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Urban Schooling Division

In the Urban Schooling graduate division, students engage in a course of study that allows them to explore the full range of phenomena that impact education in urban settings. The program is designed for students whose primary career interests are in the study and practice of urban school reform. The Urban Schooling division offers a Ph.D. program. The program seeks to examine the consequences of current urban schooling practices and policies as well as to develop alternatives to the present system that result in systemic change.
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Overview of Program

The Urban Schooling Division is committed to advancing scholarship, research, and practice of urban schooling. Urban Schooling strives to challenge oversimplified “deficit” frameworks that fail to explore the complexity of issues facing urban schools and their communities. In their coursework, students use various methodologies and theoretical frameworks to develop both macro and micro, or situated, views of urban schooling and its policy implications. Our program also seeks to examine the consequences of current practices and policies as well as to develop alternatives to the present system that result in systemic change.

Through a multi-perspective and interdisciplinary approach to investigating the issues and policies of urban settings, our students engage in a course of study that allows them to explore the full range of phenomena that impact education in urban settings. Thus, the scholarly and research work of the faculty draws from and integrates many disciplines including, but not limited to, political science, sociology, economics, linguistics, psychology and history. The context for our empirical work is the urban school and surrounding community. In their coursework, then, students, using various methodologies and theoretical frameworks will develop both macro and micro, or situated, views of urban schooling and its policy implications.

This work is reflected in our research, design, publications and other scholarly efforts focused on areas of research in urban schooling that involve our faculty and students. These include equal educational opportunity, diversity, language education, issues of poverty, social stratification in schools/classrooms, decentralization, alternative models of schooling and educational structures, urban teacher preparation and retention, community involvement, school leadership, STEM disciplines, literacy, organizational learning, and improvement research.

The Urban Schooling Division seeks to attract students and faculty from a wide range of social, economic and cultural backgrounds. This diversity serves to enrich our course offerings, seminars, and research initiatives. Students are an integral part of all aspects of Urban Schooling’s academic planning. Student representatives attend all Division Faculty Meetings as well as other departmental activities.


Areas of Research in Urban Schooling

Alternative models of schooling and educational structures Community involvement Decentralization Diversity Equal educational opportunity Improvement research Issues of poverty Language education Literacy Organizational learning School leadership Social stratification in schools/classrooms STEM disciplines Urban teacher preparation and retention


What Graduates Do

The education Urban Schooling students receive prepares them to be agents of change in the world. Recent graduates have assumed positions as faculty, educators, specialists or researchers in a number of institutions around the country.
Tunette Powell
Tunette Powell, Ph.D., '20
Powell serves as the interim director of the UCLA Parent Empowerment Project. She co-presents a series of talks on Facebook Live titled, “Conversations for the Soul,” to provide a supportive and safe space for Black parents and their concerns in the COVID-19 pandemic environment. She studies school suspensions through the lens of collective trauma, which is the idea that when there’s a disaster, the damage destroys those intimate bonds that we have with other people. While getting her bachelor’s degree in Omaha, she wrote her book “From Daddyless to Destiny: Finding Freedom in Your Story,” and gave a TEDx Omaha talk on her experiences growing up with a drug-addicted father, and the encouragement she received from him to develop her gifts as a storyteller.
Carolina Valdez
Carolina Valdez, Ph.D., '15
Valdez is an assistant professor in the Department of Elementary and Bilingual Education at CSU Fullerton. She was honored for her community activism with the Scholar-Activist & Community Advocacy Award from AERA’s Critical Educators for Social Justice SIG. Valdez is involved in a number of community organizations such as the Association of Chicana Activists; Los Angeles Coalition for Justice for Oscar Grant; Association of Filipinas Fighting Imperialism, Refeudalization and Marginalization; the Graduate Student Association of Education at UCLA; and the Teacher Activist Group National. She has served as part of the leadership for the Critical Educators for Social Justice AERA SIG. Her research focuses on grassroots teacher organizing and ethnic studies for elementary level students.
Josephine Pham
Josephine Pham, Ph.D., '15
Pham has been honored with the Outstanding Dissertation Award by Division K of the American Educational Research Association for her dissertation “The Multi-Faceted Nature of Racially Transformative Practices: Bringing to Light the Invisibilized Labor and Leadership of Teachers of Color.” Her research focuses on the often overlooked tasks that are regularly performed by teachers of color – tasks that are much more challenging in the face of the global pandemic. She posits that there is another layer in serving students of color, particularly for teachers of color. “My political commitments to teaching are heavily influenced by my identities and experiences as a daughter of Vietnamese refugees, as an Asian American woman, and a woman of color,” Pham says. “As justice-oriented teachers of color, we recognize that traditional schooling was not designed with communities of color in mind.”
Our Students
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Graduate students at UCLA Department of Education benefit from — and contribute to — the resources of the country’s number one public graduate school of education.

A distinguished faculty committed to research and teaching and excellent research centers and institutes offer extraordinary opportunities for graduate endeavors. We are preparing the next generation of researchers and professionals to address some of the most pressing challenges in the field. Learn how Urban Schooling could be the right fit for you.

The Ed&IS Office of Student Services looks forward to assisting you through the application process. If we can be of service to you in any step of this process, please feel free to contact any one of our advisors.

Find Your Place
UCLA Ed&IS offers pathways for all.


Our Faculty

Professor Marjorie Orellana
Professor Marjorie Orellana
Associate professor Federica Raia
Associate Professor Federica Raia
Professor Louis Gomez
Professor Louis Gomez
Professor Tyrone Howard
Professor Tyrone Howard

Contact Us

Division Administrative Assistant
Division Graduate Advisor

Harmeet Singh