Graduate School of Education and Human Development

Dean M.J. Feuer
Senior Associate Dean C. Green
Associate Dean for Research and External Relations M.B. Freund
Interim Associate Dean for Doctoral Studies  S.A. Dannels
Assistant Dean of Academic Services R.C. Jakeman

The Graduate School of Education and Human Development is the administrative unit for the departments of Counseling and Human Development, Curriculum and Pedagogy, Educational Leadership, Human and Organizational Learning, and Special Education and Disability Studies. The School offers the master of arts in education and human development, master of arts in teaching, master of education, education specialist, doctor of philosophy, and doctor of education​ degree programs. Academic programs are offered in numerous fields of study.

In addition to its degree programs, the School offers graduate and post-graduate certificate programs; credit and noncredit workshops designed to meet the unique needs of metropolitan area school systems and other clientele in industry and government; and a wide range of courses for teachers who wish to pursue advanced studies and/or additional endorsements and for provisional teachers who wish to prepare for teaching certificates. 

All programs are designed to meet the broad needs of individuals who seek the knowledge and skills necessary to provide effective learning and teaching, research, services, and leadership in a variety of settings that cover the entire life span. Special curricula are individually tailored for liberal arts graduates and graduates of other professional schools who are interested in teaching or in other human services areas. 

Clinical facilities are provided by the Community Counseling Service Center, which supports counseling internships as well as outreach services to the community. The Office of Professional Preparation and Accreditation supports liaison with schools for clinical experiences required for educator licensure. Field and internship experiences required in master's and doctoral programs are provided in cooperation with public and private schools, social and health agencies, museums, institutions in the business community, institutions of higher education, nonprofit and professional associations, and the federal government. Some programs and courses are also offered at off-campus locations or via distance education.

The educator preparation programs in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation/National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (CAEP/NCATE) and the District of Columbia Office of the State Superintendent of Education (DC–OSSE). Programs that prepare students to become eligible for licensure/certification as teachers and other school personnel are state-approved by the DC–OSSE.


The Graduate School of Education and Human Development, strategically based in the nation’s capital and serving the global community, develops informed and skilled leaders through innovative teaching and learning. Students engage in scholarly inquiry that links policy, research, and practice across the lifespan and fosters continuous self-examination and critical analysis towards excellence.

Bridging Concepts

The following bridging concepts are central to the unified conceptual framework of the School and weave through the mission, goals, and initiatives of its strategic plan.

  • Research and scholarship are prerequisite to the improvement of educational practice.
  • Leadership is critical in the transformation of education and human development at all levels.
  • Building reflective practitioners through integration of theory and practice must be a focus of all programs.
  • A community of diverse learners is prerequisite to success in the education and human service professions.

GSEHD Regulations

GSEHD provides an online Master’s, Education Specialist & Certificate Student Handbook and a Doctoral Student Handbook. These handbooks contain additional updated information on policies, regulations, and other matters of concern to enrolled and admitted students. It is the responsibility of the student to be aware of the information contained in both this Bulletin and the appropriate Student Handbook. Students should also consult departmental/program handbooks and guidelines.

Admissions Requirements

The Graduate School of Education and Human Development seeks applicants with strong academic potential, high motivation, and aptitude to do graduate-level work. Admission decisions are based on an evaluation of all material submitted in support of the application. The School requires a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution, official transcripts of all previous undergraduate and graduate coursework, and acceptable test scores on either the Graduate Record Examination or the Miller Analogies Test in some programs.  These tests are waived in several master's programs. All doctoral applicants must submit GRE and MAT scores.

Two letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose are required. Most programs also require an interview with program faculty. The interview may be waived with permission of the lead faculty of the desired program for those living outside the Washington metropolitan area. In addition to these basic requirements, individual programs may require relevant professional experience and other supporting documentation before a final decision on admission is made.

English Language Requirements for International Students

Applicants who are not citizens of countries where English is the official language or who do not hold a degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution of higher learning are required to submit scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the academic International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or the Pearson Test of English–Academic (PTE). English language scores are valid for two years.  The most recent test scores will be used for applicants who submit multiple scores.  Specified possible exemptions from this policy can be found on the Graduate Admissions website. The required minimum score for admission to a program is 80 on the Internet-based or 550 on the paper-based TOEFL, or, an overall band score of 6.0 on the IELTS with no individual band score below 5.0, or a score of 53 on the PTE. Some programs have higher minimum scores. Applicants who have a TOEFL score of at least 70, but less than 80, or an IELTS overall band score of 5.0, but less than 6.0, may be considered for admission on the condition that they successfully complete the Applied English Studies program prior to beginning their graduate studies.

