PhD in Education

Program overview

Develop the expertise to solve challenging problems in today’s education system

What can a PhD in Education do for your career? This Doctorate in Education program develops your research, critical thinking, and leadership skills. It will prepare you for school administration leadership, corporate or nonprofit leadership, or tenure consideration as a college or university-level educator.

Prepare to gain advanced knowledge in the education field.

Program Overview


Seattle Pacific was founded more than 125 years ago, and the University has been preparing some of the most sought-after educators in the region for more than 90 years. Today, entrance to School of Education graduate programs is highly competitive. Faculty members — each teaching his or her own courses and each holding a doctorate — have worked to develop rigorous programs of quality.

The School of Education at Seattle Pacific University offers more than a dozen graduate programs. You can choose from two doctoral programs, seven master’s degree programs, and five certification programs, all of which focus on developing competence, character, leadership, and service in educators. While many students train to become teachers, others prepare for roles as school counselors, principals, superintendents, district office personnel, or professors in higher education. SPU's reputation in P–12 education in Washington and across the country is strong, and students who complete our graduate degree and certificate programs enjoy a higher rate of employment than the state's average.

Why Seattle Pacific for your PhD in Education?

Emphasizing teaching and learning theory, research design, and university teaching, Seattle Pacific’s PhD in Education program prepares you for a career as a college or university-level educator who teaches effectively and who is able to conduct publishable research and other scholarly work. 

  1. Accomplished Faculty

    Expert, caring faculty have a desire to help students succeed. Faculty are known for mentoring their students during and following their educational programs. These professors model lifelong learning through scholarly activities of their own, publishing frequently, and presenting at professional conferences.

  2. AACU Membership

    Seattle Pacific is a member of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) and of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. SPU certification programs are approved by the Washington state Professional Educator Standards Board. The School of Education is also a member of the Association of Independent Liberal Arts Colleges for Teacher Education, and has a chapter, Sigma Phi Upsilon, of Chi Sigma Iota, an international honor society that values academic and professional excellence in counseling.

  3. Deep Character Emphasis

    Built on an character education foundation, the graduate programs at SPU offer first-class education through the lens of Christian faith and values. Students take ethics courses, and character issues are integrated throughout the curriculum.

  4. Flexible Format

    Classes are smaller and students interact with professors and fellow students in a cooperative and reciprocal learning environment. Designed for full-time working educators, SPU doctoral programs offer classes online during the regular academic year (Autumn-Spring), with a two-week on-campus residency held each summer. 

  5. Connected Alumni

    School of Education graduates move on to purposeful careers in schools and district-level leadership throughout the country. When you obtain a graduate degree from SPU’s School of Education, you join a community of alumni who stay connected.

Related Doctoral Programs

Back to top


All doctoral students in the School of Education, regardless of their terminal degree, take the same foundation courses, including a Leadership Colloquium. These core classes are designed to develop leadership by focusing on knowledge applicable to all fields and levels of education. Students will then begin their individual course sequences and specializations, which culminate in comprehensive exams and a dissertation.

As a PhD in Education student, you will be required to pass two comprehensive exams, research and foundations; produce a professional educational theory paper; complete a dissertation and receive passing marks; and pass the oral defense of the dissertation.

Prerequisite coursework

Depending on your experience and background, you may be required to take the following classes as your elective credits:

  • EDU 6655 Human Development and Principles of Learning (3)
  • EDU 6524 Curriculum Design (3)
  • EDU 6526 Survey of Instructional Strategies (3)
  • EDU 6613 Standards-Based Assessment (3)
  • EDU 6975 Interpreting and Applying Educational Research I (3)
  • EDU 6976 Interpreting and Applying Educational Research II (3)
Back to top


Core Doctoral Faculty

Julie Antilla

Associate Professor of Educational Leadership
PhD, UC Santa Barbara

Phone: 206-281-2216
Office: Peterson Hall 410
First Generation student

Kristine Gritter

Professor, Curriculum and Instruction; Chair, MEd Literacy, Language, and Equity
PhD, Michigan State University

Phone: 206-281-2323
Office: Peterson Hall 309

Nyaradzo Mvududu

EdD, Seattle Pacific University

Phone: 206-281-2551
Office: Peterson Hall 304

David Wicks

Associate Professor of Curriculum & Instruction
EdD, Seattle Pacific University

Phone: 206-281-2367
Office: Peterson Hall 411

Affiliated Doctoral Faculty

Scott Beers

Assistant Dean, Graduate Programs
PhD, University of Washington

Phone: 206-281-2707
Office: Peterson Hall 409

Back to top


Tuition and fees for 2023–24

money icon


per credit

dollar icon


application fee

See additional fee details.

textbook icon


credits to complete

Financial aid

Before applying for aid, you must first be admitted to a graduate program. Make sure you:

  • Enroll in at least 3 credits (or half-time) toward a degree or eligible certificate each quarter.
  • Complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year.

You may take advantage of scholarships and loans. SPU does not have a deadline for graduate financial aid, though earlier is always better than later! 

Learn more about the FAFSA and applying for financial help.

Learn more about scholarships, assistantships, and loans available to graduate students.


