Ph.D. in Education - Comparative and International Education Concentration

Make an Impact on a Global Scale

The Comparative and International Education PhD concentration examines education in global contexts. Education is viewed as a way to develop the capabilities of individuals, communities, nations, and the world, and to build institutions that support educational improvement and the common good. Faculty research focuses on issues of migration, forced displacement and refugees, under-developed capacities of historically marginalized groups, education for global competence and global citizenship, international higher and K-12 education, and the complexities of action at local, nation, and global levels.





International Perspectives
Engage in active learning opportunities to confront challenges in education globally through linkages with international communities within and outside the United States.


Hands-On Experiential Learning
Take part in our larger inclusive cross-disciplinary team as well as a more focused research project. You’ll bring your experience in education to the design, development, data collection, and analyses of a research project.


Principles of Research
Gain a deeper understanding of designing and conducting ethical and culturally relevant research with human subjects and considering the social impact of the work.




The GW Advantage

As a Carnegie R1 institution (very high research activity), the George Washington University is home to world-class faculty that are leading cutting-edge research, along with diverse research labs, cross-collaborative initiatives between schools and local organizations, and unparalleled educational and employment opportunities.

Benefit by examining education reform in the policymaking capital of the world, plus gain a wealth of hands-on experiential learning opportunities at nearby diverse school settings.





 Program at a Glance


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Education, Comparative and International Education Concentration

course delivery:

Main Campus

Program entry:



Our Mission
Photo taken by student Samantha Stehle as part of IEA photo contest; person rows small boat in cove

The aims of the PhD are to:

  •  Use multiple modes of scholarly inquiry to conduct rigorous research and develop new theory related to problems that require the integration of multiple disciplines and fields of study, in which education and/or human development play a major role.
  • Build theoretical and conceptual foundations of key fields of study within the larger domain of education and human development.
  • Contribute to the improvement of policy and practice.
  • Create “research hubs” of recognized experts and communities of learners within GSEHD and the George Washington University (GW).
  • Promote research in partnership with other organizations (e.g., think tanks, research institutes, both in the U.S. and abroad).
  • Attract expertise and funding to GSEHD and GW.
  • Attract and retain exceptional students.
  • Create a highly valued educational experience at GSEHD through innovation, increased collaboration, and research.
The following requirements must be fulfilled: 60 credits, including 36 credits in core courses, and 24 credits in the concentration, successful completion of a second-year research project, successful completion of the comprehensive examination; oral defense of both the dissertation proposal and the dissertation.
Core Courses:  
SEHD 8200 Foundations of Education I  
SEHD 8201 Foundations of Education II  
SEHD 8100 Special Topics (taken twice for a total of 6 credits)  
Research Methods:  
12 credits of doctoral-level research methods coursework, selected in consultation with advisor. At least one course must be in quantitative research methods and one in qualitative research methods.  
SEHD 8999 Dissertation Research (taken for at least 12 credits)  
Additional Requirements:  
Successful completion of second-year research project.  
Successful completion of the comprehensive examination.  
Oral defense of both the dissertation proposal and the dissertation.  
Comparative and International Education Concentration Requirements:  
SEHD 8100 Special Topics (Social Theory in Comparative and International Education)
SEHD 8100 Special Topics (Research in International/Intercultural Contexts)
18 additional credits in graduate-level courses determined in consultation with the advisor. Course selections are determined by the focus of the concentration and the specific interests of the student.  


Example Research Questions
Students will work to answer questions such as:
  • To what extent does storytelling enable young people with refugee and immigrant experiences to navigate their sense of self and community?
  • How are U.S. higher education institutions responding to increasingly restrictive anti-migration policies and a growing wave of xenophobic activity?
  • Does student and teacher participation in international education programs lead to positive youth, racial, and intercultural identity development?
  • How have education for sustainable development policies been advanced at regional and national levels?
  • How does civic education vary in schools with more and less cosmopolitan-oriented student bodies?



 Apply Now

GSEHD’s Office of Admissions invites you to apply for a spot in our program. Please review the following admission and financial information.

Ready to take the next step in your career? Review our step-by-step guide to applying to GSEHD >

To learn more about the program, admission process, and upcoming events, please connect with the GSEHD Admissions Team at or 202-994-9283.

Apply Now  Schedule Consultation with Admissions Counselor 

To be considered for admission, applicants must submit the online application form as well as the following required supporting documents. There is no application fee.