Students with the following English language test scores are exempt from taking English for Academic Purposes (EAP) courses: TOEFL, 600 paper-based or 100 Internet-based; IELTS, overall band score of 7.0 with no individual band score below 6.0; PTE, 68. Students with test scores below these minimums must register for an EAP course during their first semester. Students assigned EAP courses should anticipate additional tuition expenses as well as a possible extended period of time required to complete their degree program. EAP courses do not count toward degree requirements.

Students required to take an English for Academic Purposes (EAP) course, must earn a minimum grade of B- in the course. Students who do not earn a B- or above in their first course must take an additional EAP course in the subsequent semester. Students who earn an F in an EAP course must repeat the course and are subject to the process described above.

Advanced Standing 

Advanced standing is granted for approved courses taken at other regionally accredited institutions, but a minimum of 24 credits must be completed in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development as a master’s candidate. A maximum of 12 credits taken in non-degree status may be credited toward the master’s degree. Advanced standing is not granted for work completed five or more years before application for admission or readmission to master’s candidacy. All work accepted for advanced standing must have been earned with a grade of B or above and must be approved for acceptance by both the advisor and the dean. Credit, Satisfactory, Audit, or other non-letter grades are not acceptable.

Plan of Study 

Master's and Education Specialist Programs

The plan of study leading to all masters and Education Specialist degrees varies by degree, but all require a minimum of 30 graduate credits including a program-approved 3-credit research course to satisfy the research requirements. Several programs have additional credit and/or capstone requirements.

All degree requirements must be completed within 6 years, whether study is full time or part time. An additional (or 7th) year is allowed in the case of a student who breaks enrollment and is subsequently readmitted.

Doctoral Programs

All doctoral students must complete at least 36 credits of coursework and at least 12 credits of dissertation research at GW while enrolled in their doctoral program. Individual doctoral programs usually have additional requirements. 

For doctoral students, all degree requirements must be completed within eight (8) years from the time of admission to the doctoral program. Any leaves of absence do not count against this time limit. More detailed information can be found in the GSEHD Doctoral Student Handbook.

Master's Thesis Option

Students in select programs may elect a thesis option. The choice of the thesis subject must be approved in writing by the student’s advisor and filed in the office of the dean. All theses must be submitted electronically and meet the formatting and other requirements set forth online. Payment of tuition for the thesis course entitles the candidate, during the period of registration, to the advice and direction of the member of the faculty under whom the thesis is to be written. In case a thesis is unfinished, additional time may be granted. The student must, however, be enrolled continuously in the program.

Doctoral Dissertation

All doctoral students must complete a doctoral dissertation.  Additional information is available in the GSEHD Doctoral Student Handbook.


Information on grades and computing the grade-point average is found under University Regulations.

The symbol I (Incomplete) indicates that a satisfactory explanation of extenuating circumstances has been given to the instructor for the student’s inability to complete the required work of the course during the semester of enrollment. The work must be completed within the designated time period agreed upon by the instructor, student, and School, but no more than one calendar year from the end of the semester in which the course was taken. All students who receive an Incomplete must maintain active student status during the subsequent semester(s) in which the work of the course is being completed. If not registered in other classes during this period, the student must register for Continuous Enrollment status.

When work for the course is completed, the instructor will complete a grade change form and turn it in to the Office of the Registrar. The final grade will replace the symbol of I. If work for the course is not completed within the designated time, the grade will be converted automatically to a grade of F, Failure, 0 quality points, and the grade-point average and academic standing recalculated. See University Regulations for full details.


An overall grade-point average of 3.0 is required for graduation. Students who have a cumulative GPA below 3.0, or receive a grade of C or below in more than 6 credits, or receive a grade of F will have an academic hold placed on their account and may be subject to program removal. Students must meet with the Senior Associate Dean, the Assistant Dean of Academic Services, or the Executive Director of the Office of Student Life before enrollment in further coursework is allowed. More detailed information for doctoral students can be found in the GSEHD Doctoral Student Handbook.

Comprehensive Examination

A comprehensive examination is required for some master’s and all doctoral programs. Candidates who plan to take the examination must file a written application in the Office of Student Life of the Graduate School of Education and Human Development by the published deadline.

Continuous Enrollment and Residency

Students must be continuously enrolled in GSEHD unless the Dean's Office grants a leave of absence. Failure to register each semester of the academic year will result in lapse of candidacy. Subsequent readmission is subject to whatever new conditions and regulations have been established by the School. See Continuous Enrollment Status under University Regulations.

