An Assessment of Education Research Doctorate Programs

Principal Investigator: 
Project Overview
Background & Purpose: 

The purpose of this study is to assess education research doctorate programs in universities in the United States. To date, there has been no such assessment of education research doctorate programs. There are approximately 130 graduate schools and colleges of education that offer research doctorate programs. Across these institutions, there are approximately 940 such programs in some 16 fields of specialization producing over 1,800 research doctorates each year. As with research doctorates in other fields of science, these programs provide the substantive knowledge, methodological skill, and research training essential for the next generation of scientists studying science, mathematics and literacy and the basic mechanisms underlying education, teaching, and learning processes. This assessment is directed to examining these programs in parallel to the ongoing National Research Council (NRC) assessment of research doctorate programs in the other arts and sciences fields. The study is being jointly undertaken by the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the National Academy of Education (NAEd).


The study involves an assessment of education research programs in universities in the United States. Thus, data will be collected at these institutions (primarily in colleges and graduate schools of education), with the design calling for web-based surveys and other related data collection on faculty research productivity.

Research Design: 

The research design for this project is cross-sectional and comparative and is designed to generate descriptive statistics on programs (e.g., faculty specialties, financial support, enrollment, completion data); faculty (e.g., background, career history, productivity); students (e.g., backgrounds, school experience) across programs, specialties, etc., and statistical analysis of survey data at program, faculty, and student levels and across units of study, also integration and use of other indicators of faculty productivity. Comparison will be made by institutional type (e.g., public/private, institutional size, geographic location, urban/non-urban), and across education research doctorate programs by program type.

This project collects original data using school records/policy documents, and survey research [online self-completion questionnaire]. With appropriate modification, essentially the same instruments used in the NRC assessment will be used in the assessment of education research doctorate programs. Each questionnaire will be administered as a web survey. See Five instruments will be used: Using institutional data already collected by the NRC, the AERA-NAEd assessments will have available data on such issues as health care, collective bargaining, and new programs, as well as on race/ethnicity. The AERA-NAEd assessment includes surveys using four questionnaires: The program questionnaire obtains information about specialties within programs, faculty (core, new, and associated), enrollment and degree completion, and other program characteristics; the faculty questionnaire obtains information on program affiliation, committee service, prior employment, education and postdoctoral training, recent scholarly activity, recent doctoral students, demographics, and asks subjective questions about the importance of a variety of program characteristics to the quality of a doctoral program. The student questionnaire obtains information on such issues as prior education, post-graduation plans, professional development, program characteristics, resources, and background information. Finally, a subsample of faculty members will complete a survey of program quality where they will rate programs in their field on their degree of familiarity with the program and the quality of the program on a six-point scale. Only faculty members who completed the faculty questionnaire are eligible to be raters.

Descriptive statistics across programs/institutions to be generated using multivariate analysis, including across units of analysis (program, faculty, and students). Core analysis parallel to NRC to compare education research doctorate programs to other science programs will also be used. Additionally, this project involves analysis of secondary data: use of citation data to be obtained from Thomson Scientific (formerly known as ISI) to develop indicators of faculty productivity.

Data will be made available to others: (1) Pre-release of restricted-use data to permit analyses by additional researchers; (2) provision of public use files and web-based database to encourage analysis by researchers. Plan includes access to restricted data files through licensing agreements.


An empirically based taxonomy of education research doctorate programs, a methodology for development or refinement of taxonomies in other fields.

Publications & Presentations: 
Other Products: 

Benchmark data across education research programs and within institutions; faculty measures of productivity, and so forth. Study is not designed to produce products per se—though products could issue or be developed by others from the project data (e.g., graduate guides to education research doctorate programs).