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Curriculum Studies and Teacher Education (CTE)

CTE Core Courses Requirements

First year CTE doctoral students are required to take:

  • EDUC 400A
  • EDUC 325A, 325B & EDUC 325C in Autumn, Winter, and Spring Quarters, respectively
  • EDUC 424 in Spring Quarter, followed by EDUC 466 in Autumn of the second year in order to receive support in designing and carrying out a study for their Qualifying Paper (see below)

By the end of the second year, students are expected to have finished the Methodology Core: EDUC 400A (formerly 200C), 400B (formerly 250B), 450A (formerly 250C), and an additional research methods course of their choosing (this course should be at or above the 200 level and be a minimum of 3 units). Also see the relevant sections of this Handbook for more details.

These are the only course requirements for CTE students. Students work with their advisors to develop their Graduate Study Program (“GSP”).

Course offerings within CTE:

First Year Review

See the First-Year Review section for review requirements that apply to all Areas. The CTE review portfolio should contain the following materials:

  • A selection of two or three papers written by the student during their first year in the doctoral program
  • A one- to two-page summary or outline of possible research area, possible research questions, and possible design for Qualifying Paper 
    • The final product for EDUC 424 may be used instead of the one- or two-page summary or outline if the First Year Review is held late enough in the Spring quarter. If the First Year Review is held before the final paper for EDUC 424 is due, students may use the one- or two-page summary described above. During the First Year Review, faculty will provide feedback on the research area and questions, including scope, and help students think about a feasible, small study they can conduct in their  second year. This study will be the basis for the Qualifying Paper and Second Year Review (see below)
  • A transcript of the first two or three quarters of work at Stanford (an unofficial transcript printed from AXESS is fine)
  • The preliminary GSP, to be reviewed and signed by the program advisor(s) at the first year review
  • The Preliminary Review Evaluation forms, located in  the “Forms” section of the GSE website

Students are responsible for assembling copies of this portfolio and delivering them, two to three weeks in advance of the review, to the faculty members participating in the review. Students should check with faculty to determine how far in advance of the review meeting the portfolio should be delivered and whether faculty request a hard copy or emailed version.

The student’s advisors (or advisor and at least one other faculty member selected by the advisor and the student) will meet to discuss and review the portfolio. The review will conclude with an appraisal of the portfolio and an assessment of the student’s prospects for completing the doctoral program. The student’s primary advisor will complete a Preliminary Review Evaluation form, based on a personal review and the other reviewer’s feedback from the First-Year Review. The student will forward the signed GSP and Preliminary Review Evaluation form to the Doctoral Programs Officer. After the Doctoral Programs Officer has reviewed the signed preliminary GSP and evaluations of the First Year Review committee, the results will appear on the students’ record on Axess. If the preliminary GSP is not approved, it will be returned to the student with a request for the student to make the required additions and/or corrections. After the appropriate changes have been made in consultation with the advisor, the GSP should be returned to the Doctoral Programs Officer for further review.

Second Year Review

The Second-Year Review is the qualifying process for advancement to doctoral candidacy. (See the Second-Year Review section for review requirements that apply to all Areas.) It is also known as the Sixth-Quarter Review.  A committee of three faculty members appraise the student’s research skills and preparation for work on the doctoral dissertation. The Second-Year Review should be scheduled prior to the first day of the seventh quarter (see the Second-Year Review section for more details on this policy). It is possible to request an extension with advisor approval to do the Second-Year Review during the seventh quarter; see the Doctoral Forms page for the Second-Year Review Extension form. Note: the Second-Year review and Dissertation Proposal Hearing cannot happen within the same meeting.

For the Second-Year Review, the primary advisor and co-advisors or two other faculty members selected by the advisor and the student (three faculty members total) will review a portfolio of material including the following:

  • A Qualifying Paper, the requirements of which are outlined below
  • The CTE Second-Year Review forms, which can be obtained from the GSE website
  • Unofficial transcripts from AXESS
  • A schedule for remaining degree work which includes a time frame for the dissertation proposal, research, oral exam, and dissertation submission
  • A list of possible faculty members to serve on the Dissertation Reading Committee ( if the Second-Year Review Committee is identical to the Reading Committee, students may take the Doctoral Dissertation Reading Committee form with them to the review in order to obtain the signatures of the committee members)
  • The preliminary Graduate Study Program (GSP), a copy of which can be obtained from the Doctoral Programs Officer, plus a newly updated final GSP for Review Committee approval. Because course offerings, academic interests, and goals change, the preliminary GSP can differ from the final GSP, with Committee approval

Doctoral Qualifying Paper

The doctoral qualifying paper (or QP) has two purposes: The first is to provide the student with  direct experience in conceiving, designing, carrying out, and writing up an original piece of research before the student sets out on their dissertation. The second is to demonstrate that the student is capable of undertaking a doctoral dissertation that meets the academic standards of this university. (See "GUIDELINES FOR CTE QUALIFYING PAPER" for more detailed information about the content and expectations for the QP.)  See in FAQs below, "Where can I find examples of successful QPs?" for location of guidelines on the GSE site.

The qualifying paper (QP) must be a work of original research.  In carrying out the  QP study, the student should address a research question by collecting and analyzing original data or primary materials, or by analyzing an existing data set. In structure, format, and length, the QP should be modeled on articles in a scholarly journal that the student, in consultation with the adviser, has identified as appropriate for the research undertaken. The student should be able to identify at least one published article that has served as a guide or model for the present paper. The QP should adhere to publication guidelines of the identified journal; thus length and format of papers may vary. Except in exceptional circumstances, the QP should not exceed 60 double-spaced pages.

