Professional Biography

Dr. Ghaffar-Kucher began her graduate studies in the field of School Psychology, earning a Professional Diploma in School Psychology and a Masters in the Psychology of Bilingual Students from Fordham University’s Graduate School of Education (New York). As a school psychologist resident, she worked with struggling Indian immigrant students at a public high school in Rockland County, New York. She further developed her interest in immigrant youth during her studies at Teachers College, Columbia University, where she pursued a doctorate in International Educational Development with a concentration in Curriculum and Pedagogy. At Teachers College, she served as the ethnographer for the Muslim Youth in New York City Project (funded by the Ford Foundation) and was also part of the research team for the African Muslim Immigrants Literacy Initiative (AMILI). She was also a member of the editorial board of Current Issues in Comparative Education for three years.

Dr. Ghaffar-Kucher's work has received national recognition: She was a finalist for the Council on Anthropology and Education's 2008 Outstanding Dissertation Award. In 2010, she was awarded the Council on Anthropology and Education’s Presidential Early Career Fellowship. Most recently, she was awarded (with Lesley Bartlett) the 2014 Jackie Kirk Outstanding Book Award from the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) for her co-edited volume, Refugees, Immigrants and Education in the Global South: Lives in Motion (Routledge Research). Dr. Ghaffar-Kucher has developed and taught courses at Drexel University and Teachers College, Columbia University. In 2017, she was elected to the Board of Directors of the Comparative and International Educational Society (CIES). She was also invited to the board of the Pennsylvania Council of International Education (PACIE). 

Research Interests and Current Projects

Dr. Ghaffar-Kucher’s other areas of research pertain to issues of educational access, equity and quality, particularly in the context of Pakistan, as well other Muslim majority countries more broadly. Within these contexts, she is especially interested in understanding how educational policies are appropriated at the local level, specifically in terms of policies relating to curriculum and pedagogy. Relatedly, her practitioner work has focused on teachers' professional development. She has worked on "USAID's Pre-STEP project" in Pakistan, which seeks to overhaul pre-service teacher education throughout the country. Her latest project (with Thea Abu el-Haj) examines the civic engagment of youth from Muslim immigrant communities in the US and is sponsored by the Spencer Foundation.


B.S. (Psychology, International Management Studies) University of Maryland at Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany, 1999.

M.S.Ed. (Psychology of Bilingual Students) Fordham University, 2003.

P.D. (School Psychology) Fordham University, 2003.

Ed.D. (International Educational Development) Teachers College, Columbia University, 2008.

Areas of Expertise

Immigrants and schooling

Citizenship and trans/nationalism

Curriculum and pedagogy in international contexts

School climate

Educational development discourse


Selected Publications