When master’s degree candidates are sitting for a comprehensive examination and are not otherwise enrolled in coursework, they may prepare for and sit for the exam in continuous enrollment status. All doctoral and education specialist students and those master’s students who elect to take an additional semester to prepare for the examination or who must retake the examination are required to enroll in the examination preparation course, which carries a fee equivalent to 1 credit of tuition. See Comprehensive Examination above.

Leave of Absence

Students who, for personal reasons, are temporarily unable to continue their program of studies may request a leave of absence for a specific period of time not to exceed one calendar year during the total period of degree candidacy. If the request is approved, the student must register for leave of absence each semester. If a student fails to register, degree candidacy is terminated. Students who need additional semesters of leave of absence must seek approval from the appropriate appeals committee.

Class Attendance Policy

Attending class and scheduled make-up classes, discussions, and other course meetings is a fundamental student responsibility. Faculty may use class attendance and participation as factors in determining course grades.

PRAXIS® Teacher Assessments

All degree programs preparing students for initial teacher licensure require completion of the Educational Testing Service PRAXIS® teacher assessments as specified by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education of the District of Columbia.

Second Master's Degree

Persons seeking a second master’s degree in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development must complete all core and specialization requirements and a minimum residency requirement of 24 credits.

Teacher Certification Preparation Programs

Programs are available to prepare students for teacher licensure in elementary, secondary, and special education through the Master of Arts in the field of education and human development, Master of Education, and Education Specialist degree programs. Students who plan to prepare for licensure must apply to the appropriate degree program. These degree programs are also available to credentialed teachers seeking additional endorsements.

In accordance with the 2008 Higher Education Opportunity Act, Title II, Section 205, The George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development provides required information in response to any request by potential applicants, guidance counselors, and prospective employers. Visit the School's website for additional information.

Master of Arts in Teaching 

Master of Education

Master of Arts in Education and Human Development

Combined programs

The Degree of Education Specialist

The program of advanced study leading to the degree of education specialist (EdS) is for students with a master’s degree in education who seek further professional preparation. The program is available in the fields of educational leadership and administration, counseling, curriculum and instruction, higher education administration, human and organizational learning, and special education.

Admission Requirements

The following are required for entrance to an education specialist program: an undergraduate degree and a master of arts in education and human development (MA EDHD) or its equivalent from a regionally accredited institution, two years of pertinent experience in an education or human development field, and a graduate scholastic average of at least 3.3 and, in some programs, an acceptable score on either the Graduate Record Examination or Miller Analogies Test. Two letters of recommendation, one from a professional supervisor and one from the most recent graduate faculty advisor, are required, along with a statement of professional goals. Each applicant must be interviewed and recommended by a faculty advisor in the major field.

Programs of Study and Degree Requirements

Individual programs are developed, through a plan of study worked out with a faculty advisor, to fit the candidate’s skills, interests, and career goals. A minimum of 30 credits beyond the requirements for an MA EDHD degree is required. At least 21 credits of this work must be taken in residence at GW. A maximum of five calendar years is allowed for completion of the program.

At least 12 of the required 30 credits must be in appropriate graduate courses in education selected from the following areas: (1) foundations and cognate study, (2) background and general principles of the field of study, and (3) an area of specialization. A graduate-level research methods course must be included in the program if it was not completed in previous graduate work.

The Comprehensive Examination

Successful completion of a six-hour written or oral examination or its equivalent, at the option of the major field advisor, is required. Candidates taking the examination must be registered for at least 1 credit in the semester it is to be taken and submit an online comprehensive examination application by the published deadline.

Education Specialist Programs


The Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

A PhD in the field of counseling is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

The doctor of philosophy (PhD) in education degree program is designed to create opportunities for cross-disciplinary education research by concentrating on critical national and global problems in which education and human development play a significant role. To adequately address issues, scholars require both a strong foundation in education as well as theoretical and disciplinary grounding in multiple disciplines. The PhD program is distinguished by four characteristics: candidates apply to a cross-disciplinary research team that is focused on a critical problem related to education; approaches to the research problems require a cross-disciplinary lens; students engage in research throughout their program; and candidates aspire to careers in which the production of research is paramount.

Admission Requirements

A master’s degree from a regionally accredited institution is required. Materials to be submitted include: official transcripts, GRE scores, TOEFL scores (for international applicants), three letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose.  Each program has more specific details about these materials and additional requirements. Selection is competitive and is based on the applicant’s past achievements, perceived potential, and fit to the goals and mission of the program.

