Education, Culture, and Society, MSEd

Under the supervision and mentorship of a faculty advisor, master’s students in the Education, Culture, and Society program undertake individualized and interdisciplinary programs of study in the social foundations of education. The program therefore provides students with a nuanced understanding of education as an historical, socio-cultural, political, and moral activity. ECS students explore the role education plays in reproducing and potentially transforming racialized, classed, and gendered relations and structures of inequality – in the U.S. or around the world. Working in small cohorts, students explore and build a unique vision for the program through collaborative dialogue, intensive writing, and critical inquiry.  

Students may be eligible to pursue a dual-degree with public policy, non-profit leadership, or social work.  Interested students who do not wish to pursue a second degree of study, may also consider the concentration in Community Action and Social Change. Although many ECS students are preparing for a path to doctoral study or academia, many others find the program helpful for establishing careers in schools, administration, educational non-profits, higher education, community advocacy work and/or educational consultancy.


A total of 10 course units are required for the ECS MSEd.

Required Core Courses
EDUC 5490School and Society in America1
EDUC 6490Master's Seminar in Education, Culture, and Society (Fall).5
EDUC 6490Master's Seminar in Education, Culture, and Society (Spring).5
Disciplinary Foundation
Select 1 from the following:1
Philosophical Aspects of Education Policy
History of American Education
Anthropology and Education
American Education Reform: History, Policy, Practice
Other (with faculty advisor approval)
Research Methods Course
Research Methodology Course 1, 21
Select 5 electives 3, 45
Distribution Elective 51
Total Course Units10

Master's Research Paper

ECS students are required to write a Master's Paper on a core content area in Education, Culture, and Society. The Master’s Research Seminar in Education, Culture, and Society (EDUC6490) is a year-long, writing-intensive seminar that prepares students to cultivate a narrow area of educational expertise through the preparation of the capstone: an academic paper that demonstrates mastery through a close examination and original synthesis of previous research and argumentation. The course’s instructional team and the students’ faculty advisors coordinate in support of building a robust paper. The Master’s Paper is reviewed and approved by Program Faculty.

Methods courses prepare students in both the practical and theoretical implications of collecting, interpreting, analyzing and presenting data on the human condition broadly (and education/learning in particular.


Students with interest in qualitative traditions tend to enroll in EDUC 6460 Qualitative Methods: Principles and Techniques (offered Fall, Spring and Summer) while those interested in quantitative traditions enroll in EDUC 6667 Introductory Statistics for Educational Research (offered Fall, Spring and Summer). Students are encouraged to discuss other options with their faculty advisors.


Electives must be graduate level and taken for a letter grade. Students should determine elective courses in conference with their faculty advisors to ensure they align with the Planned Program of Study. With faculty advisor approval, electives may potentially be taken in Education, Culture, and Society (ECS), other GSE programs, or from graduate programs across the university.


Students seeking the Community Action and Social Change Concentration must dedicate three CUs as described as follows: the student will complete 2 Community Concentration Electives; 1 Academically Based Community Service (ABCS) course; and an aligning topic for the master's paper, and has thus meet all requirements of the Community Action and Social Change Concentration. A list of suggested electives is available in the program. ABCS courses are offered through the Netter Center and must be 5000 level or higher.


Candidates for the M.S.Ed. degree must demonstrate knowledge of the field of education beyond the area of specialization. Students must complete one approved graduate level (5000 and above) GSE course outside the student’s area of specialization, earning a grade of "B" or better. In ECS, the requirement must meet the additional following criteria/conditions: (1) it must not be a core course as required in this Planned Program of Study; and (2) it must not be taught by a faculty member whose core appointment is in ECS.

The degree and major requirements displayed are intended as a guide for students entering in the Fall of 2023 and later. Students should consult with their academic program regarding final certifications and requirements for graduation.