About the Committee on Education

The Committee on Education and the University of Chicago

Leading social and behavioral scientists at the University have long pursued questions of fundamental importance to education. The questions are broad in scope, for example: How do children learn to speak, to read, and to reason mathematically? How can classroom instruction promote such learning? How can school organization support such instruction? How does the political economy of a school system affect its productivity? Taken in isolation, each question is important for understanding human development and society. But the answers emerging in each domain of research have implications for inquiry in the other domains.

Fostering a Vibrant Intellectual Community

By fostering a dynamic exchange of ideas and perspectives between researchers and practitioners, the Committee aims to find solutions to the urgent problems facing preschool through high school education in the U.S. Our internationally renowned faculty contributes expertise in the areas of comparative human development, economics, psychology, public policy, social services administration, sociology, and statistics. Expert practitioners, whose work is based at the Urban Education Institute (UEI), the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, the UChicago Charter School, and UChicago STEM Education, contribute their experience and knowledge in preK-12 instruction, training teachers, running schools, developing and scaling interventions and tools, and collecting and analyzing large public education data sets.

The Commitee on Education also cultivates interdisciplinary exchange through the weekly Workshop on Education Lecture Series, in which leading researchers from both the University of Chicago and other institutions present cutting edge research within an atmosphere of collegial dialogue and discuss methodological advances for understanding the interplay of human development and the social institution of schooling. The Workshop provides a common intellectual foundation for students and faculty, who have the opportunity to hear presentations of new work by renowned faculty and promising emerging scholars, prior to publication. COE also hosts a number of special events each year, such as an orientation week reception and mini-conference for PhD students, public lectures focused on new books by COE faculty, and presentations by outside speakers geared at a wide audience that includes both researchers and practitioners. 

To see more information on our partner organizations, click here.

To see more information on projects and initiatives undertaken by our Committee Faculty, click here.

To see more information on the weekly Workshop on Education, click here.

Training the Next Generation of Scholars

A central activity of COE is training students across a variety of disciplines and levels and immersing them in interdisciplinary conversation about education that includes not only world-renowned scholars, but also expert practitioners. Read more about the different programs offered by the Committee on Education below.

Pre-Doctoral Training

COE’s pre-doctoral training program, funded by the US Department of Education’s Institute for Education Sciences (IES) since 2005, has been remarkably successful thus far. Four training grants from the IES, totaling $20 million, have supported the training of 80 doctoral students representing economics, comparative human development, political science, psychology, public policy, social work, and sociology. This effort has produced a remarkable array of new junior faculty across many leading universities and colleges with a success rate in completing the degree and career placement that approaches 100%.

The program is animated by a major question of great interest to faculty and students in the Division of Social Sciences, the Harris School, and the Crown Family School: How can we improve the contribution of schooling to the labor-market success of children growing up in the nation’s cities? This question spans the disciplines, encompassing issues related to learning and child development, instruction, school organization and leadership, labor economics, educational policy, and research design and statistics.

Each pre-doctoral fellow earns a PhD in a social science discipline or from a professional school while participating in a common program of courses, workshops, and a 2-year apprenticeship conducting research in a school setting.

Students select among a wide range of ongoing research projects and multiple sites of practice, with access to the nation’s best administrative data system on urban schools and youth development. These sites include UEI and the UChicago Consortium on School Research, the Chicago Heights Early Childhood Center, the TMW Center for Early Learning + Public Health, and the Urban Labs.

To see more information on the IES pre-doctoral training program, click here.

COE Fellows

The COE Fellows program is for current PhD students who have sustained, substantive research interests related to education. While this program does not typically provide additional funding for PhD students, it offers an opportunity to recognize and include in the COE community outstanding PhD students who are doing doctoral research related to education. 

All COE fellows are invited to participate in our weekly Chicago Education Workshop, our social events, and to small-group discussions where they and our IES fellows present research plans and preliminary findings. COE fellows will also be featured on our website and will be given opportunities to present their work.

Master’s Certificate

The Education and Society MA Certificate Program builds on the broad expertise of Committee on Education faculty across the University whose work probes questions of fundamental significance to education. Using the tools of the social science disciplines, these faculty work to better understand how institutional and social contexts, notably schools, shape child development and learning and how schools, in turn, shape society. Understanding this process requires an interdisciplinary lens that combines perspectives from multiple social science disciplines. Students in the Education and Society certificate program complete courses in a range of social science fields that regard educational questions from diverse disciplinary perspectives.

To qualify for the certificate, students must first apply and be accepted into a terminal Master’s program at the University.  Once accepted into such a program, students can declare their intention to complete a certificate in Education and Society. The recommended course of study for this certificate program is the Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences (MAPSS). Students in Master’s programs in the Harris School of Public Policy are also welcome to apply, if the requirements of the Certificate can be completed within the parameters of their given program.

At the heart of the Education and Society curriculum is a concern with how schools reconcile the tasks of child and youth cognitive development, identity formation, and socialization with the changing role of schooling in society and widespread concerns about social inequality and mobility. Completing a certificate in Education and Society will prepare students for PhD study in education or a social science discipline or for professional positions at research institutions, government agencies, or nonprofit organizations.

To see more information on the MA Certificate in Education and Society, click here.

Minor in Education and Society

Undergraduate students in the College in any field of study have the option to pursue a Minor in Education and Society. The minor offers students a coherent program of study that reflects the expertise of faculty across key disciplines that comprise the field of education. It provides an intellectual pathway for students among the disparate set of existing education-related course offerings, emphasizing a central theme: the interplay between human development and the social institution of schooling. Students can take courses from faculty across the university, including courses by instructors from the Urban Education Institute (UEI) and the UChicago Consortium on School Research.

Education and Society coursework provides a background for graduate study in many disciplines or for careers that incorporate education or advocacy, including teaching, public policy, medicine, law, social work, journalism, or government service. It also prepares students to pursue the Social Science’s Division’s other post-BA offerings related to education, for example, by applying for PhD training to understand education through lens of a specific social science discipline or applying to the new Education and Society concentration within the Masters of Arts Program in Social Sciences (or MAPSS).

To see more information on the Minor in Education and Society, click here.