Department of Educational Policy Studies

Social Justice and International Studies in Education


Social Justice and International Studies in Education (SJI) is a specialization that focuses on the theoretical, philosophical, and ideological underpinnings of education as well as the social and cultural contexts in which education takes place. Formerly known as “educational foundations,” the SJI specialization draws heavily on philosophy, history, sociology, and other social sciences in its approach to the study of education within varying local, national and international settings. Accordingly, ethics, epistemology, historiography, political economy, sociology, social and political theory, comparative education, and cultural studies provide the conceptual lenses through which education is systematically examined. SJI courses thus explore linkages between education and economic, political and cultural systems, and expose students to a range of political, moral-ethical, and epistemological frameworks for thinking about social and economic inequality, gender and race relations, multiculturalism, sexual orientation, gender identity, citizenship, ecology, development, globalization and coloniality. 

To be admissible applicants must possess advanced skills in independent research, essay writing, logical argumentation, and narrative analysis. Beyond this, preference will be given to applicants who have (1) a strong background in the social foundations of education and/or one or more of the following humanities and social sciences: philosophy, history, sociology, anthropology, political science, and cultural and communication studies; and (2) substantial work experience in the educational sector (e.g. public or private schooling, adult education, NGOs, social movements, corporate or government communications).

Students are not normally admitted to the EdD in this Specialization.

Program Requirements

The EdD and PhD degrees across the Faculty require a minimum of ★36. This normally includes a minimum of ★24 in graduate courses and a dissertation.

At this time, the SJI program is only admitting to the PhD route.

Department core courses

Coursework common to all doctoral programs include:

  • EDPS 680 - Policy Research and Education
  • EDPS 681 - Frameworks for Research in Educational Policy Studies

Specialization core courses



  • 500-level or 600-level courses taken across the department or faculty chosen to enhance the program.

A list of courses to be offered during the Fall Session (September to December) and Winter Session (January to April) can be found through the University of Alberta Bear Tracks system.

Information about courses offered during the Intersession (May to August) will be available on Bear Tracks when the university publishes its Spring/Summer Guide, normally by December.

Students may undertake a supervised individual study course if permitted by their specialization program and only with prior departmental approval. Permission will not be granted if the proposed content is available through regular course offerings.

Candidacy examination

The completion of coursework, the Academic Integrity and Ethics Training and the Candidacy Exam must be completed within three years of the start of the program. For part time students, these requirements must be complete within four years of the start of the program.


Thesis registration-All students in a doctoral program are required to present a dissertation embodying the results of their research on a topic approved by their supervisor and supervisory committee.

Residence Requirements 

The minimum period of residence for the PhD degree is two academic years of full-time study at the University of Alberta. Students pursuing the EdD degree may satisfy their  residence requirement in one of two registration patterns. Students are expected to have significant contact with theUniversity of Alberta during their residence through time spent on campus and through interactions with thefaculty and graduate students at the University:

Pattern A:

As part of the program there will be a period of full-time study for a minimum of 12 continuous months.

Pattern B:

Students must complete at least ★18 (courses and/or THES registration) in each of the first three years. For students who start their programs part-time, the candidacy exam must be completed by the end of year four.