Jun 24, 2018  
2015-2016 Graduate Catalog 
2015-2016 Graduate Catalog

Global Inclusion and Social Development, PhD

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The PhD program provides comprehensive leadership training in global inclusion and social development, with a focus on cross-cultural competency, community-based training, and the interrelationships of health, wellness, and social and economic development of excluded populations. Core courses focus on critical topical areas in global inclusion and social development. There are two options available for completing a PhD in global inclusion and social development. Students who are interested in earning a second master’s degree, or do not have a master’s degree, can complete the 67-credit post-BA track, which includes a concentration in an area of inclusion of particular interest to the student. Students who have completed a master’s degree prior to entering the PhD program can complete the 52-credit post-master’s track and will not complete a concentration.

Each student works with a faculty advisor, who assists with the student’s academic progress, acts as chair on his or her dissertation committee, and supervises his or her research. Advisors will also assist students in the focus and pursuit of an area of interest, advise them on critical coursework, and mentor them as their research evolves into the basis of the dissertation.

In conjunction with the transdisciplinary structure of the school, students can expect to complete concentration and/or elective courses in other programs and departments across the University of Massachusetts Boston and its other campuses.

The PhD program is designed so that students may pursue their studies either full-time (anticipated completion is 4 years) or part-time (anticipated completion is 5–7 years).

Students who successfully complete the PhD program can expect to engage in a variety of careers dedicated to effecting solutions for the health, wellbeing, and social and economic development of populations. Examples include working in policy and program analysis and development; leading top research teams; top leadership positions in non-profit and NGO (non-governmental) organizations and educational institutes; and more.  

Transdisciplinary Research Courses

Students will be expected to complete a 12 credit, four-course sequence during years 2 and 3. Six credits will be based in research methodology in other colleges in the university. The remaining 6 credits are for a two-semester class where students conduct a transdisciplinary research project independently or with a cohort of students.

Research, Policy, or Management Courses

 Students must complete two elective classess in research, policy, or management, for a total of 6 credits.

Dissertation Research Seminars

 These seminars will provide support for the dissertation proposal, research, and writing. Students take a total of 10 credits.

Other PhD Requirements

Comprehensive Examination

Comprehensive Examination

Students in the PhD Program in Global Inclusion and Social Development (GISD) are expected to relate the concepts they have learned through their academic program to practical applications. The goal of the comprehensive examination is to determine the student’s knowledge and understanding of theories related to globalization, social development, and social inclusion, as well as their capacity to apply these theories in real-world situations. Successful completion of the comprehensive examination admits the student to candidacy for the PhD degree.

Components of the Comprehensive Exam

Students will complete a written and oral examination of content related to the core courses in Global Inclusion and Social Development.

Written Examination

The written component of the comprehensive exam is six hours and is scheduled twice per year. This is a closed book exam. Students have a total of six hours to complete the written component of the comprehensive exam, four hours in the morning session and two hours in the afternoon session.

The exam consists of 6 questions that reflect key issues addressed in the core courses; students must answer 3 of the questions during the exam period. Exam questions will focus on three areas: (1) research, (2) policy, and (3) practice/case study. There will be two options within each of these focus areas, and students will be required to answer one question in each of the three focus areas. Questions will call for the integration of concepts taught across the core courses.

The exams will be reviewed and evaluated by two GISD core faculty members; this blind review will ensure that the identity of the student is not known to faculty evaluators.

Oral Examination

The graduate program director (GPD) will schedule students for an oral defense of their written examination to take place within two weeks of the completion of their written examination. The oral examination will be led by the faculty members who have reviewed the student’s written exam. The oral examination allows students to expand on their answers in written exam as well as respond to questions regarding overall concepts addressed in the program.

If there is not a consensus among the two faculty members who reviewed the student’s comprehensive examination, a third faculty member will be brought in to review the written material and provide an additional perspective on the evaluation.

