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Overview of the PhD Critical Pedagogies and Urban Teacher Education Program

For students applying after August 1, 2021

The PhD in Education:  Curriculum and Instruction offers students opportunities to study in three major areas: (a) Curriculum Studies (before August 2021) evolving to Critical Pedagogies and Urban Teacher Education (beginning August 2021) (b) Literacy, Language, and Culture; (c) Mathematics and Science Education.

Students in this PhD program apply to and are admitted to one of these three concentrations.  These concentrations have some common elements but they also differ in a number of important ways.  Therefore, each of these concentrations is described separately.  You should refer to the description of the concentration to which you have been admitted.  You should also refer to later sections of this handbook that provide additional information about conducting dissertation research successfully.

Students applying to the PhD program after August 2021 will belong to the new iteration of Curriculum Studies known as Critical Pedagogies and Urban Teacher Education.

Doctoral students accepted into the Curriculum Studies program (before August 2021) will be able to continue in that program. Students entering the program after August 2021 will belong to this new iteration known as Critical Pedagogies and Urban Teacher Education.

If you have questions about the program, please reach out to the program coordinator Edward Podsiadlik ( For information on the specialization in Health Professions Education contact Laura Schaaf (

Rationale Heading link

After years of research, local and national discussions, and external reviews by leading faculty in the field, program faculty have reinvigorated the Curriculum Studies program by focusing on and strengthening two key tenets: Critical Pedagogy, and Urban Teacher Education. This new name reflects the importance of critical pedagogies as a core principle driving research. It aligns closely with the College of Education’s mission and vision which commits to ‘make good on the promise of public education’. This commitment requires explicitly and unequivocally acknowledging and addressing problems of inequality, so that public education can work effectively for the full flourishing of the life of every child, student and family, particularly those in urban environments. It includes scholarship, research, and action akin to the transformational nature of teaching and learning that supports student agency in addressing social inequities and injustices.

The program’s identity now also highlights the integral role urban teacher education plays in developing curricula, practices, and policies that challenge barriers to equal educational opportunities. For decades, UIC has produced leading scholars and practitioners of urban teacher education. Embedded scholarship for teacher preparation within contexts of community justice and learning has the potential to effect positive change. Research, scholarship, and action invested in the emancipatory nature of education have the potential to transform lives by helping forge paths toward equity and empowerment. This is especially relevant for educators interested in the work of teaching against oppression and for liberation; and against dehumanization and for individual voice and perspective.

Our partnership with Health Professions Education remains a major component of our program. Elements of critical pedagogies and teacher education are central to the work of medical professionals in developing instructional practices and ideologies that best meet the needs of a variety of health fields. Our collaboration with the west campus Health Professions experts remains strong.

Overview of Requirements Heading link

This program requires a minimum of 96 semester hours beyond the baccalaureate degree and a minimum of 64 semester hours beyond the master’s degree.  Specific program/degree requirements (i.e., coursework, preliminary exams, dissertation research and defense, committee composition, and more) are identified and described in the Advising Guides. Note, please select the appropriate Advising Guide depending on the year you’ve begun the program: