School of Education

鶹Ӱapp the school

School of Education

Since its inception, the 鶹Ӱapp School of Education has contributed to the vitality of Orange County by offering access to educational resources and enhancing the achievement of students, teachers and administrators. The 鶹Ӱapp School of Education focuses on advancing educational sciences and contributing to improved educational opportunities and outcomes for individuals across the entire lifespan.

A diverse, dynamic and collaborative institution with more than 10,000 alumni worldwide, the School of Education is recognized for research, community partnerships and programming that produce innovative scholarship, address the needs of local schools, and inspire future generations of educators.

The School of Education is committed to promoting educational success and achievement of ethnically and economically diverse learners of all ages through research, teaching and service.


The School of Education is home to a diverse and internationally recognized group of faculty who are dedicated to research that advances educational science and improves learning outcomes for all students, regardless of background. Our faculty’s research interests are wide-ranging, and collectively they serve as principal investigators on grants funded by the most illustrious agencies in the world – the U.S. Department of Education, National Science Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health, to name a few. As of June 2020, School of Education faculty members served as principal investigators on grants whose combined total exceeded more than $96 million. This represents an all-time high for the school and is the ninth consecutive year we have established a new milestone.


The 鶹Ӱapp established the Office of Teacher Education in 1971. For 20 years, the unit focused on professional preparation and high-quality training for teachers and administrators. The office later grew to the Department of Education, emphasizing research and graduate study education; and in 2012, the UC Regents established the 鶹Ӱapp School of Education.

The School of Education currently offers undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral degrees.

  • Bachelor of Arts in Education Sciences (B.A.)
    The B.A. in Education Sciences degree focuses on four domains: human development, learning, and cognition; societal and policy contexts affecting education; media and communication systems for learning; and educational research and evaluation. The major in Education Sciences provides a foundation for the study of education; graduates are prepared for careers in the global knowledge economy, with opportunities to apply learning modalities and technologies in multicultural contexts. Career opportunities for graduates can span public education, informatics, higher education, and education software development.
  • Master of Arts in Teaching + Teaching Credential (MAT)
    The Master of Arts in Teaching + Credential (MAT) program enables students to receive a master's degree and a single or multiple subject teaching credential in 14 months. Teacher candidates experience a yearlong school site apprenticeship, where they can apply the content-specific teaching practices and theories studied in coursework. New cohorts of teacher candidates begin the program in late June, and complete the program the following July, allowing for a seamless transition to the workforce at the start of a new academic year.
  • Ph.D. in Education
    Established in 2007, the Ph.D. in Education program provides students with core knowledge of requisite educational theory and research while allowing them to focus on one or more areas of specialization: Educational Policy and Social Context; Human Development in Context; and Teaching, Learning, and Educational Improvement. Doctoral students at the 鶹Ӱapp School of Education study a wide range of issues that affect human learning and development, and are paired with leading faculty who share similar research interests and can help the doctoral student grow into a well-rounded academic. Graduates are employed across the nation and globe, leading research at education think tanks and nonprofits, working as professors, and heading up companies they founded
  • CalTeach
    A collaboration among 鶹Ӱapp’s Schools of Physical Science, Biological Science, and Education, the 鶹Ӱapp CalTeach program enables undergraduates to earn a STEM degree plus their teaching credential in four years. Undergraduates who participate in the program gain experience in inquiry-based science and mathematics teaching through hands-on fieldwork in elementary, middle and high school classrooms. The program graduated a record number of students in June 2020.
  • A professional administrative services credential program is offered through 鶹Ӱapp Extension.

Community Partnerships

The School of Education’s community partnership activities exemplify the School’s commitment to mutually beneficial engagement.

Orange County Educational Advancement Network (OCEAN)
Structured as a group of partnerships between the 鶹Ӱapp School of Education and a growing number of local K-12 schools, OCEAN places a faculty member and a doctoral student at each K-12 school. They then work with school leadership to identify greatest needs and goals, conduct targeted research, and mobilize a Networked Improvement Community (NIC) to implement improvement plans for the benefit of multiple schools. Research thus far has informed leadership on students’ language development, their engagement with the school, and the efficacy of curriculum in preparing students for college.

