3 Prospective Students

The students we seek for this program are committed to making significant changes in urban schooling. We seek people who are eager and prepared for intellectually rigorous study, familiar with the problems and challenges of urban education, and willing to work with others to address these issues.

We seek a cohort of students who represent the diversity we find in New York and in all of our nation's cities. In the 1996-1997 academic year, CUNY awarded over 2200 master's degrees in education. In the Fall 1997 semester, the University had over 500 students enrolled in advanced certificate programs in education in policy-related specialties. Each year many graduates of CUNY's own programs emerge who are well-prepared for and eager to embrace the challenges of rigorous doctoral education because they know that only the research skills and insights provided by such a program can prepare them to know how to make a difference in the lives of children and the trajectories of educational institutions. Typically, candidates for doctoral programs in education are mature-age students, with substantial life and work experience with the problems and issues they will study in their coursework and dissertation research. They are thoughtful professionals, often dissatisfied with the status quo and seeking to enhance their understanding of issues that concern them deeply.

We are also committed to advertising and recruiting nationally because we believe that the work of this program must be relevant to urban education in the U.S. generally. We anticipate valuable interactions between local-area students and those from other cities. In some cases we may also accept international students, who would bring uniquely valuable perspectives on urban education in the context of global communities, a research focus for the program.

Our pool of prospective students includes CUNY graduates and graduates of other institutions who have been pursuing a professional career in education and now seek the intellectual tools and research skills to solve educational problems of practice and policy in schools, school districts, city and state agencies, private and nonprofit educational foundations and institutions, and governance bodies. It also includes students in education and in other disciplines in the human sciences who wish to pursue academic careers in research and teaching, and people who are seeking to move into the field of education after work or study in other fields. Particularly in the sciences and mathematics, and in engineering and computer science, there are a growing number of midcareer professionals who are attracted to research on educational problems in their fields. Our Faculty Advisory Committee on Science, Mathematics, and Technology in Education (see Section 12) has pointed to initiatives of the National Science Foundation to support recruitments of scientists, mathematicians, and engineers as science and mathematics educators in secondary and tertiary education, where they would bring both their disciplinary expertise and their research experience to bear on solving educational problems.

Qualified applicants to the program will be expected to demonstrate appropriate preparation for advanced study of educational issues (e.g., by completion of a master's degree in education, through prior work experience in an educational institution, or through participation in other programs of study or research related to the field of education). All students should demonstrate the high level of academic skills needed to pursue doctoral studies successfully .

We do not wish to limit admission to this program to students whose master's work was in the field of education. Many distinguished researchers in education did their initial graduate study in other disciplines, and we will make as generous a provision for credit for their past work as is consistent with the necessary prerequisites for advanced study in the field, recognizing that they may need to take a limited number of predoctoral courses in education studies (not creditable toward the doctorate) to complete their academic transition. Ideal candidates for this program should have had both practical teaching (and possibly administrative) experience and strong academic preparation in a liberal arts or science discipline appropriate to their intended studies specialization as well as in education. The program faculty will take this ideal into account, but will necessarily need to make individual judgments about whether applicants for admission have appropriate prior background and experience to participate successfully in the program, as described below.


Admissions Standards

Applicants for admission to the Ph.D. Program in Urban Education must fulfill all general requirements for admission to the CUNY Graduate Center (see the most recent Bulletin), including scores on a recent sitting (within five years) of the Graduate Record Examination of the Educational Testing Service (Princeton, NJ).

In addition, applicants should normally have completed a master's or other relevant higher degree beyond the baccalaureate. (Exceptions will be made for outstanding applicants or those with equivalent experience.) This requirement will help ensure that prospective students have successful experience with advanced study and enable the program's core coursework to begin at an appropriately sophisticated and demanding academic level. Applicants must also offer additional evidence of qualification to pursue research, including: (1) two professional letters of recommendation, including at least one from a faculty member familiar with the applicant's academic work; (2) a portfolio of evidence of relevant accomplishments and a sample of written work; (3) a "Statement of Research and Career Interests," which will inform the Admissions Committee of the areas within the field of Urban Education in which they may wish to do research and of their career aspirations beyond the doctorate.

