Ph.D. in Education: Human and Organizational Learning Concentration

Human and Organizational Learning (HOL) research and scholarship takes a cross-disciplinary approach to the study and application of leadership, learning, culture, and change at the individual, organizational, and societal levels. Our goal is to prepare graduates for a wide range of human and organizational learning related research positions. Our diverse student body typically represents educational or professional backgrounds in psychology, sociology, business, the humanities, education, or the sciences.

The program of study will enable Ph.D. students to (a) conduct cross-disciplinary research on complex organizational/societal topics, and (b) develop theories and models to guide global, equitable, and sustainable organizational practices. These objectives will be met by fostering an environment of cross-disciplinary collaboration, critical thinking, and a global mindset.

Our inaugural Human and Organizational Learning Concentration will be dedicated to understanding the changing nature of working in an environment of rapid sociocultural and technological changes. Examples of research questions addressed by this team will include:

  • How do institutional environments, informal learning ecosystems, and emerging lifelong learning patterns foster innovation in global and indigenous workforce development models and framework?
  • What are the emerging learning, leadership, and change strategies in an environment driven by rapid socio-cultural and technological changes such as artificial intelligence, data analytics, virtual work, and networked organizations to foster sustainable economic and organizational models?
  • How can neuroscience and emerging findings from evolutionary biology contribute to our understanding of learning and development in organizations?
  • How can emerging evidence from the quantum realm inform new leadership, organizational, and institutional models and frameworks?
  • What are the implications of the changing nature of work on effective organizational structures and change processes, and on social equity and inclusion?



  • Degree: Master’s degree in psychology, sociology, business, education, the sciences, or related fields.
  • Transcripts: Official transcripts from every institution attended whether or not a degree was completed; graduate and undergraduate.
  • Recommendations: Three (3) letters of recommendation, with one preferred from a professor in the applicant’s Master’s degree program.
  • Statement of Purpose: An essay of 1200 words or less, through which the applicant clearly identifies the purpose in undertaking cross-disciplinary graduate study in human and organizational learning (HOL) that includes: (a) rationale for seeking a Ph.D.; (b) articulation of research interests aligned with the research questions described above; and (c) how the applicant’s background and related qualifications prepared them for this work and a research intensive career.
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Writing Sample: Applicants are required to submit a current writing sample. The sample should reflect the applicant’s abilities to articulate complex ideas and to utilize evidence in support of the arguments provided. The writing sample should also provide evidence of the applicant’s research skills and engagement with scholarship.
  • Interview: An interview is required. Applicants should be prepared to discuss the alignment of their research interests with those of the research questions provided above. Additional materials may be required of applicants as a result of the interview.

Please note: The GRE is not required.

*Additional application requirements may exist for international applicants


The application deadline for Fall 2024 has passed. For more information or to inquire about the next admissions cycle, contact the GSEHD Admissions Team at or 202-994-9283.

Application Timeline Fall
Priority Deadline Nov 1
Round 1 Deadline Dec 15
Round 2 Deadline Feb 1


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Required courses in Educational Foundations (12 credits)

SEHD 8200 Foundations of Education I
SEHD 8201 Foundations of Education II
SEHD 8100 Special Topics (taken twice for a total of 6 credits)

Human and Organizational Learning Concentration Requirements (24 credits)

15 credits of doctoral-level Human and Organizational Learning (HOL) courses and 9 credits of additional concentration credits. Course selections are determined by the focus of the concentration and the specific interests of the student.

Research Methods (12 credits)

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.

Dissertation (12 credits)

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.

Total = 60 Credits



Cseh, Maria Associate Professor, Human and Organizational Learning
Goldman, Ellen F. Professor, Human and Organizational Learning
Khilji, Shaista E. Professor, Human and Organizational Learning
Korte, Russell Department Chair and Associate Professor, Human and Organizational Learning
Nakamura, Yoshie Tomozumi Assistant Professor, Human and Organizational Learning
Scully-Russ, Ellen Associate Professor, Human and Organizational Learning
Storberg-Walker, Julia Associate Professor, Human and Organizational Learning


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Learn more about the Doctorate in Education: Human Organizational Learning Concentration located on campus. Complete the form linked below or contact the GSEHD Admissions Team at 202-994-9283.

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