Doctor of Philosophy Degree Program

Eligibility By State:
Due to regulations from the Department of Education, the University of San Diego is unable to enroll students in its online degree programs who reside in Alabama, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Georgia, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Rhode Island and Wisconsin. The restriction does not apply to applicants interested in a campus-based program. 

Online Application

  • The University of San Diego Graduate School Admission Application and $45 application fee

    • Upload the following to submit your online application
      • Statement of Purpose
      • Resume
      • Recommenders’ Contact Information
    • Letters of Recommendation and International Transcript Evaluations must be received by the program deadline to complete your application.


Official transcripts from the university where you earned your master’s degree and bachelor’s degree are required at the time of application.


  • Official E-Transcripts are acceptable only if emailed to
  • Transcripts from study abroad courses and transfer credits are not required.

Degrees Earned Outside of the United States:

  • Applications for students educated outside the United States will not be considered complete nor can an admissions decision be made until this degree evaluation has been submitted.

Statement of Purpose: 

Applicants should address each of the three questions in no more than four single-spaced pages:
  • Why you are interested in earning a doctoral degree in Education for Social Justice and how does this degree align with your academic, professional and personal goals?
  • What are one or two research topics that you want to investigate as part of your doctoral program and how can the work of faculty in the Department of Learning and Teaching support these research interests?
  • How have your academic, professional and personal experiences made you a good fit for this program?

Letters of Recommendation: 

Three professional letters of recommendation from professors or employers. We strongly recommend that at least one of the letters be from a professor who can address your academic abilities and potential, and overall promise as a doctoral student.

English Proficiency Exam (EPEX) Score for International Applicants:

EPEX Requirement

An official score report for the  or the  is required of all international applicants. Official score reports must be two years old or less from the time you submit your online application in order to be considered. 

Official scores can be sent to the Office of Graduate Admissions,  school code: 4849.

  • TOEFL minimum scores:
    • Internet-based test: 91
    • Computer-based test: 233
    • Paper-based test: 577
  • IELTS minimum score:
    • Band score: 7.5

Waiving out of the English Language exam requirement: The English Language Exam waiver may be requested if you:

  1. Have submitted your online application and 
  2. You meet one of the following: 
    • English is your primary language
    • You completed a 4-year bachelor's degree or 2-year master's degree, and obtained (or in the process of obtaining) a bachelor’s or master's degree in the U.S. with a minimum 3.0 GPA. 
    • You obtained your bachelor's degree in Great Britain, Canada, or Australia with an equivalent minimum 3.0 GPA. 

Be sure to promptly order official transcripts or official transcript evaluations, as they are also required to determine waiver eligibility.

If you believe you are eligible for an EPEX waiver, please email the SOLES Admissions and Outreach Office at . Each request will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Standardized Testing Requirements

  • Applicants are strongly encouraged to take the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), but it is not required. Official GRE test scores must be within 5 years of the test date.
    • There is no minimum GRE score required.
  • The University of San Diego’s GRE Institution Code number is 4849.
    • This number must be included on test registration forms in order to have the official results sent to the university.
    • Standardized testing must be completed well in advance of the deadline as it typically takes about 2 weeks for the score reports to arrive after a request is made.
  • For more information on preparing for the GRE, visit USD's Test Prep or call (619) 260-4585.

Education Requirements

  • Applicants must complete a bachelor’s degree and a master's or JD prior to beginning the program.
  • Applicants may apply prior to completing their master's degree.
    • In this case, please submit your most up-to-date transcripts, and if admitted, submit a second set of official transcripts after your degree is conferred.
  • The minimum cumulative Grade Point Average is 3.50 (on a 4.00 scale) in all graduate coursework.

Experience Requirements

Professional experience is strongly recommended.