Timing of Comprehensive Exams

The written exam component of the comprehensive exam is offered the fourth week in January and the third week in September. Students must register for the examination by November 15th or May 1st depending on the semester they are taking the exam. Students must complete the written and oral comprehensive exams in the same semester.

To be eligible to sit for the exam, students must have completed, or be completing within the semester they are taking the exam, all of their core, concentration, and elective courses. Students in the post-bachelor’s program will have completed 51 credits, and students in the post-master’s PhD program will have completed 36 credits. PhD students can be participating in the transdisciplinary research course (

 ) concurrently. Students cannot take comprehensive examinations if they have a pending incomplete in any course.


Dissertation Committee

Once a student has reached PhD candidate status, she or he begins to assemble a dissertation committee. The student may have consulted with faculty members about serving on the committee prior to this point, but the following steps are required for the creation of a committee.

The student should develop a 10- to 15-page summary of the intended research and share that with potential committee members. The purpose of this summary is for the student to articulate a research plan and to provide faculty members with an understanding of the project to make a decision about the appropriateness of the match.

Once the summary is completed, the student should share it with faculty members she or he would like to have on the committee and discuss their potential involvement. In developing a dissertation committee, the student should consider the following requirements:

The committee must have at least 3 members, and a maximum of 5 members. It includes a dissertation chair and at least two dissertation readers.

Dissertation Proposal

Students must complete at least one semester of Dissertation Seminar (

  ) prior to submitting a proposal for the dissertation. The dissertation proposal is usually composed of the following:

  • A 300- to 400-word abstract.
  • An introductory chapter that establishes the purpose and significance of the research, the conceptual framework, and research questions.
  • A literature review chapter that reflects the transdisciplinary perspective of the research. The chapter must include a consideration of at least two disciplinary perspectives or a transdisciplinary perspective. 
  • A methodology section that includes a description of the study, the research questions, and a full explanation of the method(s) that the student will use to respond to the questions, including a study plan, anticipated data collection, and any other central parts of the method.
  • Draft Institutional Review Board (IRB) application (if applicable).

Once the dissertation proposal is reviewed and approved by the dissertation chair, the student must send it to the other members of the committee. The student must schedule a hearing on the proposal, which usually takes place about four weeks after sending the proposal to committee members.


Dissertation Proposal Defence

All members of the dissertation committee must attend the oral defense of the dissertation proposal.

The student is responsible for the following steps in preparation for the proposal defense:

  1. When distributing the written proposals to all committee members, the student should coordinate with members to identify an acceptable hearing date for all.
  2. The student should work with the SGISD program coordinator to reserve a room for the defense.
  3. Two weeks prior to the event, the student must submit a proposal announcement to the SGISD program coordinator, who will advertise the hearing to the university community.
  4. The student is responsible for the set-up and material preparation for the hearing.
  5. The student must bring the Proposal Hearing Results Form to the hearing.

The dissertation proposal defense is typically an hour and a half to two hours, and can be held any time during the academic year. The student will work with the committee chair to determine the structure of the hearing, but the typical dissertation proposal defense follows this format:

  • The dissertation chair calls the meeting to order and has the committee members and members of the audience introduce themselves.
  • The student presents the dissertation proposal (30-45 minutes).
  • The dissertation committee asks questions of the student (30-45 minutes).
  • Audience members may ask questions or contribute to the discussion (30-60 minutes).
  • The chair calls for the end of the defense, and excuses the candidate and the members of the audience from the room so the committee can discuss their recommendation (15-30 minutes).
  • The candidate returns to the room and the dissertation chair presents the committee’s recommendation to the candidate.
  • Committee members sign the Proposal Hearing Results Form and the student takes the form to the GPD.

The Dissertation

Once the candidate has received approval of his/her dissertation proposal, they can begin data collection and writing of the full dissertation. The chair will work with the candidate on drafting an outline.

Throughout the development of the dissertation, the candidate should work closely with the committee chair. The candidate should also consult with the committee members on the extent to which members would like to see drafts of materials. The chair and other committee members must ensure that the dissertation is sufficiently complete prior to advising the candidate to move forward in scheduling a defense. 

