Welcome to the University of Iowa’s M.A. program in Schools, Culture, and Society. The SCS faculty and students come from a variety of backgrounds and work experiences. Our diversity is an excellent backdrop for this interdisciplinary program focusing on the analysis of social, historical, and philosophical factors in the formal social enterprise of education. In the SCS program, you are part of an engaging and thoughtful academic community, with small classes that allow and encourage meaningful dialogue and faculty-student interaction. As an SCS student, you take courses in sociology, history, and philosophy of education and choose one of these three disciplines as your area of emphasis. Because each member of the program faculty is a sociologist, philosopher, or historian of education, you learn about each area from an expert. Faculty members are focused on their students’ growth as scholars and practitioners, and the SCS program allows students to nurture and explore their academic interests via a flexible curriculum that promotes interdisciplinary learning and encourages students to take courses across the College and University.


The master’s program is designed to provide students with a broad overview of the field. The programs is tailored to build on the strengths and aspirations of students and to develop related areas of expertise that will be of value in their future professional work. Graduates typically work in K-12 schools or education policy positions that demand a broad analytical understanding of educational issues.

Requirements (32 semester hours)

The Master of Arts in Schools, Culture, and Society is a non-thesis program. The program requires a minimum of 32 s.h. of graduate credit. Students complete at least 24 s.h. in Schools, Culture, and Society courses. Students take:

  • Disciplinary Concentrations Area: 12 hours in one Disciplinary Concentration Area - Philosophy, History, or Sociology of Education.
  • Other Two Disciplinary Areas: 12 hours total—6 hours in each of the other two disciplinary areas.
  • Cognate: 8 hours of coursework in a concentration area outside SCS disciplinary areas appropriate to the student’s career and academic goals.
  • TOTAL: 32 semester hours.

Professional and Ethical Expectations and Behavior

All students in Schools, Culture, and Society are expected to comply with the highest professional and ethical standards in all of their activities, including their classes and research, as advisees, when interacting with peers, and as graduate assistants. SCS students should honor commitments, keep confidences, make and keep appointments, fulfill assignments in a timely manner, avoid plagiarism, conduct themselves with all ethical standards in research, and be honest in their interactions with faculty and students.

Examples of misconduct include, but are not limited to, cheating on examinations, signing another person’s name on a form, misrepresenting the truth about oneself or others, submitting the same paper for two or more classes, and submitting another student’s paper as one’s own. SCS students are expected to behave ethically in and out of the classroom. Students should be familiar with appropriate ethical standards that help define their professionalism.

When preparing papers and reports, students are responsible for following the style manual recommended by the instructor (typically APA or Chicago). Not knowing how to give credit and cite sources is not an acceptable reason for plagiarism or failure of attribution. Plagiarism and other misconduct are viewed seriously by the faculty and can result in disciplinary action by the Department, College, and University.

Course Offering Information

Each SCS faculty member typically teaches two courses per semester, in the sequence described below. Students should keep in mind that these are only general plans for course offerings. When faculty are on developmental leave or receive course releases, they will not be able to offer the courses listed in a given semester. Faculty will do their best to inform students in advance of alterations in course offerings, and students are welcome to ask about plans for upcoming semesters.

Brian An alternates offering Sociology of Education (EPLS:5130), and Race, Class, and Gender Inequalities in Education (EPLS:5131) in the fall semester. He also offers a special topics course in the fall semester (such as Preparation and Management of Quantitative Data [EPLS:5240]). In the spring semester, Professor An alternates offering Quantitative Methods for Policy Analysis (EPLS:6370) and Multilevel Modeling (EPLS:5240). He also offers in the spring semester one of the following: Sociology of Higher Education (EPLS:5142), and Education, Race and Ethnicity (EPLS:5154). Please note Professor An typically offers each class once every two years and he alternates teaching Education, Race and Ethnicity (EPLS:5154) with Professor Katrina Sanders.

Christine McCarthy teaches one graduate level course and one undergraduate course each semester. At the graduate level, she teaches Philosophies of Education (EPLS:5156) once each year, in the fall semester. In the spring semester, Dr. McCarthy's course offerings rotate. Spring course offerings include: John Dewey and Education (EPLS:5158); Ethics in Education (EPLS:5157); Philosophy of Mind and Education (EPLS:5240); and Political Philosophy and Education (EPLS:5240).

Chris Ogren teaches History of American Education (EPLS:5102) and History of Higher Education (EPLS:6220) each fall semester. In the spring, she teaches Diversity and Equity in Higher Education (EPLS:6275) and one of the following: History of the Teaching Profession (EPLS:6237), Gender and Education in Historical Perspective (EPLS:6238), or another advanced seminar in history of education. Please note that EPLS:6237 and EPLS:6238 are offered once every 2-3 years.

