Program goal

The curriculum, culture and change concentration offers a rigorous doctoral-level learning experience in curriculum and instruction, teacher education, and advocacy for social justice. The concentration prepares curriculum and instruction leaders for positions in school systems at the building level and above, as well as scholars with a wide range of interests — philosophical and sociocultural foundations of education, urban education, linguistically diverse groups, critical and culturally relevant pedagogy, anti-oppressive education, critical youth studies etc. In addition to a deep grounding in theoretical, practical and methodological approaches to curriculum and instruction, the concentration prepares instructional leaders to advocate for change across a wide range of institutions, systems and contexts. The concentration offers challenging learning experiences in the field of curriculum and instruction. Its expressed social justice values allow framing of courses in ways that provide critical analyses of contemporary schooling and ground students in the philosophical and historical roots of school change. The program welcomes students with interests in all institutional settings serving students across the life span (early childhood through adulthood) as well as informal and nonformal contexts. It also allows for discipline-specific inquiry in fields including but not limited to STEM, technology, history and literacy.

The concentration distinguishes itself by preparing curriculum and instruction leaders to be change agents capable of working in school systems, higher education and advocacy organizations. It reflects an activist stance toward the education profession — one that views schooling as not only shaped by society but also as an active force for equity and meaningful societal change. It will appeal to a wide range of students: those who are seeking to become instructional leaders in school systems, those preparing to teach in the academy and all those desiring a strong foundation in educational reform.

Student learning outcomes

Education core outcomes

  1. Knowledge of foundations of educational research and design: Students will demonstrate an appropriate level of knowledge of theoretical and social issues of scholarly inquiry, policy and ethics of educational research and will demonstrate an appropriate level of knowledge and skills essential to designing, conducting and interpreting qualitative and quantitative design research.
  2. Application of leadership, research and/or professional skills: Graduates will engage in and practice leadership, research and/or professional skills in a professional placement in a school, agency or corporate setting (e.g., school, agency, corporation).
  3. Research design and implementation: Graduates will design and conduct original educational research, including developing novel educational research questions, demonstrating proficiency in selecting the most appropriate study designs, demonstrating proficiency in data collection, analysis and synthesis within the identified theoretical/ conceptual framework of study.  
  4. Oral and written communication skills: Students will demonstrate effective oral communication skills, framing questions appropriately and implementing active listening skills, developing effective presentations with respect to content, organization and appropriate use of language. Students will demonstrate proficiency in academic writing, including writing for publications and presentations.

Curriculum, culture and change concentration-specific outcome

  1. Students will demonstrate an appropriate level of knowledge and critical consciousness of theories of curriculum and instruction, advocacy and social justice and demonstrate in-depth understanding of one or more substantive theories related to research. Students will be able to appropriately link theoretical frameworks to the design, conduct and interpretation of educational research and demonstrate familiarity with the research literature and the ability to evaluate and critique publications appropriate to an independent educational researcher.

VCU Graduate Bulletin, VCU Graduate School and general academic policies and regulations for all graduate students in all graduate programs

The VCU Graduate Bulletin website documents the official admission and academic rules and regulations that govern graduate education for all graduate programs at the university. These policies are established by the graduate faculty of the university through their elected representatives to the University Graduate Council.

It is the responsibility of all graduate students, both on- and off-campus, to be familiar with the VCU Graduate Bulletin as well as the Graduate School website and academic regulations in individual school and department publications and on program websites. However, in all cases, the official policies and procedures of the University Graduate Council, as published on the VCU Graduate Bulletin and Graduate School websites, take precedence over individual program policies and guidelines.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on academic regulations for graduate students.

Degree candidacy requirements

A graduate student admitted to a program or concentration requiring a final research project, work of art, thesis or dissertation, must qualify for continuing master’s or doctoral status according to the degree candidacy requirements of the student’s graduate program. Admission to degree candidacy, if applicable, is a formal statement by the graduate student’s faculty regarding the student’s academic achievements and the student’s readiness to proceed to the final research phase of the degree program.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following degree candidacy policy as published in the VCU Graduate Bulletin for complete information and instructions.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on degree candidacy requirements.

Graduation requirements

As graduate students approach the end of their academic programs and the final semester of matriculation, they must make formal application to graduate. No degrees will be conferred until the application to graduate has been finalized.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following graduation requirements as published in the Graduate Bulletin for a complete list of instructions and a graduation checklist.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on graduation requirements.