Next-Generation Undergraduate Success Measurement Project
The 鶹Ӱapp - under the leadership of the School of Education and its dean, Richard Arum - is serving as a pilot demonstration site to develop and implement a state-of-the-art measurement project to improve understanding of the value of undergraduate educational experiences and promote evidence-based models of undergraduate student success. Researchers are exploring how data from learning management systems and other sources can be combined with institutional records to improve our understanding of the value of undergraduate educational experiences. Supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the project is designed to inform the development of a large-scale longitudinal study of colleges and universities (College and Beyond II) coordinated by the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) at the University of Michigan.

鶹Ӱapp Teacher Academy
The 鶹Ӱapp Teacher Academy provides a home for teachers and school leaders to develop and enhance their professional practice in four areas: teacher preparation, professional development, teacher leadership, and administrator leadership. Supported by the SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union, the Teacher Academy creates a context where teachers collaborate, inspire, and lead others in transforming their instruction. Established in fall 2018, the Teacher Academy has hosted thousands of teachers and administrators across dozens of workshops and conferences.

Center for Educational Partnerships (CFEP)
Created in 1996, the CFEP employs new strategies to address ongoing systemic educational inequities and ensure equal access to higher education for all. CFEP programs support teachers and students in four areas: transfer preparation, K-12 student development, K-12 teacher development, and diverse 鶹Ӱapp undergraduate student populations. Working collaboratively with schools and communities, CFEP programs impact more than 12,000 students annually.

Frances Contreras, Dean

Professor Frances Contreras is dean of the 鶹Ӱapp School of Education. Previously, Dean Contreras was an Associate Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and a Professor in the Department of Education Studies at UC San Diego. Contreras has over 15 years of administrative leadership both at UCSD and the University of Washington College of Education, where she directed their higher education program.

Her research focuses on issues of equity and access for underrepresented students in the education pipeline and the role of public policy in ensuring student equity across a P-20 continuum. Along with multiple publications in leading education journals and presses, Contreras has authored four books. She is currently a co-principal investigator on two Advancing Faculty Diversity grants funded by the UC Office of the President in the areas of recruitment and faculty retention. She serves as the Co-Chair of the Chicano/Latino Advisory Council to the UC President, which is working to increase the level of Chicano/Latino representation in academic and administrative leadership across the UC System. She also serves on the UC HSI Advisory Board, offering her expertise in this area as UC works to become Latinx responsive and serving. Her research agenda on Latinx students and Hispanic Serving Institutions provides an important contribution to UC Irvine, which is already classified as a Hispanic Serving Institution and AANAPISI.

As a first-generation college student and professor, Dean Contreras is the first Chicana/Latina dean to lead a School of Education in the UC System. Her vision for 鶹Ӱapp’s School of Education is to prioritize equity, diversity and racial justice, and build on the impressive record the School of Education possesses on campus and with its community partners and schools. Contreras plans to position 鶹Ӱapp’s School of Education as a leader in HSI and AANAPISI efforts, critical methodologies, teacher diversity and educational innovation that benefits the Orange County region, state and nation.  

Dean Contreras earned her bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley, master’s degree from Harvard University and Ph.D. in Administration & Education Policy from Stanford University.

Current research grants include:

  • Carol Booth Olson’s $14.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education seeks to close reading and writing achievement gaps among high-needs students in grades seven to 11.
  • Greg Duncan’s $7.86 million National Institute of Child Health and Human Development grant studies the links between income and children’s cognitive development and health.
  • The Center for Educational Partnership’s $5.4 million GEAR Up grant from the U.S. Department of Education prepares Compton students for college access and success.
  • Jade Jenkins’ $3.3 million grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development studies whether, for whom, and how the effects of successful early childhood school readiness interventions are sustained across a child’s development.
  • Elizabeth Pena’s $3.1 million grant from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders is creating an online testing procedure for identifying developmental language disorders among English Language Learners.
  • Rachel Baker’s $2.5 million National Science Foundation grant studies how cross-enrollment can improve the transition of community college students into university STEM programs.
  • Mark Warschauer’s $1 million NSF grant studies ways to develop, implement, and evaluate new curriculum to teach computational thinking and coding to upper elementary school students from linguistically diverse backgrounds.


  • In 2019, the School of Education was ranked 20th in the nation among schools of education and 10th among public university schools of education by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Faculty members within the school currently are principal investigators on more than $96 million in grant funding across 95 active research grants.
  • Five faculty members are members of the National Academy of Education, tenth most of any school of education in the nation.
  • Three faculty are 鶹Ӱapp distinguished professors: Greg Duncan, Jacquelynne Eccles, and George Farkas. Deborah Vandell, founding dean of the School of Education, is a 鶹Ӱapp Chancellor’s Professor.