The committee reviewing the QP can reach one of the following four possible decisions:

  • A satisfactory or better completion of the requirement
  • Acceptable with completion of revisions, as agreed upon by the committee and provided to the student in writing, to the satisfaction of the advisor
  • Requiring revision and resubmission for review by the committee. The resubmission must be submitted by __________ (due date). Student should submit a cover memo specifically indicating how the revisions addressed concerns indicated during the review. The Office of Academic Affairs will be notified that the student is required to re-submit if s/he wishes to be considered for advancement to candidacy
  • Failure to demonstrate the capacity necessary to proceed to the dissertation, for reasons agreed to by the committee and attached to the CTE Qualifying Review Summary Sheet

Preparing for and writing the QP

Although students are encouraged to be thinking about possible research topics from the time they begin the doctoral program, work on the QP commences in the spring of the first year, in EDUC 424. In that course students will read extensively in areas that they would like to explore for possible QP research topics. Students will read articles in detail, study how educational researchers report their findings, and review research in an area of interest. By the end of that course students should be familiar with at least one area in some depth, although not necessarily exhaustively. Students will at a minimum have identified possible questions they might pursue initial study designs. Depending upon how clear or focused the students’ research interests are, they may also be able to begin drafting a proposal for the possible study.

Over the summer, after the first year, students should read extensively in possible research areas and think about a study they could design to answer an interesting and useful question in one of these areas. In the fall of the second year, students will take EDUC 466. This course provides continued support as students shape research questions and design a study to address them. Students read published articles closely in order to understand in more detail the genre of academic writing in education. At the end of this course, students produce an approximately 5-8,000-word proposal that justifies and describes the study they will conduct for their QP.

The timeline and milestones outlined above reflect typical progress toward completion of the QP. However, students enter the program with varying degrees of clarity about their research interests and differences in prior research experience. Progress on the QP will vary because of these factors and other individual differences.


What should be the scope of a QP study?   The QP study should be fairly modest in scope. For many QP studies, you should be able to collect all data in approximately a quarter, most likely in winter of your second year, although some students begin in late fall. You can also do a QP with an existing dataset, which means you will not have to collect your own data. As with all other questions about the QP, check with your advisor.

Where can I find examples of successful QPs?  There is a QP archive at (go to bottom of page and login with your SUNnet ID) where successful QPs have been posted.. Ask your advisor if they have examples of successful QPs you can see. Keep in mind that different advisors can have different criteria regarding length, scope, and other features. Be sure to check with your advisor regarding QPs they consider useful exemplars.

Does QP have to be a pilot for the dissertation? No. It can be, but it's not required.

After 466, is there a course that provides support for writing up the QP? Not specifically. If there is interest among students, an individual faculty member might agree to meet, as a group, during the winter and/or spring quarters. Check with your advisor about enrolling in directed research units with your advisor while you work on your QP. This will give you more time to focus on your QP.

Is there an expectation that QPs will be submitted for publication?  No, submission for publication is not an expectation. You are encouraged to try and publish your QP if you wish, but it's not an expectation.

If my QP is not a pilot for my dissertation, how will the QP help me with my dissertation? Even if it's not a pilot, the QP should help in at least 2 ways: First, the QP will provide experience in conceptualizing, planning, and carrying out an original piece of research. This will be extremely helpful when it comes time to carry out your dissertation research. Second, your dissertation can comprise 3 or 4 standalone and ready-to-submit-for-publication manuscripts rather than a single long write-up of a study*. One of these standalone manuscripts could be your QP or a paper based on your QP.  Even if you do not publish your QP or include it as part of your dissertation, conducting and writing up a QP will provide you with useful experience in producing this type of writing. 

* Consult with your advisor about appropriate structure for your dissertation. You have two basic options: the typical monograph or 3-4 standalone, close-to-submission ready papers. The following guidelines for including published or "ready-for-publication papers" as part of your dissertation come from the Registrar's Office. (

Published Papers and Multiple Authorship

The inclusion of published papers in a dissertation is the prerogative of the major department. Where published papers or ready-for-publication papers are included, the following criteria must be met:

1. There must be an introductory chapter that integrates the general theme of the research and the relationship between the chapters. The introduction may also include a review of the literature relevant to the dissertation topic that does not appear in the chapters.

2. Multiple authorship of a published paper should be addressed by clearly designating, in an introduction, the role that the dissertation author had in the research and production of the published paper. The student must have a major contribution to the research and writing of papers included in the dissertation.

3. There must be adequate referencing of where individual papers have been published.

4. Written permission must be obtained for all copyrighted materials; letters of permission must be uploaded electronically in PDF form when submitting the dissertation. A sample permission letter is included in this packet on page 16.

5. The submitted material must be in a form that is legible and reproducible as required by these specifications. The Office of the University Registrar will approve a dissertation if there are no deviations from the normal specifications that would prevent proper dissemination and utilization of the dissertation. If the published material does not correspond to these standards, it will be necessary for the student to reformat that portion of the dissertation.

6. Multiple authorship has implications with respect to copyright and public release of the material. Be sure to discuss copyright clearance and embargo options with your co-authors and your adviser well in advance of preparing your thesis for submission.

Contact us

PhD students, please contact

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Jeremy Edwards
Associate Director of Degree Programs

MA POLS and MA/PP students, please contact

Wesley Horng
Wesley Horng
Associate Director of Admissions & Academic Affairs

EDS, ICE/IEPA, Individually Designed, LDT, MA/JD, MA/MBA students, please contact

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Caroline Stasulat
Associate Director of Degree Programs
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