School of Education


The School of Education’s mission is to promote educational success and achievement of ethnically and economically diverse learners of all ages through its research, teaching, and service activities that foster learning and development in and out of school. The School achieves its mission through delivery of undergraduate, graduate, and credential programs, an array of research activities, and collaborative work with K-12 schools and community organizations.


From its inception in 1965, UC Irvine has contributed to the vitality of public schools in Orange County by offering access to educational resources and enhancing the achievement of diverse students. Because of this commitment to public schools, UCI established the Office of Teacher Education in 1971. For 20 years, this unit focused on professional preparation and high-quality training for teachers and administrators.

In 1991, the office became the Department of Education, a first step for UCI in developing an emphasis on research and graduate studies in education. In 1994, the unit initiated its first graduate degree program, a Doctorate in Education in Educational Administration, offered in cooperation with the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Sciences. The UCI/UCLA Joint Ed.D. program admitted students for 10 years, until the CSU/UCI Joint Ed.D. in Educational Administration and Leadership was introduced in 2003. The CSU/UCI collaboration among five universities (CSU Fullerton, CSU Long Beach, CSU Los Angeles, Cal Poly Pomona, and UC Irvine) admitted doctoral-level students from 2003 through 2006.

In 2007, the UC Irvine Ph.D. in Education was introduced. This doctoral program gives students core knowledge of requisite educational theory and research while allowing them to focus on one of three areas of specialization: Learning, Cognition & Development (LCD); Educational Policy & Social Context (EPSC); and Language, Literacy & Technology (LLT).

The School of Education was established by the Regents of the University of California in July 2012. In 2014, the School initiated the first undergraduate major in the University of California system that focuses on education as an academic discipline: the UC Irvine Bachelor of Arts in Education Sciences.


The UC Irvine teacher credential program has become the largest in the University of California system, producing approximately 225 single- and multiple-subject preliminary credential recipients each year. The School has supplemented its teacher-education programs and advanced its graduate study, research, and service missions by adding an undergraduate minor in educational studies in 1998, offering preliminary and professional Administrative Services Credential programs through Extension for prospective and practicing administrators, and developing a Master of Arts in Teaching that complements the credential programs.

Launched in 2006, UCI Cal Teach is a unique academic program that recruits talented undergraduate science and math majors to prepare for a teaching career. Jointly sponsored by the schools of Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences, and Education, the Cal Teach Science and Mathematics Program offers UCI undergraduates a chance to explore inquiry-based science and mathematics teaching via hands-on fieldwork-based courses. Cal Teach students have the option of earning their bachelor’s degree and a secondary teaching credential through SOE’s four-year academic programs.


At the heart of the school’s research mission is a commitment to understanding the educational transformations needed in today’s world. This theme is pursued in six main areas of research: (1) equity of opportunity for ethnically, linguistically, and economically diverse learners; (2) teaching and learning in science and math; (3) innovative approaches to literacy; (4) early childhood education and development (5) out-of-school learning; and (6) interfaces between technology and education.

The School’s interdisciplinary faculty includes psychologists, sociologists, neuroscientists, economists, and linguists. Four professors are members of the National Academy of Education, and one professor is a member of the National Academy of Science. Research projects address topics as diverse as information and communications technologies; cognition in science; race and urban education; educational policy and school reform; program evaluation; reading, language, and literacy; arts education; and intelligence theory. A variety of qualitative, survey, and experimental design methodologies are represented in the work of the faculty, as are diverse theoretical perspectives.

Current research grants include Carol Booth Olson’s $11,200,000 USDE Innovation Grant to improve academic outcomes for English Learners; Greg Duncan’s Klaus J. Jacobs Research Prize to test the impact of financial support on children’s cognitive development; and Brad Hughes and Liane Brouillette’s $6,400,000 NSF grant to help English Learners in grades 3-5 develop the academic language to understand scientific concepts.


The school’s service mission is carried out through community-based programs both inside and outside the classroom. As a natural outgrowth of its credential and degree programs, SOE is committed to the professional development of local educators and K-12 school improvement. A prime example is the UCI Writing Project, a research-based program that provides in-service opportunities for more than 3,000 teachers in Orange County and the greater Los Angeles area each year. Since 1978, the project has helped over 8,000 teachers improve their techniques for teaching writing to their students as well as enhance their own writing abilities. In addition to training teachers through intensive summer institutes, the writing project presents conferences and workshops on leading topics of interest and develops lessons designed to foster students’ critical thinking and writing skills. The program has assisted more than 100 teachers in improving student academic achievement through standards-based arts education, particularly for students in low-performing schools.

The School of Education partners with multiple community organizations and schools, including 28 regional school districts, St. Margaret’s Episcopal School, THINK Together, Girls, Inc., the UC Irvine Child Development Center, and the Tiger Woods Learning Center, to offer professional development, evaluation services, research opportunities, and faculty and student volunteers. In 2013 the School celebrated the opening of The Academy Charter High School of Santa Ana, a collaborative effort with Orangewood Children’s Foundation and the Orange County Department of Education.


In 2014 the School of Education was ranked 36th in the nation by the U.S. News & World Report Annual Ranking of Best Graduate Education Schools. The National Council on Teacher Quality/U.S. News & World 2014 Report ranked the School of Education’s Cal Teach Math and Science Program as #1 in California, #1 in the Pacific Region, and #8 in the U.S. for undergraduate secondary education.

Relative to other Schools of Education, the School ranks in the top 2% in the number of faculty members with grants, the top 1% in number of faculty articles published in peer reviewed journals, and the top 1% in number of faculty articles cited.

Deborah Lowe Vandell, Dean

Deborah Lowe Vandell is a Professor of Education and the Founding Dean of the School of Education at UC Irvine, where she also holds an appointment in the Department of Psychology & Social Behavior. She previously was the Sears Bascom Professor of Education at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

The author of more than 150 articles, Vandell’s research has focused on the effects of developmental contexts (early child care, schools, after-school programs, families, neighborhoods) on children’s social, behavioral and academic functioning. As one of the principal investigators with the NICHD Study of Early Child Care & Youth Development, she has conducted an intensive study of the development of 1,300 children from birth through age 15. This work is viewed by many social scientists as one of the most comprehensive studies of the short-term and long-term effects of early child care and the family to date.

Vandell started her career as an elementary school teacher and later received a Ph.D. in Psychology from Boston University. She is a member of the National Academy of Education, serves on the Governing Council for the Society for Research in Child Development, and is a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Psychological Society. She has served on advisory boards and panels for the National Academy of Sciences, the National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. Department of Education. In 2014 Vandell was named one of the 25 Most Influential People in the After School Community by the National After School Association.