Katrina Sanders teaches one graduate level course and one undergraduate course each semester. At the graduate level, she teaches either Introduction to Historical Methodologies (EPLS: 5240) or Education, Race, and Ethnicity (EPLS: 5154) each fall. She teaches either History of Ethnic and Minority Education (EPLS: 5123) or Twentieth Century Movements (EPLS: 5126) each spring.

Academic Progress

We follow closely the Graduate College policies regarding grades and progress toward degree. As such, students should be aware that any grade below a “C-“ is considered a failing grade and will not count toward your degree. Students should also be mindful of the threshold for academic probation status. These and other academic policies are detailed in the Graduate College Manual.

The Graduate College’s policies also state that students will be placed on academic probation if, after completing 8 hours of graduate work, their cumulative grade-point average on graduate work done at The University of Iowa falls below 3.0. The SCS program will place students on academic probation if, after completing 8 hours of graduate work as students in the program, their grade-point average since enrolling in the SCS program at any time falls below 3.0. Once on probation, a student must complete at least 8 additional hours of coursework at this University within one year. If, after completing 8 additional semester hours of graduate work, the student’s grade-point average since enrolling in the SCS program remains below the required level, the student shall be dropped from the program and denied permission to register. If, after completing the additional 8 semester hours, the grade-point average since enrolling in the SCS program is a least 3.0, the student returns to good standing.

More information about residency, updating old credits, and registration requirements can be found on the Graduate College website.

Academic Advising

All SCS M.A. students are initially assigned to a faculty academic advisor. This assignment is not necessarily permanent, and can be changed at the request of the student. In the case of changing advisors, a conversation with all parties is recommended.

Certificate Programs of Interest

Multicultural Education and Culturally Competent Practice

The Graduate Certificate in Multicultural Education and Culturally Competent Practice (MECCP) is administered by the Office of Graduate Inclusion. For more information, please contact Ann Dudler at or 319-335-2485.

Certificate in Online Teaching

The Certificate in Online Teaching requires 4 courses (12 credits) that are offered online. This will provide “value added” for individuals in fields where courses are moving more and more online and where experience/expertise in online teaching is listed on job announcements. For more information, visit the web page or contact Kathy Schuh at or 319-335-5667.

Student Travel Awards and Scholarships

We encourage student investment in their academic and professional development. In support of these efforts, we offer Student Awards underwritten by funds generated from the College of Education Tuition Surcharge. Ph.D. students may apply for a Dissertation Year Fellowship of $500 (for students with an approved prospectus; previous recipients not eligible) or a Professional Travel and Development grant for travel to conferences or research-related or professional development expenses incurred during the academic year. The maximum amount of a Professional and Development grant is $300; demand will determine the actual number and amount of grants. Calls for applications will be issued in late fall with an application deadline of February 1.

The College of Education also offers the Graduate Student Research Award, the Audrey Qualls Travel Award, and the Office of the Dean Graduate Student Travel Award. These awards provide conference registration, travel, and lodging support for students enrolled in the College of Education who present (or co-present) at professional meetings. Contact Elizabeth Constantine in the Grant and Research Services Center (N438 LC) with questions.

In addition, the Graduate Student Senate (GSS) and the Graduate & Professional Student Government (formerly ECGPS) offer travel funding assistance to graduate students who present their research at conferences, meetings, symposia, and similar professional or academic gatherings. The funds are provided by the Graduate College and allocated by various student-run committees to deserving applications at multiple deadlines throughout each fiscal year. Funds are awarded for travel to both domestic and international conferences.

Each year, the Office of the Dean coordinates a competitive scholarship process for students in the College of Education. The application period begins in early October and runs through mid-November. Visit the Scholarships and Awards page for more information or contact the Dean’s Office (N459 LC).

Graduate Assistantships

Graduate and Teaching Assistantships at The University of Iowa are designed to provide students with work experience and means to finance their education, while providing the University with the benefit of an innovative work force. While SCS M.A. students may hold Graduate and Teaching Assistantships, there is no guarantee of funding or placement from year to year.

GA responsibilities often include student services, programming, or administrative duties. Individual faculty members occasionally receive funds for research assistants, grants, and the Iowa Testing Program awards a limited number of assistantships in the College of Education each year. TA responsibilities include attending lectures, leading discussions, grading, and holding office hours.

Student Involvement and Governance

College of Education

Graduate Student Executive Council (GSEC)

The College has invited a group of experienced graduate students to form our Graduate Student Executive Council which has been active in offering sessions both informational and social that are intended to support graduate student endeavors. They have also provided valuable input to college administration on many issues including orientation for new students entering the college. To be a part of this group as a departmental representative, contact GSEC Chair, Eric Moy at

College Diversity Committee

The purpose of the College of Education Diversity Committee is to initiate and support activities and projects that will lead to increased knowledge and awareness of diversity of persons and perspectives. The group meets once a month. Contact Diversity Committee Graduate Assistant, Lianne Gann at for more information about getting involved with the Diversity Committee.

