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    Saybrook University
  Apr 25, 2024
2023-2024 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook with Spring Addendum 
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2023-2024 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook with Spring Addendum

Ph.D. Transformative Social Change

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Overview of Program

The Ph.D. Transformative Social Change (TSC) program focuses on preparing graduates to possess the skills and capacities needed for particular types of nonprofit organizations, those with a program focus in advocacy for human rights, community building, democracy, peace, the environment and social justice.  To enable graduates to be successful participants and leaders in those types of NGOs, as well as to teach in higher education, we emphasize development of the skills and capacities for employment positions in the research, policy, education and outreach areas.

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Design environments that reflect and support participatory, democratic, collaborative leadership skills.
  2. Formulate interventions that are congruent with ethics and values.           
  3. Synthesize and design social system transformation strategies.    
  4. Formulate and evaluate dialogues that are inclusive of global, multicultural, multi-generational social and environmental viewpoints. 
  5. Appraise models of compassion and connectedness with the larger community. 

Career Opportunities

The Ph.D. Transformative Social Change program focuses on preparing graduates to possess the skills to become successful advocates and leaders in nonprofit organizations and educational environments-focusing on human rights, community building, peace, the environment, and social justice. Guided by faculty with years of research and advocacy experience, transformative social change graduates will be able to:  

  • Design environments and processes that support participation and democratic collaboration 
  • Design strategies that will lead to social transformation 
  • Articulate global, multicultural, multi-generational, social, and environmental viewpoints 
  • Appraise models of compassion and connectedness with the larger community

Program Requirements

Admissions Requirements

Applicants for Ph.D. Transformative Social Change must submit the following documents: 

  • Application for Admissions 
  • An official transcript from an accredited university demonstrating successful completion of a master's degree, with a 3.0 GPA or better; 
  • Professional resume or CV; 
  • Personal statement; and 
  • One Letter of recommendation 

University Learning Experience

Virtual Learning Experience (VLE) - Required, Community Learning Experience (CLE) - Required

All new students begin their studies with a Welcome Week. Welcome Week activities, including a degree program orientation, are held online during the week ahead of the start of the fall and spring semesters. Participation is strongly encouraged.

All students are also required to attend a 5-day Virtual Learning Experience (VLE) held online at the beginning of each semester. The VLE offers didactic/topical, research, and practice-oriented seminars, sessions introducing each core course in the program, and group meetings of the program as a whole. The virtual conferences also involve informal exchanges with other students and program faculty for mentoring and socialization to the field. Additionally, students are required to attend an in-person Community Learning Experience once every two years (fall of odd years). 

Doctoral students attend until they have advanced to doctoral candidacy (upon satisfaction of essay orals).


Students may choose to participate in an optional semester-long Practicum in Professional Practice (TSC 8151), where they participate in twenty hours each week in a nonprofit, educational, community or governmental setting, and write up a review of that experience at the end of the semester. Participation in fieldwork is subject to the student’s state of residence. Contact the Admissions Department for more information. 


Total credits: 63 

A credit hour for an online course represents 15 hours of instructional activity (e.g., engagement with web-based instructional materials) toward achieving specified student learning outcomes.  For online courses, the 15 hours of instructional activity may include but are not limited to synchronous or asynchronous lectures or webinars, interactive tutorials, and online discussions. A credit hour also assumes an additional 30 hours of homework, studying, and/or research. Partial credits are not granted. 

Mode of Delivery

Hybrid Online Learning Model 

The Ph.D. Transformative Social Change degree program combines online learning with periodic in-person residential conferences. 

For distance online or hybrid courses, the total hours of work typically required for any class of work reflects: 1) synchronous and asynchronous components that facilitate faculty-student and student-student interaction (virtual classrooms, discussion boards, and chats) and 2) independent learning components (readings, recorded lectures, written assignments, and quizzes).  

Length of Program

The degree completion time for a full-time student enrolled in the Ph.D. Transformative Social Change program following the default course sequence will range from 4 -5 years. Any breaks in enrollment and/or reduced enrollment may impact completion time. 

Required Courses

Elective Courses

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