Students entering the University of San Diego and/or declaring a major during 2022-23, should follow information contained in the printed course catalog (also known as the "catalog of record") published on April 1, 2022. Access the catalog of record at

I.  Core Requirements1

First Year
Fall I
EDUC 601Critical Social Theory and Education3
EDUC 602Educational Research & Methods3
Spring I
EDUC 603History of Education for Social Justice3
EDUC 605Language, Race, and Culture in Education3
Second Year
Fall II
EDUC 607Quantitative Research Methods and Design in Education I3
EDUC 609Qualitative Research Methods and Design in Education I3
Spring II
EDUC 606Educational Politics & Policy3
EDUC 610Qualitative Research Methods and Design in Education II3
Third Year
Fall III
EDUC 604Education and Globalization3
EDUC 650Doctoral Seminar I3
Spring III
EDUC 612Disability, Access, Assets, and Intersectionality in Education3
EDUC 651Doctoral Seminar II3
Fourth Year
Fall IV
EDUC 611Social Justice Praxis in Educational Organizations3
EDUC 652Doctoral Seminar III3
Spring IV
EDUC 653Doctoral Seminar IV3 or 6
EDUC 694Special Topics3
or EDUC 608 Quantitative Research Methods and Design in Education II
or EDUC 5XX SOLES Global Course
Total Units 348

II.  International Experience2

At SOLES, all masters and doctoral students participate in an international experience designed to support the growth of cultural competency. Our goal is to inform best practices in working with culturally diverse populations locally, nationally and globally.  International experiences are approved by each student's faculty advisor.

III.  Advancement to Candidacy

Student Advance to Candidacy in EDUC 651 Doctoral Seminar II where they prepare and defend their dissertation proposal.

IV.  Dissertation3

Successful written and oral defense of dissertation is required for graduation. 

Technical requirements for online courses.
High-Speed Internet A high-speed internet connection is strongly encouraged.
Course Access and Navigation All course-related information is posted on the Blackboard e-learning platform (
Recommended Browser

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Blackboard lists the most current browser compatibility information.

If you're having browser issues or your browser is locking up, try clearing your browser's cache: view the instructions for clearing your cache on the most common browsers.

If components of your course are missing or broken, check to see whether your system is running the most current version of Java.


Adobe Reader Plugin is required for some content in this course. Users may need to download and install the most current version of Adobe Reader, which includes the plugin. Visit Adobe's website to download the most current version for your system.

  • Some Mac users may experience further issues when using Safari or Firefox. The best-known solution is a free plugin download called Schubert|it PDF Browser Plugin

QuickTime Plugin is required for some content in this course. Download QuickTime Plugin

Flash Player - download the latest Flash Player.

Note: Please clear your browser’s cache and restart your browser after installing the plug-in. How to clear your browser cache

Other Software Microsoft Office is required. If you are using Office 2003 or earlier, download and install the Microsoft Office Compatibility pack.
Blackboard Technical Support

Contact the Help Desk or Submit A Ticket.

Phone: 619-260-7900

Business Hours:
Monday-Thursday: 7:00am - 7:00pm
Friday: 7:00am - 5:00pm

After Hours Support:
Monday-Thursday: 7:00pm - 11:00pm
Friday: 5:00pm - 11:00pm

Weekend Support:
Saturday: 11:00am - 4:00pm
Sunday: 12:00pm - 9:00pm


All application materials must be received by the Office of Graduate Admissions by the final deadline in order for your application to be considered for admission.

Start Your Application

Tuition and Financial Aid

Review tuition rates, fees, and financial aid opportunities to start investing in yourself. 

Status and Decisions

To confirm that application materials have been received, please log into the MySanDiego portal or contact the Office of Graduate Admissions at (619) 260-4524. Admissions decision letters are sent via US Mail.

Submit all supplemental materials to:

Office of Graduate Admissions 
University of San Diego, Manchester Hall 105
5998 Alcalá Park, San Diego, CA 92110-2492

For questions about the admissions contact:

SOLES Office of Admissions and Outreach 
Mother Rosalie Hill Hall 143
(619) 260-7988
Advising Appointments