Find out more about administrative and other School of Education program fees.
Back to top



A limited number of students are admitted to SPU’s PhD in Education program each year. Applicants are required to hold a master’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university. It is preferred that candidates have prior K-12 school experience. Those without experience in a K-12 setting will be considered for program admission on a case-by-case basis.


Applicants must submit the following items:

  • Application and $50 application processing fee.
  • Official transcripts documenting excellent undergraduate and graduate GPAs from an accredited institution where an academic degree was conferred. Include post-master’s degree graduate coursework. 
    • Note: To be considered official, transcripts must be received in a sealed envelope from the college or university. Transcripts may be delivered to Graduate Admissions as long as they remain in their original, unopened university envelope. Electronic transcripts received via eSCRIP-SAFE or Parchment Exchange are also acceptable.
    • If your degree is not from a US college or university, please arrange for your transcript to be evaluated by an accredited transcript-evaluation company, such as FIS or WES. Have the report forwarded directly to Graduate Admissions.
  • Personal statement expressing your professional plans, goals, and focus of study, as well as a rationale for pursuing a PhD. This should be no more than 500 words.
  • Four recent letters of recommendation, including two academic and two professional recommendations.
  • Résumé documenting a minimum of three years of successful experience at the P–12 level or other similar educational setting.
  • A writing sample demonstrating graduate-level writing skills.

Following the submission of all of these items, your file will be reviewed by the core graduate faculty. You will be contacted regarding the status of your application, and to schedule an interview, within approximately two weeks.

All correspondence regarding the interview process will be carried out by email using the address you provide in the application. Please set your email filters accordingly.


  • Autumn Quarter: August 15
  • Winter Quarter: November 15
  • Spring Quarter: February 15
  • Summer Session: May 15


Contact Graduate Admissions at 800-601-0603 or

Back to top


Frequently asked questions

How selective is admission to the SPU School of Education graduate degree programs?

This varies by program. Admission to some programs, such as the Accelerated Master in Teaching Mathematics and Science (AMTMS), Accerated Master of Arts in Teaching (AMAT), and MEd in School Counseling, is very competitive. Admission to each of SPU's graduate programs in education is standards-based, and all applicants must meet all standards for admission.

Can I continue to work while enrolled in a graduate degree program in the SPU School of Education?

Yes, in most cases. Most of the graduate degree programs offered by the School of Education are part-time programs, with classes offered in a variety of worker-friendly venues. Education graduate courses are scheduled at SPU or off campus, in the evenings, occasionally on Saturdays, and during the summer.

The Acclerated Master of Arts in Teaching (AMAT) and Accelerated Master in Teaching Mathematics and Science (AMTMS) programs are exceptions. They are one-year full-time programs due to their full-time internships.

Is it possible to complete a graduate degree from SPU's School of Education online?

The School of Education offers several fully online programs, including the AMAT-OnlineAMTMS-OnlineDigital Education Leadership, and Teacher Leadership programs. Please review the program pages for eligibility requirements.

Is a graduate program at SPU more expensive than comparable education programs at other universities?

SPU's graduate tuition rates are competitive with other accredited universities in Washington.

How does a graduate degree or graduate certificate from SPU compare with a similar degree or certificate from other universities?

SPU's School of Education has been offering a wide range of fully accredited master's and doctoral degrees in addition to graduate certificates for more than 20 years. SPU's reputation in P–12 education in Washington and around the country is strong, and students who complete our graduate degree and certificate programs enjoy a higher rate of employment than the state's average.

Still have questions? Contact, call 206-281-2091 (or 800-601-0603).

Back to top

Why SPU?

Liz Buffington | Current PhD student


Liz Buffington

I earned my MEd from SPU and went directly into the PhD program after graduation. I knew that at Seattle Pacific I would find individualized support for me as an educator and lifelong learner. At SPU, I am nurtured as a professional researcher. In the School of Education, we focus our research and learning on meeting the needs of all students, and we share a core value of addressing opportunity gaps using a solution-minded practice. I use what I learn in this program every single day — in conversations about data, in work with student teachers, and in the classroom. My learning at SPU is directly applicable to my daily work, and the connection with faculty – who are anchored in student-focused instruction – is what I love about SPU.

Ira Rasikawati | PhD in Education

Assistant Professor, UKRIDA, Jakarta, Indonesia

Ira Rasikawati

When I got a Fulbright scholarship for Indonesian instructors to pursue a PhD in the U.S, I looked for a university that would allow me to develop competency in literacy research and to grow in a community where faith and beliefs play an integral role. Later, I found SPU to be quite similar to the university I served in my country, in terms of its culture as a faith-based institution.

As I was progressing into the program, I met different professors who had keen interests in internalization and collaborative research. During my study, doctoral faculty from SPU visited Indonesia to give talks on action research and digital education to professors at Krida Wacana Christian University (UKRIDA). My overall experience studying at SPU has widened my academic and professional fields. I am currently working on collaborative research in literacy and digital education areas. In addition to serving as the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, I have been head of the Center for Language Literacy, Education, and Technology (CLET). I wish to build further linkages between SPU and my institution and promote better understanding and more exchanges between Indonesia and the U.S.

Back to top