  • Prerequisite: Master’s degree in a field relevant to teaching and learning
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Transcripts from all previously attended colleges or universities
  • Statement of Purpose: An essay of 1200 words or less, through which the candidate clearly identifies the purpose in undertaking cross-disciplinary graduate study in teaching and learning that includes: (a) rationale for seeking a Ph.D. in Comparative and International Education; (b) articulation of academic objectives, personal research interests and how those align with what Washington, DC, GW as an institution, GSEHD as an education school offers, how the applicant feels they will benefit from training with the faculty in the program and across the university; and (c) how the applicant’s background and related qualifications prepared for this work and align with long-term goals.
  • 3 Letters of Recommendation, with one preferred from a professor in the applicant’s Master’s degree program
  • Interview with Faculty: Interviews may be required. Applicants should be prepared to discuss the alignment of their research interests with those of the program faculty.
  • Writing Sample: Candidates are required to submit a current writing sample. The sample should reflect the candidate’s abilities to articulate complex ideas and to utilize evidence in support of his/her arguments. The writing sample should also provide evidence of the candidate’s research skills and engagement with scholarship.

Please note: The GRE is not required.

*Additional application requirements may exist for international applicants.

The deadline for Fall 2024 has passed, but applications may be accepted on a case-by-case basis. For more information or to inquire about the next admissions cycle, contact the GSEHD Admissions Team at or 202-994-9283. We encourage you to apply as early as possible. 

Application Timeline Fall 2024
Priority Deadline Nov 1, 2023
Round 1 Deadline Dec 15, 2023
Round 2 Deadline Jan 16, 2024



 Tuition & Financial Aid

We know embarking upon graduate school is a big decision - due in part to the costs of attending. At GW, we understand the time and thought behind making graduate school work for you. Please take a moment to learn more about the options and opportunities available to help fund your graduate education.

Learn more about scholarships, grants & financial aid  

Graduate tuition is charged per credit hour, unless otherwise noted. Rates vary by program and location.

The tuition rate for the PhD in Education - Comparative and International Education Concentration program is $1,905 per credit hour. This program requires 60 credits.

Please note: Additional fees may apply for international students, late fees, etc. Current tuition rates may be updated during the year.

*Summer 2024, Fall 2024 and Spring 2025

View the current fee chart   

Scholarships are available to eligible admitted students. Review eligibility requirements and learn more about funding your education >


InJung Cho headshot
quotation mark

My academic pursuit has become clearer: To ensure equitable and quality education for children in urban slums and children with refugee backgrounds. Such pursuit and endeavor of mine were driven by my advisor, faculty members, and colleagues/classmates, who are my dream team continuing to motivate me to stride forward with confidence, perseverance, and will.

InJung Cho
Current Student, PhD in Education, Comparative and International Education Concentration



 Career Outlook

A PhD in Education with a concentration in Comparative and International Education opens up various career opportunities in the field of education, research, policy analysis, and international development.

Career Opportunities
professional female reviews document in her office, globe on the desk in background

Examples of potential career paths include:

  • University Professor/Researcher: Become a professor, researcher, or lecturer at a university, conducting research, teaching, and contributing to the academic community.
  • Education Policy Analyst/Advisor: Policy analysts and advisors may work for government agencies, think tanks, or international organizations to inform and shape education policies. Policy analysts research and evaluate education policies at the local, national, or international level.
  • Researcher for NGOs and International Organizations: Work for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or international bodies focusing on education-related research and projects. This could involve addressing global education challenges, promoting access to quality education, and advocating for policy changes.
  • International Education Consultant: Provide insights, recommendations, and strategies for improving educational systems on a global scale to organizations, schools, or governments.
  • Curriculum Developer: Design educational curricula and culturally responsive learning materials that considers international perspectives and best practices.
  • Global Education Program Manager: Manage and coordinate international education programs for schools, universities, or organizations. This role may involve overseeing study abroad programs, exchange initiatives, or collaborative projects with institutions from different countries.
  • Cross-Cultural Training Specialist: Assist individuals or organizations in navigating cross-cultural challenges, especially in the context of education. This role may be beneficial for international schools, businesses, or organizations working in diverse environments.
  • Education Diplomacy: Engage in diplomatic efforts related to education on an international scale. This could involve representing a country's educational interests in diplomatic negotiations, fostering collaborations, and participating in international forums.



Comparative and International Education (PhD) Faculty

Dr. Arshad Ali

Associate Professor, Educational Research

(202) 994‑0272
Dr. Jihae Cha

Assistant Professor, International Education and International Affairs

Dr. Laura Engel

Professor, International Education and International Affairs

(202) 994-0623
Dr. Colin Green

Associate Professor, Curriculum and Pedagogy

(202) 994-0997
Dr. Iris Rotberg

Research Professor, Education Policy

(202) 994-2735
Dr. Bernhard Streitwieser

Associate Professor, International Education and International Affairs

Dr. James Williams

Professor, International Education and International Affairs



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