International Education (CIE) program is closed at this time.

The Ph.D. degree program in Comparative and International Education (CIE) prepares students for research, scholarly inquiry, and advanced professional careers in the field of comparative and international education. With an emphasis on interdisciplinary, comparative, and cross-cultural inquiry, the program creates a strong foundation for studying education in the context of globalization, sustainable development, and social equity. Through academic curricula and international field-based research, the program engages students in examining the impact of global economic, political, sociological, and historical factors on education phenomena locally, regionally, and internationally. Emphasis is given to research topics at the forefront of education and sustainable education theory and practice, including cross-cutting issues such as gender, culture, and poverty. The program offers a combination of rigorous training in comparative education theory and research methods; key skills in policy analysis, monitoring and evaluation, and advocacy; as well as provides students with the flexibility to pursue in-depth research in a variety of areas critical to comparative and international education. Graduates are prepared to work in higher education institutions, educational research and policy organizations, government offices, ministries of education, and international development organizations. 

One of the hallmark components of the CIE Ph.D. program is the bridge between educational theory, research, and practice. The current graduate level programs in comparative and international education – M.Ed. in Globalization and Educational Change and M.A. in Comparative and International Education – are structured to serve individuals working or planning to work in school-specific and education policy-oriented settings. The Ph.D. degree will build on and combine the strengths of the existing programs by being practical, research-oriented, and policy-focused, while adding a robust theory-oriented and research-driven component. With the addition of the Ph.D. in Comparative and International Education, Lehigh University will be one of the few institutions to offer a graduate degree sequence that blends both international education policy- and practice-oriented studies in order to prepare students to think theoretically about global education phenomena, while at the same time apply different theoretical perspectives and conceptual frameworks to real-world situations.

The doctoral program combines an emphasis on competence in comparative education theory and research methods, interdisciplinary approaches to the study of education phenomena in a variety of contexts, and opportunities for the development of students’ individual scholarly interests. Core courses provide a rigorous training in comparative and international education theory and research methods, including a sequence of courses on theory and theory building, as well as a combination of courses in qualitative and quantitative methods to familiarize students with advanced techniques for collecting and analyzing data on international, cross-cultural, and cross-national education phenomena and processes. Required courses also include an advanced field-based research practicum supervised by CIE program faculty, which immerses doctoral students in theory-based empirical research under the supervision of CIE faculty. This research practicum provides an opportunity for doctoral students to apply research methods in empirical situations before beginning the dissertation stage of their program. 

A concentration in Globalization, Sustainability, and Social Equity prepares students for interdisciplinary inquiry through a combination of courses bridging the following three areas: (1) society and culture, (2) politics and policy, and (3) sustainable development. Students are required to exhibit competence in this interdisciplinary core by first successfully completing the two required interdisciplinary core courses and at least one course in each of the three thematic areas, including society and culture, politics and policy, and international development. Elective courses within each of the three areas provide students with the flexibility to pursue in-depth study in a variety of areas critical to their academic needs and research interests, and will require students to demonstrate competency in each of the three areas of interdisciplinary study that comprise the core. By emphasizing an interdisciplinary approach, our goal is not only to expose doctoral students to a variety of established theoretical frameworks and research paradigms, but to also critically interrogate these frameworks in order to advance students’ understanding of the role of education in the context of globalization, sustainable development, and social equity. 

In addition to a strong interdisciplinary focus, the doctoral program seeks to bridge theory and practice in comparative and international education. Core courses are specifically designed to equip students with both a strong theoretical foundation and diverse skills-sets in the areas of international education planning, policy analysis, program development and evaluation, advocacy, and grant-writing.  

All students must complete a concentrated learning requirement in accordance with COE rules and regulations. In order to fulfill the residence requirement, students accepted into the doctoral program must complete 18 credits in 15 months, during the first three years of academic coursework. The year of residency may include the first summer, fall, spring, and second summer semesters consecutively in order to meet the requirements. The residence requirement is intended to ensure that doctoral students spend a period of concentrated study and intellectual association with other scholars.

Curriculum can be found in the course catalog.

Application Requirements & Deadlines