The university requires that no dissertation defense be scheduled less than seven months after submission of the approved dissertation proposal to the Office of Graduate Studies. This means that to complete the PhD degree for a May graduation, the student must schedule the dissertation proposal hearing no later than early September of the academic year that a student plans to graduate. Copies of the dissertation must be provided to all members of the committee at least one month prior to the defense.


Dissertation Defence

The dissertation defense is a public event, and all members of the Dissertation Committee must attend the hearing.

The student is responsible for the following steps in preparation for the proposal hearing:

  1. When distributing the written proposals to all committee members, the student should coordinate with members to identify an acceptable hearing date for all.
  2. The student should work with the SGISD program coordinator to reserve a room for the defense.
  3. Two weeks prior to the event, the student must submit a proposal announcement to the SGISD program coordinator, who will advertise the hearing to the university community.
  4. The student is responsible for the set-up and material preparation for the hearing.
  5. The student must bring the Results of the Dissertation Defense Form to the hearing.
  6. The student must bring the signatory page of the dissertation to the defense for the committee members’ signatures. The student must keep and submit this page with the final dissertation to Graduate Studies for editing and binding (see the UMass Boston Dissertation Standards Handbook for details on final submission). 

Results of the Dissertation Defense

All voting committee members of the committee decide on the following recommendations from the dissertation defense: (1) approved, (2) approved with minor revisions, (3) action deferred pending major revisions, or (4) rejected. The university requires a unanimous vote of the committee members for the candidate to pass the dissertation defense. If the committee is unable to come to consensus on a recommendation at the time of the hearing, the chair reconvenes the committee at another time and the committee discusses the proposal until a consensus is reached. 


Basic Foreign Language Requirement

SGISD requires that each PhD student achieve a certain level of proficiency in a language other than their native language. Proficiency may be demonstrated in a variety of ways:

  • A transcript indicating that the student has completed three years of university study of a language other than English
  • A transcript indicating that the student completed a BA or MA degree in a language other than English:

a. Student needs to present material about former program that indicates the relevant language of instruction within the program

b. School must confirm against official transcript from admission process

  • A certificate indicating that the student was successful in achieving a B2 level of proficiency in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages
  • A letter from a UMass Boston professor indicating satisfaction that the student was able to read a scholarly document in another language, and with enough comprehension to converse with a professor in English regarding its key points to an extent that satisfies the student’s basic proficiency in a second language:

a. Student needs to identify a UMass Boston professor who speaks the language to be evaluated

b. Professor must identify a scholarly article in the student’s field of interest to be used for the assessment

c. Assessment of proficiency will be completed by UMass Boston professor based on rubric provided by SGISD

  • Students can complete an oral proficiency interview through American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language. Individuals must obtain an intermediate score on this assessment process.
  • Students who elect to use American Sign Language as an alternative language will have proficiency accessed through a conversation with a licensed sign language interpreter. Students will be assessed on vocabulary range and proper use of grammar, as well as their receptive ability to understand the language of the interpreter.

Admission Requirements

The admissions committee is dedicated to evaluating applicants on multiple levels. Typical requirements for the PhD in Global Inclusion and Social Development include a previous degree in education, social sciences, or a related area from an accredited college or university or international equivalent, and a minimum grade-point average (GPA) of 3.0.

Applicants pursuing the post-BA PhD track will be considered concurrent students of the MA and PhD programs until all MA-level requirements in global inclusion and social development are successfully fulfilled. Students will graduate with both a MA and PhD degree in global inclusion and social development.

All applicants must submit:

  • an application
  • official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate records
  • a resume or CV
  • TOEFL/IELTS scores (for international applicants)
  • three letters of recommendation
  • two examples of their academic writing,
  • a statement of purpose addressing their specific interest in a PhD in global inclusion and social development and their post-PhD professional goals.
  • PhD applicants who do not possess a MA degree in a related field at the time of application must also submit official GRE or GMAT scores.

PhD applications for fall semester are due by January 2.

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