Department of Educational Policy Studies

Theoretical, Cultural and International Studies in Education


Theoretical, Cultural and International Studies in Education (TCI) is a specialization within Educational Policy Studies 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 TCI 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. TCI 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, school-to-work transitions, and North-South conflicts.

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, NGOs, social movements, adult education, corporate or government communications).

Program Ssructure

The EdD and PhD degree require a minimum of *36 which normally includes a minimum of *24 in graduate courses and a dissertation.

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 the U of A Bear Tracks system when the University of Alberta 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 Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research requires that all programs requirements, other than the thesis, must be completed within three years of the commencement of a student’s program. This includes the completion of a student’s course work, the Academic Integrity and Ethics Training and the candidacy oral.


Every candidate shall present a thesis embodying the results of his or her research. In accordance with the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research (FGSR) regulations, the final oral examination will be on the thesis and matters related to the thesis.