Graduate College

Graduate Student Senate (GSS)

The Graduate Student Senate exists to promote the welfare of graduate students at the University, to develop and disseminate ideas for the improvement of graduate education, and to contribute to the formation of general university policy. Through GSS, graduate students are involved in academic planning by nominating or appointing graduate students to academic Graduate College and University-wide committees. Representation is by academic department. Senators participate in the planning and execution of the senate activities for the term of one year. All graduate students are welcome to attend the monthly meetings and are eligible for membership on Senate committees.

Division of Student Life

Graduate and Professional Student Government (GPSG)

After forming a partnership with the University of Iowa Student Government (UISG), the undergraduate student government, GPSG became a completely autonomous governing body in early 2009. Today, GPSG represents nearly 10,000 University of Iowa graduate and professional students. GPSG operates in collaboration with UISG, the administration, and our member governments. GPSG's priority is to support graduate and professional academics, scholarship, public service, and enhance the quality of life.

First Mondays: SCS Scholarship

Each academic year we identify a one-hour period (usually over the lunch hour) during the first week of each month as a time to meet as a group for academic and professional enrichment. For 2015-2016, this hour is the first Monday of each month from noon to 1:00. We will announce meeting topics in the SCS weekly newsletter, and will meet in N434 unless otherwise noted. Please feel welcome to bring your lunch. Please also feel welcome to make suggestions for future First Monday topics.

Other Unique Opportunities

Obermann Graduate Institute on Engagement and the Academy

The Obermann Graduate Institute is a one-week interdisciplinary institute that takes place in January. UI graduate students from across campus and at any point in their graduate studies explore how civic engagement can enhance teaching, research, and creative work. Participants discuss theories of engagement and meet with experts, including graduate colleagues, faculty members, UI administrators, and potential community partners. They also develop their own engaged projects, reconceiving their art, scholarship, and teaching to address community needs. Each Institute participant receives a $500 and is named an Obermann Graduate Fellow. Applications are typically due in October each year. For more information, contact Jennifer New at the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies.

SCS Weekly Newsletter

This weekly newsletter is published and distributed by the SCS Program Assistant via e-mail. The purpose is to have a dedicated outlet for sharing important information about deadlines, policies, opportunities, and resources. The distribution list includes all SCS students and faculty. If you have news to share, contact no later than Tuesday at 6:00 pm. Do not use the community list for personal notices. SCS Weekly Newsletters are distributed every Wednesday morning by noon..

Did You Know?

  • All students must use the “” email address assigned to you upon enrollment. If you prefer to receive mail at a different address, you can set up a mail-forwarding system through your email.
  • Program faculty conduct a lot of classroom business routinely by email. They expect you to check your email regularly and respond in a timely manner.
  • Faculty may differ in terms of how much time they spend on campus and how they use their office hours. Before you drop in on faculty members, consider sending them an email to make sure they will be available.
  • Iowa City is a great place to go wireless! The ped mall and many area businesses and parks are hot zones. List of campus wireless zones
  • A map of campus computer labs
  • You may receive individual mail in our department. You should check occasionally in N491 (dept. office). The office is closed over lunch from noon - 1:00 pm. Mail must be business related, not personal.
  • Looking to reserve a room in LC? Check with Janice Latta (our departmental secretary) or the Dean’s Office
  • In a hurry for a copy? Places for photocopies include Zephyrs and, if you have a lot, Office Max. There is currently no place for students to make personal copies in Lindquist.
  • Most program texts can be purchased at the University Bookstore in the Old Capital Mall, or from a variety of online sellers (i.e.
  • Looking for a study site? Try the Graduate Student Commons in the Lindquist Center, the new graduate student study space at the Main Library (need to apply for key card access to enter), the Iowa City Public Library, the Iowa Memorial Union, Java House, High Ground Café, or May’s Cafe. UI study spaces map
  • It is departmental policy for faculty NOT to print extensive student papers on the departmental printer. It’s best to check with an instructor when submitting something electronically.
  • If you want to share information with the SCS community, please send it to the program assistant by Tuesday evening for inclusion in the weekly SCS newsletter. Do not use the newsletter for personal notices.
  • Struggling to manage deadlines in grad school? Check out some advice on the ‘gradhacker’ blog posted on Insider Higher Ed:
  • Looking for advice on eating healthy in grad school? Check out some advice from Inside Higher Ed:
  • Do you ride the bus? Check out BONGO! It’s a GPS-based passenger information system that can let you know your current bus location and the predicted arrival of the next bus.