Degree requirements

The SESAME program requirements include several from the Graduate School of Education as well as several that are specific to SESAME.

Graduate School of Education

GSE core courses during first year of enrollment

  1. EDUC 282: Introduction to Research Inquiry (one semester, 3 units)

Two methodology courses

  1. Quantitative Methods: EDUC 293 A/L or EDUC 275B/L (one semester, 3 units)
  2. Qualitative Methods: can be chosen from any Qualitative Methods course within the GSE, in consultation with your advisor (one semester, 3 units)

Two external electives

  1. Two courses (100 or 200 level) taken outside the GSE, 3 units each, any semester. The courses are chosen in consultation with your advisor.

Two electives

  1. Two courses within the Learning Sciences and Human Development cluster, chosen in consultation with your advisor (any semester, 3 units each)

SESAME Requirements

Students must take required courses for a letter grade. Other courses may be taken pass/fail grades or satisfactory/unsatisfactory. Two-thirds of all course units must have a letter grade.

SESAME requirements during first and second years of enrollment

  1. SESAME Core Course: SCMATHE 210A (4 units) and SCMATHE 210B (2 units) Practicum in Science and Mathematics Education, Research and Development
  2. SESAME Colloquium: SCMATHE 292
  3. EDUC 290C: Cognitive Foundations (Spring semester, 4 units)
  4. EDUC 254: Sociocultural Foundations (Fall semester, 4 units)

Methodology, one additional course

  1. One additional Qualitative or Quantitative course must be taken any semester. It is chosen in consultation with your advisor (one semester, 3 units)

Research Groups

Students are expected to enroll in and participate in at least one research group every semester or, alternatively, independent study.

Additional Steps towards Candidacy


Preliminary examination

(Conference paper)

Dissertation prospectus

Master's Equivalency

Students may enter the program with a Master's degree, in which case this requirement is already met. Students who do not already have a Master's degree can obtain either the degree itself or a Master's equivalency, which is usually achieved through coursework or a project, as determined in collaboration with the relevant deparment on campus.

Obtaining the Master's equivalency typically adds two years to a student's time in the program, for a total of seven years instead of five.

Qualifying Examination (Orals)

In accordance with University requirements, four examiners, of whom at least one must be a professor at UCB from outside the department, are chosen by the candidate in consultation with the student's principal advisor, for approval by the graduate advisor and the dean. In the LSHD division the examination is approximately three hours in length, structured so that the first hour is devoted to exploring the student's general command of the larger problems of Education, beyond the areas of concentration to which the other two hours will be devoted. Prior to the exam the student submits to the advisor a list of readings books and articles, knowledge of which the examiners can presuppose in the exam. After review and possible emendation by the student's advisor, the reading list will be sent to the other members of the exam committee for review. This should be completed at least one month before the date of the examination. The exam will address the position papers and may include the dissertation prospectus, if appropriate.

The purpose of the examination is to allow the faculty to evaluate the student's qualifications to independently undertake the dissertation project. Passing the exam reflects the faculty's confidence in the student's knowledge and preparation to carry on dissertation research. The examination is normally taken during the seventh semester of the program, after course work and other program requirements have been fulfilled. For the Qualifying Examination, you might be required to present a Dissertation Prospectus, which includes, at minimum, a proposed title and extended abstract.

Qualifying Examination and Dissertation Prospectus Review is required of all Ph.D. students. Details for completion of the Qualifying Examination can be found in the School of Education's handbook for Advanced Degree Students.

Advancement to Candidacy

Upon passing the Qualifying Exam, you must file for advancement to candidacy. The Plan B Application for Candidacy for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy form will be sent to you by Student Services upon passing your Qualifying Exam. The Graduate Advisor and your Dissertation Chair must sign the form. Return theform to the Graduate Division in person or by mail; a candidacy fee must be paid at the time of filing the application.


Your dissertation is the result of a major piece of research that typically requires two or three years to complete. The project begins with the selection of a research area and preparation of a Dissertation Proposal, which should take about six months. UC Berkeley Graduate Division requires a three person committee (including a chair and Academic Senate Representatives) review and sign off on the Dissertation Proposal. For a year or two after that you will be engaged in empirical and/or theoretical studies. The final six to twelve months will be required for you to write the dissertation and have it reviewed by your Dissertation Committee. The writing of the dissertation should be considered an integral part of the research process. Parts of the dissertation can—and usually should—be written during the final stages of the research (e.g., during data collection and interpretation).