The program Admissions Committee will seek to ensure diversity and balance in each cohort of students admitted, with respect to educational backgrounds and intended professional specializations and research focus areas. Beyond general academic excellence, the primary criterion in the selection process will be evidence of research interest in an area of urban education that requires consideration of both policy issues and curriculum and teaching practices, or a willingness to consider the policy context of curriculum-studies issues or the instructional context and consequences of policy proposals. Consideration will also be given to the match between broad areas of students' research interests and the research programs of the participating faculty.

Applicants should normally have at least two years of teaching or other relevant professional experience in education, preferably in urban settings and at the educational level at which they intend to work. In some cases students may be admitted without this experience, but must then complete it as a condition for advancement to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. A similar requirement applies to students' own educational preparation.

For example, an applicant with a master's degree in education who wishes to specialize in science or mathematics education research would be expected also to have at least 36 undergraduate or graduate credits in the content area of specialization; half of these should be earned before admission, while the rest might be acquired during the program. An applicant with master's or higher degree in science, mathematics, engineering, or computer science would need before admission at least 18 graduate or advanced undergraduate credits in education and related areas of study, sufficient to prepare for the first-semester Urban Education core courses (Core 1 and Core 2). Additional graduate credits in education may be required to meet prerequisites for the remaining core courses, but these could be taken after admission and prior to enrollment in these doctoral courses; predoctoral coursework would be taken at a participating CUNY college offering a relevant master's degree.

Up to 30 qualifying graduate credits may be offered toward the Ph.D. degree (see Graduate Center Bulletin), but only such credits as are programmatically relevant and have clear CUNY equivalents will be accepted, at the discretion of the program Executive Officer.


Student Enrollment

The first-year entering cadre of students will not exceed 15 students, some of whom are expected to be part-time students and some others self-supporting full-time students (see Section 10). We anticipate admissions of 15-20 new students each year over the first five years of the program, with the number of part-time and self-supporting full-time students growing within these limits according to demand, and the smaller number of full-time students eligible for and needing financial support increasing only as fellowship funds become available (see Table 1).

Table 1. Projected Enrollments (Headcount Students; Year 1 = 2001-2002)*

  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5
Total 15 33 50 65 80
Full-time 6 14 21 28 36
Part-time 9 19 29 37 44
Level III     0, 3 5, 7 10, 14

* Assumptions for Table 1: (1) Admit 15 students in Year 1; 20 students per year in Years 2-5; (2) Attrition of 8-10 percent per year, rounded to whole numbers; (3) Numbers of full-time students limited by fellowship funding available; (4) Students begin to reach Level 3 in Spring of Year 3; numbers are for Fall, Spring; (5) Students may enter with up to 15 advanced-standing credits.

We recognize that in many ways the strength of the overall program will depend on achieving a sufficiently large core of dedicated full-time students. Therefore we regard a ratio of 50/50 as our ideal target for the proportions of full-time to part-time students. Until we can be certain that sufficient funds will be available to support larger numbers of full-time students (see Section 10), our projected enrollments reflect the likelihood of a larger proportion of part-time students. These projections assume that the majority of our students will be part-time and self-supporting midcareer professionals in education, or those in transition from another field (particularly mathematics and the sciences). In some cases prospective students who are employees of the Board of Education, New York City, or New York State, as well as of private and nonprofit educational agencies, will be able to enroll full-time if their employers provide additional compensation or paid leaves of absence. Fellowship funds will support a somewhat smaller number of full-time students, particularly in their first two years. With this pattern we estimate an average of six years for completion (less for the full-time students). We estimate attrition comparable to that in other CUNY doctoral programs, at about 6-8 percent annually. Because our prospective students are likely to be on average older and (for local students) more settled in the community, attrition should be low. Students will also be selected at admission for their likelihood of completing the program. We would anticipate that financial concerns may ultimately be a major cause of attrition, and we will work to raise outside funds for student fellowships, especially for minority applicants.