Admission & Financial Aid

Admission & Financial Aid


Amherst College Courses

Amherst College Courses


Education Studies

Program faculty: Professors Gentzler, Lembo, Moss*, O'Hara, and Sánchez-Eppler; Associate Professor Vigil; Lecturer and Director of the Intensive Writing Program Reardon; Lewis-Sebring Visiting Professor Luschen (Chair)

Contributing faculty: Professors Bradley, del Moral, Dhingra; Associate Professors Hyman, Jaswal, Palmquist and Theoharides; Assistant Professors Leydon-Hardy and Liao

Education Studies provides a context in which students can critically examine the history, purpose, politics, and consequences of education from a range of interdisciplinary perspectives, and in a manner that is consistent with the liberal arts tradition. The program aims to provide students with an understanding of the socio-historical structures and cultural processes that shape educational enterprises within and outside of schools. The curriculum highlights the dynamic relationship between education and social, economic, and political structures. Through an emphasis on experiential learning, community-based research, pedagogical innovation, and through collaboration with community partners and the Center for Teaching and Learning, the program creates space for students to imagine and foster alternative educational possibilities. Classes draw on diverse methods of inquiry and innovative pedagogical approaches to help students critically examine educational thought, the expressive and creative dimensions of educational research and practice, and the organization and function of educational institutions in the U.S. and globally. A core feature of the Education Studies program is that it asks students to reach across disciplinary divides—most notably between the humanities, social sciences, and STEM fields. 

In whatever capacity students face educational questions after leaving Amherst—be it as a citizen, a student, a parent, a teacher, a researcher, or a policy-maker—a major in Education Studies will prepare them to think through complex questions about education’s purposes in a liberal democracy; the sources and mechanisms of educational inequalities; how teaching and learning happen; and how and why schools and school systems look the ways they do. 

Major Program. Majoring in Education Studies requires the completion of eight courses: five courses as described below, plus three additional courses to be chosen in consultation with the student’s advisor. The comprehensive assessment in the major will be met by completing these required courses. Majors electing to write a thesis are required to take three additional course credits across the year devoted to the completion of the honors thesis.

The required foundational course: AMST 352/EDST 352/HIST 352/SOCI 352, Purposes and Politics of Education

One course on Cognition, Teaching, and Learning. Possibilities include the following: 

EDST 120/ENGL 120, Reading, Writing, and Teaching; EDST 335/PHIL 335, Theory of Knowledge; EDST 227/PSYC 227, Developmental Psychology; EDST 206/PSYC 206, Psychology of Play; CHEM 200, Being Human in STEM

One course on School, Society, and Policy. Possibilities include the following:

ECON 419, Education and Inequality in the United States; AMST 201/EDST 201, Social Construction of American Society; AMST 308/EDST 308, Gender, Feminisms, and Education; AMST 326/SOCI 326, Immigration and the New Second Generation; EDST 337/SOCI 337, Dilemmas of Diversity: The Case of Higher Education; EDST 332/POSC 332, Political Economy of Development; EDST 437/POSC 437, Disabling Institutions; COLQ 332, Cities, Schools and Space; MATH 205/HIST 209, Inequality 

One course on Education and Culture. Possibilities include the following:

EDST 120/ENGL 120, Reading, Writing, and Teaching; AMST 200/EDST 200/SOCI 200, Race, Education and Belonging; EDST 208/POSC 208: Power and Politics in Contemporary China; AMST 203/EDST 203/SOCI 203, Youth, Schooling, and Popular Culture; EDST 301/PHIL 301, Education for Liberal Democracy; EDST 346/FREN 346, Enfants Terribles

One Research Methods Course (Quantitative or Qualitative) in any department. Ideally, this course should be chosen in anticipation of the research methods to be employed in capstone or thesis work. This course must be approved both by the major advisor and by the professor teaching the course. This requirement of a course that provides specific training in appropriate research methods is distinct from the requirement that all majors have some exposure to both quantitative and qualitative approaches to Education Studies.

Three additional courses chosen in consultation with the advisor to create a concentration within the major. Concentrations could be thematic or disciplinary in orientation. Examples of possible concentrations include—but are not limited to—Education Policy; Education and Psychology; Higher Education; Urban Education; Race and Education; Comparative International Education; Arts Education; Math Education; or the Anthropology, Sociology, Philosophy, Economics, or History of Education. 

To ensure that students have exposure to qualitative and quantitative research approaches, global breadth, and the opportunity to conduct independent research, while completing the eight total courses, students' major coursework must include the following:

At least one course that exposes students to reading and interpreting qualitative scholarship.

At least one course that exposes students to reading and interpreting quantitative scholarship. 

At least one course that exposes students to education from a global or comparative perspective. 

At least one 300- or 400-level course that results in the production of a significant research project or paper (20 pages or its equivalent) related to education. 

Capstone. The capstone event for Education Studies majors involves participation in a public symposium showcasing significant projects related to each student’s concentration.

Exceptions to the major requirements outlined above will be considered only by petition to the program.

Departmental Honors. The program recommends Latin Honors for seniors who have achieved distinction in their course work and have completed a thesis of Honors quality. Honors theses in Education Studies entail an extended academic, creative, or pedagogical project on a topic relevant to the field. Thesis students may enroll in three courses distributed across the senior year. Thesis progress will be assessed by the department at the end of the first semester as a precondition for entrance to the next semester of thesis work.

Honors Process. Five-hundred-word thesis proposals should be submitted to the program in the spring of the junior year, in order to allow students to avail themselves of grant support and suitable advising. Solicitation of interest will be sent to all majors in the second semester of their junior year. Students who indicate a possible interest in pursuing thesis work are encouraged to reach out to their major advisor. In addition to a description of the project, proposals should include an account of relevant coursework or other appropriate preparation for writing the thesis, including the necessary training in methodology. They should also include a brief bibliography.

On leave fall 2023-24. On leave spring 2023-24. *On leave 2023-24.