The Critical and Sociocultural Studies in Education (CSSE) program provides a comprehensive approach to educational research that considers the consequences of contemporary schooling systems while developing alternatives to current practices that result in systemic change. The development of empirical work is supported through a course of study that includes a strong foundation in qualitative and quantitative research methodology. Students also choose a set of classes from one emphasis area to focus their studies:
- Cultural and linguistic studies in education
- Psychological studies in education
- Sociological studies in education
The program takes the examination of injustice in our schools and the promotion of equity and access of opportunity in and through educational scholarship as a core ideal. Teaching, learning, and schooling affects not only the lives and futures of individual children, but also their families, the local communities in which children live, and the national and international communities we all share. This program aspires to an ideal of scholarship that examines an expansive range of educational possibilities and consequences.
In order to attract excellent students and support their development as scholars, beginning in 2015 the CSSE program commits to four years of full fiscal support for its Ph.D. students. To ensure access to sustained and substantive mentorship from departmental faculty, the program's enrollment is kept small, usually no more than ten new students every other year. To ensure the development of intellectual community, students are admitted as a cohort, and initially proceed through prescribed stages of their program of study collectively. Later in the program, as students progress they will inevitably specialize and their programs of study will diverge. Ultimately, this program prepares students to be scholars who will be active in the professional research associations in their field, publish their research in peer-reviewed journals and academic presses, and who eventually secure positions as faculty members at research universities or research centers, or as researchers at state and federal agencies.