Creating equitable educational policies, guided by social justice

The only educational policy program designed specifically to address systematic inequalities in our education system, Loyola's Cultural and Educational Policy Studies (CEPS) program will give you the tools you need to create change for the next generation of students.

Our commitment to you

Upon graduation with a PhD in cultural and educational policy from Loyola, you will possess the following knowledge, skills, and professional values necessary to commence research and teaching at the university level.


You'll apply humanities and social science perspectives to issues and questions in educational policy and practice. Using this interdisciplinary approach and a social justice focus, you will recognize education’s cultural dimensions and leverage cultural analyses in your work to improve educational experiences and institutions.


You will be able to utilize original research to form and implement educational policies, especially in your chosen individual area of expertise. You'll choose from one of our four concentrations: comparative and international education, history of education, sociology of education, or philosophy of education. In a time when there is so much emphasis on test taking and test scores, Loyola graduates are positioned to evaluate the validity and equity of this process and then take action, informed by a rich understanding of policy rationales, processes, and actors.

Professional Values

You will understand and engage with policy as advocates, leaders, analysts, researchers, activists, and educators committed to social justice and equity in our local and national educational systems.


Completion of the PhD degree program requires 60 semester hours, a comprehensive examination, a dissertation, and a final oral dissertation defense. Students are required to obtain adequate preparation in research courses appropriate to their depth area.

Program Length

Students typically complete this program in six years. Up to 30 hours of coursework may be transferred from previous graduate study, as approved by a student's advisor.

Students typically take two or three courses each term and up to two courses during the summer. Completion time can vary based on the dissertation topic, but students should plan for two to three years of coursework, another year for taking and passing comprehensive exams and developing a proposal, and at least one year for dissertation research. A full-time student who transfers the maximum 30 credit hours from another university could complete the PhD in as few as three years.

Doctoral students in this educational policy degree program are required to maintain continuous enrollment during their program of studies. This means that during each semester of each academic year (excluding Summer Sessions), each student must do one of the following:

  • Enroll in one of the following:
    At least one course
    Or ELPS 610: Doctoral Studies (maximum enrollment two semesters)
    Or ELPS 600: Dissertation Supervision
  • Request a formal leave of absence, which must be approved by the Graduate School’s Associate Dean.

Degree Requirements

Cultural Foundations and Policy Core (12 semester hours) 
One course from each of the following areas: comparative and international education, history of education, philosophy of education, and sociology of education

Depth Area (15 semester hours) 
Choose five courses in one of the following areas: comparative and international education, history of education, sociology of education, philosophy of education.

Research Courses and Electives (33 semester hours)

  • RMTD 420: Educational Research I: Building a Body of Evidence Using Qualitative Methods
  • RMTD 421: Educational Research II: Building a Body of Evidence Using Quantitative Methods

Additional research and elective courses are selected in consultation with an advisor.

Comprehensive Assessment

Three essays based on an agreed-upon reading list written over a three-week period.

Dissertation Requirement

  • Dissertation
  • Preparing the Dissertation Proposal
  • Oral Defense of the Dissertation

Degree Conferral

While the commencement ceremony is every May, degrees can be conferred in May, August, and December. Students must apply for graduation/degree conferral. Students should apply for graduation in the semester they anticipate completing all degree requirements. Failure to meet application deadlines may result in a delay of the conferral of the degree to the following semester. Applications for Degree Conferral are due:

  • August 1 for December conferral
  • December 1 for May conferral
  • February 1 for August conferral

Please note the degree conferral application is valid for only one semester. If the degree is not conferred for the semester requested, a new application is required for a subsequent semester.