Program Overview

The below lists provide a snapshot of what you can expect while pursuing a Master's or Doctoral degree at the School of Education! For more detailed information refer to the Graduate Student Handbook

  • Summer Orientation - CU Boulder Summer Orientation is required for all graduate students. The School of Education partners with the graduate school to provide a thorough introduction of all you'll need to know while pursuing your graduate degree at CU.
  • Candidacy Application - Work with your academic advisor to submit your application to be a graduate candidate at the School of Education
  • Degree Plan - During your first year, you will meet with your faculty advisor to create and present your degree plan proposal for review 
  • Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA) -The Graduate Research Assistant Program is a year-round educational program that provides students with relevant and paid research experience on campus while pursuing a graduate degree. These positions are optional and by availability only. Work with your advisor to learn more.
  • Culminating Project - Your final project is assigned and determined by your program area. This project can take the form of a Comprehensive Exam (Comps), Major Paper, Portfolio assignment, or Capstone Class and may also be accompanied by a final exam.
  • Graduation - Every student must complete two application processes in order to graduate.
    1. Seek your academic advisor's assistance to apply to graduate from the School of Education
    2. Apply online to graduate from CU Boulder

  • Online Orientation - Each newly admitted student is required to attend online orientation.
  • Regular Advisor Meetings - Your advisor will work with you throughout the entirety of your program to help create an individualized schedule that includes required coursework for your chosen content areas and keeps you on track towards graduating. Additionally, they will guide you through the licensure process and your student teaching experience, both of which you can learn more about in the handbooks below.
  • Core Coursework - 3013: School & Society is a required course that introduces students to pressing issues surrounding education within the United States and examines issues of diversity and equity from different disciplinary lenses, including history, philosophy, sociology and anthropology.
  • Licensure Exam - In order to be eligible for student teaching and to recieve your teaching licensure,  you must pass one of the state-approved licensure exams (PLACE & PRAXIS II). Exams should be taken nine months to one year prior to the semester in which you plan to student teach. The PLACE exam is designed specifically to CO state standards and must be taken in Colorado. PRAXIS II is a national content knowledge exam that is accepted as a licensure exam in some other states and may be taken in many locations. 
  • Student Teaching - Our program is designed to offer teaching experience amounting to 800+ hours of in-class practicum work!

For more information refer to the Student Teaching Application Manual and the Student Teaching Handbook.

  • Meet with your Advisor - Work closely with your faculty advisor outline your goals for the remainder of the doctoral program and make a plan for graduation
  • Confirm Funding Package - Confirm funding along with your predetermined GRA placement
  • Teach a Course - As a part of the funding agreement, students are required to teach a course on campus for at least one semester. 
  • Core Coursework
    • Program-specific seminar with program faculty and PhD students (1 credit hour)
    • Big Ideas Courses: Perspectives on Teaching & Learning, Education Research & Policy, Advanced Seminar in Democracy, Diversity & Social Justice
    • Quantitative & Qualitative Research Methods: 1 & 2
  • Choose Comps Review Committee - Each doctoral student must choose a committee of faculty members that align well with the research and methods of your selected field of study. This committee will witness and determine the verdict of your comps defense.
  • Annual Review - Present your chosen field of research and proposed dissertation to your faculty review committee for approval. This meeting will occur on an annual basis to review and evaluate research progress.
  • Prospectus Defense - Work with your review committee to coordinate a date and time of your defense, complete the steps for preparation, and defend. If your chosen field of study for your dissertation is approved, so then will be your candidacy.
  • Apply for Candidacy - Once you have passed your comps and been approved for candidacy, you must officially apply for candidacy through the School of Education and your academic advisor.
  • GRA Assignments - Gain valuable experience by working closely with your faculty advisor and others on campus to conduct relevant and meaningful research.
  • Choose Dissertation Review Committee -This committee may be made up of some, all or none of the members from your prospectus review committee. The purpose of this committee is to guide you through your dissertation research, provide feedback and edits, and ultimately determine the verdict of your defense.
  • Dissertation Defense - You must work with your review committee to coordinate a date and time of your defense, complete the steps for preparation, and defend.
  • Graduation - Every student must apply online to graduate during the same semester of their dissertation defense.



 Use this handbook to help you navigate through your Master’s or Doctoral Program. It is our hope that in conjunction with this tool, you may lean on our advising staff for guidance. In this handbook you will find many resources, including the topics noted below. For more detailed information, download the complete Graduate Student Handbook

MA Program

Financial Support

The Office of Financial Aid in conjunction with the Graduate School both award financial aid in the form of grants, scholarships and work-study jobs on the basis of both need and merit criteria. Graduate Students must be registered for a minimum of four credits in order to be eligible for Financial Aid.

Graduate Degree Plan

During the first year of study, you should work closely with you advisor to create a Graduate Degree Plan to be approved and signed by both your advisor and the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies for the School of Education. In this plan you will outline a substantive course of study consistent with program guidelines and course requirements.

PhD Program

Financial Support

Each year a number of merit-based teaching assistantships, research assistantships, and fellowships are available in the School of Education to support full-time doctoral study. Half-time appointments (the maximum allowed) for 20 hours of work per week are the norm. Quarter-time RA and TA appointments (10 hours per week) may also be made. A student must be considered full-time to hold an assistantship.

Doctoral Seminar

First-year PhD students are required to register for and attend the 1-credit monthly Specialty Seminar during their first two semesters. The Graduate Studies Coordinator will register you for this course.

Publishable Paper

In addition to coursework requirements, doctoral students should be immersed in ongoing research with the faculty as early in their program as possible. All doctoral students in the School are required to complete, at a minimum, one publishable paper prior to taking comprehensive examinations; other research endeavors prior to the dissertation are desirable. Contribution to this paper would be signified by sole authorship, first authorship, or 50% co-authorship with another student colleague.

*Download the complete Graduate Student Program Handbook