Comparative and International Education | Lehigh Education

Helping Orphaned Youth in Rwanda

Crossing borders, cultures and disciplines to prepare graduates to work in education in the United States and around the world.

The Comparative and International Education (CIE) program prepares graduates for careers as professionals and scholars in both education and development-related fields. CIE students act as agents of change in classrooms, schools, communities, and national or multinational organizations worldwide.

We offer three degrees: M.Ed. in Globalization and Educational Change, M.A. in Comparative and International Education, and Ph.D. in Comparative and International Education.

The career-oriented M.Ed. in Globalization and Educational Change gives graduates the knowledge and skills to enter into careers requiring the ability to understand and solve complex educational and development issues. The program prepares graduates for careers in international education (as study abroad advisors or international student and scholar advisors), non-governmental organizations (as program officers, grant writers, or project evaluators), and educational and development agencies (as research and policy analysts or project officers).

The research-oriented M.A. and Ph.D. in Comparative and International Education prepare graduates to become experts in policy analysis and international education research for careers in schools and higher education institutions, government offices, and research and policy institutes. The Ph.D. program, in particular, is suited for highly innovative individuals preparing for these types of careers as well as academic positions in colleges or universities.

We also offer a graduate certificate in International Development Education and post-baccalaureate certificates in other relevant areas.

During their degree programs, students may study, conduct research and teach in a variety of international settings for at least part of their program. We use a hybrid instructional format—on campus and online—designed to accommodate our diverse body of global students, many of whom are working professionals.

Petrina Davidson, Comparative and International Education, Ph.D., '17
Learn more about our Comparative and International program from our students!

Petrina Davidson, Comparative and International Education, Ph.D., '17


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The Comparative and International Education (CIE) program at Lehigh University's College of Education is truly innovative. We provide students with a unique blend of global community, content, interaction, context, perspective and purpose. Highlights of these innovative qualities are:

An international learning community

The CIE program is truly international in nature.CIE faculty and staff make systematic efforts to create a vibrant learning community where internationalization thrives not only in formal classroom instruction, but also in daily socialization of students and faculty in academic, professional, and personal realms. Building on the strengths, expertise, and connections of the program faculty and the larger Lehigh University community, students have a unique opportunity to engage in a myriad of international experiences as a part of their graduate education experience, including conducting education research overseas, engaging in international education development consultancy, and assisting in journal/book editing in comparative and international education.

Multiple opportunities for student/faculty interaction

The program offers multiple opportunities for students and faculty to interact in meaningful ways. The basic principles are that (1) faculty/student interaction is transactional (i.e., goes both ways); and (2) faculty/student interaction is best when it has a basis in ongoing interaction both in and out of classroom. CIE faculty have extensive experience in the field as teachers and leaders as well as a theoretical and methodological grounding in a discipline, which is relevant to global leadership and comparative educational issues. We recognize that students bring a wealth of expertise and knowledge that complements the faculty’s expertise and knowledge. Therefore, the CIE program provides a framework upon which students and faculty can build professional relationships that extend beyond the classrooms through collaborative projects, directed study, and intellectual discourse.

Globalization and contextualization

Globalization and contextualization are the dual content foci for this program. CIE’s degree programs and coursework will examine globalization as either an impetus or an outcome of educational phenomena both in the United States and around the world. However, the dual process of contextualization is equally important. “Education” is bigger than the formal schooling environment. It occurs in private settings, such as homes and families, and other public settings such as playgrounds and workplaces. “Education” is also bigger than the phenomena of teaching and learning. It includes political, economic, sociological, historical, psychological, and other phenomena as well. From this perspective globalization has a moderated effect on schools and communities because there are layers of contextual or environmental influence. Therefore, it has become impossible to analyze phenomena at any level of education or society without considering how these phenomena are locally situated within a global context.

Interdisciplinary perspectives

The CIE program transcends disciplinary boundaries in order to understand and address the complex issues of globalization and contextualization. Education and schooling issues are too complex and diverse to be addressed by just one disciplinary perspective. The fact is that education is the product of many converging forces from politics to society to economics to history to business and philosophy. We cannot understand why schools in countries halfway around the world are structured the way they are, or why educational policies in the U.S. deal with the topics they do unless we understand the various factors impacting these decisions. Most education fields already borrow from other disciplines in terms of theory and methodology, but CIE takes this one step further. Working closely with the graduate programs of Lehigh’s College of Arts and Sciences, the CIE degree programs breach the boundaries of disciplines, thus creating an opportunity for students to examine education-related issues from multiple perspectives.

Bridging theory and practice

Another hallmark component of CIE is the bridge between theory and practice. Much of education is professional education, which often translates to explicitly practical application in schools and classrooms. This is a vital component of Lehigh’s College of Education, and it is important for CIE to support this professional training component that is so successful in the College of Education. Yet, the field of comparative and international education is also by nature a global program in that it provides educators and policymakers with a way to understand broader, cross-system, and global trends in educational policy and practice. One of the best tools that we have for understanding these trends is through the development and testing of ideas in the real world. As such, CIE’s programs and courses are theoretically grounded, but also practically-oriented. We help our students think about phenomena using theory, but also teach them how to apply these ideas to real-world, globally-contextualized educational situations and systems.


Lehigh's College of Education has a global reach. We continue to lead the campus community in an effort to promote international and global education. For our students, a global focus and experience means equipping our students to live as members of an international community, in which success and personal happiness increasingly depend on the ability to appreciate and negotiate differences on a global scale. Our ability to assist other countries as they work to develop exemplary educational experiences for their children and young adults is critical to the future of our college.

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