The Degree of Doctor of Education

The Graduate School of Education and Human Development offers programs of advanced study leading to the degree of Doctor of Education (EdD). These programs provide major fields of study in curriculum and instruction, special education, education policy, educational administration, human and organizational learning, and higher education administration. Supporting fields are available in educational administration, higher education administration, counseling, curriculum and instruction, education policy, elementary education, human development, human and organizational learning, international education, program evaluation, secondary education, special education, supervision, and teacher education. With the approval of a student’s program planning committee, coursework may be taken in or from other departments of the University and through the Consortium. All programs require a doctoral dissertation in the major field of study.

All doctoral programs are designed to accommodate the needs of full-time students as well as working professionals who must pursue their studies on a part-time basis. Required graduate courses, with few exceptions, are offered in the late afternoon and evening. In some programs, courses are offered at off-campus locations and on weekends.

Admission Requirements

The applicant must have adequate preparation for advanced study, including the undergraduate degree and graduate work from a regionally accredited institution in the content area that supports his or her objective. This graduate work must be comparable to that required for the degree of Master of Arts in Education and Human Development at this University. Students with a master’s degree in a field other than education may be considered for doctoral study provided that the degree and previous experience are judged relevant by the major field program faculty.

For an application to be considered by the major field program faculty, an applicant must have a minimum graduate scholastic average of 3.3 on a scale of 4.0 and an acceptable score on the Miller Analogies Test or Graduate Record Examination. In the field of human organizational learning, the Graduate Management Admissions Test is acceptable as well. Programs often set higher admissions standards, and the number of new doctoral students in each program is limited. All applicants must have an interview with faculty members in the major field. Students receiving favorable recommendations from the major field faculty are admitted to precandidacy for the degree.

Precandidacy and Candidacy

The Doctor of Education program is divided into two stages: precandidacy and candidacy. In general, the degree program requires three or more years of full-time study beyond the master’s degree or the equivalent in part-time study. coursework and the comprehensive examination must be completed within five years, and the entire program must be completed within eight years. The minimum residency requirement in degree status for the EdD is 36 credits of coursework in the precandidacy stage and 12 to 24 credits of dissertation research in the candidacy stage. In most cases, coursework beyond the minimum is required.

In the precandidacy stage, all coursework in the program must be completed and the comprehensive examination passed. coursework toward the doctorate is established on the basis of a framework of seven domains: knowledge of foundations; critical literature review; research methods; clarity of thought, as expressed both in speech and in writing; professional development; technological skills; and depth of knowledge of the specialty area. A program plan of study is developed between the doctoral student and a doctoral study advising team, generally consisting of two members of the program faculty.

The comprehensive examination is generally a two-day examination held each semester and taken upon completion of all precandidacy coursework. Students taking the examination must be registered for at least 1 credit in the semester it is to be taken, and must file an online application in the Office of Student Life of the Graduate School of Education and Human Development by the published deadline.

The candidacy stage of doctoral study begins after successful completion of the content coursework and the comprehensive examination. A doctoral research dissertation committee is established and the candidate develops a dissertation proposal (this may be while registered in Pre-Dissertation Seminar). Upon successful completion of coursework listed on the approved program plan of study, students must register for dissertation research at the rate of 3 or 6 credits each fall and spring semester. A minimum of 12 dissertation research credits are required for graduation. Students who have not defended their dissertation after 12 credits continue to register at the rate of 3 or 6 credits until they have reached 24 credits of dissertation research. Once they have reached their 24 credit maximum, they must register each subsequent fall and spring semester for 1 credit of Continuing Research until completion of their degree program with the successful defense of the dissertation to the Dissertation Oral Examination Committee. The accepted dissertation is submitted electronically, with a processing fee paid directly to Proquest/UMI.

Detailed information on the EdD program and its administration is available in the GSEHD Doctoral Student Handbook. Students completing their degree program should refer to the section on Graduation Requirements, Participating in the Commencement Ceremony, under University Regulations.

Doctoral programs

Explanation of Course Numbers

  • Courses in the 1000s are primarily introductory undergraduate courses
  • Those in the 2000s to 4000s are upper-division undergraduate courses that can also be taken for graduate credit with permission and additional work
  • Those in the 6000s and 8000s are for master’s, doctoral, and professional-level students
  • The 6000s are open to advanced undergraduate students with approval of the instructor and the dean or advising office