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M.A. | PhD
Elementary Education

Contribute to the advancement of knowledge so necessary to address the dynamic challenges of contemporary education at the elementary level. This program emphasizes:

  • a focus on interdisciplinary approaches to curriculum development
  • the use of inquiry as a key pedagogical approach
  • the importance of a strong understanding of diversity and its social and educational implications
  • child development and learning theories as the foundation for research and teaching in elementary settings

Priority deadline: December 1

Admissions decisions: January

Young child with iPad
Mark Vagle

Program Lead, M.A./Ph.D.
Mark Vagle

Phenomenology | Social class | Curriculum studies | Critical theories | Philosophies of education | Qualitative research. Full profile

MAnn Mason

Faculty Adviser
Ann Mason

Teacher education | Culturally relevant pedagogy | Teacher identity | Immigrant education | Social justice in education | Critical qualitative research methods. Full profile

Blanca Caldas

Faculty Adviser
Blanca Caldas

Bilingual education | Minoritized language practices and pedagogies | critical pedagogy |Spanish for bilingual teachers | Participatory action research. Full profile

Common Curriculum

The following courses are required of all PhD students:

  • CI 8131 – CI Core: Critical examination of curriculum in context
  • CI 8132 – CI Core: Teaching theory and research
  • CI 8133 – Research Methods in CI
  • CI 8148 – Conducting Qualitative Studies in Educational Contexts
  • OLPD 8812 – Qualitative Research in Work and Human Resource Education
  • A minimum of 9 semester additional credits in qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods
  • 15 credits in your track
  • 12 credits from outside your track (if pursuing a minor or supporting program)

54 course credits + 24 thesis credits = 78 total

M.A students: Select plan A or B
M.A.: Thesis
(Plan A)

  • 10 thesis credits
  • approximately 450 hours of work
  • involves original research in the form of a "mini-dissertation" divided into chapters
  • is likely to require human subjects (IRB) approval
  • final copy is bound and submitted to the Graduate School
  • often pursued by students who intend to pursue a Ph.D.*

*Completing a thesis does not guarantee admission to a Ph.D program, though, if accepted, the thesis can serve as the basis of your dissertation.

M.A students: Select plan A or B
M.A.: Final paper (Plan B)

  • 3 credit "Problems" course
  • approximately 120 hours of work
  • results in 1 paper, 40-60 pages in length, divided into sections. Or 2 papers, each 20-30 pages
  • may or many not involve human subjects (IRB) approval
  • final copy is not submitted to the graduate school
  • often pursued by students who aren't committed to pursuing a Ph.D.*

*It is possible to complete a final paper and later pursue your Ph.D. You will apply with less research experience, but will still be considered for admission based on the strength of your application.


Support is available in the form of:

  • Teaching Assistantships. The majority work as student teaching supervisors for M.Ed. initial licensure students. Daytime availability, a teaching license, and teaching experience are required
  • Research Assistantships
  • Fellowships. Based on a departmental nomination process. You will be notified by the Director of Graduate Studies if you are being considered for a fellowship

A typical tull benefits assistantship (tuition, health insurance + stipend) 20 hours/week at approximately $18/hour. Benefits are pro-rated based on the appointment percentage.

Have a complete application in by December 1 to be considered for these positions for the following academic year.

While support is not guaranteed, we make every attempt to financially support full-time students through completion. You may also explore assistantships available outside our department on the University's employment page.

Tuition and cost information.

Credit for past work
Transfer credits

M.A. students must complete at least 60% of coursework (not including thesis credits) within our program. PhD students may transfer no more than 15 credits from an outside institution.

A maximum of 12 graduate course credits taken as non-degree seeking or non-admitted status at the University of Minnesota can be transferred--this is counted separately from the maximum 60%, or 15 outside institution credits.

For example, a PhD student could transfer a maximum of 27 credits (15 outside + 12 non-degree from UMN).

If you earned a M.A. at the UMN, please contact the Graduate Studies Coordinator to discuss transfer procedures.

Thesis credits cannot be transferred.

After you are admitted, you will work with your adviser to determine which credits may transfer.

Graduate Studies Coordinator
Kristina Pearson
fax: (612) 624.8277
125H Peik Hall
Office hours 8:00 - 3:30