Research Interests

Higher Education
Historical & Philosophical Foundations of Education
Policy & Educational Reform

Julia Duncheon

Associate Professor

Prior to pursuing my PhD in Urban Education Policy at the University of Southern California, I was a high school history, government, and special education teacher and administrator at a large Title I high school in Brooklyn, New York. I loved working with high school students and teaching social studies, but I also recognized the many ways in which our school was failing to engage our students with academically rigorous, culturally relevant experiences that prepared them to achieve their postsecondary goals. My desire to effect positive change in educational policy and practice led me to attend graduate school. After earning my PhD, I spent four years as an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at El Paso. I transitioned to the UW in the fall of 2019 and am thrilled to be part of this community of scholars and practitioners committed to educational equity.


Situated at the intersection of K-12 and higher education, my research explores issues around college access and equity for students from historically underrepresented populations. I examine policies and practices designed to facilitate students' preparation for, transition into, and persistence in higher education, with a focus on the interplay between structure and agency. That is, I engage with sociological frameworks to investigate not only how our educational systems disrupt opportunity for students who are low-income, of color, and/or first generation, but also how students draw on cultural and familial strengths to persist within institutions that were not intended to serve them. As a qualitative researcher, I foreground the perspectives and experiences of students, teachers, and administrators to understand college-going processes and outcomes.

Recent projects have examined college preparation in urban high schools, the college pathways of first generation Latinx youth, and the implementation of early college high school reform. I am currently PI of a four-year, mixed methods study funded by the Spencer Foundation that investigates how different approaches to dual credit coursework--classes that confer high school and college credits simultaneously--influence college preparation, opportunity, and equity for underrepresented students in Texas.


Duncheon, J. C., & Relles, S. R. (2020). “We’re caught in between two systems”: Exploring the complexity of dual credit implementation. Review of Higher Education, 43, 989-1016.

Duncheon, J. C. (2020). “We are exposed to that college environment”: Exploring the socialization of early college high school students. Community College Review. Advance Online Publication. doi:10.1177/0091552119898880

Duncheon, J. C., & Muñoz, J. (2019). Examining teacher perspectives on college readiness in an early college high school context. American Journal of Education, 125(3), 453-478.

Duncheon, J. C., & Relles, S. R. (2019). Brokering college opportunity for first generation youth: The role of the urban high school. American Educational Research Journal, 56, 146-177. 

Duncheon, J. C., & Relles, S. R. (2018). “A ditcher and a scholar”: Figuring college-going identities in an urban magnet high school. Teachers College Record, 121. Advance Online Publication.

Duncheon, J. C. (2017). “You have to be able to adjust your own self”: Latinx students’ transitions into college from a low-performing urban high school. Journal of Latinos and Education, 17, 358-372.